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Shower Adventure

Coolgardie — 1999-09-16

After the sun has gone down with an unbelievable blaze of colour, a darkness surprises us that seems to exist only in the Australian outback. Twice, often three times a week we have the wonderful pleasure of taking a regular shower with a dream of hot water.

Equipped with a forehead lamp, fresh clothes and a piece of soap, we walk to the big, old barn that was built decades ago directly opposite our cottage. The lock is rusty and the door sagged out of position, so it takes a great physical effort to open it, but at last our light shines into the old tool shed. Shovels, rakes and loads of other ancient farming tools are piled up in a chaos and cast their strange shadows. Without even considering a feeling of fright, I zigzag my way around them, always hoping not to step on the tail of one of the snakes hibernating here and thus waking them. Another creaking metal door opens the way to the dark shower room. My eyes follow the beam of the forehead lamp. An old, ramshackle dresser is covered with the excrements of past mouse generations. Countless, antique-looking glass bottles are lined up in a corner. Spider webs of unspeakable size are draped everywhere decorating the dirty walls. Only a few centimetres away from a toilet bowl long unused, one of the dangerous red-back spiders sits in its web waiting for prey. After some time I find a place to put down my clothes. I light a candle, climb into the steel bowl, always alert not to slip or step on one of the many spiders. A short time later, hot water pours out of a battered shower head, I forget where I am and delight in this moment’s pleasure.


Here you get the electricity only when you start up the generator. Every evening from about 6 o’clock on it rattles in a nearby shack, unless it is broken down, and supplies us with energy for four hours. We do our cooking on a gas stove or, when we are out of gas, on a barbecue grill outdoors. The toilet is about 15 metres away from our cottage. The sight of a Handsmann spider big as a child’s hand reminds us who is the boss in here.

At times, life out here is even romantic, but there is always a lot of work than can’t be put off. To us, staying on this farm means a slow adapting to the real life in the outback that we are anxiously looking forward to.

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