Leave grandma and go wrestle with cowboys

ONCE I was a freelance journalist based in Perth.

10 months of the year I lived with Grandma and watched Breaking Bad.

That’s a joke. Because it only took two weeks to watch all the episodes.

The work didn’t come often. When I did I enjoyed dressing in a suit enjoying how people treated me more important than what I was. And I enjoyed bludging three out of four weeks.

But I couldn’t do what I did forever.

Because of money!

A week’s work was enough for me to live the skinflint dream for three weeks but if in the months that followed my car broke down or I ran out of rego I was screwed.

Thank God for grandmas. Even if she was a control freak sometimes.

Grandma would be worth her own blog post, but that’s not where I’m going with this. It’s really just chatter to explain how desperate I was when I took the job as a reporter in Mount Isa, Qld.

Two days after my interview I learned that a snake ate a crocodile in the nearby dam. Maybe you heard about it.

snake eats crocodile

The Brisbane Times

I still have not forgotten my flight into Mount Isa airport. You can see the dam where a surely dead bloated snake haunts. You can see the mine. And you can see the town in the shadow of it.

Mount Isa

This photo wasn’t taken from the conventional look-out position, which you can see in the photo if you know where to look. Photo: Chris Burns

The copper and zinc deposits in the region are rich. We’re not just talking Mount Isa. In fact, Cloncurry, the next town over, is more productive when it comes to mining copper.


Holding native copper at the CuDECO Rocklands site in Cloncurry. This may look like dirt, but it feels like a dirty shovel.

The other thing is how many uranium deposits there are in this part of Qld. The legalisation of mining uranium is a big deal for Mount Isa since there are at least three deposits nearby.

The last uranium mine in Qld is at Mary Kathleen, which was closed in the 1980s. It’s open for the tendering process as there’s more uranium in the ground. In the waste piles there are also rare earths elements. There’s only one mine in Australia that mines rare earths. They are used for making advanced technologies like batteries, and camera lens, and lasers.

Mary K

I’m standing in front of the old Mary K uranium pit. There are rumours that some locals like to swim in the pit. I believe it.

Mount Isa tries to bring in the tourism, and it does this through Outback at the Isa. Years ago, tourists were allowed to tour the Mount Isa Mines. Unfortunately, restrictions and safety concerns increased. So a fake mine was built in the town.

Here’s a rare photo of the underground Hard Times Mine, as the tourists are not allowed to take photos.


It’s not all about mines though. You’ve got the traditional station owners and rodeo sports. Mount Isa is proud of its “world famous rodeo” but the nearby town Cloncurry also has a good rodeo too.


So what I’m trying to say is this; go out and get a job in the country, explore, do more. Ride a bull.  Get drunk with mining CEOs. Wrestle with cowboys.



Tonight A Pretty Sky

Tonight, a pretty sky.
Stars twinkle joyously,
Above transient cloud.
Slight sighs of wind,
Drowned by distant traffic.
Singing, a lone night bird.
My street’s light makes a ghost,
Of the palm it hides behind.
Sometimes a siren joins,
The just past midnight song,
Listened to not by a mostly,
Sleeping audience,
With balcony seating, all.
It pleases me to imagine,
That they as one might dream,
That which is my waking pleasure,
Till I join the closed-eyed crowd.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the purpose of life. Increasingly, I can’t see that my life has purpose. Which is confusing at best, as without the courage to kill myself I am merely drifting along aimlessly. Two purposes I’d like to have are: 1) work, with the caveat that my boss and anyone else I have to deal with in the course of my employment not be an arsehole, and; 2) female sexual and emotional companionship, with the caveat that she be comfortable with my socially awkward and more often completely unmotivated nature. But I’m not optimistic that either of these two purposes will come along any time soon. Or perhaps ever again.

It’s important that we differentiate between the word “purpose”, and the word “meaning”. I don’t believe there is meaning, in a spiritual sense, to my or anyone else’s life. But there can be purpose, either to oneself or others or both. Work is purposeful because it achieves things for people who give you money so you can pay people for things you need. And female companionship is purposeful because it creates more life. If you’re into that sort of thing. (I’m not.) Plus it fulfills emotional and sexual desire. I’ve not had good experiences with work, and I’ve had too few experiences with women at all, let alone good ones. I want good experiences with both, but am tired of instead experiencing the bad.

I’ve also felt poorly treated by many people in my life. In fact it’s getting to the point in which those negative experiences are weighing so heavily upon me, the only way I can think of so as to not add to the weight is to avoid contact with other people as often as possible. Obviously this is difficult in the face of work and female companionship. I don’t know where to from here. Obviously. Because I have no purpose. Just sought after purpose. I guess you could argue that sought after purpose is as good as purpose. But it’s really not, because it holds no promise of reward. Just more searching. It’s an empty feeling, having no purpose. It drains energy and creativity and passion. There’s little to be done about it, though. Either I’ll find my purpose at a time I’ll likely find surprising, or I will never find it and the world and its people will hardly notice.

Most of all, I’m tired of feeling pressured to justify an existence I didn’t choose.