In the middle of everwhere…

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The last two weeks have been busy on preparing the frames for erection. Pete drawing them up and Deb double checking, looking for errors. We are now into cutting, notching and edging, and I find myself wishing I had paid more attention to Mr Harris, my old high school wood-work teacher, as I revive long forgotten skills. Meanwhile Deb has been researching the art of working epoxy resin, which essentially holds the whole thing together. Epoxy is something of a miracle product that performs a number of functions: glue, wood preservative, gap filler, fibreglass bonding agent and cosmetic fairing bog, that should make her gleam when finished. Building a boat the size of Selah is a multifaceted process. When contemplated in its entirety, the project threatens to overwhelm so we have taken the advice of those who have gone before us, and are giving ourselves permission to take it a day at a time, enjoying the journey. These are the steps we have mapped out into project size blocks:

  • Site preparation
  • Materials sourcing & storing
  • Strong back construction
  • Frame lofting and construction
  • Hull assembly
  • Keels and rudders
  • Fibreglassing, bogging and initial fairing
  • Bridge-deck construction
  • Hulls turning and joining
  • Internal fit-out
  • Steering installation
  • Engines
  • Plumbing
  • Gas
  • Electrics
  • Decks and turret
  • High build undercoat and final fairing
  • Painting
  • Windows
  • Launch
  • Rigging

OK…so at this point I must admit to more than the occasional thought of inadequacy. In those moments it helps me to remember the experiences that life has given. For twenty years we were based in Alice Springs. The majority of that time I was a Community Liaison Officer for an indigenous secondary boarding college for students from remote communities throughout the NT outback WA, QLD & SA.  This entailed working in some of the most remote communities on the planet. In the process I drove almost one million kilometres and went through eight Toyota Landcruisers. I was born and raised in Tasmania, but it was the NT that taught me a love for the vast open spaces of the inland, and a passion for wild places and the people who choose to live there.

Most importantly though, I learnt not to be intimidated by long journeys.

I now know that as long as we put in our eight hours a day, for the next few years, we will reach the end, and Selah will be transformed from a pile of wood, ply and epoxy into our floating home, and a vehicle for the next season of our journey.

So while I’m reminiscing about the NT, I can’t help following another train of thought. Eighty five percent of the population of Australia lives within fifty kilometres of the coast.  We literally cling to a tiny strip along the SE coast, densely concentrated between Brisbane and Melbourne, almost as if we are fearful of what lies beyond.  As a people, we non-indigenous have never really come to terms with the true nature of this continent we inhabit. We are a cosmopolitan city-centric people, with a corresponding world view. The vast inland is mostly characterised as the “middle of nowhere,” the implication being that anywhere away from the city has no inherent value, other than its resource potential. It’s difficult for us to get our heads around the notion that far from being the middle of nowhere, for the people who live outback-  it’s the middle of everywhere: especially for those who have inhabited the lands for thousands of years. For them, every tree and rock on their country is as familiar, as your local neighbourhood is to you. Its curious to consider that most Aussies profess deep love for a country that they barley understand: and are possibly even a little fearful of.

Having said all that however, I am aware of the irony that after declaring such a deep love for the desert, Deb and I find ourselves drawn back to the coast for now. Perhaps it’s some sort of cultural DNA inherited from our seafaring ancestors. Or  perhaps, as we believe, its the next season of our particular purpose for being here.

6 thoughts on “In the middle of everwhere…

  1. Deb Malouf says:

    Loving the blog Pete.
    I too (astoundingly) am falling in love with the vast open spaces of “the middle of everywhere”. Brett and I were telling some friends recently that there isnt anywhere else we would rather live and the thought of moving back to the city makes my heart race (not in a good way).
    I no longer feel the need to go back to Sydney to get a dose of “home”. I think this may be a sign that our heart has followed our faith that Alice Springs is home? Although its really not the same without you both here.
    Must fly (or even drive?!) down and visit you both sometime. We have yet to explore Tasmania and would love to spend a day helping you on your marvellous project! Miss you both dearly. Much love to Deb❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • selahcat says:

      Hey thanks Deb! Yep no doubt Central Aus gets under your skin in a way that’s hard to describe to others. You are most welcome to visit us anytime. We do miss our AS family: eccentrics all! Love to Brett.

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  2. tg1959m says:

    Hi Pete and Deb,

    I am following your blog and journey with great interest. As I look out on to the ocean north of us and just off Fraser Island I look forward to a time when we will see Selah and have the two of you visit.

    Many blessings,
    Tim (& Ingrid)

    Like

    • selahcat says:

      Hi Tim. Yep we have Harvey Bay on our stop-over list, to catch up with you guys. A long way to go yet, but we are really enjoying the process. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Like

  3. Teresa says:

    Looking great Pete. Miss you both here in the Alice but looking forward to the journey with you. The blog is really well put together. I will share it with the girls later so they can see the progression of your new home. They are very excited about Kirsty arriving soon and Abi is hopeful she will be here for her Birthday as we are a little light on for the family aspect now. Will talk more soon. Lots of Love Teresa

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    • selahcat says:

      Thanks Teresa. Yep we are missing our AS family, but have a lot to keep us occupied. Abi will have her birthday wish as K & J arrived Sunday arvo after an somewhat eventful trip! They will fill in the details. We have you guys booked in for a trip to the reef, hopefully 2018. Love: P & D.

      Like

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