Day 448 | Bridgetown Jarrah Park Brockman Highway: still taking my time

20 km | Heading west total: 16,156 km

How come everyone I’m spending any time with these days has no teeth?

Meet Bennie, another toothless bloke with a 4WD ute converted for the aimless type of travelling I’m undertaking.

I’m camped in a picnic area complete with a picnic table and nearby toilet in the middle of this big tree forest. At dusk Bennie came over and wondered if I would care to share his small fire.

It’s cold in the hills (and now May) so I move over and spend the evening swapping stories.

He’s been gone two and a half months from some unspecified East Coast small town he now lives in having been through two previous houses in the city but the titles are now in his ex wives names.

The truck has Queensland plates from his time working in Boulia as a chippie. I hope to go through there after tackling the Plenty Highway from Alice as I head back east sometime, it has a few hundred people.

He got a job with the council, not much money but the accommodation thrown in was OK. After 7 months, just as he was settled, he had to leave town after threats by the contractor who had been hugely inflating his pricing before Bennie turned up.

Now it’s WA in search for work that is proving not so easy as those mates of his in their own secure tenures suggested. Something will turn up eventually because work presents itself to those who want it.

Great theory Bennie. I’ll be testing it myself in a couple of weeks.

He’s managed to work out the job agency system in all its absurdities and explains it to me. You have to be registered for the unemployment benefit before you can apply for most jobs because then everyone gets paid by the government but only as you get crossed off welfare. You can’t go directly to the agency.

He first registered in a town up north but when he moved on to Albany they wanted him to move back the 1500km to deregister. 48 hours and a dozen phone calls sorted it out but now he’s not even in Albany.

I trust this won’t be my future.

WA is charging ahead with its economy by digging up vast tracts and shipping it off to the furnaces in India and China. The whole state is cranking.

Yes, a period of work awaits.