We all took a stand

Margaret River versus the coal industry

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  • Published 20190203
  • ISBN: 9781925773408
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

NOBODY LOOKS VERY comfortable. There are four faces, angled inelegantly, only one inclined to engage with the camera, the attached bodies mostly submerged in a hot, foaming tub. There are two men and two women. The picture is from an age before digital cameras were everywhere, so the image hasn’t been altered and as far as I know exists only in slowly fading semi-gloss hard copy. It is a scene more awkward than salacious: only one drink is in evidence and the expressions of the four twenty-somethings reflect self-consciousness more than any release of inhibitions. Everyone is wearing bathers and there’s nothing scandalous to see here. As one of that group, I remember the night wryly.

I can’t remember much else about that weekend, probably pleasant enough, with a dozen or so other young lawyers from Perth who had travelled the three-hour drive ‘down south’ to a rented spa retreat somewhere around Margaret River, a little over twenty years ago. Apart from the few photos, all that remains is an eclectic grab of memory fragments spread over a couple of days: my first-ever ‘lunch at a winery’, the grounds of which were bedecked with ornamentation of faux European antiquity, as if to suggest that there had once been a period of ‘Roman Western Australia’; a preciously rare taste of marron, from a hamper brought along by one of my colleagues; a late-night game of Pictionary, in which an angular crown prosecutor managed to draw a remarkably accurate likeness of Fidel Castro.[i] Above all, I recall an abiding sense of my own gaucherie as an outsider to the storied place that is Margaret River: metonym for a good red, signifier of good times, world renowned.

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