Lost in the Wild West

A thick haze covered the horizon, across the Indian Ocean and inland – where I could make out a ferris wheel not too far in the distance. I’d been to Fremantle many times before, I’d even lived here for a couple of years, however this time felt different. To me, on my last day wandering about town, the place looked and felt empty. Bushfires were threatening the surrounding area, I was now older and many people I had known here were gone…

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Perhaps it was a fitting atmosphere for my last day in town, as I had returned to say goodbye to my mum, who at 85 decided she’d had enough. The night before my brother let out his anguish, threatening another brother. The rest of us didn’t sleep well that night. The next day I was just waiting to get home, back to Byron Bay. Later that afternoon I wandered back to my parent’s house in White Gum Valley – four kilometres or so from Fremantle’s South Beach Café – and all was quiet.

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White Gum Valley at sunset

I stood and looked at old photographs – my mum when she was 19, my dad (since passed) when he was not much older, living lives I had never known. Young, beautiful and free. Photographs of my four brothers and my sister, their partners and children, would soon vanish, I thought. Mum held us together. Our collective memories, our tribe. This was the capitulation of the Topes, in a way.

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The Topes, the last time we were all together – July 2004


What change lay ahead, I thought. During my stay in Western Australia, I had caught up with family I hadn’t seen in years, played some golf (which I discovered I really enjoy) and paid for our ONE WAY ticket to Spain in full. June 16 is the day I leave Australia and Malaga in southern Spain is the destination. From here Nikki, my partner, Olin, my four-year-old and I will make our way to Granada where our adventure will begin. I plan to teach English, do some blogging and not return until we’ve spent at least one year overseas.

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A congregation of Topes and their offshoots – Fremantle’s Old Shanghai Food Court, aka the ‘Up Markets’ – February 2015.


During the last few weeks, I’ve had time to think about many things, one of them blogging. What the hell am I doing? I sometimes often think. I left a corporate copywriting job to be free, but of course there’s a price for that. Lately my traffic is going up and up, but the financial rewards for putting hours into this site have been few and far between. I occasionally make money writing for magazines, but mostly I earn a living making coffee for old people at Ballina RSL (which is not something I want to do).

I’ve thought of quitting this site, but I just can’t. I really do enjoy it. I’ll be sticking around, but I’ve decided to focus less on traffic and social media and more on just enjoying myself – investigating, capturing, wandering in old places, beautiful places.

This is going to be a good year, I can feel it.

If you’ve read this far, thank you.

4 thoughts on “Lost in the Wild West”

  1. Andy! Sorry to read the news about your mum. She was a hardy ox that’s for sure. Gotta love Freo, even if from a distance. I once called it the Wild West only to be shot down by webby who redubbed it the mild west!
    If I don’t see you before Spain (& I hope to) have fun senor! 😉 x Tofu

  2. Was an indifferent trip big guy. I’m glad you wrote about it. Ill remember for it for a long time to come. Some stand out points were the 4 ninja turtles (You, Me, Snitty and Dan) enjoying each others company, drinking beers and agreeing that our friendship is more valuable than we realize. Sending off ‘mrs nice’, our tribal leader, she was one of the great soul’s. And when you raised your arms in a triumphant ‘V’ having made par on the dog leg 7th at the Whtegum Valley golf course! Look after Nikki & Olin, and i’ll always look forward to the next time we can catch up. Topester

    • Matt,

      There were so many sides to our time in the west I could have written about. The ninja turtles was definitely a highlight, it felt natural. Bezza would have loved to have seen us connecting like that. And yeah, wasn’t she one of the great souls? A worthy matriarch of our clan in many ways. Great fun playing golf with you guys too. Next time I want to get a par without a cougar bounce!

      I hope you and your little tribe are going ace. Big love to the newest of all Topes, Zara. I look forward to the next catchup Topester.


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