Creating Special Places

I have always had a great love for Ocean Beach in Denmark. To be honest it’s not the worlds greatest surf break and while it is a beautiful place, it’s no more special than many beaches out there. But it was a place where I had great fun as a kid and hence it has left an imprint on me as a favourite.

Even now as an adult I still venture down there each time we are in Denmark in the hope that it will be breaking like it was in the late 70s. Truth is it was probably very ordinary, but I had such great fun there that it lives larger than that in my memory. In my ‘memory’ I was a brilliant surfer on sensational waves, when in reality I was a scared kid hanging on the inside who happened to score some decent rides when all the real surfers were waiting for proper waves!

I imagine Cable Beach will be our kids ‘Ocean Beach’ as we have had some great times here in the last two years and I imagine we will do it again a few more times before they are teenagers.

On this visit Sam got into bodyboarding. Now that statement needs some qualifying… We hired a body board each day and he took it 10m into the water and caught the whitewater to shore. I tried to nudge him further out but he wasn’t having any of it. In his mind – and in his words – he is now a bodyboarder… I’d like to see him venture out a little before getting too self congratulatory but at the same time it’s nice to see his confidence grow. Maybe next year will be his year for catching some unbroken waves…

There isn’t a heap else about Broome that we really get into other than Cable beach, but I’d say it will have left a mark on our kids and every time they think of it, they will have fond memories.

My Day in Court

Back in February I took on a job for a guy in our local area that I thought was clear and simple. We discussed the two parts of his Retic that needed fixing and I went on to fix them.

When he hadn’t paid two weeks later I dropped in to see if there was a problem. We had an amicable conversation where he apologised and then asked me if I could ‘just fix up two more sprinklers’ for him. I did it and charged him for the parts. Sum total owing was $200.00, not a grand amount at all.

When it hadn’t been paid in two weeks I rang and he told me he wasn’t happy with the work… but he couldn’t tell me what he wasn’t happy with. He got abusive and aggressive and hung up.

After a series of emails he told me he was only willing to pay $100.00. It was a ludicrous debate over a petty amount of money, but I was well and truly pissed off by now.

I actually had a God moment where I sensed the right thing to do was to take his $100.00 and then offer to come and fix anything and everything at no cost. (something about ‘overcoming evil with good’)

After another 2 weeks there was still no $100.00 and no reply, so I took out a court order to get it sorted. In the meantime he told he had put $100 cash into my letterbox… Hmmm…

So we turned up in court to get it resolved. I figured I had emails from him and evidence that would clearly show me to be in the right. I didn’t count on him lying his way thru the whole thing.

After the preliminary hearing where the judge simply heard his defense we had to wait another 90 mins to meet with a mediator before the hearing could be set for November some time.

As the mediator explained the process and the amount of time it would require my pragmatism started to kick in. It was going to take at least 1 whole day, if not two and with him lying his way thru there were no guarantees I would win.

He offered $125.00 to settle and at first I told him to keep it, but the mediator was gently pushing and nudging me to call it quits. I began to see the futility of pressing on so through clenched teeth I said ‘ok $125.00’ and immediately felt livid inside.

He had screwed me over and he was going to get away with it. What a pathetic justice system!

She began writing up the order for $125 but as she started his face went red and he said ‘Hang on. Make it $200.00. He’s a good bloke this fella. He’s actually a good man.’

I was stunned to say the least.

I didn’t know whether to be happy or to feel patronised. He had totally confused me.

He went off to get the $$$ and returned with cash. As the mediator was photocopying the documents I asked him how his work was going. He curtly said ‘no offense but I’ve got nothing to say to you.’

I’m totally confused now…

So we stand in silence and leave in silence, me wondering all the time what on earth is going on.

As we get to our cars at the same time I notice that mine has a parking ticket… He noticed too, smiles smugly and says ‘that’d be karma mate’.

I drive off and try to forget.

So that was my day in court… Definitely not worth the effort and pretty disturbing to see that justice is not easily accessible.

What’s funny is that the other bloke has now paid $300.00 for a $200.00 job that he felt was only worth $100.00… of course that assumes that the $100.00 in the letterbox actually existed…


I’m normally very principle driven, so to give in to pragmatism was hard but it was a complete ‘no win’

Would I do it again?


Makes you realize why people ‘take matters into their own hands’


Living in the city there is much to like about LPG. It turns a fuel hungry beast like my GQ Patrol into a reasonably economical car. But once you hit the road things change especially in the north of WA.

In the city petrol is approximately 2.5 times the price of LPG whereas up here is is a much smaller difference. Think 99c/l for LPG in Port Hedland and $1.50 for petrol.

And that’s assuming you can get gas! We are currently on the road from Hedland to Broome and had a planned stop at Sandfire to refill on LPG being right on empty… only to discover the one and only LPG pump in Sandfire had died.

It is 250km to Roebuck and we get about 266km to a tank of petrol. With Jerry cans $55.00 just to buy we thought we would take a gamble and drive carefully. Hopefully with Mrs Backyard driving rather than my lead foot, we will get to Roebuck without any embarrassing stops.

It’s hard to champion LPG when this sort of stuff happens. Until it becomes more prevalent as a fuel I imagine we will always be running the gauntlet on these longer stretches… or we could just get the whole Jerry can thing happening a little more efficiently…

Normally we ring ahead to check on availability but with the crappy mobile service in the NW we were out of range before you could fart and that option evaporated.

Let’s hope we make it…

(Update – ok Mrs BYM managed to get to Roebuck with over a quarter of a tank left. What a legend!)

Off to Broome

Tomorrow we leave Hedland for Broome and I am really looking forward to it.

On our trip last year Broome was one of our favorite spots. The warm weather and stunning Cable Beach were enough to convince us to stay 10 days, the longest time we spent in any one place.

We heard last week that all caravan parks are fully booked, but then one of our old ‘youth group kids’ – now an adult friend and a teacher up there told us we could use her place while she is away.


So we will likely stay there till Friday and make the most of it. It will be nice to have power again and to be able to crank up the coffee machine! I actually had a fantastic flat white at Muffin Break in South Hedland today (what a surprise) but I’m ready to have my own brew happening again.

We will leave Broome as school holidays end and wend our way back down the coast staying warm for as long as possible.

I’m guessing we will stop at a couple of rivers for free camping, spend some time in Exmouth, Warroora Station and maybe Kalbarri if we get time. But I’m guessing we will be pushing it.

Whatever the case we are well wound down and back in the swing of traveling. The challenge will be coming home again!

Heretical Leadership

I have been reflecting again on some of what I read in Tribes by Seth Godin. Essentially its a book about the challenges of innovation, entrepeneurship and creativity in leadership.

Godin is calling people to ‘lead’, to step up and actually choose to be different from the crowd and be a ‘heretic’. What he is meaning by that is to choose to lead distinctively and to chart your own course rather than seeking to be the ‘best clone’ amongst many others.

Its about making a choice not to conform – because in that choice there is an opportunity make some difference.

Its not as stupid as just ‘be different for the sake of being different’, but rather its a challenge to consider our own unique vocation and to make the most of it – to rise above the crowd of sameness and mediocrity.

I sense it’s way too easy to simply ask ‘what are the rules of the system’ and then to play within them as best you are able when I am convinced it would be much more inspiring (and potentially productive) to ask ‘what is the objective’ and from there to figure out the best way to achieve the goal irrespective of the rules of the ‘system’ we find ourselves within.

Of course ‘systems’ exist for a reason and many people have lots invested in them so the idea of leading but not playing by the rules will disturb those who either like the rules or have created the rules.

Godin says ‘When you fall in love with the system you lose the ability to grow’ (p.71) I am guessing that because you close your mind to other possibilities and you choose to look thru only one lens at the problem in question.

I really like that Danelle & I have chosen the homeschool route – not simply because it is different – but because it fits with who we are and reflects our own values and philosophies. It would have been quite possible to help our kids achieve the best they could within ‘the system’ by sending them to a private school and give them any extra tuition required, but we are looking thru a different lens and hence the outcome has been different.

I believe the challenge is to retain an open mind, to see alternative thinking as not for the hippies and renegades but for anyone who wants to do more than cruise in a comfortable rut.

Godin writes: In order to lead you must challenge the status quo of the religion you are living under” p. 70

I’ve been blessed to have spent much of the last 10 years around people who are ‘heretics’ and the value to my own leadership development has been immense. It makes life more complicated on occasions because I no longer see ‘stock answers’ as immediately acceptable, but then if I am not inspired to be the ‘best clone’ I can be then I am guessing plenty of others also want to walk to the beat of a different drum.

On that note here’s a final quote from Godin:

“Who settles? Settling is no fun. Its a malignant habit, a slippery slope that takes you to mediocrity… The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise on”. P67

I think the question most of us face is ‘do we really know who we are and what we will refuse to compromise on?’

If we do then we can lead with distinctiveness and conviction, which will always trump simply being skilled at working the ‘system’.

Red Dirt Camping

We are on the road again about 200ks out of Port Hedland after spending the last 5 days in Karajini National Park. We lobbed in on Monday around lunchtime and after 50ks on the dirt managed to find the campsite.

Stu and co had managed to find a fantastic free campsite just outside the national park and we stayed there until this morning. We managed to survive on just 60l of water, but none of that got used for ‘personal washing’ so even though we had a few icy gorge swims we are all a bit stinky and looking actually forward to arriving in Hedland… (there’s a first!)

The weather has been cool and last night the red dust turned to mud as the rain started to fall. It broke for a couple of hours as we sat around the fire, but then drizzled till morning making for a damp, clammy night.

Karajini is a great place and the various gorges are pretty stunning. We are thinking we should have come a month earlier though to catch some warmer weather as swimming was only for the brave and the stupid!

As always it was great to share the time with some of our closest friends and to catch up on what’s been going down in each others lives. You know you have a pretty blessed life when you get to spend 5 days in a beautiful place with some wonderful people and then there are still 3 weeks left to enjoy.

At this point we are thinking we will keep heading north probably as far as Broome and into warmer weather as we are a bit over the cold and i am ready to kick back on Cable beach with one of those sensational seafood pizzas from Zanders Cafe.

The Slap

The Slap

I’ve been reading ‘The Slap’ by Christos Tsiolkas, a novel I heard about a few years ago and have been hoping to get a hold of.

The story revolves around a group of friends present at a party where one ‘dad’ actually hits the 3 year old from another family and we are then drawn into the story and get to observe the incident from the point of view of all those in the social set.

As a story it’s interesting and generally well written. It has some good insights, but for my money it’s weighed down by an overload of gratuitous sex scenes and ‘f’ and ‘c’ words. I don’t think I’m any prude, so when my ‘take it easy’ radar goes up then I figure it’s overdone and somewhat unnecessary.

The friend who lent it to me described it as a ‘very base’ novel and I reckon he was on the money. I am just over half way thru and the legal implications of ‘the slap’ have been resolved, so it will be interesting to see what the next 280 pages have in store.

As a story that addresses a range of interesting social issues it has some currency, but you really do need to be able to get past some pretty explicit sexual stuff – certainly more than I needed to encounter anyway!

On the Road Again

On Saturday morning we hit the road again.

It’s been 8 months since we came back from the big lap and we are all ready for the break. Strangely last week was one of my busiest for the year so I finished it exhausted. We had planned to meet my good mate Stuart Wesley and family in the morning and drive with them to Karajini, but the fact that they were leaving at 6.30 banged that idea on the head pretty quickly.

At 8.00pm Friday night I was just starting to think of holidays so a 6 am start was never going to happen! Danelle had prepared heaps, but we still had the car to pack, the camper to organise and then there was a bunch of quotes and invoices to email.

We left at 9.00…

I hate leaving for holidays stressed and annoyed because we’ve been rushing or are just disorganised, so we made a choice to simply leave when we were ready.

So tonight we are in Newman caravan park after getting as far as Mt Magnet last night. We were lucky to get that far with our first toilet stop at the Brighton shops 500m from home.

Tonight is quite mild by pilbara winter standards (8 deg C) but last night was icy and as the cloud clears I’m sure we will have more of the same. Tomorrow we leave for a campground in Karajini where we will catch Stu and family and spend a few days.

We weren’t planning on going to Broome, but the chill in the air is making us think it could be worth the drive. The seafood pizza at Zanders in Cable beach is enough to get me back!

The stretch of road between Perth and Newman really is one of the most boring drives in all of Oz! I love the Pilbara, but getting here really sucks.

The kids have slotted back into travel mode, but Sam has been dribbling incessantly and I am about to throttle him if he doesn’t shut up.

We are looking forward to a good break. My right elbow is giving me huge pain from tendonitis caused by work so it really needs a rest. I don’t think I could have worked next week even if I wanted to. We also have lots to think about and decisions to make, so a chance to get away from it all is welcomed.

I’m not sure how much I will post on here, but given the lousy phone reception in the NW of WA it might not be often!