While they were off on their tour and the returning group were busy making themselves drinks and lunching on chocolate chip cookies, the three adults did some consulting on the bus. No, there was no way we were going to get there at our planned time. The teacher was loath to drop the other two activities, but even he had to admit it wasn’t viable. He’s one of these people who likes to cram 36 hours worth of work into 24, but at last he agreed that we’d need to head off to Mt Magnet as soon as the others got back. He phoned ahead to the station to let them know we’d be late. No worries, they said. They’d pitch some of their own tents for the boys and the girls could sleep in the ‘dongas’ – mobile metal sheds used for shearers’ quarters. They’d have dinner ready for us when we arrived.
Much relieved by the change of plan (there was only me and one of the girls disappointed that we wouldn’t get to sleep in tents) we set off at around 2pm, stopping around an hour later for lunch and then on up the straight, straight road that leads to the desert.
For a while the kids were really quiet. In fact, many fell asleep. The late night had caught up with them. When they awoke though, they were ready to party. The CD was turned up full bore and the bus began to bounce. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to Pink’s ‘So, so what’ without thinking of that trip and a busload of fifteen-year-olds screaming it out.
They’d been promised that we would stop for a break at Payne’s Find. When the bus pulled up in the light of the setting sun, they looked out, aghast. There was the roadhouse. Where was the rest of it? Where was Payne’s Find? No, this is it, we said. This roadhouse IS Payne’s Find. Now they began to look really worried. Payne’s Find was a big dot on the map and this was it? Where were we taking them?
I must admit, if I’d never been out that way before, I would probably have been thinking the same thing. Even I was relieved when we finally rolled through the gate of the station at 8.30pm and smelled the cooking steak and sausages. The best part of the weekend was about to begin.
All together now....'Nah nah na-nah na nah nah, I'm goin' to start a fight...'
Facts about teenagers- No.4 : The average teenager has no concept of what the world is like outside their own domain. However, after some initial qualms, most will embrace a new experience with enthusiasm (maybe too much enthusiasm in some cases!)