To all the synths we couldn't afford, and the lengths we go to experience them...
In 1985 I walked into my local music store. In there was a DX-7 and it cost $2995. I was 18 at the time and it was impossible to own. A few weeks later I managed to scrape up enough dollars for its little brother, a DX-27, remember those? (yeah - I had one! -Ed) We have all had this experience, just insert the name of the synth in question for your own story, here's mine.
It's 11 O'clock at night and it's still warm. The hot easterly that has been blowing all day from the Great Victoria Desert into this mining town has abated but the heat and the dust still lingers in the deserted orange, incandescent bathed street. Echoes of Dire Straits 'Telegraph Road' run eerily wild. This town built on a century of golden dreams of predominantly Irish and Italian immigrants, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice and became the basis of local legend, reflects on its own past quietly at this time of night, as it does every night especially as it's many pubs begin to close. On cue the Greyhound pulls around the corner, amazing really. Two days earlier it had left Adelaide. It has hauled across the Nullarbor and it arrives here right on schedule. As it pulls up to the kerb my first positive for the evening, Bill is driving. We go back a bit as he and I have shared this run together a few times before. Bill is an amazing guy. Pilot, engineer and host, I don't know how he does it. We greet each other warmly as he's happy to see a familiar and still awake human being. The rest of his human cargo is asleep. Largely full of people from the east who either couldn't afford the airfare or are in no particular hurry to get anywhere. I settle on board and away we go. For anyone vaguely interested we drive past this towns famous red light district, which is somewhat of a tourist attraction and the girls wave as we go by as they do three times a week. I know some of them, platonically of course. Most of them are educated, university types earning some good money during the summer. They will head back to the city soon enough.
Just before midnight we hit Coolgardie, one of the anointed fuel stops on the run to the coast. Here Bill will quench the Greyhounds thirsty tanks and he and I will enjoy arguably the best burger this side of Ceduna. As we fuel our bodies we talk of changing times. Airfares are getting cheaper and bus services are under threat. Bill hopes it will last long enough until he retires, but the writing is on the wall. As we pull out onto the highway we brace for another six hours to the shining city. By day this road hosts mining and farming utilities, grey nomads towing caravans and camper trailers, and young families in sedans chasing their own outback adventures. By night this road is transformed and is not for the faint hearted, only road warriors need apply. Road-trains, 18-wheelers and transcontinental buses ply their trade while everyone else sleeps. On three or four occasions a thud will reverberate through the chassis but not to worry, it's just a kangaroo. Kangaroos are nocturnal creatures and considered a pest by some. They sleep on one side of the road by day and feed at night on the other. They are mesmerised by headlights. Startled, they attempt to leap across the road at the last second. Everyone knows not to swerve to avoid them. The high speeds, narrow roads and dirt shoulders make it too dangerous. The 'roo' hits the enormous bull bar, is killed instantly and its lifeless carcass is swept aside and flung back into the scrub. Welcome to the outback and it's harsh.
Three hours later we arrive in Merredin and pull into the BP, Bill must stop for a regulation break. I leave him be and walk towards the road. It's three in the morning and I watch the convoy of trucks behind us hauling through town. In another three hours they will be pulling into freight depots in the city to fill our supermarket shelves and no-one who is sleeping now has any idea where it all comes from, shame really. In three hours we pull over the scarp and head down into the city. The first slivers of dawn cut deep into the halogen landscape below. At 6:30am we arrive at the bus station right on the dot. I bid Bill farewell but I will see him later tonight. He will sleep during the day and take the Greyhound back east. That's the lot of the long distance bus driver.
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