This being my fourth trip to Onslow, I was very much looking forward to catching up with the people I've known since I first spent time there and to beginning in earnest the project that's been bubbling away for over two years. I was also looking forward to showing my colleague, Ben Collins, the various haunts I'd discovered.
We settled in at the Sun Chalets on the Tuesday and were up early Wednesday morning as we wanted to head out to Old Onslow to capture images and, for Ben, get a sense of the ambient sounds of Onslow which he is hoping to use for the recordings for the Onslow Keepers Project. It was a terrific drive out but, as many people now know, an unexpectedly adventurous one! Towards the end of the trip we stopped to help someone who had become bogged in the clay...resulting in us becoming bogged as well. I've never been more grateful for having switched phone companies - two years ago, I'd have been stuck for a long time! Suffice to say, we finally made it out and got there just in time for the Keepers Lunch at the Beach Resort.
Ben and I attended the morning tea in the Community Gardens and that's where we were able to start making times to meet with people to record their stories. After a slow start we couldn't have been happier with people's generosity with their time and recollections. The range of people we managed to interview was wonderful and my only regret was having to leave when we did. I think Ben and I left feeling that we knew more about Onslow and it's unique place in WA's north, than we could have hoped for and it's our feeling that the conversations we've had and recorded will give others a chance to learn as we did - and from those who know it best.
Ben still has a quite a bit to do to edit the stories (and get rid of my unnecessary interjections and noises!) but once that's done, the sound files will be given back to The Shire and the Keepers in a format that can easily be listened to as a podcast in the library or museum. After that, there are more possibilities; I'm certainly optimistic about the project continuing and expanding and very much hope to be involved.
We finished up on the Sunday we left with a lovely afternoon tea at Dawn McCauley's house with her family and friends - there is no more fitting end to the week than that.