A Travel Tale
Blackheath, New South Wales
The dunny and the lunch room had a bit of rivalry going on. After all, the dunny thought, the lunch room had started out as a dunny but then the plumber had wanted it built elsewhere, over the sewer pipe, so the builders had started again and just dubbed their first attempt “the lunch room” to differentiate between the two. The lunch room took exception to this and pointed out that it was in a more salubrious area under a tree, was much bigger and more sturdily built and even had a roof—with no smelly loo inside it! The dunny had to admit it was true it didn’t have a roof (or much of a floor for that matter) but then the workers weren’t supposed to linger inside but rather get back to work as soon as possible—especially when it was raining, snowing, sleeting or blowing a gale—as it often did in Blackheath. Sure, they could huddle in the lunch room for a while but it was full of nooks and crannies through which the wind howled and the cold crept, so it was not exactly the Ritz either!
The lunch room maintained that it was much classier, could accommodate up to three workmen at a time, if necessary, and also be used for the storage of more expensive items which the builder didn’t want nicked before he had the chance to install them. Also, and most importantly, it didn’t stink! The dunny stoutly protested that it performed a very valuable, necessary, service and the builders couldn’t do without it—at least until the plumbing was finished!
There came a day when the wind blew so hard that one particularly powerful gust lifted the dunny right off the ground, just as the owner arrived. She and her granddaughter watched open-mouthed as it sailed over the trees into the valley below. It left the loo behind and they were both appropriately thankful that no-one had been using it at the time …
The dunny was also dumbfounded at first but then started to enjoy itself. Well, this is a bit of an adventure, it thought. I’ll have a travel tale to tell that stuffy old lunch room when I get back! It rather liked being in the valley—the view was lovely and it had landed on some nice, soft moss. Unfortunately, it had landed right next to a walking track and many of the hikers took advantage of its presence and used it for obvious purposes—even though there was no loo inside. Now the dunny had a strong stomach, but the smell became too much even for it after a while, especially when the rain came down, the water started rising and the reason for all the beautiful moss became apparent: it was sitting in a bog!
Now the dunny had discovered by this time that it could take advantage of the wind, being so light and all, and gradually managed to start hopping back up the slope with every gust of wind in the right direction. Regular hikers were not sure what to make of this at first but ended up concluding that the rangers must be moving it to “spread the load” so to speak. One especially windy day, the dunny finally got enough uplift to sail back over the ridge and trees back home. By this time, it was tired of travelling and not having anyone to talk to, so it was delighted to see its old sparring partner once more. It even had a quick chuckle to itself to see that the loo had been moved behind the lunch room so the ripe fumes were getting right up its nose!
‘Well, do I have a tale to tell you!’ the dunny cried, flushed with success, but before it could say another word, along came the builder with his sons saying: ‘Right, lads, let’s get this lunch room dismantled and seeing as how the dunny has finally decided to rejoin us, we’ll take it apart too, now the job’s all done!’
The dunny recoiled in horror at these words. ‘Sorry mate,’ it called to the lunch room, ‘I’d love to stay and chat but I’ve got things to do, places to see and I won’t be able to do that if they rip me apart! Goodbyeee!’ and it was off with the next big gust of wind to pastures new.
The dunny next made a trip down to Hartley Vale and was amazed, and a little intimidated it must be said, by all the open space. It settled down next to a barn on a small property to get all the goss on valley life. The first thing it noticed was the smell:
‘Phew mate,’ the dunny cried, ‘you smell even worse than I do!’
‘That’s because I’ve a whole pile of manure inside me,’ the barn replied. ‘Nice and ripe it is too—just about ready to be spread on the fields.’
‘Well, it smells like a load of shite to me,’ the dunny said confidentially (one of the builders was originally from Ireland as you’ve probably guessed).
‘That’s exactly what it is, mate—horse shit, cow shit, sheep shit, chicken shit—every kind of shit you can imagine, except human shit for some reason.’
‘Well, you could say that last one is my specialty,’ the dunny claimed modestly, ‘or rather was—I’m into bigger and better things now.’
Just then, the farmer came along and, spotting the dunny, scratched his head a bit before deciding the dunny’s parts would be ideal for patching up the old cow shed. The dunny hastily took off with the next good gust of wind and wandered all around the valley taking in the sights and chatting with stables (more manure), pig sties (same), chicken coops, cow sheds, etc. until it was convinced all the buildings in the valley were full of it.
There came a time when it decided to return to the Blue Mountains—it missed all the trees, the narrow valleys and gorges. A gale force wind helped it back up Victoria Pass and it finally found its way to the Grose Valley and landed in a small clearing in the Blue Gum Forest. The dunny was concentrating so hard on getting the aerodynamics just right that it didn’t notice some bushwalkers making their way into the clearing from a walking trail nearby while it made its final descent. They stopped in their tracks as their laughter rang through the forest!
‘What the hell is that?’ one of them cried.
‘It must be the Australian version of the Tardis!’ another joked.
‘Right,’ said the third, ‘let’s see if it’s bigger on the inside!’
‘Well,’ said the fourth and last member of the group. ‘I must say this dunny is a very welcome sight!’ and opened the door. ‘Strewth,’ he said, ‘it’s not only no bigger on the inside but it’s missing an essential ingredient—no bowl!’
‘Well, it wouldn’t be connected to a sewer out here in the middle of nowhere, anyway,’ the leader said pragmatically, ‘so we’ll have to dig a hole just like always, but at least we’ll have complete privacy for a change.’
‘Just so long as it doesn’t decide to fly off again while we’re getting down to business, so to speak,’ the joker laughed.
The dunny was less than impressed by all this frivolity but decided to do its duty and remain until they had finished. It was growing very tired of being taken advantage of and felt its former life was beneath it now that it could fly. It slowly travelled deeper and deeper into the ranges until it found what seemed to be an ideal spot surrounded by tree ferns, eucalypts and pines with only the faintest of trails weaving through it. It was so peaceful there that the dunny gradually relaxed and reached almost a state of nirvana. One day, it was dozing in the sunshine, while colourful birds flitted through the branches above it, when suddenly it heard voices moving towards it. It jerked awake and swore that it would never again suffer the indignities of its former existence. When the men entered the glade and gasped at the sight of it, the dunny flew at them with its door banging open and shut in a menacing manner so that they stepped back into the relative safety of the trees.
‘What on earth?’ cried the scientist.
‘How could a dunny have got here of all places?’ wondered the botanist. ‘I mean, only a very select few know of this place—has the secret home of the Wollemi pine been betrayed?’
The Aboriginal guide looked at them solemnly. ‘This is no ordinary dunny,’ he intoned. ‘It is obviously a spirit guide from the Dreamtime, here to protect these sacred trees from the white fella!’ and turned aside to hide his grin.
The dunny was suitably impressed by this explanation and decided it rather liked the idea of being a spirit guide. It listened intently to their conversation and discovered how rare and wonderful this particular spot was and how the Wollemi pines needed to be protected at all costs. It had grown tired of all the travelling and resolved that this was going to be its final resting place. It would stand guard over the glade and frighten away any undesirables that might seek to exploit or destroy the Wollemi pines. At last it had found its true mission in life and woe betide anyone who dared to try and take advantage of the pines or their spiritual guide!
Bio: Lynne says this piece was inspired by activity on her building site, which is now her new home. She has some photos to prove there is some substance to the tale!