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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Carla - Queen of the Murchison

Two weeks ago two busloads of photographers and artists rolled into the old gold mining town of Cue 650 kilometres north of Perth. I had a bit of a feeling of deja vu as we pitched tents in the Cue Caravan Park. Forty years earlier in 1974 I had led a bunch of 24 TAFE photography students from Mt Lawley Technical College to Cue and Daydawn for a week long photography excursion. How I returned with all 24 students alive is beyond me. At one stage three 17 year olds went missing. I found them at the bottom of a vertical mine shaft pushing an old rail trolley along in pitch blackness.

So here I was back in Cue with a bunch of very respectable, mature age photographers and another bunch of even more respectable artists with easels and watercolours led by renowned watercolourist Ross Patterson.

While the painters painted, the photographers engaged in historical architecture in Cue's main street. Austin Street is wide enough to fit the MCG and Subiaco Oval side by side. Its  lined with wonderful old historical stone, wooden and galvanised iron buildings.  There's abandoned shops, the old bank of NSW and the Queen of the Queen of the Murchison Hotel.

I spotted a small throng of people on the upstairs balcony of the Queen of  Murchison Hotel which is now a charming old B & B. When we finished the worksop I wandered inside the front door of the 'Queen', and then opened another door which rang a bell.

All was quiet when another 'Belle' arrived - a blonde Belle. Her eyes lit up when she saw an old  photographer with camera and tripod, covered in red dust.

'This is NOT a public thoroughfare!
 Would you please leave now' was 'Belles' opening salvo.

A bit a f a jolt. Not exactly a warm greeting.
'I'm sorry' I said
'I saw you standing on the balcony and would really love to photograph you'
Her stern face faded instantly.
'Why?' she asked
'I just think you have such an interesting face. Are you the owner or manager here?'
She gave me a watermelon sized smile.
'I suppose so. I've been in the movies you know. And three years ago I was crowned Queen of the Murchison, my name is Carla.'
I shook Carla's hand.
'That's great. Can I have a look at the other rooms. I would like to get some good lighting on your face'.
She led  me down a  passage, through an atrium, passed her collection of Harley Davidsons and into a dining area.
'This would be great just here. The lighting is really good for you/
She beamed.
'I was given a tiara when I was crowned Queen of the Murchison. Would you like me to wear my tiara?'
Now I beamed
'Of course! A tiara would be perfect.
After all, you are a Queen'

ps The pub has no beer. But it does have Carla.
pss Next time I visid CueI plan to stay at the Queen of the Murchison!

1 comment:

  1. You are such a master in the art of persuasion!

    Great portrait and another story to go with it :)