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strange men—in trucks—passing through and Visitor’s Beer were shown alongside each other as part of Geraldton Regional Art Gallery’s Worldline group exhibition of emerging Western Australian artists from regional backgrounds.
In response to Eve York’s curatorial premise of “returning to one’s roots”, I spent a night alone in my hometown of Wubin. The mining boom has since made it a major stopover for road trains driving along the Great Northern Highway, which basically means it’s a ghost town with two roadhouses and several vast truck bays, collectively spanning a surface area larger than the town itself.
The peripheral yet constant presence of trucks was always a kind of threat to me growing up. There was, of course, the real danger of being run over by one, but I was also terrified of the sound they made, and, since the drivers were too high up for me to ever really see them, they seemed like monsters that simply drove themselves.
Returning as an adult woman, I was more curious about the truckies and their culture: their hyper-masculinity, their loneliness and perversity, perhaps to be expected when one leads such a transient lifestyle. However, as much as Wubin’s now disquieting unfamiliarity made me feel like a fellow outsider, it only made me more suspicious of them. Maybe strange men—in trucks—passing through is less about Wubin and its truckies, and more about me keeping a safe distance from both.
Visitor’s Beer continues this suspicion towards the hyper-masculine, and refers to a peculiar childhood memory of mine: my parents took me to the Wubin pub when I was about five years old, and I watched a sex worker serve beer to a group of unknown men.