Waxy leaves Mavis up the duff, builds beach houses in Bonalbo then goes west

ABOVE: This house is not in Bonalbo, there is no ocean in Bonalbo.

Have you felt the pull of great architecture?

The Temple of Rameses at Abu Simbel, the Sydney Opera House, Angkor Wat or Lismore Square?

The exhilaration or reverence evoked by a great building is just as real as the claustrophobia we feel in a small, airless room.

Buildings get to us.

And some we just can’t forget.

Angkor Wat is not in Bonalbo.

Mystery continues to swirl around Bonalbo’s famous Beach Houses like fairy floss in a flooded playground, but perhaps now we are one step closer to answering this pizzler of a puzzle.

We know there are two of them: the Pink House and the Yellow House. We know they were built in the early ‘60s by a surfie builder who favoured timber, pastels and asbestos-rich fibro, and we know that when he’d finished he headed west from Bonalbo, apparently on a mission to bring beach culture to the inland and Outback.

We know he drove a Ford Customline with board racks and a static strap and that he towed a trailer made from a cut down Jennison Pathfinder caravan with 14 inch Holden wheels, and now we know so much more, because of his old sweetheart, Mavis Chumleavy.

A Ford Customline. Photo: Sicnag – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Until recently, Mavis, a retired architect, was locked down at St Salacious Sunset Village in Bilpin.

“I was walking the walls and climbing the floor from boredom, malnourishment and lack of vaccination,” she said.

“One day I just went completely Bad Gidget and pinched a bit of paper with the Wi-Fi password out of the doctor’s pocket on her annual visit and logged onto the registered nurse’s computer – he’s never there.

“Anyway, I got onto Gumtree to see if I could score an Innovations Catalogue number 34782 (circa July 2003) in good condition.

“Ended up down a ferret hole and found myself staring at this ad for a trailer in Brewarrina.

“These kids had used their dad’s Gumtree account to put up this Jennison Pathfinder trailer for 75 bucks, pickup only.”

“The Jennison Pathfinder rang a bell, and as soon as I saw the photo I knew it was the one.

“I mean, I’m pretty incontinent, but there are some things you hold on to.

“Let’s face it, me and Waxy had some very choice times in the back of that thing.

“And the logo badge bizzo had this Aboriginal bloke with a shield and spear, looking off into the distance – something different.”

The Jennison Pathfinder emblem

So now we have a name, Waxy – Waxy Noggins.

“But it gets weirder. Next day in the alleged Recreation Room I’m flicking through this  Country Style House and Garden while I’m waiting for them to puree my steak sandwich when I clock this article about these pastel beach houses in this place called Bonalbo, miles from the sea, built by an unknown, phantom surfie builder.

“And I say to myself, ‘Waxy Noggins, you bastard. You stole my designs’!”

“I’d just started Architecture at Sydney Uni when I met Waxy. On Coogee Beach.

“I could see he had a special something, that’s for sure, and he let me smoke some of it.

“So we were pretty much an item from then on.”

“Now see, Waxy would never let me ride his board, probably because he was afraid I’d show him up. Or maybe because I couldn’t swim a stroke.

“So, I used to just sit on the beach and doodle in my sketchbook and design palaces and skyscrapers. And beach houses for Waxy and me to live in.”

“Well, we got pregnant the night after Midget Farrelly won the first world champs and Waxy told me it wouldn’t be fair on me if he stayed around.

“Yeah, sure.

“Sounds like one of Barnalby Joist’s lines.

“And so off he choofs.

“But Waxy Junior turned out to be the best thing to happen to me.

“She was the sparkling treasure of my existence with all of her father’s good points and none of the bad.”

Did Waxy say where he was headed?

“Nah. Just said he had a mission to complete in time for the 50,000th anniversary of the Land Bridge.”

What did that mean?

“Search me, Clive Palmer makes more sense.”

The mystery abides.

A lesson to us all


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