Dave, the coach driver, told this story when we were travelling from Uluru, Ayers Rock, to Kings Canyon in the Northern Territories. From Kings Canyon we were travelling on to Alice Springs.
Each destination surprised me for different reasons, a lesson not to have preconceived ideas of place or people.
I always thought the story of Jim’s place would make a great film, and although not politically correct these days, from whichever angle you look – Jock Tamson’s bairns fits – if you think about it.
Jack Cotterill, together with his son built the original road through to Kings Canyon over a number of years. He had leased land from an Aborigine and set up a small holiday complex. He wanted all the world to see the beauty of King’s Canyon. It was a hard life as they had dug the roads through by hand because they had no diggers or JCBs at that time. But when the task was done, they were moderately successful.
Eventually Jack died and the Aborigine from whom the land was leased died too. When Jim came to renew his lease, the grand-daughter of the Aborigine refused. She wanted Jim out and to take over the holiday complex. He took his case to court but she was within her rights to refuse to renew the lease.
Jim had buried his father, his young daughter and his memories over the years there.
There was however, a small clause, the original Aborigine who had leased the land to Jack Cotterill had insisted be included. This was that when Jim was finished with the land he was to leave the land exactly as he found it. Jim borrowed a JCB and raised the complex to the ground putting the land back as it had been first day.
Jim had a cafe when we were there in the late 1990s, simply known as Jim’s Place.
The government have since opened up the Kings Canyon Resort and made such a great job of camouflage that we didn’t realise the buildings were there until we were on top of them.