The Black and White Ball

Many years ago I had the priv­i­lege of being invit­ed to attend the Gren­fell Black and White Ball.

This was some­thing I was very much look­ing for­ward to at the time. The Black and White Ball was a very well organ­ised event and an extreme­ly pop­u­lar event and its rep­u­ta­tion pre­ced­ed it.

Then I met a girl.

Of course young love being what it is, my thoughts turned away from any kind of social­is­ing out­side of being with­in 2 metres of the girl I had just met.

How­ev­er, I kept to my com­mit­ment and drove to Gren­fell and attend­ed the Black and White Ball. Briefly.

After pac­ing around the hall in my pen­guin suit and spend­ing what I per­ceived to be the min­i­mum amount of time required, I snuck out, jumped in my car and head­ed back to Canberra.

In the days before GPS, one would nav­i­gate via one or more of these methods:
1. A Map
2. Writ­ten instructions
3. A pas­sen­ger who knew the route
4. Fol­low­ing some­one who knew the route
5. Street Signs
6. Going in the gen­er­al direc­tion and hop­ing for the best

I opt­ed for a com­bi­na­tion of the last two – which are not the best options in Coun­try NSW, espe­cial­ly in the dead of night in an old Dat­sun 260Z.

A short time down the road I arrived at the town of Young.

After dri­ving through Young, I mys­te­ri­ous­ly end­ed up on a dirt road. After about 20 min­utes of not see­ing anoth­er car and noth­ing but bush I con­sid­ered I may have tak­en a wrong turn.

Some tail­lights appeared in the dis­tance which gave me some hope. But as I approached the eeri­ly slow­ly mov­ing truck and saw around a dozen dead fox­es hang­ing off the back, a thought went through my head: “This guy prob­a­bly has a rifle. I think I’ll keep driving.”

Even­tu­al­ly the dirt road came to an end and I was giv­en a choice of “left” or “right” with­out any sig­nage to guide me. Fol­low­ing my nose I chose left and head­ed down the bitu­men in the vague hope I was head­ing straight towards Canberra.

A short time down the road I arrived at the town of Young.

I had some­how man­aged to dri­ve from Young, via the bush in some kind of enor­mous cir­cle, to the town of Young.

Luck­i­ly for me, in my sec­ond arrival at Young, I actu­al­ly saw a sign which point­ed me in the direc­tion of Canberra.

As I trav­elled down the pitch black road I could see a huge set of head­lights com­ing up from the rear that appeared to be gain­ing on me.

Being in my 20s, and hav­ing a Dat­to meant that I didn’t have to put up with that kind of behav­iour, and I prompt­ly put my foot down. Zoom­ing around tight bends and fly­ing down the straights I was smug in the knowl­edge that no-one could catch me.

How­ev­er, some­how they still gained on me, the lights were get­ting brighter. As it got clos­er I couldn’t help but won­der how some­thing so incred­i­bly huge could pos­si­bly be tak­ing all these sharp lit­tle cor­ners, espe­cial­ly over all these unusu­al lit­tle bridges, as fast as me and my Datto.

Final­ly, as I held my breath with sheer pan­ic on my face look­ing in my rear view mir­ror, I heard the famil­iar sound of a train horn and watched as the speed­ing mono­lith blast­ed past me. All those tight lit­tle cor­ners over those lit­tle bridges were due to my road wind­ing over the train tracks. The train on the oth­er hand, had a straight run with no imped­i­ments whatsoever.

The Dat­to and I breathed a sigh of relief, and cruised at a more mod­er­ate pace even­tu­al­ly end­ing up back in our nation’s capital.

I guess this is one of those times where the jour­ney, as opposed to the des­ti­na­tion, was where the adven­ture lay. In fact, I only have fleet­ing images of the actu­al Black and White Ball in my mem­o­ries, but the dri­ve back is etched for good.