Friday, 9 October 2009

"If you panic, you will die": Part Two

So, to take up where I left off, our band of happy campers are stranded at the Mt Dare Hotel, waiting for a new Land Cruiser - but what a cool place to be stranded. We all enjoyed the rest and the comparative luxury (most of the places we stayed had no facilities at all, and none had showers; we drove into campsites every three days or so to wash and by halfway through I was dirtier than I've ever been before!). We played cricket in the bush (England may have won the Ashes, but we lost this game comprehensively I'm afraid), and headed out for an evening walk to see the sunrise (this is the origin of the phrase above: Jarrod couldn't come with us because he had things to sort out, so cautioned us against treading on anything that looked like a King Brown snake, gave us a bandage to keep the poison from spreading too quickly if we were bitten and told us not to panic. Defence against one of the world's deadliest snakes - a piece of crepe and meditative breathing. After all that we were quite disappointed to see nothing more exotic than some camel tracks!).

The birds around the camp were amazing, too - actually, they were amazing throughout. I was surprised that there were so many of them in the desert - galahs, rainbow bee-eaters, black and white cockatoos, clouds of budgerigars, crested pigeons, wedge-tailed eagles, peregrine falcons, emus... We also saw kangaroos (of course!), a colony of yellow-footed rock wallabies, which were incredibly cute, wild horses and plenty of cattle out for a stroll. The place is teeming with life despite looking so barren, with the saltbush and mulga trees supporting a huge range of animals. I'm not sure I'd live out there, despite the really cool outback attitude - if you don't have it, improvise, and take it easy while the parts arrive; when life is more basic you strip away a lot of the bullshit. It was great to do it for a day or so, though, before getting back on the road (Part Three of the trilogy of the trip to come).

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