In the first years of this century, I got a bee in my bonnet about Australian exploration. My school cohort were all taught that Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth (that was the order in which Macquarie listed them) were the only ones wise enough to head “up the ridges” (meaning the spurs) to get to the top. We were also taught that explorers went out into trackless wastes.
I would have used the story if I had been properly prepared. I should have had my digital camera on and ready, because the dingo had visited two others of the party in the previous 20 minutes, and I knew it would eventually visit me. Instead, when the pale face loomed up, I said certain stern words of dismissal, and missed taking the shot of a lifetime. I won’t make that mistake again.
All the same, there is crazy, and there is apparently crazy. If I wasn’t prepared for the dingo that came to visit, I am always prepared for troubles when I go bush, either on my own or in a small group. Like those writers of almost a century ago in their biographical notes, I work hard to deliver a good yarn, but I don’t really take risks.
On Thursday Island, we found ourselves in crocodile territory, where we had gone to examine a dugong jaw, because when William Dampier found one in a shark’s belly, he mistook it for a hippopotamus jaw.
She also wrangles leeches for me, but she drew the line once at poking a funnel-web with a stick to make it rear up and show its fangs, and she mostly leaves the mountains to me.
So back to my Warrumbungle mountain, a wedge-tailed eagle was there that day, and it swooped me repeatedly as I worked around a difficult rock face, and I elected not to get the camera out until I was safe. As soon as I got past the hard bit, it moved away of course, but when I was on the peak, it circled me, always staying in the sun, casting its shadow near or over me and preventing a shot.
“…excited the suspicions of public librarians by asking for works on poisons…”, the severe expressions eased.
To be continued....