By Sue Glasfurd (great- grandmother and wandering explorer extraordinaire)
When I was young – admittedly, some time ago – I always wished to do everything long before I was capable of doing so.
“Wait,” was always the answer. “Wait until you are older and have a little more sense.”
Well, now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, the decisions I make are, overall, still received with consternation and trepidation.
“You can’t possibly do that, you are far too OLD.”
Well too old I may be, but I intend living my life to the fullest while there’s life still in me, learning new things, doing new things, going new places. It seems that I am in a no-win situation and herein lies my next tale.
It is winter and it’s cold, so once more I think I will head with my caravan towards the north where it is warmer.
“What, on your own?” the wise ones protest. “You can’t; what of the dangers?”
Lurking out there in the wilds are many hidden dangers, so they tell me. There are dangerous happenings that lie ahead, crumbling cliffs where I and my caravan will end up flattened and smashed 50 metres below never to be seen again, sudden rising of rivers in the Gascoigne area capable of washing me and my caravan away to my watery, eddying, and churning doom, murderers and rapists and other loopy lunatics abound, and knife wielding and drug crazed creatures lurk amongst the Pilbara’s vast red termite mounds.
It’s hot out there in the outback and they (the wise ones again) inform me I am bound to die of dehydration with my tongue dried, blackened and swollen and my skin peeling off in sheets from over-exposure to the sun’s fearful rays. Then there are mosquitoes, giant ones, capable of injecting me with Ross River Virus or worse, Murray River Encephalitis.
Even worse still, what about the recently issued Government Health Warning about the Kunjin Virus which has been detected in the Pilbara? It causes brain damage and usually death. Additionally, what about the midges? Miniature flying things whose bite can turn septic, so I will be covered in running, pus-filled sores which can take many months to heal.
Added to all this are the green ants of the Kimberleys. GREEN ANTS! They live in trees and according to those who seem to be a full bottle on such things, their ferocious behaviour is not such that I would ever wish to encounter. Poor unsuspecting me, I might just be happening to be walking all alone on one of my much loved bush track walks when wham bang, they could drop out of a tree above in their thousands and nip and chew me to an excruciating and painful death.
Or I could lose my footing on a moss-covered rock while crossing a creek. Don’t you know, I was told, you can drown in less than 10 cms of water? I was warned too of spiders, big hairy ones of the size and demeanour of a dinosaur; they could wrap their web tightly around me and throttle me to death.
Surely these are warnings enough? But no, there were even more…
Dingoes? I must be aware of wild, mange- ridden Dingoes with huge incisors, carrying rabies. While I am sleeping, they could rip my throat out at the drop if a hat.
What of kangaroos? Sweet fluffy well-loved Aussie creatures renowned all over the world, but no, not-so-sweet, their hind legs have evolved into fearful weapons of attack, they could grab me with their front hands and hold me down and tear my entrails out.
To make matters worse, they carry ticks. Nasty little critters, they leap off the kangaroo to embed themselves in human flesh and engorge themselves on blood. Human blood? Perhaps my blood. And what happens if I try to pull it off? It comes off minus its head which will remain embedded in my body and then turn the area into a suppurating, foul sore that will take forever to heal. And, they tell me, ticks cause Lyme’s Disease, a nasty lingering disease, I could get that too.
Additionally, I was warned of cyclones. There are cyclones in the far north, I could be swept out to sea by an immense tidal wave, or blinded while driving by a swirling deadly dust storm and end up in a ditch by the side of the road, still clinging to the steering wheel, eyes glazed and dead. And abiding in the Kimberley are enormous man-eating crocodiles; their favourite meal is humans, and they are sure to wish to feast on my soft pink flesh.
What about if when camped at Cooper Pedy I had to get up in the darkness of night for a pee? I could miss my footing and fall down one of the many mine shafts in that vicinity. Or perhaps my fatal falling might just to be simply unfortunate and step on a deadly dugite and die a lonely death? And last, but not least, there is the Covid virus. The environment and air is full of it …
I won’t say I became obsessed with all of this, but it did enter my head and occupy my thoughts a little – perhaps I am ill prepared? So, I have raced off to the pharmacy, doubled up on my first aid kit and medication, bought half a dozen more cans of insect repellent and sunburn cream, bought more RAT testing kits, and then wondered, do I need a gun? More likely a machine gun!
It seems that life on the road could be testing, full of peril and fearsome things that go honk in the night. Literally unimaginable things can happen to you out there.
However, clearly, if there was a time to experience life on the road and the Australian bush it is, for me, now! So thanks for all the warnings, dear ones,
and see you back in the south in due course, if I’m lucky!