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Red Earth Camp 1

Saddle Red Earth-Camp 1 — 2000-07-13

I am already speeding across the wet, beaten track to Beacon at 7:30 a.m. It has been raining cats and dogs for over 1 ½ hours now and spirits in the camp are not good. I am pretty depressed myself and have to wonder how much longer we must fight against this truly annoying saddle problem. I would never have dreamed that a loading problem could make the beginning of our expedition so difficult. Rufus is panting on the seat next to me and looking out the window like a very important pilot. Jo’s dog, Rocket, who she brought along with her while Tom is away, lies behind me in the back between the saddle frames. I am contemplating the future of our expedition and the chances of success as suddenly Rocket gives a startled howl. I almost pull the steering wheel off in fright and bring the vehicle to a halt while Rocket continues to howl miserably. What’s wrong Rocket? You’re not going to have a heart attack right now? Her body is trembling all over and she is whimpering and whining. I stroke her and think about what I should do, who knows maybe she could even die. Should I turn back? As if we didn’t have enough problems! I decide quickly that there’s no point in returning to the camp, Jo couldn’t do anything anyway and maybe there’s a vet in Beacon. I start the Holden up again and fly over the bush road to Beacon. I am relieved to see that Rocket quietens a little and by the time we reach John’s workshop her pain appears to have subsided completely.

John laughs as he sees me again and begins working on Goola’s saddle straight away, despite having a lot of other work to do. I request that steel rods be welded left and right into Hardies saddle too on which to fasten saddle bags in case we are forced to relinquish his L-frame also. I drop in at Westfarmers on the way back to check the weather report as the rain doesn’t appear to be lessening. ’You’ll be right’ I’m told there and take it that means it will stop soon. I arrive back at camp at 11:00 a.m. as planned to find that Jo and Tanja don’t want to go on in the rain. I manage to talk them into continuing our march and while they pack I take the car up the road in search of an evening camping spot. Just 11 kilometres further on I find a sort of car-park surrounded by nice bush land on the right hand side and then the first cattle grid another 15 kilometres up the track. I mark the spots in the GPS and drive back. In the meantime, John and his family have found our camping spot. His wife and children would like to see the camels which we continue to load up while chatting with one another, eventually coming up with the idea of a barbecue together on Saturday. We are back on the road at 1:45 p.m. heading north and at 4:30 p.m. we reach the camping spot which I had marked in the GPS. The bush here is beautiful and even the hungry camels appear happy in this Garden of Eden with it’s native vegetation. By the way, this is the first of our camps under which the famous red earth of Australia lies and because of this, as well as the fact that we’ve finally reached open station land, we name it Red Earth Camp 1. ‘Your apprenticeship to Camel Caravan Master is herewith finished. You have completed it successfully and I can leave you with confidence to continue on your way alone.’ Jo says solemnly. This doesn’t come as a surprise to us as we’ve discussed Jo’s departure often these last few days, and although we’ll be sad to see her go we celebrate the occasion by opening the bottle of red wine we received from Claudia and Angelika a few weeks ago. It is a festive evening even though we all know that Jo really will be leaving us this time. Later on, back in our tent, I look forward to the next day as it will show whether we are able to lead our camels alone through this endlessly wide country or not.

Day: 63






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