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Windmills and cattle grids

Grid-Camp — 2000-07-16

We decided yesterday that we should begin at 5:00 a.m. today and although it’s difficult to convince our sore bodies, where there’s a will there’s a way. We head off at 10:30 a.m. and have barely turned the first corner when we catch sight of a grid sign. ‘That can’t be!’ I cry, stunned at the sight of the imbedded grid and nearby windmill. The wheel of the mill clappers loudly in the breeze and draws water up from the depths of the earth, pouring it into a large, round trough. The farmers in this region have many windmills like this one with which to water their herds. I give Tanja the caravan and inspect the area, finding to my great relief a narrow gate through which we and the camels may pass. There is a gate on the other side too, about a metre and a half wide, which opens back up onto the road. Because Hardie always tries to swing out to the left on narrow passages, hauling Goola, Jafar and Istan around with him, Tanja stands by the left gate post and talks quietly to the animals. I make a timid attempt at leading Sebastian through the relative narrow gate but he refuses. I speak soothingly to him and tug on his nose and lead lines, but to no avail. He constantly turns his wary eyes to the turning wheel up on the mill which obviously causes him great fear. It takes a lot of convincing to get him to take the first step forward, but eventually it works. After clearing what he considers a very dangerous gate, Sebastian breaks out to the side and frightens Hardie into tearing through the small opening, pulling Goola along with him. His L-frame cracks loudly against the gate post which makes him jump to the side and jerk Jafar up behind him. Jafar doesn’t have much hope of making the narrow opening and I can imagine him ploughing into the wooden fence, but at the last minute he makes a quick hook turn and races through the gate-way unharmed. ‘Phew, that was close!’ Tanja sighs ‘Too close!’ I answer and lead the excited beasts through the somewhat wider gate on the other side. Once through the second gate, we let the camels down again and bind their forefeet as usual.

Here we let the animals drink as no-one knows when we’ll have another chance to do so. All up I haul 25 buckets of water from the trough and bring them to the animals, who gulp it down as if they’d been in the Sahara for weeks. We continue our journey, once the camels have filled their stomachs, and come across the next grid around midday – with gate, thank goodness.

It’s a beautiful day, despite a storm which is brewing to the south west, and our path leads us across a huge salt lake called Lake Moore. The vegetation changes suddenly and there is purple heather and other marsh plants for as far as the eye can see. Emus and Kangaroos increasingly cross our path and sometimes small herds of our favourite animals hop along beside us, occasionally stopping to stand under the nearby bushes and watch us pass. ‘Look how funny they are! There’s even a Joey in that one’s pouch! Hey, he’s as big as our Shiron!’ Tanja exclaims gleefully every time. Tanja takes over the caravan for the first time in the afternoon and I look after Rufus who is still walking on the line and being trained by us to heel. It’s not easy with him as he was already three years old when we got him, more than twelve months ago, and it’s difficult to train a dog of that age. But Rufus makes progress every day, despite having a very strong mind of his own.

We reach the next camping spot at 4:00 p.m., right beside another cattle grid. We unload quickly and set up camp, looking forward to a visit from John and his family. The workshop owner had come up with the bright idea of having a BBQ with us on Sunday, during his visit to us a few days ago. It is 6:00 p.m. and still no sign of John so we resign ourselves to the disappointing fact that we’ll have to miss out on the sausages, lamb chops and beer which we’d been dreaming of. What the heck, we open up a tin of tuna with noodles and tomato sauce and a bit of parmesan cheese to make up for it.

Day: 66






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