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Emu Egg Camp — 2000-09-16

It’s time to go again and today Jon has joined us while we load the animals. He is amazed at how much work it takes and asks if we do this every day. We are back on the dirt track which winds directly by the Belele Station in a northerly direction at 10:00 a.m. and then head off into the bush just a few hundred metres along. Jon opens a gate for us then wishes us a fond farewell. ‘I’ll visit you in Broome,’ he yells to us as we enter into another world. We follow a narrow path which disappears into the bush next to another broken windmill. We have no choice but to beat our own path through the thick bush and go cross country until we reach another of the tracks marked on our map. It’s not long before the ground becomes stony again and our progress slows, the energy reserves emptying fast after just a few hours.

A bush man had told us that the going would be easy from Belele to Peak Hill, ‘There’s plenty of camel food and it’s soft ground all the way, perfect for the camel’s feet. All of the windmills are working and draw great drinking water,’ were his words. I curse as I lead the caravan in a zig zag fashion across the dangerously hard ground. Suddenly we come across a dried river bed with very overgrown banks. ‘Damn, we have to get across here!’ I call to Tanja who is walking behind the camels. I lead Sebastian slowly down the bank and have to pull him up sharply as soon as his front feet hit the bed of the river, then camels have the habit of increasing speed whenever they walk downhill. If he were to speed off along the flat then he would pull the other camels connected to him with nose lines and saddle ropes across holes, edges, rocks and all sorts of other obstacles. This of course would mean an enormous risk of injury to the pack animals and that’s something we sure don’t need all the way out here in the middle of inhospitable bush land. ‘Slowly Sebastian, slowly,’ I say and hold him back by the lead and nose lines. Sometimes the only way for me to stop him is to physically stand in front of him, giving his fellows enough time to come make it down the embankment safely. Once we reach the middle of the river bed I notice that the other bank is completely overgrown too and that the only thing left for us to do is to walk along the sandy and sometimes stony bed until we find an opening through which the caravan can pass. We end up having to cross eight such river beds by midday and when we finally stop for lunch in the 35°C heat our spirits are at an all time low.

In the afternoon we come across a fence which I lower to allow the caravan to cross. An emu foot is dangling from one of the posts and as we look around we find the body of the bird lying just a few metres from the fence, the three toes of one foot poking up into the air. It was probably pulled out of the fence by dingoes after dying a horrible death entangled in the wire fence. Let’s hope we don’t end up looking like that, I think and leave this dreadful place.

We find another track in the afternoon, leading to the north east. I give a sigh of relief and we set up camp on the stony ground at 5:00 p.m. After unloading the animals, Tanja leads them to food. ‘Take a look at this Denis, it’s an emu egg!’, she calls. ‘I’ll look at it tomorrow,’ I call back, then my energy reserves are only barely enough to enable me to erect the inner tent, carry the kitchen boxes to the fire side and put out the food for our evening meal. Every metre is torture and the only things that could entice me out of camp right now are a litre of beer, some good food or a cold shower.

Day: 128

 

Sunrise:
06:03

 

Sunset:
18:00

 

Linear distance:
23,8

Daily kilometres:
28

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