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Dingos howling

Rockhole Camp — 2000-10-01

As on previous trekking days we get up at 3:30 a.m. and need 4 hours this time for the caravan to depart from Mingah Springs Station. The delay this time is caused by Rufus. It takes a full 15 minutes to fit one shoe onto him. The lacing system is somewhat tricky and Tanja, who has taken on this job has to be careful that circulation is not cut by the laces. Yet the mokassin has to sit relatively firm so he does not loose the shoes right away. We bid farewell to Tracy and Peter who leave the farm at 5:00 a.m. They are driving about 280 km to the town of Meekatharra to partake in a horserace. Tracy and Peter are excellent horsemen. Hundreds of trophies decorate their farmhouse.

At 7:30 the Red Earth Expedition moves through the farm gate. Rufus hops behind like a tumbling ice skater but after a few meters he walks like a normal dog again. No sooner have we left the station does he lose his right shoe. “Camels udu” I call and stop the caravan. Tanja takes off his shoes. “I will have to think up a new lacing system” she says as we carry on. Despite the stony route we are making good progress. Our path is lined by hills to the left and right. With every kilometer they widen up until we march northwards into a wide valley. Dry wind grass is unfolding. Millions of black stones cover the ground. Our caravan is moving careful but steadily across. Despite the heat I admire the unusual scenery which has changed only very gradually during the last 1186 kilometers. After 6 hours 48 minutes we reach our objective for the day, 30 kilometers from Mingah Springs. It is a natural watering place which Peter calls Rockhole. In a dried out riverbed water collects in a rocky recess. Small fish and turtles are living in it. Behind a row of bushes near the water place we find some shade where we unload the camels. The mercury shows 36 degrees in the shade. We move slowly and after our work is done sit down on our chairs and drink a liter of water each. The time is beginning where we hardly can keep up with the drinking. The mouth is dry and it becomes more and more difficult to quench our permanent thirst. Gone are the days of eternal rain, continuous humidity and cool temperatures. Officially it is only springtime but summer has started.

“I wonder if these plants here are poisonous” asks Tanja in a strained voice, glancing at our boys who are eating an unknown tree close by. “No idea but come let us again study the records which Tom and Jo have send us” I reply. It is not easy for us to identify the different plants described in a foreign language. Also the pictures differ from reality. Tanja and I agree to spend more time during the next days on plant studies as this knowledge is absolutely vital for the survival of our animals.

At 6:30 p.m. a moonless night displaces dusk. The howling of Dingos gets us anxious for the first time during this expedition. ”They are at the Rockhole” Tanja says. “Sounds ghastly. Just as well they leave humans in peace” I reply but take the howling as an opportunity to check our rifles. As a target I use a tree 50 meters away and which I can only vaguely make out. Naturally we will not shoot at the Dingos but during the last days we came across the fresh tracks of a herd of camels. As explained at the beginning of this adventure, wild camel bulls can become dangerous to man. There are numerous reports of them attacking man in the outback. In particular if one is en route with camels. For our defense we have one 30×30 caliber and for hunting a small caliber rifle. Up to now it was not necessary to use either of them but as of today it could happen that we run across a camel bull any moment and we have to be prepared for this.

Day: 143






Linear distance:


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Max. daytime temperature:
33°C, more than 53°C in the sun

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