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40&45, new record for hospitality earns the gold medal

Mount Vernon-Camp — 2000-10-03

Half cooked we get up in the early hours of the morning looking forward to the prospect of another very warm day. At 7:15 a.m. we are on the Mount Vernon Road. Poor Rufus limps horribly. His claws rub into the shoes again and again creating new pressure points. Tanja frees him of the things resulting in him having to walk over the hard and edgy ground. At 9:00 a car comes towards us for the first time since we left Mingah Springs. A woman gets out taking a movie of the approaching caravan. “Hi, my name is Lorraine Rieck. I am Tracy´s mother” the friendly woman introduces herself with a laugh. “Tracy asked me to film the caravan” she says pointing to her camera. We enjoy the pleasant meeting and exchange a few words with the mount Vernon managers wife. “I thought you could use these” she says and hands over a bag containing delicious fresh apples, two liters of ice water and two tins of ice cold Coca Cola. “Oh, thank you very much” we exclaim and open the tins without further ado. “Oh that’s good! Thanks again” I say feeling the cool prickling in my stomach. “I better let you move on now. When do you think you’ll reach the Branco branch off?” “No idea. How far to go?“ “ About 35 kilometers from here.” “Will you manage today?” Lorraine asks. I glance at the GPS. The instrument shows only 22,5 kilometers to the mentioned intersection. Having received rather inaccurate information with regards to distances during the last few months and seeing as the map shows the way as a rather straight line, I tend to believe the computer and answer: “I think we will be at Branco at 14.00 hours.” “Okay, I will wait for you there. We can put the camels into one of the cattle enclosures and if you want to. The camels are looked after too. Will two bales of hay a day be enough?” Again Tanja and I are overwhelmed by the sincerity and hospitality. “ Eh… Yes, two bales are more than enough”, I reply somewhat embarrassed. “Well then, until later and have a good trip” Lorraine calls and drives off in her Ute. No sooner had she disappeared around the next bent when we go for the cold water and eat one of the delicious tasting apples. The refreshment and the knowledge of being treated by such sincere hosts at the end of the day gives us wings.

We force ourselves on but I soon realise that the stony path winds across the hot country like a snake. At noon the mercury reaches the 40 degree mark for the first time during this trip. The drinking water from our Source water bags hanging on Sebastian is really hot. It hardly quenches our thirst. Rufus also gets water every hour but suddenly he refuses the life supporting liquid. “ Put your finger into it. Is it hot?” I ask Tanja. “Oh indeed” she answers. “It has to be at least 60 degrees. That’s the temperature in the sun” I note in exasperation. In the half shade of a dried out bush we rest for a few minutes. I have the feeling of almost dropping out of my shoes from exhaustion. We sit down on the rough hot rocks and drink from a 10 liter water bag which Tanja fetches from Sebastian. Being insulated and not exposed directly to the sun the water is relatively drinkable. Even Rufus drinks now like someone dying of thirst. 5 minutes later we are on our way again.

Naturally we do not reached our target by 14.00 hours. Lorraine´s information regarding the distance was exact. Only a few minutes later she again comes towards us. Again she offers cold water. “With pleasure” we say and pour the refreshing liquid down our throats. “Want me to take Rufus with me? The poor guy doesn’t look too well” the animal loving Lorraine asks in concern. “Great idea” Tanja answers and our car fanatic is already jumping into the air conditioned vehicle forgetting all about us. Some 100 meters further my knee starts aching again not having done so for a long time. I have to control myself and carry on limping. At 3:00 p.m. we reach the agreed meeting point. “Only 4 to 5 kilometers to the cattle enclosure” Lorraine shocks us. “Okay”, we answer forcing ourselves on. We walk through two gates with Lorraine waiting at each of them telling us that we just about made it. At 4:30 p.m. after 9 hours non stop march and 45 kilometers we reach the Branco bore hole. Half in a trance we unload the camels and carry the equipment we might need onto the Ute. Since the ground is crowded with millions of ants we carry the remainder of the equipment into a nearby derelict barn. We lead our well behaved animals into the cattle enclosure, water them and feed them with 2 bales of hay. “You can rest here for a few days ” Tanja says. We join Lorraine and Rufus in the Jeep and drive off into the glowing sun.

At Mount Vernon Station we are welcomed with open arms by Brian Rieck, the manager, his son Shane, Wendy and Reg Symon who look after the farm during the cattle round up and Bert, a nephew of Lorraine. We are led straight into an air conditioned room, offered a chair and served with cold lemonade. After the first thirst is quenched a glass of beer runs down the throat. Tanja and I can hardly believe our luck. Without exaggeration we think we’ve walked through the gates of paradise. “First take a refreshing shower. Lorraine will prepare your beds and then we look forward to seeing you for supper”. If it was not for my body sending out painful signals all over I would believe to be the main actor in a fairy tale. After wasing off the filth of the last few days we feel somewhat better. “This is your room. But if you want to you can put the beds onto the lawn and sleep in the open just like my son Shane. He says it is very pleasant” Lorraine chats to us. “Thats a great idea, I think. If we may take the beds outside onto the lawn we would enjoy sleeping there” I answer. “Before you do anything first come and eat”, she answers and disappears into the house. We follow her into the cooled room and take a seat in one of the chairs placed around a big long table. The table is set abundantly with food and at a first glance I discover sausage, goulash, mash potatoes, pumpkin and salad. “Please help yourselves and don’t be shy. There is enough here” says Lorraine. Bert brings us another beer which I delightfully sip down. Once again we eat like lions and speak of some of our experiences and adventures.

The conversation leads then to the, for us very important, north-south connection to the Turee Creek Station which possibly can save us a detour of several weeks. “Well, there is an old track to Turee Creek which has not been in use for some years. I can fly you there if you want to. Then you can see for yourselves. You just have to tell me when you want to fly” Brian offers. “Oh, that’s an unreal proposal, thousand thanks,” I answer, relieved to hear about this connection. “However, I have to warn you about the bush fire raging at the moment nearby Turee Creek” Brian spoils my excitement. “What, another bush fire?” .“Yes, we had lightning but no rain yesterday. Lightning set the bush alight. Nobody knows which course it will take. You know, fires are like monsters it’s branches leaping up forwards, backwards, left and right. Sometimes a branch dies and a new one is born and it is not unusual for it to mutate into a gigantic wall of fire eating up everything in its way. Oh I can tell you bush fires are horrible things.” Tanja and I get scared. Only a short while ago we went through the nightmare of being threatened by a bush fire. We do not want to believe that this experience starts again. “Well, don’t think about this fire. I can well imagine it being burned out when you get there,” the man with the soothing voice calms us down. I am too tired to ponder this threat any further. Instead I let my taste buds go crazy tasting the dessert, ice cream and plums. It’s late before we head to our room in order to take the beds outside. Again we are pleasantly surprised to find them already under the sky. Lorraine put a chair between the two beds onto which she put a bottle of water and a mosquito repellent. Dead tired we crawl under the blankets and it takes only a few minutes for us to fall into a deep sleep.

Day: 145






Linear distance:


Daily kilometres:

Max. daytime temperature:
38°C, more than 58°C in the sun

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