I was feeling rather feral when I walked through my front door, like a precious housecat who had been locked out for 5 days and comes home dirty, fur matted, covered in scratches and smelling of urine. A bath, the first order of business – but I am rather proud of my filthy appearance and wish to show it off. Alas, Kevin is not home – no audience for bragging, so I retire to a hot tub to review the weekend.
The plot begins with an invitation from Alison to spend the long-Easter weekend camping on her property near Bredbo in New South Wales – which, according to Apple Maps is 1270 km from my house and should take me 13 hours and 32 minutes to drive. It took 17. I was craving a long cross-country jaunt – the landscape whizzing by, curious signs for mysterious attractions, new towns, truck stops, McDonalds – but 17 hours was pushing me to the brink of sanity, or rather, of insanity...maybe...
I met up with Alison at midnight in front of the Bredbo Inn and we camped in front of a cemetery at the end of a road leading to the river. You’d think it would be a quiet location, but there was a considerable amount of action down that road into the wee hours, such is life in small town Australia. The next morning, we (and when I say we, I mean, Alison) strapped my gear to the RumPig and splashed through the river and over the mountains on the other side.
The road was rough enough to make the destination feel isolated, but the scenery was gorgeous and rugged – except for the part where we had to stop and chat with some local colour. Seems Jr. got a new rifle for his birthday and he wanted to shoot a fox, or a roo, or a deer, or a pig, or a wild dog, or a rabbit, (all of which inhabit the area). Not a wombat? Personally, I think they should spend their money on orthodontia, not ammunition.
After a few road-related mishaps, Michael and Bec and Cheryl arrived later that day and we set up camp at the base of a large clearing near the shade of a small creek, which soon drops over a 300 meter cliff and joins the substantial Murrumbidgee River below. Her property stretches along the river for 500 meters, and encompasses 2,000 acres all up – and, it has room for a helipad, as soon as Alison gets her license…
The next three days were a blur of laughter and activity, the busy resourcefulness that surrounds applying civilization upon untouched wilderness. When it comes to camping accessories, Australians are world champions. They had something for everything! Lucky for me, since all I had was a tent and a coffee cup. Since I could not contribute in materials, I put myself in charge of security and:
· Defended the campsite from a kangaroo by chasing it through the paddock on a quad bike.
· Defended the campsite from rogue beer cans by shooting them with lead pellets.
· Defended the campsite from wasps by building a trap from a Coke bottle and a plastic bag.
· Defended the campsite from pirates by performing a shoreline survey in kayaks.
· Defended the campsite from amorous possums by cowering in my tent yelling, “What the fuck was that hideous noise?”
· Defended the campsite from the ground by repeatedly shooting arrows into it.
· Defended the campsite from Yabbies by making sure they stayed in the river and not in my net.
· Defended the campsite from stray branches by incinerating them in a 55 gallon stove.
· Defended the campsite from drunken poachers by chasing them through the pitch black darkness on a motorcycle - oh wait, that wasn’t me, that was Alison…
The drive home took a total of 24 hours, with some dawdling and some sleeping. As a rule, Australians do not drive at night, and for good reason. It is a problem that does not get much attention in the public forum, and one which clearly plagues the nation. I have decided that it is time for me to take action. I am going to initiate an awareness campaign to help shed light on the debilitating effects of marsupial depression. Each night, thousands of depressed marsupials march to the edge of the highway, hopeless, dejected, and fling themselves into traffic in a desperate bid for relief from their sufferings. Please visit my website, www.beyond-roo.org and help support the mental health of Australian Outback Wildlife.