Extreme Sport

This photo of the Fitzroy river in flood under the Willare Bridge, on the road between Fitzroy Crossing and Broome, was published on FaceBook a while back.

It reminded me of once when I drove that way, going to a meeting in Broome in the Holden Colorado.  The river was not so high then.   It was in the dry season.

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As I approached the bridge I saw a rental campervan parked on the verge at the end.

A young man was climbing on the parapet in the middle of the bridge and  was clearly about to jump in.  I pulled up beside him and wound down my window.  He looked nervously at the Shire logo on my Colorado, then returned my friendly smile as I said “G’day mate. Having fun?”

“Yes” he answered in a German accent.

I knew it. Tourist.

“You know that’s pretty dangerous”.  I said.

“Oh no! The water is very deep. We checked first before we started to jump”.

“Good”, I answered. “How long have you been swimming here?”

“About twenty minutes.  It is not illegal, yes?”

“Oh it is not illegal. But I am thinking you should stop. Twenty minutes should be just about enough time for the crocodiles to realise you are here. They will have heard you jumping in, with all the big splashes you must be making.”

“Crocodiles?”

“Yes. Big man-eating salties live in this river.  If it was only freshies I’d say go on and have fun. Freshies are harmless.  But salties… They eat people”.

He called out urgently to his companions below, in German.  I recognised only the word “Krokodil”.

He looked very pale as he waited for his companions to scramble up the bank..

“it is not a joke, yes?”

“No joke mate.  This area is full of crocodiles. Be very careful where you swim”.

We talked a little more. They had driven up from Perth. They were heading for Darwin.   It seemed no one had told them about the crocs in this part of the country.

Tourists.

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Cleaned up.

 

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This is the least traumatic (for me) view inside my donga, taken as my colleagues and I cleaned it out today.  We did have some pleasant surprises. One of the antique clubs was retrieved, and I found my GPS and GoPro camera, though all the gear that goes with it has disappeared along with the 3 camera bags I had.

Unpleasant discoveries too. I found the box that contained my leather bound rice paper edition of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which is a valuable collectors item, but not the book.  Some of the unstolen DVDS are trampled and scuffed.

We salvaged my Kenwood Chef mixer, food processor and some of my pots and pans, and even a few of my kitchen knives, though not my very best ones.  Even though my cutlery and crockery was mostly gone or smashed, finding these few things made the situation seem a little less bleak,

Everyone kept asking me if I was OK, and I insisted I was, but as we drove away I realised my jaw ached, and I had been grinding my teeth the whole time we were there.

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Stolen Dreams

Caledonia

I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away
So I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
And that’s the reason why I seem
So far away today
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had
Oh and I have moved and I’ve kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
Oh and I have tried and kept on trying
Stolen dreams yes there’s no denying
I have traveled far with conscience flying
Somewhere with the wind
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had
Now I’m sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames that could not get any higher
They’ve withered now they’ve gone
But I’m steady thinking my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands are shaken and the kisses flow
Then I will disappear
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had

Dougie MacLean

 

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Learner Pilot

My drone education continued yesterday with a few more flights successfully completed, though that was more due to the quality of the aircraft rather than the skill of the pilot. The first flight over Caroline Pool came up with a high wind warning as soon as the aircraft was higher than 60 m. Then the drone disappeared from my sight just as communication with the controller was lost, so I could not even see where it was on my iPad screen.

I was about to give it up as lost, when it hove into sight and connection was reestablished. Viewing the recording later I could see it had hovered for a short time then plainly concluded that it should head home by itself. Once communication returned I could see it was now in charge. I had only had to watch without interfering as it returned under its own control to the spot from where it had taken off.

The second flight went better. I kept it fairly low and always in sight. However when I told it to return to home by itself, this time it became confused and tried to land in a tree. A warning flashed up that the landing site was not suitable and asking me to guide the aircraft to a better spot. This I did. Smart little machine.

My third and fourth flights were out over old Halls Creek.  There I just practised manoeuvring.  I tried to follow some wild horses, but lost them. I am learning, but I need to remember to turn on the camera to record all the flights.

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Outback Spaceman

I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I’ve got speed
I’ve got everything I need
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I can fly
I’m a supersonic guy

I don’t need pleasure
I don’t feel pain
If you were to knock me down I’d just get up again
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I’m makin’ out
I’m all about

I wake up every morning with a smile upon my face
My natural exuberance spills out all over the place
I’m the outback spaceman, I’m intelligent and clean
Know what I mean?

with apologies to Neil Innes
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Back to Billiluna yesterday and finally started on cleaning up the donga.  Committed genocide on a billion spiders that festooned the walls and ceiling.  Some looked as if they might be redbacks who had moved in during my absence.  I spent a lot of time cleaning up the deliberately spilt food and herbs and spices, scrubbing and bleaching and sorting out the stuff thrown on the floor, at least where I needed to walk.  Bedding all washed and sanitised with Domestos.  Unpleasant little gifts uncovered and removed as I went.

I got a better idea of what was gone, and what was not.  I hate to add up the coast of what I have lost.  Sentimental value aside, I think it possibly amounts to around 15 to 20 grand.  It is ironic, isn’t it, that a few blogs ago after the first burglary, I wrote that I had too much stuff and I needed to figure out what to do with it.  I guess that problem is solved.

Finally, having made a good start on the mess, and finding myself psychologically stable in the face of this shit heap,  I decided to sleep and start again in the morning.  I set up my CPAP and settled down on my mattress with a sleeping bag. Within minutes my skin was crawling and I was being bitten by something tiny I could not see or catch. Cooties?

Sod this.  I can cope with the smell of pee and the other adversities, but this was too much.  I pack up my kit and drive back to Halls Creek, itching all the way, arriving at the SPQ around midnight.  Hot shower, clothes into the washing machine to soak with hot water and bleach, then to bed in what seems to have become my second home. I shall try again next week after giving the place a good permethrin spray and airing out.

For those newcomers who have not been following, the story so far:
I live in a remote community in the outback in a small portable home called a donga.
I was burgled twice in a month while I was away from the place, the second in particular being very devastatingly thorough in removal of my property and destruction of what was not taken.
CPAP: Constant Positive Air Pressure machine. A device for those who suffer sleep apnoeia. I am one.
SPQ: The Shire of Halls Creek Single Persons Quarters,  A sad lonely place for people who have no one to love them.  Elvis called it “Heartbreak Hotel”.

Now read on…

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Spéir Súl

At last my new toy has arrived.

To cheer myself up, and because I fell deeply in love with Jake’s when we took it out last week, I bought a drone with a really good camera.  The DJI Phantom 4 Pro. This will replace the GoPro I lost, and then some.

I have named it Spéir Súl, which is Irish for “Sky Eye”. It sounds better in Irish.

It was not cheap, this new toy, but I rationalise the purchase by considering it to be a new stage in my photography adventure, plus it will enable me to see, and photograph, places I can no longer access on foot. Besides. I am on my own now, and how I spend my money and my time is my own affair.

That seems a little defensive, so perhaps I do feel a little guilt.  But I’ll get over it.

Today I took her out to Palm Springs for her maiden voyage.  I wanted to film the rock I am no longer able to climb, and the view from the top I can no longer get to.  However, the drone would not fly for me, because before it’s first flight the software that controls it from my iPad demands that I register and activate it first.  Of course, that requires connection to the internet, and there is not even phone reception out there.

Mission aborted.  Try again tomorrow.

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Superstition

I just posted this on the Halls Creek Community Facebook page

To the person who broke into my donga in Billiluna, stole my possessions and trashed the place, and wrote nasty things on my wall:

I forgive you. If you were hungry, I would have fed you. If you needed something I would have tried to help. I am sorry you had to act so badly, but that is on you, not me.

But I am really sorry for what is likely to happen next. You should know that among the spears, bows and arrows and carvings from my family in Solomon Islands, were two genuine antique war clubs that were used in warfare back around 1912 or so. They have a very powerful blood curse on them. Before I became their guardian my brother in law had to make a strong protection charm for me. Anyone who steals, mistreats them or damages them or uses them without protection is likely to have Very Bad Things happen to them. I hope bad things have not already started and you and your family are safe. I would not wish the Solomon hikaluzi on anyone. Please return them to the Shire office before something terrible happens. Tataru nomana Koa goi. (Good wishes to you).

No point appealing to their sense of fair play. Maybe this will work.

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