It is goanna hunting season.
Just over a year ago I wrote about a goanna hunt with some of my boys. Trips like that out to the bush were a good way to get some engagement time with the lads.
Unfortunately I can’t do it any more since the troopies were declared unsuitable for transporting people. Once we were advised that insurance wont cover us unless passengers are wearing lap+diagonal seatbelts, facing forward, the CEO had to prohibit us transporting passengers in the troopies. It was stressed that apart from being sacked, the driver will be personally liable. Until we get more suitable vehicles I can only transport one passenger in the front seat with me. No more group trips out bush.
However, those same young men are a whole year older now, and they have access to a vehicle. So they have been out hunting by themselves. The other afternoon one of my young friends turned up unexpectedly. He needed assistance, he told me, as the vehicle they were using out bush had got stuck, not far out past Lake Stretch.
We headed out there. “Not far past Lake Stretch” turned out to be about 30 km or so out in the bush. It must have been about an 8 hour walk to come and get help. I asked when they had got stuck.
They had been out overnight, and no-one had raised an alarm.
I saw they had caught a goanna, but it had spoiled and was no longer edible. I asked why they hadn’t cooked it while they were waiting. They hadn’t taken a lighter with them.
Snatch straps are pretty amazing things and we got the other landcruiser out of the mud in no time. The boys had not taken any water with them of course, so they soon drank my supply. They piled back into and onto their tray back landcruiser and set off home. I followed them out in mine.
You can see from the condition of my troopy what the bush tracks are like at this time of year. The only reason I was game to go in to where my young friends had got stuck was that I have the training and experience, plus a better equipped vehicle, with better tyres, and most importantly I carry a spade and recovery tracks.
These very expensive ($250) pieces of plastic are worth their weight in gold out here. They virtually guarantee I can get myself out of anything I manage to get into. Unless the car floats away.
Next afternoon, my young friend turned up once more. They had done it again. This time the trip out to where they were stuck was through mud and creek bed, and shallow lake most of the way. And it was getting dark. I have no idea where we ended up, but I remembered passing through one area I had been before. This shallow lake was dry last time I visited it. Yesterday it wasn’t.
I sincerely would not have thought we could actually get to where we ended up. Without my young companion’s assurance that the other Toyota had already got through, I would not even have ventured in there by myself. It beats me how he knew the way and remembered the areas to avoid. It also impressed me that he had walked all the way out to fetch me. Again.
It was well after dark when we arrived where their Toyota had bogged down. It seemed to me that the place they got themselves stuck was not any different to anywhere else we had already been. This time extracting the other vehicle took a little more effort, particularly because I had to be very careful not to bog my own in the process. But there were over half a dozen youngsters willing to help. A bit of digging and manouvreing, and some enthusiastic pushing and out she came. I love these kids’ cheerful confidence, which seems only to manifest out in the bush. Out here they never doubt themselves.
“Bililuna people don’t help each other”, the driver, and oldest of the young men confided as we were tackling the problem of moving his Toyota without bogging mine. “No one else would come out. That’s why we had to ask you. You always help”.
I didn’t know what to say.
This was the best bonding time I have had with my kids for quite a while. I really need to get back out bush with them. It’s where they open up and tell me things. They really are different people out there. More open, less shy.
Again they needed water, and again I lectured them on preparedness when setting out into Country. It seems very strange indeed to me that I, a gardia, should be lecturing young aboriginal hunters about survival in the bush.
Once again they all piled into and onto their Toyota with complete disregard for all the safety rules that I must stringently apply in the use of my vehicle. I took one with me as a passenger and guide to be sure I did not get lost in the dark on the way back. This time we had ventured way off the tracks, and in some places I might not have been able to follow my own tracks back where they were under water.
They got stuck twice more on the way back, crossing muddy creeks, but each time I was able to get past and get them moving again. We were all covered in mud by the time we were back on the “road” to Bililuna.
They had caught three big goanna, so it was all worthwhile.
They even remembered to say “Thankyou” before they rushed off to cook them.
If you are wondering how goanna tastes: check it out here.