Gilbert’s Dragon

Proud of young Zeus. He found a dragon (Lophognathus gilberti) caught in some wire mesh. Instead of tearing it to shreds he called me. The rescue operation was followed by a quick check for injuries and a short photoshoot. Then the dragon was on her way unharmed.

Gilbert would be pleased.



This is Zeus, my Staffordshire Bull Terrier, given into my care by a friend.  I have had him for a couple of weeks.  Zeus is coming up to three years old as far as I can tell, and is nutless.  He likes fetching his piece of knotted rope, or a tennis ball.  He chases the dragons, but hasn’t yet caught any, I am pleased to say.  Nor snakes, so far.  He has adapted well to life out here.  He is a great guard dog.   He comes from a civilised background and is a good house companion.  At night, Zeus sleeps on a big cushion beside my bed.  He knows he is not allowed on the bed.

He does not chew the hand brake in my vehicle, or other possessions, like certain other dogs I once had. He is not greedy and he is pretty responsive to my commands, though I still have to teach him to walk at heel, sit, stay and to come at once when called, without coaxing.

Today for the first time he accompanied me down to the basketball courts where he conducted himself in exemplary fashion.  The community dogs were curious but not particularly aggressive, and he showed them how a civilised dog behaves on a lead.  He seemed ok with the children though I am not sure whether they were all ok with him.  Some of the locals call him Arnold because he is without doubt the stockiest, most muscular, best fed dog they have seen.   I have allowed him to be given that name. and let them believe he is a   cheeky dog because that is what I hope will keep my garden hose and fittings from being stolen yet again when I am not around and he is.




After a few days my wild new friend stopped turning up at my place.  Such gratitude after I fed him so often. I had even made arrangements for someone to feed him while I was away.  I also have in my freezer half a kangaroo that I got just for him.  Ah well.  At least I still have someone to talk to.  Rim Leaper, my green tree frog, is still living in my toilet.


A young wild dingo has come in from the desert and is hanging around the community. Half the residents want him shot, others want to catch him.  He has been coming to my place after dark.   I feed him and talk to him in a calm, soothing voice.  Tonight he became a little braver and actually came onto my deck inside my security cage.  He came pretty close to sniff me, and almost took food from my hand.

I shall call him Dingo, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my dingo.

The elders tell me that the first thunder will be soon and this will awaken the goannas from hibernation.   If I make friends with Dingo, he will help me track them and dig them out.    One of them says that I should consider Dingo to be mine already.  He says a dingo will only accept one leader, and I have already begun to earn his trust.  He tells me everyone in the community knows I am the animal man.

I have to consider whether I really want a pet dingo.

Stuff and Sally

Someone burgled my place in Billiluna about a month ago. I was on leave at the time. .  I headed down there as soon as the road was reopened. This is the fifth burglary I have endured but the first in Australia.  And what a strange burglary. Sally the goat got in after the thieves had broken open the doors, taken what they wanted and left. She soiled the place well and truly. Even my bed.  But what is really odd is the list of what was taken and what was not.   I have quite a few cameras.  I had three with me and left two behind. One, the Olympus mu Tough, was taken. My Go Pro Hero was not.  A brand new still-in-the-box 5.1 stereo receiver was gone, along with two small speakers from my computer. The laptops and computer remained. . My electric drill was taken.  So was my Thomas Cook Outback hat.  A seemingly random selection of foodstuffs vanished, as did  my shampoo, bath gel and toothpaste, and my hair clippers.  to my relief a few personally precious items and my memorabilia were still there, except a hand-made knife that came from Samarkand.

From outside the donga, my rolls of cyclone wire, intended for a secure chicken run and goat pen were taken, along with my hoses and fittings.

Although the donga and door are very sturdy, the latch that holds the door closed was flimsy and easily levered.  Once I secured the door with a steel plate and massive bolt and padlock I was pretty confident that all but the most determined burglar, equipped with an angle grinder  would be kept out.

I then headed back out to take one of my youngsters to Kununurra to arrange a bank account for the pay from his new job.  That was when the rains set in and I have not been able to return since. So here I am in Halls Creek.

Then just this morning I heard that Sally the Goat has been killed by marauding dogs.

Bugger.  I am not having much luck with my animals.

Vale Sally.

Lately I have come to accept that I just have too much stuff.

I must figure out what to do with it.

I must get rid of it somehow.

And no more pets.

Update: October.

I can’t believe how long it has been since I wrote the last post.  Two full months.  One of the problems with depression is that when it gets you down, you just want to hide away.    I make myself go out and do what I am paid to, and I take great care not to let people see that I have what is still a very misunderstood mental illness.

I don’t need the gratuitous comments and advice that have ensued whenever I confided in some people.  I don’t need to “just buck up”. I don’t need to “find a woman”.  And I already know I hide it well and seem so cheerful.  It is what I do.

I had quite a lot going on, and some of it was pretty interesting, even exciting, but I was waiting until I felt right before I wrote about it.  I still don’t feel right, but it is long overdue.  My future self will wonder what was going on.

The best  and most exciting news was the trip we took down through the Gibson.  The Youth team formed a convoy to accompany a traveller down the back road from Balgo to Kiwirrkurra. We used the opportunity as a team building exercise. Five 4WD vehicles across the Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts.  We travelled on tracks over desert and sand dunes, dry riverbeds dry lake beds, and rocky ridges, through spinifex and scrub.   It was a three day trip to cover the 540 km from home via Balgo to Kiwirrkurra community, and I loved every minute, every kilometer.


We camped out under the stars. I believe it was the happiest few days I have had in a very long while. Some photos I took on the way are on my FaceBook page here.

Molly the dog was with me and we both had a really great time.  After Kiwirrkurra we drove out to the Tanami and down to Alice Springs where we stayed for a couple of nights before returning once more up the Tanami.  We were away for a week in all.


Google maps’ claim that it is 36 hours from Alice to Halls Creek is quite wrong.  We did it in 12 with stops.  Mind you, It would probably have taken me a bit longer had I not been trying to keep up with the others.   I drove my own Landcruiser on the trip, because my troopy was in for maintenance, and because I really wanted to see how she would go through the outback.  She went great.   I was not the one who got bogged in the sand dunes!


While I was away, A good friend in Halls Creek babysat the emulets for me.  Incidentally the two emus became became three since I last posted.  The last to join me was much smaller, indicating that he had not been as well fed as his siblings since being orphaned.

Shortly after I brought the chicks home to Billiluna I was given an orphaned Joey to care for as well.   It was male, and very young, just a few weeks old, and I soon knew I would not be able to feed and care for him.  I could keep him alive for only so long on honey water and electrolytes.  Joeys have special needs for hourly feeds and cannot be given cows milk.

So I contacted Kangaroo Haven in Kununurra and arranged to deliver him there.  I had also become increasingly aware that the Emus would soon be needing more care and protection than I could provide. In addition, I had been quietly advised that there were certain folk eyeing them up already for culinary purposes.  It was extremely unlikely I would be able to keep them until they could be released. So with some reluctance I took them, too, to the sanctuary. Once I got there, I had no regrets.  It is a wonderful place run by lovely people.  They will be safe and happy, and eventually released in an area where there is no hunting.

I finally cleared the last of my possessions out of the Halls Creek house.  Some of it is now stored at a friend’s house, in the spare room, the rest is here with me in my little donga.  Which means there is barely room for me to move here.   I feel like one of those elderly smelly old hoarders I used to visit with the public health nurse.  Surrounded by piles of crap I cant get rid of, making my way between rooms through little corridors in the rubbish.

The fact that this rubbish is all that is left of my past is the only thing that stops me throwing it all away.  I have a little bit more sympathy for those old former clients now.

Just before my last run home with the final carload of stuff, I lost Molly.  I let her out of the office in Halls Creek for a few minutes. She usually just sniffed around the trees waiting for me but this time she vanished.  I searched the town for hours with no sign of her.  I can only assume she got into someone’s car and went off with them.  There has been just one (doubtful) report of her since.  I think she is gone to another town or community.   This has not improved my outlook any.

Then, a real tragedy.  Just over a week ago, one of my young people, and two others were killed in a car crash. Another is still in critical condition in hospital.  This has naturally had a sad effect on the community here.

Then Sally had a close shave. She’s fine, but she is very lucky.

Since she started jumping the fence to eat the neighbour’s frangipani, I have given up keeping the gate closed, and she wanders where she will. She definitely misses Molly.  Even though Molly pestered the daylights out of her, wanting to play, since Molly has been gone Sally has been wandering around bleating for her like a lost sheep.  Sometimes she hangs out with Sadie the Camel, and if I am all there is she will hang out with me.

I drove the troopy to the other side of the village, quite unaware that Sally was trotting along right behind me. When I got to the seedy side of town where the nasty car-chasing dogs hang out, I found I was the centre of their attention.  A whole pack of them.

Except I wasn’t. Sally was.  She did not panic.  She closed in for my protection as she usually does when strange dogs are around. While I was shouting at the dogs and warning them off, she got too close to the troopy, which was still rolling along, and she went under it.

I was going really slow as usual. around 10-15 KPH.  Running over anything or anyone is my greatest worry here. It would be bad enough to bowl a dog, but the kids too tear about on foot, or on bicycles, quads and motorbikes without a skerrick of road sense.

I got Sally into the back of the troopy with the help of a couple of kids and concerned mums and took her home. I was really worried. However, she got up and climbed out of the troopy by herself. After giving me a reassuring nuzzle as if to let me know she did not blame me for the incident she limped off to eat some grass. I have been keeping a close eye on her in case of internal injuries but apart from a limp she seems ok.

She is not wandering far though.

I sold my motorcycle at last over the weekend just past. The money is in the bank, but I doubt I shall ever be riding two wheels again.   Since the long drive two months ago, the pain in my legs became worse and worse.

A fortnight ago I saw the GP on her Thursday visit to the clinic here. It was so nice to be taken seriously and not just fobbed off with “Yep- Arthritis”.  She did some tests, looked concerned and and did some more.  It seems the muscles are withered and I have no reflexes in the right leg.  “This is not your legs”, she says, “it is your back”.   She orders a CT scan.  I went to Kununurra last Thursday for it.  I shall be discussing the results with the doc. in the coming days.  However, from what the Tech says, my back is fecked.  It remains to be seen just how fecked, and what the implications are for my future mobility.