Roaming free as the breeze
What’s to stop me and why?
I can live as I please
Open road, servo pie…
My history has made me train wild animals but I’m more famed Because I’ve really trained myself to be as spry as any elf The circus life taught me a lot, now the circus is finished – but I’m not. For I’m not afraid to potter round the dark I’ll breakfast on tomorrow’s question mark Adventure is in my blood why any lion could smell it well But I always hold the whip and I’ll never let it slip Whatever comes I’ll take the good and send the rest to hell
Roaming free as the breeze What’s to stop me and why? I can live as I please Open road, open sky!
My lion taming acting was enough to create quite a buzz From Timbuctu to Samarkand I wowed them in the hinterland I was king of the king of the beasts on the stage Why, the public wouldn’t let me out of my cage They loved it when the lions licked my paws And I got the lion’s share of their applause I follow with the bold and the brave when the bold are gone Whatever I wish I’ll be when the wish appeals to me For there’s a thing worth more than gold My creed! I must go!
English words by Anne Ronell (1939)
The music for “Open Road Open Sky” was originally composed by Johann Strauss for his 1885 light opera “Der Zigeunerbaron“. The English version of this song became popular in 1939 after Ann Ronell adapted Strauss’s music and wrote new lyrics.
I am usually a sentimental old fool. One who weeps during most episodes of Dr Who.
Leaving a place has been particularly poignant for me over the years.
I have usually invested something of myself in every place I have been…
But I am no good at all at doing goodbyes. Especially when I know there is no going back.
Today I drove out of Billiluna with the last of my remaining possessions in the back of the Troopy. I said goodbye to only one person. Joe. A friend who is an outsider in the community, like me. And Zeus the dog, whom I am leaving with Joe.
I searched my psyche for some sign of emotion, but there was none. No sorrow or regret. Not even joy. Nor satisfaction. I could not even pat myself on the back for a job well done. I felt no anticipation for what might be next. I was empty and devoid of feeling.
I was tired. But I really had not expected I’d be so drained as to feel nothing at all.
On the drive back to Halls Creek I thought of a few more things that I had not seen when packing up. More things that had been stolen. Most notably my UEBoom2 bluetooth speaker.
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.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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.
It is Lore time. Or Law time as some will have it. The time when aboriginal boys become men. The time for initiation rites. I was away last year at this time, on leave, then trapped in Halls Creek by the weather. This year I plan to be trapped here.
There are a lot of new faces in the community, all male. The women and girls are making themselves scarce. They are packing up and heading to visit relatives in Halls Creek, or in Warmun or Kununurra, centres where no Lore is practised. Those remaining stay mostly at home. There do not seem to be many children about either.
We gardia keep to ourselves and don’t stray near the men’s areas.
“A belief, opinion, or viewpoint based on verifiably false claims is not worth my consideration. Period. Refusing to entertain them doesn’t make a person intolerant, it makes them reasonable and intelligent. Tolerating lies is ridiculous and illogical. And if your opinion is based on lies, it is invalid and it should be called out as such.
A viewpoint based on verifiably false claims is not worth my consideration. Period.”
Especially when that opinion causes or permits harm to others.
With so many opportunities to learn the facts, crosscheck and verify them from independent and expert sources, it takes a particular combination of stupid and cognitive dissonance to continue believing bullshit.