Saturday, June 12, 2004

Mercy dash

I have been painting the dining room part of the combined kitchen/dining room donga, bloody hard work, first I had to move everything out, so put most of it in the kitchen and the chairs and tables outside, then I washed it all down with sugar soap, it did not look that dirty but the colour of the water told me a different story, I should have bottled it and sold it as ink. That done I set to, to patch and repair, couple of bits of it was just about rebuild, I then decided to take the paint off of the window frames where it never should have been. I had done all this and taken the curtain hooks down, put the curtains in to wash, taken the bug zapper off and put outside, and was about ready to paint, it had been wood panelling at one stage so all the joins between panels had to be toshed in by hand, then a roller over the top and it was just about done, the following morning, I took the flyscreens off and painted them whilst washing the windows, I had just got into this when the phone rang.

It was the Western Australian Geological Survey Department; the PhD student who is around the place studying rocks was broken down, only 16 kilometres away from me as the crow flies but at least twice that distance on the track, he had pulled up for the night to camp and the vehicle would not start, he had used the petrol generator to charge the batteries and still could not start, and could I go and rescue him again, I of course being stupid said I would. I rang my boss and told him the situation and he said, go and ring me when you get back.

Off I set, now this must be the worst track in the world, it is kept in very bad repair to keep tourists and dodgy fossil hunters away, I had to drive down towards a weather station on a big river, until I saw this hidden track, I had driven past it several times in the past and until I was shown it, I never knew it existed, as soon as you are on it you have to dodge round two trees that have fallen and then you are in a creek, which has water in it, up over the bank and a sharp turn and then you weave in and out of trees and bushes for about half a kilometre, down a steep creek bank, through more water and up the other side, then you run along a creek bank over tree roots, through sand and loose stones, it has so many twists and turns that you can never see the road more than about ten feet in front (nice mix of metric and imperial measurements there) then the track settles down a bit and even though rough you can see a little way ahead. It twists all over the place and there is at this time of year a wonderful smell about as a lot of the trees and shrubs are in full bloom just now. I am making very slow progress because of the conditions of the track, and listening to the cassette player, it is playing Guy Davis, Whats a nice girl like you doing in a dump like this, well I aint a girl but I was wondering what the hell I was doing in a place like this, then I remembered I was off on a mercy dash to rescue my geo mate and his rather nicely shaped girlfriend, then the next track came on, John Farnham singing a touch of paradise, and I thought to myself that this suited the mood as well, I had moved out of the dump part, through the trees and branches of the creek and was into a part that runs between hills with some fantastic views, so I reckon I was getting a touch of paradise, and as I said before there was such an intense smell of blossom in the air, and birds whistling, and the odd lizard scurrying across the track, and of course the ever present Spinifex Pigeons, like a quail with their little top knots bobbing al over the place, and them trying to outrun the car. This went on for maybe forty five minutes, twisting all over the place, when around a hill I came and can see the geos ute parked under the trees by the side of a billabong, in an idyllic setting, straight out of a McCubbin painting, excepting of course that there were no motor vehicles around in his day. http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/collection/australian/painting/m/apa00018.html

The billy was on when I got there, and I was given a cup of real good coffee in a cup that has its own plunger thingy, and I sat drinking it overlooking this billabong at peace with the world, forgetting of course that after I had got the geos ute going I had to drive back along the bitter sweet track, but living for the moment I was enjoying the ambience of the occasion when I saw a flurry across the billabong and thought it was two kangaroos, but it was a dingo chasing an injured kangaroo, the dingo saw us and quickly exited the scene, the roo got down under some tree roots in some shade and rested, with a wary eye on us. I have seen many a kangaroo in my time in Australia and quite a few wild dogs but this is the first time I have actually seen a Dingo on a bit of a hunt, they are a magnificent animal and although I felt for the kangaroo, I realised that it is in the nature of things.

I drank my coffee, started the geos ute, and set back with them in case they stalled or stopped crossing a creek, we got back alright and charged the batteries but couldn’t get the bugger to start, there are two batteries being delivered to where the North Pole Road meets the highway tomorrow and hopefully that will cure their problems.

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