STORY BY Jane Holden
I’m sitting by our campfire under a gloriously bright moon. I don’t need a torch to walk around our camp as the light is so bright from both the moon and the fire.
We’re here all on our own having pulled up for the night just outside the Kuta Tjuta national park boundary, having followed a side track for about 500 metres into the bush. We were planning to get a bit further down the road towards Western Australia but were feeling pretty tired after an afternoon hike and relaxed after then sitting by the side of the road sipping Kombucha watching the sun set and the near full moon rise over Kata Tjuta.
It’s a pretty incredible location.
In our campsite there is just a gentle breath of wind. The fire is crackling, the flames making the sound of a flapping sail as a boat jibs into a furious head wind. The night insects are whistling incessantly. We haven’t been able to work out if they are crickets, spiders or maybe even a night bird. The camp is set up. I can relax now by the fire with my cup of chai tea. Tonight it’s Rose’s turn to cook and she’s put together a beautiful spinach dahl with rice – yum.
The first night we’d camped out on our own was travelling from Queensland into Northern Territory on the Plenty Highway and we camped at the edges of the Simpson Desert. A pretty remote place.
And yes, we had to work through our fear of psycho killers or hooligans to be able to relax and enjoy being by ourselves in the expansive country, to really enjoy being on our own in nature. Out in a bush camp, there is no security blanket of having the noise and lights of fellow travellers in a commercial campground. The whole point though is to get away from that but as independent travellers you need to work through some safety fears to settle in for the evening with peace of mind – but it’s worth it!
We agreed on parking Doris, our car, with her nose out, and the keys on the floor ready for a fast getaway if foul play comes our way. We are also travelling with a hammer, axe and shovel, all pretty good weapons if trouble comes our way be it the zombie apocalypse or sicko humans. So the hammer comes into the tent with me and the shovel or axe is within reach outside the tent as Rose’s weapon of choice. I wouldn’t want to cross her when she’s angry and backed into a corner!
So by the time we’d got to Central Australia I was feeling pretty relaxed and settled in the bush – all conceivable threats identified and plans in place! It gives you the peace of mind to get lost in star-gazing and fire watching. Then we hear the howl of dingoes, not too close, but more than one dog.
Other than crazy humans, and human error (like not drinking enough water, getting lost, an ill chosen toilet stop on an ant nest, bad driving etc), it turns out dingoes seem to be the only danger out here (apparently all the dangerous snakes are hibernating – thank goodness).
Leroy the Aboriginal tour guide at Yulara had only yesterday told us a story of the dingoes being the top predator in this country, being very stealth hunters sneaking up quietly and then pouncing. Rose is quick to tell me that there is also a drought on which makes animals get desperate and do unexpected things (like a pack of dingoes attacking an adult human!) and that every time she goes to the loo at night she’s been scanning the area with her torch to see if there are any eyes peering back at her. Gee, I wish she told me earlier!
Thankfully there were no more howls and we soon forgot about the dingoes and enjoyed the night.
As we’re tucked up in our tent that night we agreed that while we’re both scared at times, being out there together makes us braver, along with not thinking about all the scary things too much. It’s much more relaxing to instead notice all the amazing, beautiful moments we’re experiencing when we’re out of our comfort zone.
By Jane Holden
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