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October 13, 2001

Overland Australia - Update 64

October 13
Day 82

Dorisvale - on the road the Pine Creek. Wild Things!

From April:

The afternoon was baking hot and confirmed by the 40C (105F) temperature registering on Crister’s wind watch. He and I had pulled up after trudging through a sandy stretch and had stopped to catch our breath, both drenched in sweat. The midday camp we had just left had afforded us relief from biking in the heat, but at 4:30 p, our world still resembled a blast furnace. And, the rocky terrain we were riding through was not conducive to any kind of cool down. The massive rock formations along the hill held the heat, then generated it back onto the landscape.

As far as we were concerned, whenever a suitable spot for evening camp was located, it couldn’t be soon enough! A few more kilometres and we got our wish. Camp was struck on a rocky outcropping overlooking a tree-filled valley, bluish in colour in the late afternoon. Cool shade from semitropical trees beckoned us from below and the possibility of a water hole seemed reasonable somewhere beneath our hill. Jason and I decided a hike in search of cool water would be in order. Dusk had fallen, but the light left to find our way over the rocks was ample.


We began our descent. Jason led the way and I followed close behind. The sudden, silent movement underfoot of a King Brown caused me to yelp in alarm! Slithering from under the passing of Jason’s foot, the snake glided over the rocks and disappeared through a rocky crevice.

My ability to communicate in times of excitement becomes quite monosyllabic. (Yelp!) “WHOA! J! SNAKE! BROWN!” His reaction? “Guess I better pay a bit closer attention to where I step.” Then giving me a questioning look, “April, I’ve never heard you make a sound quite like that before,” he remarked casually. He, even keel as always, especially in the face of impending disaster, was more curious about the noise I’d raised in alarm! As my heart rate slowed, we continued our hike, but a bit more wary as to where we placed our feet.

The following morning’s ride proved equally hot and by the time we stopped for midday camp, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The campsite was heaven sent, a ford across the Flora River.

A midsize stream, it meandered through tree shaded banks, rippled over rocky breaks, creating deep pools one could stand in up to one’s neck! We dropped our bikes on the shoals and flung ourselves face down into the cool flowing water. Lacking the desire to move or splash, we lay in the shallows as the water carried the heat from our bodies. Eventually, the river begged for exploration (remember, this IS an expedition!), so Jason and I struck out, travelling upstream in ankle deep water. Clambering under fallen trees that crossed the water, through shallow pools, wading waist deep in the darker ones, we traversed the water course.


Small fish darted from under our feet as we passed. Jason led the way and I followed close behind. He had waded past a patch of murky water, a muddy, leaf-filled pocket and, as I came splashing in behind him, a sudden, gliding movement caused me to pull up suddenly.

A yelp (but more controlled than the previous evening), then, “WHOA! J! CROCODILE! TO YOU!” The five foot, fresh water croc had come out of hiding from its leafy nest, gliding to within a couple of metres of me, veered toward the bank, then disappeared. I was fairly dancing with excitement. Jason, meanwhile, stepped to the creek bank at my call, coming back downstream, hoping to find the croc’s location without scaring it away. He found it nestled among the rocks on the bottom, lying motionless. We sat down on the bank to observe him. “Wow! That’s an amazing thing to actually get the chance to see this croc! He looks a bit naughty, though,” remarked Jason.


It was an incredible thought that we are within five days of the end of the road and just now we’ve had these close encounters of the most marvellous kind. “And, what was that sound you made, April? I’ve never heard you make a sound quite like that before!” I was a bit red –faced over the fact that, for the second day in a row, I’d been startled to the point of uncontrolled yelping, completely out of character for me! What can I say? I suppose the Outback can bring out hidden traits in the best of us! The end of the story?

We’d resumed the day’s ride when I rode up on the group listening to a breathless Mike in the middle of a story. “I’m not joking! It was the biggest pig I’ve ever seen! Jason, did you see him? You had to have seen him! It ran right at me and I screamed at it! It veered away at the last minute nearly ramming my BOB trailer. C’mon, Bel, you were behind me. You SURELY had to have seen it? It’s true, it’s all true, I’m not making this up…” exasperation in his voice. “Sure, Mick, we believe you…Whatever you say…” we nodded as we pedalled off down the dusty road. Mick muttered in frustration, “But, you guys, it’s the truth. It was the biggest pig I’ve ever seen…”


Posted on October 13, 2001 3:52 PM