Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Oct 27

An Australian Outback Adventure

There was a screech of tyres as the plane touched the runway.  Then without warning, flames shot out from one of the aeroplane’s powerful engines, setting it on fire.

There was a lot of pushing and shoving on the plane.  An uncontrolled stampede of bodies forged forward towards the emergency exits, hurrying to slide down the inflatable emergency chutes to safety.

The airport emergency fire brigades were immediately on the scene, spraying foam over the entire plane as people were still disembarking.

What a way to enter Australia.

Yasmin was just grateful to still be alive and unhurt.

Chaos reigned.  Flashes from reporter’s cameras blinded the passengers as they scrambled to safety.

Yasmin now realized she was on her own.  There was no-one here to meet her.

Before leaving New Zealand, she had booked herself into B&B accommodation for the night. The next morning, she was to join up with Australian Outback Adventures.

She retrieved her luggage from the airport turnstile and made her way to the B&B.

Next morning, Yasmin boarded the Outback Adventure bus and as it started up, all the passengers gave a cheer.  They were on their way, leaving the city behind them and heading west.  A support vehicle followed close behind carrying supplies and towing a trailer laden with tents, camping gear and passenger’s luggage.

The first day, they travelled through thick bush country, over the Blue Mountains, through the large regional western towns of Orange and Parks, on their way to the dusty border towns of Victoria and South Australia.

The sky appeared blazing red in colour.  The landscape emanated an amazing rich, golden, vibrant hue.

Many kilometres were travelled the first day.  Jack, the bus driver ‘and tour manager,’ pulled the bus over to a shady spot to set up camp.  Taking the tents out of the trailer, he and Thommo the cook, showed each traveller how to erect their tent for the night.  They had been setting up tents many times over the years and had gotten it down to a fine art.

When all the tents were erected, Thommo went about making a camp-fire and preparing the evening meal.

Yasmin was exhausted and about to turn in for the night. She lay down her rubber mattress, zippered up the tent flap, curled up in her sleeping bag and soon fell fast asleep.

She was up at dawn, the glowing heavens greeting her.  Yasmin was not used to roughing it.  All that dust, dirt and grime seemed in such contrast to the glorious dawn and environment.  Still, this was the outback.  With a limited amount of water, a quick sponge and a wash of the face, she was ready for breakfast.

The tents were rolled up and loaded onto the trailer, with the group back on the bus, ready for the next leg of the journey.  Desert flowers bloomed in beautiful colours along both sides of the road.  Wattle flowers hung in a beautiful yellow corridor.  Lorikeets and rosellas chattered incessantly as they sucked the nectar from the wattle and bottle brush flowers.

The bus suddenly took a sharp detour from the main road, up a seldom travelled track.  The passengers were asked if they would like to take a short hike.

A half a kilometre walk through the bush, they came upon a huge cave.  At this time, Jack the bus driver told them of his heritage and showed everyone the genuine aboriginal rock art paintings, painted by his ancestors many centuries earlier.  They were sketched in red and orange ochre, with white dots outlining the humans and animals.  Yasmin felt goose bumps up and down her spine, imagining the spirits of the past.

There were places within the cave where tourists were not permitted to go.  This was taboo, a sacred place of aboriginal ancestors and their Gods.

Jack shared his secrets in finding bush tucker.  It did not seem an elaborate fare for some, but was so necessary if one became lost.  He showed them which berries were edible and which were not.  While walking back to the bus, they collected a container of berries to have with their lunch.

Yasmin asked if there were any herbal, bush medicines that the aboriginals used.

She was told that there were some types of tree bark used for healing.  He said that there were elders in each tribe who possessed this healing knowledge.

Lunch time was approaching.  While Jack was showing the tourists the local aboriginal art, Thommo remained at the camp-site preparing the midday meal.

The following day, the group were taken to an outback cattle station, where horses were saddled and ready to ride.  The station owner guided the group through thick bush, along a narrow dusty trail and emerged at a clearing of green pastures where cattle were grazing.  After a short break, they followed a crystal clear, fresh water creek, back to the homestead.

Following lunch, there were other farm activities to see and do, such as drenching cattle, ear-tagging cattle, feeding the animals and chickens and having hay rides on a tractor and trailer of hay.

After all this fun, they were invited to refresh themselves in the cool creek.

On the last evening of their trip, they were treated to a variety of aboriginal bush tucker, cooked the traditional aboriginal way.

An open fire was prepared for the goannas and kangaroo tails.  As the fire burnt down, the meat was placed on the glowing coals.  A damper was prepared and also placed on the hot coals.  This was then set out with a large variety of bush fruit and vegetables.

An aboriginal corroboree had been organized for this last evening.  Jack was one of the musicians, playing his didgeridoo with a group of his friends, while others sang and danced around the camp-fire.

As their journey came to an end, Yasmin knew that this land was hers and she embraced it.

She would definitely be making Australia her home.



Hilda Oakley

Copyright © 02.09.2013

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