Since my last entry a lot has happened here. I’m sure that for Gordon and Shelley it’s just been a normal quiet week but for me (I think I speak for Rich here too) it’s been highly eventful. Friday was a 7 o’clock start but as usual I was drifting in and out of sleep from about 5 and was ready to get up by 6 so I had a long leisurely breakfast. After slathering on vast amounts of suncream, I put my boots on, grabbed my ridiculously unattractive ‘Aussie All-rounder’ felt hat and jumped in the ute with Gordon and Rich. We spent the morning driving to and checking the last few dams and starting the pumps for the tanks that fill the troughs in the various paddocks. On the way to the last dam we were lucky enough to see a camel just strolling through the trees. It was another surreal moment – I thought he was a cow at first as I was in no way expecting to see a camel! What can’t have been more than ten minutes later we came over the brow of a hill and spotted about fifteen wild pigs on the next brow over. Three fully grown, black, bristly pigs and a hoard of tiny piglets running in circles around the others. My first thought was how cute they were and how happy I was to see them but I knew what was about to happen. Gordon had already told me that they’re pests and they ruin the dams with their wallowing so I wasn’t at all surprised that seconds later he had already extended the rifle out of the drivers window and was taking aim at the fattest. A few shots and one of the larger ones was badly enough injured that it would ‘almost certainly die soon’…. Brilliant. Those cute little piggies! Such is life though I guess. Apparently you can’t eat them either as they live on carrion and dead carcasses and carry diseases up the wazoo.
So far in Oz we have already seen an emu, camel, koala, kangaroo, kangaroo-rat (a dead one), truck loads of insects, parrots, cockateels, cane toads, wild pigs, drought-master cattle, bramen cattle, an apparently very rare jackaroo (maybe?) bird thing that looks like a black and white heron, pelicans, hideous spiders – tarantula looking things – but no snakes yet which I’m not too upset about. My mission for the next six months is to get a picture of all of them. Animals, insects and flowers are my favourite thing to photograph which is brilliant as here, they’re everywhere!
After ‘smoko’ (which I have now learned means a mid-morning break in Aussie language) Rich and I were given a “map” that consisted of three lines, some squares and the dam names, written in biro, on a scrap bit of paper and sent out to drive alone into the outback to check the windmill was pumping at the dam I always forget the name of and then up to Sugarloaf to start the pump there. No major dramas as the ‘map’ was surprisingly accurate/helpful even though I’m sure I drew better treasure maps when I was 5 years old. At lunch time we realised that we really are running out of food, and quickly, but there’s no stopping Rich when it comes to his stomach. hopefully we can hold out until next week. The afternoon job was was gardening which I was glad of as we got to be in the shade and away from the scorching 35 degree heat, it was low risk (unlike all the other jobs), and I got to wear a short sleeved shirt for the first time since I’ve been here. We raked, loaded and dumped three actual truck-fulls of garden waste, fed the cows and knocked off for the day. On our way back to the house Shelley invited us in for a beer (it was Friday after all!) and a chat and it was the nicest, most welcome beer I have ever had. I think it is called ‘Hahn’ or something. In any case, it was much better than the Carlton whatever beer we had in Brisbane. I even left feeling unexpectedly tipsy which made me wobble a bit when I put my boots back on, much to Rich’s amusement.