Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 12. – Today we left Normanton unsure how far we would go but knew we needed to go west heading towards the coast. We stopped briefly at Croydon and decided to push onto the Undarra National Park and home to the most impressive set of lava tubes in Australia. Just before we completed our 450km drive, we came across a sign explaining the concerns about transferring weeds across Australia and inviting us to clean the underneath of our vehicle. At first I was not sure how they expected us to complete this seemingly mammoth task. I then realised that not far away was a device something like an upside down car wash. So we proceeded across the wash area and suddenly like an explosion from the earth, hundreds of high pressure outlets sprayed the bottom and sides of the car and van. The car rocked and jolted and Donna who was in front of the car ready to video this event jumped back in shock. After the dust of Lawn Hill it was a welcome clean.
At last we drove into the National Park van park. Many of you may not know that there is a strict etiquette when you check into a park and that is that you line up in the order you arrive and wait your turn. At this park, the office was not clearly marked so people were driving around including one set of Grey Nomads who had driven 40kmh on a perfectly good bitumen road for 20 kms and of course they were in front of us. Wes was of course patient and relaxed as he wasted 20 minutes of his precious life in the dust of yet another pair of self centred grey nomads! So when we finally go their and they appeared to head in the wrong direction, we thought we may get the last laugh (famous chinese proverb – he who laughs last, laughs and laughs and laughs etc). So we slid to a stop and the sprint was on. A reluctant Donna needed to cover about 75 metres to win the ultimate prize (yes the glory of checking in first). But the female GN appeared and at first did not look like particularly tough competition (her profile from the rear was almost as wide as the Winebago they drove). That was until I saw the steely determination on her face that had resulted in them being able to hide all of their assets (including lump sum super) from the tax department to enable them to receive their God given right of a full pension. But it goes to show, it sometimes more about the will to win rather than your physical ability. She wanted it and Donna was less inclined to compete. Before I left Sydney on this trip, I think this would have frustrated me but I simply laughed at the stupidity of my thinking and wished the GN couple well and thought about that famous quote from one of our greatest modern philosopher’s (“I’ll be back”).
We then settled into our camp spot. After dinner, we heard they had rangers talking around the communal campfire. We were not aware that topic of the talk was “Australia – the most deadly continent on earth” but it sounded interesting. Clearly this young ranger did not have children as he explained around the eerie light of a campfire, just how many Australian plants and animals can kill or mame you. His core message was once in the bush, never move as if you step on any of these animals then they will bite you and you will die a slow and agonizing death in less than 3.3 milliseconds. Perhaps he expects us all to parachute into the bush and then stand in the one spot waiting to be extracted by a helicopter. Even Harry our captain of thrill and adventure was squirming in his seat until we decided we should leave. The short walk back to the camp site was a mix of comedy and horror as we imagined every spider and snake was in our path. I’m glad the trusty Outback Jayco is well off the ground as he said nothing about these animals having advanced mountaineering skills.

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