Sunday, February 19, 2012

Australian Adventure: Log 10

“That’s not a knife, this is a knife,” are the words going through my mind at I look upon a large fighting knife hanging on the wall behind the bar at the Walkabout Creek Hotel in McKinlay. Sheathed with a belt that has the name “Crocodile Dundee,” written into the belt, I’m sitting at the famous bar that was the location for shooting, “27-years ago today,” barks out the bar tender. This is the site of our mid-day stop after an impressive morning flight from Cloncurry to start leg two.

McKinlay is an impressive landing point as Mother Nature is going to grind us through the ringer for the next week. The slight headwinds that we were battling on our way from Townsville to Cloncurry have changed direction 180-degrees and strengthened. The challenges of leg one will turn into battles for leg two. Taking shelter from the stifling mid-day heat at the Walkabout Creek Hotel, a beer at the bar that Dundee used to call his office was not only refreshing, but completely called for. The bar is wonderfully decorated with pictures from filming, complete with a massive crocodile having beers on the porch next to crew members, and lots of paraphernalia not only from filming, but militaria (caps, badges, insignia, uniforms) boomerangs, traps, and newspaper clippings from mammoth floods and weather. On the side is the pool room, complete with the “Never Never Safari Tours” sign board. What a cool place to spend the mid-day halt, as Glenn and Mark chat up the owner about the movie, the local economy and employment. Most ranches and stations are losing all their young workers to the money and easy careers of the cities, while mining is taking over as the primary resource over farming.

The visit is too short, and we’re back out in the heat, and the pilots back into the air, pushing on towards Kynuna. Craig and I motor over the barren landscape, the road long and flat, we chug along just behind the “jellyfish” so as not to lose them. Not that we could, the land is so flat that you can see the curvature of the earth, and even after a 15-minute rest stop, the paramotor wings are still quite visible just above the horizon. The heat of the day is ruining the refreshing shower I finally got back in Cloncurry, the first since Townsville.

The pilots battle on in the headwinds, and the sun is starting the shoot for the horizon as we pass a sign saying we’re ten kilometres from the village of Kynuna. The sun is down, and darkness is setting in as we enter the tiny village with a strange name. However, we notice that Glenn is losing altitude just as we are approaching the local bar, the Blue Heeler, with a bright neon sign blazing on the roof. Every time we come to a town this size, the bar is almost always entirely empty, except for the odd rugged sun baked local needing his after work beer. However, the Blue Heeler has four people sitting on the porch sipping at their cold beers as Glenn comes swooping into the parking lot just in front, shouting out, “Do you have a beer ready for me” just before his feet hit the ground. The patrons are beside themselves as Glenn comes to stop. We arrive just as he and Mark are getting bombarded with questions, “Where the hell did you come from mate?” and “Know I’ve seen everything,” uttered from the porch. The bars owner has a beer in Glenn’s hands even before I get to the scene, and is asking me what I want as I step up onto the porch. A XXXX bitter is in my hands in seconds, as Glenns spectacular landing sparks off great conversation and stories, ten strangers coming together and sharing a great night of fun and beers.

The owner even offers us a plot at the caravan park in the back to stay the night, and some wild pig meat for our freezer. Needing to be up early, we take the camper to the park in the back, and thankfully, showers are also on the premises. However, the insects here are insane, a bright light on the restrooms pull the majority away from us, but we are still swarmed with hundreds of thousands of flying beetles, mosquitoes, and all manner of other creature. We’re eaten alive as we eat our dinner, the clear night sky is offering up a spectacular star gazing experience, but the mass of bugs forces us to the sanctuary of bed. I notice that the sink just beneath the light is filing with the dead insects as they fight for the light, a good ten centimetres thick at the bottom of the sink and climbing. A fresh shower before I turn in, I try to kill as many Mossies that make it into the trailer on my return; however, there’s literally thousands of other insects flying around, camouflaging the blood suckers. My fight futile, I jump into bed, my skin crawling with a mass of little legs, I pull a sheet over my head to keep them from going in my eyes, nose and mouth.

The night is a disturbing one, with very little sleep, my arms and ankles raw from hundreds of bits from the Mossies and No-see’ems. It was a great day, but

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