Last year I got to know Anders* over a coffee here in Perth. He and his girlfriend, Astrid were backpacking around Australia and taking an extended stay over here to the West in before the start of the Manjimup Truffle Hunting Season having come West after the end of the Berri Citrus Picking Season.
They told me they were intending to do some camping around the South West, trekking along the Bibbulmun Track heading down towards Albany.
I jokingly told them it was safer to walk to Albany than to swim there as we have had a spate of Great White Shark fatalities along our beaches over the past few months. Although I did warn them of the Tiger Snakes and Dugites.
They seemed pretty cool with the whole trip and had done all the research and were well equipped.
Before I go any further, I need to show something I mentioned some years ago. The key quote is in the graphic on the right. So there is no certainty that this post, or that this blog will last in the short of medium term. I will be expecting a knock on the door shortly after this is posted.
Anyway, back to this rather sad tale.
I mentioned that along the track, they should take care and not only watch the ground for snakes but also the trees for drop bears. From their quizzical looks I could tell that no one had warned them about this little known but dangerous beast. This was, as I explained, understandable. After all, the Government restrictions on talking about them to overseas visitors are drummed into us from a young age.
As Aussies it is second nature from that young age to not only keep an eye on the ground for snakes but also to keep an eye on the branches of any trees under which we pass. Not all those lumps we see there are simple cankers or friendly scrub pythons.
The coffee was finished, addresses and emails were exchanged and we went our separate ways.
I sent several emails to Anders but did not receive an answer. I mentally shrugged my shoulders and went on with life.
It was about a year later that I received a snail mail letter from Astrid. She was distraught! Something had happened to them on the Bibbulmun Track. Anders had met a terrible death and Astrid had been held in a secret location by “The Authorities”. It was only after she had signed many pieces of paper promising never to tell of the events surrounding Anders’ death that she was allowed to leave Australia.
Included in the letter was photograph. Astrid wrote that she had taken the SD card from Anders’ camera after she had found – – well, after. She was able to secretly hang onto that card and the photo in the letter was the last image Anders had taken. He must have looked up just too late!
Luckily the archive is only read here in Australia so I think I am free to publish that photo. It won’t be seen by anyone outside so technically, I am not breaking the “Don’t tell the tourists” law.
I sometimes wish statistics of such fatalities were kept in the same way shark attacks are kept. Made available to the general public, lives could be saved. It is a pity that without those statistics, we will never know just how many could be saved!
However the “Authorities” have worked out just how much tourism revenue we will lose should the true facts ever become known!
I shall now wait, dreading a possible knock on my door. If you don’t hear from me soon, or should the archive disappear, then you may draw some rather bad conclusions!
* Names have been changed to avoid some of the repercussions