Category Archives: Outback

Respect and Consent

The Cattle Dog

As the polling emergency turned into electoral farce and the Coalition was being trashed not only in the polls but also in the News Ltd media, Malcolm Turnbull called his deputy, Michael McCormack,  into his office and said “Mike, old son, I have a great idea! We are going to go all out and win the country voters.”

“Good idea, Boss, how will we go about it”? asked Mike.

“Well”, said Mal, “we get ourselves one of those Driaza Bone coats, some RM Williams boots, a stick and an Akubra hat. Oh, and a blue cattle dog. Then we’ll really look the part.  We give away a whole stack of taxpayer’s money again. Then we’ll go to a typical old outback country pub.  We’ll show we really enjoy the bush.”

“Right” said Mike.

Days later, all kitted out and with the requisite blue heeler, they set off from Canberra in a westerly direction. Eventually they arrived at  just the place they were looking for. After the Press Conference, they found a typical outback pub.  They walked in with the dog and went up to the saloon bar.

“G’day mate”, said Mal to the bartender, “a couple of your best shandies.”

“OK.” said the bartender with a bit of a smirk, “two middies of our best shandy coming up.”

Turnbull and McCormack (remember who he is?) stood leaning on the bar drinking their shandies,  chatting, nodding now and again to whoever came into the bar for a drink. The dog lay quietly at their feet.

All of a sudden, the door from the adjacent bar opened and in came a grizzled old stockman, complete with stock whip. He walked up to the cattle dog, lifted its tail with the whip and looked underneath, shrugged his shoulders and walked back to the other bar. A few moments later in came another old stockman with his whip. He walked up to the dog and lifted its tail, looked underneath, scratched his head and went back to the other bar.

Over the course of the next hour or so another four or five stockmen came in and lifted the dog’s tail and went away looking puzzled.

Eventually, Mike could stand it no longer and called the barman over.

“Tell me” asked McCormack, “why those old stockmen come in and look under the dog’s tail like that? Is it an old outback custom?”

“Strewth no”, said the barman. “Someone told ’em there was a cattle dog in the saloon bar with a couple of arseholes.”

No Trains Today

Between Mullewa and Pindar (look them up on Google Earth). A busy part of the world.

The Great Blue Desert Whale

Before I left the desert I went fishing with a mate.

He baited his hook for whale!


Which partly explains my lack of attention to the archive and my emails recently. A copy of Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 is a wonderful thing.

Mining company accused of misleading radiation claims

A Canadian mining company has been accused of giving misleading information to traditional owners during a community workshop in the Pilbara.

Cameco is planning to develop a uranium project north-east of

Ms Phoebe Clark

Newman, at the edge of the Great Sandy Desert.

Phoebe Clark from the Punmu community says company representatives told locals that radiation is not harmful to people.

Ms Clark has described the meeting as farcical.

“The community relations officer did proceed to tell us science has proven that radiation is never harmful to people and also uranium and radiation can be found in pretty much almost all fruit and plants and animals,” she said.

Cameco has been contacted for comment.

From the ABC North West News


It rained.

And it galed.

Oh yes! It rained and it galed very, very heavily!

Dawn Visit

Sunday Morning, 4;15am, Phone rings.

It is the Community nurse with the news that we have an “evac” in an hour.

Rapid dressing and a bottle of water and a banana grabbed and the boss and I head off to the airstrip. Separate cars as we each have different tasks. He gets there first and turns the airstrip lights on. Dawn has not yet arrived and so the lights are needed. He heads off to the far end of the strip to check for camels, I head for the near end and as the boss returns we find around 20 camels clustered just off the landing end of the strip. They decide the sudden lights and the clapping is not welcome so they disappear down a decline.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service plane arrives early from Kalgoorlie and flies across the middle of the strip then turns to swing around to land. The Nurse arrives with the patient as the plane taxi’s in to the reception area. As soon as the engines stop the pilot and two nurses disembark. The medical conference and handover begins and I mention the camels to the pilot. He says that he saw them as he was flying over the strip.

I walk down to the near end of the strip again and keep an eye open for any beasts which have decided to come back. I look back and see the sun just rising and the RFDS personnel are re-embarking while the nurse is driving the Community ambulance back behind the gates.

I make a quick decision and move sideways, off the runway and wait.

Me and my camera.

Sitting quietly as the sun rises. The golden dawn as its backdrop. Yes, I had to do some “Gamma Correction” on this shot to bring the colours out.

Then rushing down the runway, at and past me, on its way to the nearest hospital, 55 minutes and 600Km away.

Sunday in the desert had begun.

Bush Cricket

As the evening temperature drops down into the high 30C’s, a little recreation is enjoyed.

Changing Seasons

Yesterday clouds finally appeared in our skies. A change is in the air.

Then, at dusk, the eastern sky was lit by the season’s first lightning. Distant, yet very visible.

There may even have been a shower of rain in that cloud.

Soon I will need to ready myself for this.


So Not Back in Civilisation Tonight

Yesterday I posted a short video of my house being struck by lightning. I found it amusing and laughed about it. The rain stopped, the storm went on its way and I thought only a little about the fact that it was moving along the road I was due to travel on this afternoon.

The nearest  good airstrip with planes flying to Perth is at a big mine site just over 100 Km away, along a fairly rough bush track. I was booked to fly out this afternoon at 5pm. Knowing I had a hard drive ahead of me, I went to bed early-ish. Around 11pm. The plan was to leave around noon and allow about four hours for the trip. Just in case.

About half past midnight I was jolted into full and complete wakefulness by a huge crash of thunder. Rain was falling. A full cloudburst. Lightning was splitting the desert darkness in an almost continual show. I reached under my pillow and confirmed that my torch was to hand. The sudden quiet as the air conditioners died confirmed that the power station had been hit and the power was off.

I opened the curtains and watched the display. After counting over thirty flashes in one minute I ran out of count. The rain became heavier and the time between lightning and thunder became shorter. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep because of the combined noise of thunder and rain.

As the rain continued I began worrying about the track I had to drive along. Once I travelled that road and there was a ten kilometre lake along it. Luckily it was only a little more than axle deep but at 3am (Is THAT the Time? I MUST get some sleep!) one worries about finding the road beneath the water. Eventually the rain eased after a torrential 100-200 mm and the thunder moved away.

I woke late, at around 7.30. I knew the mail plane was due just after 8am so I skipped breakfast and settled for a quick coffee. I had drunk about half of it when the plane flew overhead. Peter, one of the teachers was first on the road and led the way. I was in second place and the nurse, with lab samples to send off for testing was in third place. We passed through several quite large puddles and then reached the “causeway”.

A small explanation. There is a river which runs between the Community and the road out to civilisation and the road to the airstrip. There are three large pipes beneath the road to carry away the water.

We reached where we knew the causeway lay but it was invisible beneath a couple of feet of rapidly flowing muddy water. Peter stopped to drop into 4wheel drive, I did the same. The nurse had to get out to turn her hubs to get into 4 wheel drive. I failed to realise that she hadn’t been able to turn those hubs. I followed where Peter had driven, partly through the broken water on the downstream side because I felt the road, while rough, may have been a little more solid than on the upstream side. I got through and looked in my rear view mirror and saw the nurse’s car at a 45 degree angle. She had fallen off the road on the upstream side.

Turning around, I went back and she was able to throw her postal packages across into my car and then she was able to step from her passenger’s side door onto my running board and then into the car. Understandably, she was a little shaken. Had her car tipped just a little more it would have gone right over on the driver’s side and she could easily have drowned!

We did the mail plane thing and then went back to look at the damage.


About this time I began to consider my own trip in the afternoon. This was deeper water than I had ever seen on the causeway and that began to seem a bad omen for what may lie out on the road. Especially since I would be travelling alone. I decided that the Red-Back beer I was looking forward to was not all that important. So I phoned the relevant person and cancelled my flight! When the boss returns on Monday we can sort out how I get out of the desert. He is driving back in. I may fly out on Tuesday’s mail plane. Providing he gets here.

After several hours and the use of a front end loader we got the Toyota out of its predicament. Then we headed off to the School Principal’s home which had caught fire after being struck by lightning. But that is another story.

Unusually, the skies were clear this afternoon. We have had both afternoon and night storms for the past three days. Which bodes well for the state of the roads after the weekend. A couple of dry days and the roads will be quite usable. The boss will have it easy.

Except, that at sunset tonight, I noticed a gathering of clouds all around the horizon with some rising thunderheads and falling showers of rain.

It is now an hour after sunset and I can hear the distant growls of thunder moving closer. The TV reception has died and I think I hear the rain beginning to ping on my roof.


Darwin Award Entrant

Kalgoorlie in Western Australia’s goldfields region, 2:00am AWST. Police are chasing a car.

Remember that this is 2 AM; it is dark!

The driver, in his attempt to escape, veers off the road into bushland.

The man jumps out of his car and tries to hide from police by lying on the ground. Quite understandable as there are no trees to hide behind or to imitate.

Excepting that a little bush-bashing is kinda fun out there. Everyone does it. Even the Police, in hot pursuit.

Yes, the obvious happens. In the dark, looking for a vertical human, a horizontal log in their path is ignored. More than that, it is driven over!

That sucker ain’t never gonna try to run away from the cops again!

The funeral will be sometime soon and the gene pool has been improved just a little!

Darwin wins again.

Drop Bears, Desert Sharks, and Now Camels!

Australia is a dangerous place.

I have warned before of the little known, but widespread Drop Bear and of the unexpected Desert Shark.

Now Camels have turned dangerous.

I’ve just had a thought, unusual as that is at this time of the morning.

The camels in Australia came with their Afghan drivers during the 1800’s.

Perhaps the following story is the first sign of a terror cell amongst these Afghan quadrupeds! Someone should let John Howard know.

Anyway, here is a news report from a couple of days ago.

Camels in Australia - file photo

Camels were brought to Australia in the 1840s for transportation

A woman in Australia has been killed by her pet camel after the animal may have tried to mate with her.

The woman was found dead at the family’s sheep and cattle ranch near the town of Mitchell in Queensland.

The woman had been given the camel as a 60th birthday present earlier this year because of her love of exotic pets.

The camel was just 10 months old but already weighed 152kg (336lbs) and had come close to suffocating the family’s pet goat on a number of occasions.

On Saturday, the woman apparently became the object of the male camel’s desire.

It knocked her to the ground, lay on top of her and displayed what the police delicately described as possible mating behaviour.

“I’d say it’s probably been playing, or it may be even a sexual sort of thing,” the Associated Press news agency quoted Queensland police Detective Senior Constable Craig Gregory as saying.

Young camels are not normally aggressive but can become more threatening if treated and raised as pets.

ABC Newsonline.

PhotoHunt 71: Two

A pair of White-Flashed Honey-Eaters.

Sitting on a rusty wire.


In the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia, on a warm summer day which was 55C ( 131F) in the shade.

Any shade was good.

Photo Hunt 68: Creative

 This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Creative”.

I only wish this was creative. I risked life and limb to get this shot.

It is a very rare photograph of the dangerous Australian Desert Shark.


This was taken some 2,000 Km North of Perth, in the Great Sandy Desert. The line of White Gums at the base of the sand dune indicates an underground stream. Always a likely spot to lose a travelling companion or two to this lttle known but greatly feared desert denizen.

Mosquitoes of the Speewah

I have told several stories in this forum about Crooked Mick of the Speewah.

One of the problems I find in acting as chronicler for the life and times of Crooked Mick of the Speewah is that I have all sorts of Doubting Thomas’s, people who feel they know better than I do. What’s worse, I have to contend with people who tell silly stories which are obviously untrue, claiming that these things happened on the Speewah. Then, when I start to note down something that really happened there, people think my stories are just as fictional

To show you what I mean, take the yarn about the Speewah mosquitoes you sometimes get from city blokes. The story goes that one of Mick’s mates was forced to take shelter from some mosquitoes, which he did by hiding in a tank. He heard their whining approach, and ducked into the tank, pulling a hatch cover over to protect himself.

Well the story is that Mick’s mate (he is usually referred to as ‘Harry’) hides in the tank, and the teller then goes on to explain how Harry heard the mosquitoes discussing whether to eat there, or take him home, and then they start driving their proboscises through the sides of the tank.

Well this Harry was no fool, apparently, and so as the spikes came through, he bent them over with a blow from the back of his axe, but in the end, here were so many mosquitoes held to the tank by their bent beaks, that they lifted the whole tank, and flew it over to Western Australia.

Now any fool can see that this is not true. For a start, the Speewah mosquitoes don’t speak, but I’ll come back to that in a minute. They don’t whine: they’re so big that their wings only flap twice a second, and you could never fit more than three or four round a tank that size in any case.

Now it is a matter of record that a Speewah mosquito was blown up into the Northern Territory, and landed at an Air Force base, where they got fifty thousand litres of Avgas into it before they realised what it was. You may not believe that, but I have checked up on the case, and I can assure you that the court-martial believed it. As a matter of fact, they had no problem believing it, because it has happened before.

More importantly, though, no Speewah mosquito has ever been known to talk, so even though the rest of the yarn is quite possible, that single detail shows for certain that those mosquitoes were not from the Speewah. In fact, they could only have been the species known to Australians as Hexham Greys, a comparatively ordinary mosquito.

Other Speewah tales are here, here and here.