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Truck Driver becomes Great White Hunter

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Author Topic: Truck Driver becomes Great White Hunter  (Read 181 times)
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« on: October 28, 2008, 10:57:35 am »

I was sick of tomato soup, Irish stew, baked beans, even tin peaches. This waiting for parts from Sydney 2000 miles away seemed to take for ever to get to me out here in the desert on the Nullarbor Plain. Sure I knew the parts had to be flown a thousand miles to Adelaide. Then light plane to Ceduna at the start of the wilderness. After that it was wait till someone was going west and ask them did they have room and would they take the spare parts out to a truck broken down out in the desert, hundreds of miles from civilization. The last part alone could take a week if they took their time .It looked like It had snapped a timing chain. There were bent pushrods, broken valve springs etc. I had ordered enough parts for a top overhaul. I was waiting for someone to come past to help me lift down to the ground the heavy radiator, it weighed a’ ton.’ I couldn’t afford to damage that as well. So all in all there were a number of parcels to come that would take up a lot of room with the few vehicles that attempted the crossing back then.
 Maybe it is time to take the rifle and see if I can find a rabbit. Some fresh meat would be a change. I tapped the water drum it was holding up ok. I carried 40 gallons of water strapped to the back of the cabin every trip plus 300 gallons of diesel fuel, with an extra 40 gallons strapped under the trailer.
 Some time back on Woodland Station (ranch) us ‘turkey drovers’ had become top shooters, never wasting a bullet. Of a weekend we would sometimes go shooting rabbits, selling the skins to make up our wages. We had to buy the ammunition, which pushed us to become a ‘top gun’ .Never wasting a bullet. If there were any rabbits out there, then this was the best time to go. With a bit of luck there was one for the pot.
With this in mind The Nullarbor Kid, the great white hunter set out on safari for a rabbit.
It was one of those grey cloudy days no sunshine or shadow. I pondered to take my jacket but it was too hot. Although I felt it could rain. Not expecting to be going far or away long I checked my watch it was 4.30 pm.
I strapped my .45 pistol on and decided to take the .22 B.S.A. rifle not the Winchester
 25 / 20. The pistol was something one didn’t leave lying around, better with me.
Thinking back later I should have started the small fires I had set in the road 50 feet back and front from the truck. Mulga wood, rocks, and diesel fuel that glowed all night.and sent wispy smoke into the air. But I didn’t..
I set out at right angles from the truck in a northerly direction. It crossed my mind that there were only two things between me and New Guinea. The trans continental rail line, a couple of hundred miles north and then Darwin, a couple of thousand miles further on..
 Having no wish to walk that far, I decided to wander north for only half an hour check my watch and then turn back. 
 Good thinking Ray.
 Better, thinking if you hadn’t gone at all. Dopey.
The country around where I was broken down was sort of scrubby country, no trees but covered in stunted brush and some larger bushes just high enough above my head not to be able to see too far ahead or around..
I walked in a weaving in and out fashion till 5 pm. Didn’t see a thing, not a rabbit  nor a scrub turkey, and boy would I have loved to get a turkey after what they put me through on Woodlands station. I didn’t even see a snake. Nothing but bushes. I did grab a leaf off a bush for a chew … bloody awful
Ok 5 o’clock   turn back the way I came… or so I thought.
The only sensible thing I did that day was to use my watch.
Constantly weaving around bushes I stopped at 5 30 pm.  No road, just bushes all around.
It was no fun walking in sand wearing high heeled riding boots. The water bag was heavy the rifle was heavy and I was getting bloody tired.       
 HHmmmm What to do? Am I going the right way? Should be back to the road by now?.
I laid the rifle down on a clump of bush with my water bottle and tried springing up and down like I had seen the dancing Massie warriors in the movie “King Soloman’s Mine”  They were seven feet tall and had a lot of practice. I was 5’ 10 in riding boots with a heavy colt pistol strapped to my waist and had never tried it before. After the third jump, my left boot landed on a rock and pitched me onto the sand. Trying to see over the bushes ahead, looking for the road where I knew my truck stood so high, I thought it would be easy.  No truck, just greeny, brown bushes. I drew my knees up lay my forearms on them and rested my chin on my arms.
 I could be in trouble here .I said to myself flexing my sore left ankle. Serious trouble.
Where have I gone wrong? I thought.
 “Where’s the bloody road?” I shouted, glaring around at the surrounding bushes as if they were the enemy.
That was when the horrible thought struck me .. the last person I had seen was a friend who had stopped and shared  a hot bottle of beer he had brought me but then had to press on, and that was two days ago.
No one knows where I am.
“.Bloody hell Ray you’re an idiot.” I yelled at myself.
“ How do you manage to do these bloody stupid  things?” Swiveling my head from side to side, still glaring at the bushes.
 I then replied to myself with a sigh,    “ I wanted some thing different to eat “..
 “shut up and think.. you give me the s****.”
“OK    go 10 more minutes.
 Mind you no more ..   ok.?”
“OK.” With these gloomy thoughts I picked up the water bag and rifle and trudged on the way I thought was the right direction, but now positively certain I was lost.
Nuh… nothing had changed except the bushes and they all looked the same anyway.
There was a bigger bush over to my left a little so I decided I would try and climb up as far as it would hold me, .then try and have a look around.
I laid the rifle down with the water bag again. As I put it down I set the neck of the water bag in the direction that I was going so when I  picked it up I would not be confused. Even if it was wrong I didn’t want to go around in circles but at least go one way.
By this time I was starting to get a little rattled., it was getting near dark and colder. The ground was a mixture of stones and sand, on looking back pondering , I couldn’t see my footprints.
‘Get up the tree stupid …   stop gazing around.”
“It aint a bloody tree you fool, it’s a bloody bush.”
“ OK get up the bloody  bush then…Do something .. anything is better than this”
Checking the water bottle neck so it wouldn’t move I limped over to this larger bush, it was more like a sapling, thick with leaves.
 Then, tree snakes came to mind as I scrambled upward, grabbing the slender branches.
 Were there tree snakes in these large bushes? I wondered...  Hope I don’t get bitten on the nose.. It crossed my mind in a flash that a bite on the nose would present a tourniquet problem wouldn’t it?
 Shut up dopey, keep your mind on what your doing.
I pushed and shoved upward for about half my height again off the ground and as I felt I had gone as far as I could go. I tried to sweep the branches aside to better my view..
That was my undoing. There was a tearing cracking sound, I lost my balance leaning forward and tumbled down out of the bush through the light branches that bent and snapped and hit the sandy ground with a thump..
As I lay there out of breath, the split second  I was allowed before I fell, showed me more
bushes, that was all that registered , bushes for ever and ever and ever..
A part of the brain said .”.Now don’t panic.” The other part said “That’s all right for you to say don’t panic. I wish I was back with the ‘old girl’ and bugger the rabbits. I’ll be a dried up Mummy before I’m found.”
Who would know where to look. I asked myself. I didn’t leave a note to tell which direction I went. If someone does come along and sees a broken down truck they will assume the driver has been given a lift maybe east to Ceduna or maybe west to Norseman for spare parts. Either small  town was hundreds of miles away.
 Then again would they report it?
If they did,… when …  to whom? “
You’ve done it this time you stupid bazztarrd.” I said to myself.
This all raced through my mind laying on my back and contemplating the darkening sky.
Well this is no good I thought as I picked up my Rifle and water bag.
I decided to go another 10 minutes in the same direction. My left ankle was starting to hurt a little more, not much but adding to my feeling of doom and gloom.
After about 5 minutes I came across a much larger bush than I had seen so far.
That’s it then, I thought.  If that bush will hold me, as high as I can climb, without falling out again, then I will sit there facing where I think south and the east west road should be  and wait as long as it takes.
 If someone comes along during daylight I will see their dust cloud. If by a long shot someone comes along after dark I will see their headlights. The night part was a real long shot, no one drove at night on the Nullarbor Plain but still if someone does I’ll see them.
 And so I sat… well sort of sat, legs and arms entwined in leafy branches, not game to move too much, I didn’t want to fall out on the ground again. Now and then sweeping leaves aside for a better view.
Just as the last light was fading I looked to my left about 10 o’clock and fancied I could see a dust cloud, holding my breath, I glued my eyes on it, brushing leaves aside impatiently, yes…  it was…  a dust cloud. And it was moving at a sort of angle across my horizon from left to right. Ok that’s east to west.
I scrambled down landing on my feet this time, grabbed the rifle and water bag and took off like a bullet in the general direction to intersect the way the dust cloud was coming  ignoring the protests from my left ankle. Hopping, running, panting and puffing and suddenly after about 15 minutes, I burst out onto the road..
You beauty, was I glad to see that east west track 
  Ha Ha   Ha Ha Ha   done it again. It felt like I was home.
 Gasping for breath, hopping on one leg  I looked right, nothing, just a dusty track disappearing into the fast fading light.. My heart sank.
I quickly turned my head to the left with an instant feeling of doubt  but there she was my darling broken down Albion truck I called the “Perth Express”. What a relief. It was at least half to three quarters of a mile down the road, barely visible in the fast approaching darkness. So very far away I could hardly see her.
 I was roughly coming back in the right direction but with the weaving in and out of bushes instead of returning to the road at a right angle I was wandering at an angle nearly
Sure if I had kept going I would have hit the road eventually but probably a mile or more further down the road. Then not knowing which way to walk, left or right.
The little car a Morris Minor, that made the dust, didn’t stop at my truck and as it approached me it slowed down to a stop and the driver asked how far to the next water tanks, was I ok and how was the hunting    “get anything?”
About 35 miles,  yeah I was ok  and no,   to getting anything.
 He waved, switched on his headlights and drove off down the road, his little red tail lights weaving and bumping leaving me standing there in the dark with mixed feelings..
“Well” I thought “he would have been a bloody asset to have around”
As I limped up the road toward the ‘old girl’ I decided that fresh meat was not worth all the pain and effort. A tin opener was more essential than a pistol or a rifle on the Nullarbor Plain, and suddenly I had a yearning for a plate of hot baked beans.     
 Hats off to Mr. Heinz.                Must start the fires going.

          From            “My Way on the Highway”
                                    Copyright  2005
                                     Ray  Gilleland. 
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