Foot­loose RON MOON

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - RON MOON

WE WERE camped just out­side a small provin­cial park in cen­tral Canada a few months ago when we were wo­ken by a large black bear shak­ing the back of our Dodge Ram and slide-on Four Wheel Camper. I had, rather stupidly, left some rub­bish on our swing-away tail­gate box and the bear had come to in­ves­ti­gate. He liked what he found, as he de­stroyed the bag and spread the con­tents all around the park­ing area in his de­sire to find food. A blast on a hand-held fog horn (of­ten sold as a bear-re­pelling de­vice in North Amer­ica) was treated with ab­so­lute con­tempt by the an­i­mal, but luck­ily for us he wan­dered away a short time later with just a sharp dis­mis­sive snort as a fi­nal farewell.

It got me thinking about other oc­cur­rences that have hap­pened to me when things go bump in the night. One that im­me­di­ately springs to mind hap­pened many years ago at Dou­glas Hot Springs in the NT, way be­fore it be­came the pop­u­lar camp­ing and dayuse area it is now.

We were camped there, close to the Dou­glas River, when we were wo­ken with the old Landie shak­ing from stem to stern. Look­ing out the front win­dow we were some­what sur­prised to see a big water buf­falo with an im­pres­sive set of horns giv­ing him­self a good rub on our home-made bull­bar. Need­less to say we didn’t get out of the car un­til sun­rise when the ol’ bull was seen wan­der­ing, a bit like a bull­dozer, through the nearby pan­danus scrub.

Some 30 years ago we were camped on a re­mote creek at Cape York with a swamp nearby that flooded as the high tide pushed water back up the creek, even though we were many kilo­me­tres in­land. The nearby cross­ing of the creek also went from just a trickle of water across it to a rather tricky and chal­leng­ing me­tre-plus-deep cross­ing, which caught us out once – af­ter which we waited for low tide.

We had been camped there for a cou­ple of days as we ex­plored a nearby river sys­tem with an in­flat­able boat and a ca­noe (which is an­other story in it­self) and had gone to bed when a short time later we were wo­ken by our then young son call­ing to us in a weak and fright­ened man­ner. When I got out of our tent I was sur­prised to see a big scrub bull wan­der­ing around his lit­tle tent. The bull got as big a shock as I did and he trot­ted off, crash­ing his way through the bush in his haste to de­part. I breathed a sigh of re­lief at his de­par­ture, and our son was ex­tremely happy to get out of the tent!

I was talk­ing to a friend re­cently about sim­i­lar en­coun­ters when he told me of the time he had gone to sleep in his swag and woke up with a crush­ing feel­ing on or around his chest. When he awoke prop­erly he found he had a big goanna laz­ing across his body, but luck­ily for all con­cerned it quickly de­parted when he moved.

In a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion we were camped on the Can­ning Stock Route and had gone to sleep in our swag when some­thing later that night woke me. I lay there gath­er­ing my senses and won­der­ing why I had wo­ken when an­other move­ment just a me­tre or so away caught my eye. Slowly lift­ing my head to get a bet­ter look, a dingo stared back at me, his eyes just a glint in the pale moonlight. Af­ter a short few sec­onds he wheeled away and trot­ted off into the dark­ness. The next morn­ing it be­came ap­par­ent how close he came to my sleep­ing po­si­tion. Since then we’ve bought a dome-style swag!

I ex­pect many in­trepid campers have had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences – feel free to let us know!

Crea­tures of the night can sur­prise you, even if they are harm­less. More Foot­loose at:­­loose.htm

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