One cold snap too many last week and Keithie and I hit the road north for some long overdue sunshine. We decided on the hop, and during drink-o-clock, to by-pass Queensland – the whole town heads there during winter – and go direct to the Northern Territory.
The clincher came down to Keithie’s sheep, and Louie of course. In the end he decided that since the ewes weren’t due to lamb for another four or so weeks and given Alfie and Buster, Keithie’s mates, were up for looking after Louie (she can’t go a day without her treats), the dogs and the canaries we’d seize the opportunity.
Keithie’d been banging on about the Northern Territory since Lindy Chamberlain came to town a few years ago and told him about the gorgeous flora and fauna at Ayres Rock – he couldn’t get over how she could still see the best in the place after the Northern Territory Government jailed her for a murder she didn’t commit because the truth threatened their plans for tourism.
Anyhow, we had a brilliant time. We sipped steaming hot tea and shivered in the early morning frost as we watched the sun set over Uluru. Then we guzzled quality Aussie bubbles as we watched the sun go down over the rock the same day.
That evening we were driven into the middle of the desert where we shared a bush tucker buffet, that included crocodile, kangaroo, barramundi and quandong (Keithie tried a bit of everything, I stuck with the barra), with about 80 other tourists from all over the world and finished up with a star talk by a local astronomer who pointed out the Milky Way, the Southern Cross and Scorpio in the clearest night sky we’d ever seen.
But it was the Uluru birdlife that really caught Keithie’s attention. I think he thought there were no prettier birds than his canaries. But during a walk around the rock with an Aboriginal guide from the local Mutitujulu community he was blown away by the sheer number of rare and beautiful birds that called the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park home.
He asked the guide how 178 different species survived in the desert. The translator told him her people are hunters and gatherers and they know where the water is. Keithie nodded in that organic way he does when something cryptic is obvious – it’s not as if Keithie hasn’t seen a drought or two in his lifetime.
“They want to kill all the Indian Mynas in Tasmania,” Keithie suddenly told our guide. “They could just put em all up here?”
Not surprisingly the guide didn’t respond.
It occurred to me though that Keithie was offend, even upset, by an advertisement in Swansea’s community newsletter last week:
“…Indian Mynas are not native, not established and NOT WANTED in Tasmania!”
The ad had all this talk about how Mynas (a species we introduced to control pests) are horrible creatures who ‘play dirty’, ‘aggressively nest’, ‘chase away competitors’ and how we, as a community need to ‘fight back’.
“Reminds me of Aussie politics Keithie!” I laughed. “We invite folk to Australia to do things we can’t do and then we turn on them cos they do such a good job!”
But talk of migrants felt wrong with the election just one week away my joke just didn’t meld with what was turning into a gorgeous Swansea dusk.
“Saved by Springvale’s Chardie!” I announced raising my glass. “Here’s to drinking more…takes the edge off any problem!”
“Better send some to Canberra!” Keithe said. “Nothing’s gonna save them!