Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Camping the Australian way

Just last weekend I was looking for a nice spot to camp for the night near Boolaroo in South Australia’s Southern Flinders Ranges, I selected a spot and parked the ute under the shade of several tall Eucalypt trees on the bank of a dry creek. (It’s Autumn here)
As always I made my camp with a mixture of small tarps, poles and ropes, with a comfortable folding chair and small gas cartridge stove. A quick and easy camp that can be set up and broken down in less than a half hour with my very comfortable bed just a mattress in the back of the Toyota.
After a nice dinner made on the tailgate of the ute and a couple of beers I ended up in bed for a well-earned sleep, laying there watching the stars I had no idea what terrors the morning would bring…

 * Part of Horrocks Gorge, one of the several passes through the Flinders Ranges.

I awoke about 6.30am as the sun peeked over the hills and with a very busy day planned I decided to get up and have breakfast. I picked up the stove and breakfast box from the ground under the rear of the car and started the billy to boil while I made my way to the cab to see what the time actually was. Standing there with the door open a movement caught my eye, a big Wolf Spider (over 3 inches across) made its way from inside the door jam, across the dashboard and hid behind the GPS.
For a minute I considered the possibilities of having my very own Wolf Spider security system and wondered how loud a ‘would be’ GPS thief would scream as it ran across his hand… but NO, I can’t rely on the spider staying put and searching the car every time I got in would become tiresome.
I gently moved it back toward the open door and made sure it made its way back to the ground where it scurried under the car. Hmm, one spider is pretty much normal for an Australian morning in the bush…
Back to the still heating water I noticed the gas flame was low and needed a new gas cartridge, I clicked open the lid on my breakfast box to be greeted by another medium sized Wolf Spider between the lid and inner, again I gently returned the spider to the ground then flipped open the gas cartridge holder on the stove. 
A huge Wolf Spider was spanned well over and across the canister and after a moments hesitation it took off toward my bedding. I had to move fast and the only tool I had at hand was my hand.. I put my hand in front of the spider making it turn and gently steering to go back to the gas stove. I lifted the stove back to the ground and rattled it gently to make the spider leave; it scurried away under the car.
That’s three now! Hmm, by now I was thinking I had camped in a bad spot.
Next to me on the ground was a spare blue tarp still folded as I’d left it.. Hmm, I wonder! I picked up the tarp and shook it gently, sure enough another large spider dropped out from between the folds and wandered away, I put my shoes on...

This all made me start thinking about the ‘thing’ that had crawled across my leg during the night… at the time I’d slapped at it quite hard wanting to make sure I killed whatever it was; after all there’s nothing you want to remove gently during the night…except maybe, Underwear!
After breakfast I packed the car paying particular attention to potential spider infestations and headed off to do what I’d planned for that day.

* Mount Remarkable to the left, looking North along the inland side of the Ranges.
Late the same evening I got home and started unpacking the ute, placing everything back in its place for next time. Some of it goes into my spare room in the house so all of that was double checked for spiders again.
Satisfied that I was potentially spider free I headed out to buy dinner, I had only made it a couple of blocks when a large Wolf Spider ran across my windscreen, in the darkness it took a few seconds to work out which side of the glass it was on… thankfully outside; but it was heading toward my open window.
I wound with a fury and managed to get the glass up before it got to me, a moment later it disappeared into the darkness. I kind of hoped it had fallen off but then felt guilty that it may have been killed.
With dinner safely bought and hermetically sealed in the car with me I made my way home wondering if the car would ever be truly mine again…

An hour later I had to go out again and this time a large spider had barred entry to the car itself and sat proudly right in the middle of the drivers door. (maybe the previous one?)  I chased it off onto the ground where it ran across the floor and into the stack of shovels, rakes and other garden implements stacked against the shed wall.

It’s just as well I’m not scared of Wolf Spiders….much!

We’ve all seen pictures of ancient temples from across the world all covered in vines and trees and full of every kind of critter, even recently abandoned places like Chernobyl have been overtaken by Nature already but at least in other places Nature waits for places to be abandoned first…except in Australia.
Australian critters are prepared to move in while were still using it and either share or.. if necessary, kill us and take over!



Pearl said...

Holy Cow.


You live in a beautifully deadly part of the world!


Joe Pereira said...

Distance aside,critters are the only thing that put me off visiting Australia

Tempo said...

Hi Pearl, The Wolf Spider bite is just like a Bee sting so it's not too bad. (unless you're allergic)But did you notice that I didnt get bitten, we have lots of critters but they dont actually want to bite us..much!
Hi Joe, The big cities are pretty much like any big city anywhere in the world, it's only when you get out bush that Nature seems to be after you...

Jen said...

Sounds like Texas on steroids. Even our plants are mean.

Glad you weren't bitten. A bee sting-ish bite still doesn't sound fun.

Spiral said...

I just went camping at Wombeyan Caves, NSW. We went spotlighting with our torches on the first night after dinner. We shone our lights up tree branches and across the grass looking for eye shine. I noticed a tiny flash on the ground a few metres away. Thinking it was probably glass, I walked over to the tiny sparkle and found... a spider in the grass sitting perfectly still. We all had a look then noticed dozens of tiny flashes all around the bases of trees, rocks and in the grass - yep, we were catching the eye shine of hundreds of spiders and insects... usually unnoticed... all watching us!

Kymbo Whitford said...

Hi Jen, treat critters with respect (stay the hell away from them) and you can go on your way unhindered (unkilled)
Hi Spiral, There are so many critters that you just dont normally see, thousands upon thousands of unseen eyes out there all looking back at you.

Mike said...

That looks so beautiful and stunning. thanks for those perfect clicks to remind me how awesome australian outback is.

River said...

Your mistake was the middle of the night smack. Junior wolf on his very first solo outing went home and told Daddy wolf, aka The Big Bad Wolf, now they're out to get you. Mwah ha ha.
I don't know much about wolf spiders, are they dangerous? Or just big and scary-looking?

Kymbo Whitford said...

Hi Mike and welcome.
Hi River, Im not at all allergic to pretty much anything and have been bitten a few times by Wolf Spiders. The bite comes up in a hard red lump and is sore to touch for a few days. You feel a little off colour with headaches and uncomfortable tummy for a day or two. Kinda like a Bee sting, maybe slightly worse.

Jenee Vie said...

Camping is a very adventurous experience. =) Anyway, like the images so much, cool captures.

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