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A Cyclone of Force 5

near Perth — 2000-01-06

Like every evening we crawl into our tent after an exhausting and eventful day. The wind has picked up, and the news speaker on the radio warned the inhabitants of the north-west coastal areas of a powerful cyclone. Having heard such warnings on the radio again and again in the past weeks, we don’t think much of it and fall asleep quickly.

At about 3 o’clock in the morning the unpleasant sound of rattling tent walls wakes me up. The wind is blowing in mighty gusts around our canvass accommodation. I wonder whether our tent pegs are going to stand firm. While I ponder whether or not to struggle out of my warm and cosy sleeping bag in order to check the tent anchorage in this disagreeable stormy night, I fall back asleep.

When Tanja and I get up next morning we hardly believe our eyes. Within a meter of our tent we find the chicken coop, approximately 2 × 2 meters in size, that we use as a run for Shiron, our kangaroo baby, during the day. The wind has spun the pen which is built of wire mesh and metal angles and is now severely out of shape, through the air. If it had landed on our tent, it might have done some serious harm. We don’t waste much thought on the idea, bend the pen in shape again and Tanja sets Shiron into it like every morning. A little later while we enjoy our breakfast, we listen to the news reporting about the worst cyclone to have hit the West-Australian coast since the beginning of weather recordings. Part of the small town of Karatha, about 1500 kilometres way, was completely devastated. It seems a sheer miracle that this cyclone of force 5 that did so much property damage did not claim any human life and spared all other towns along the coast. The idea that in a few weeks we’ll be walking through the dreary bushland all alone, with only a dog and five camels, and at the mercy of such mighty forces of nature, gives me the creeps.

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