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We don't intend to set up any records

Frenches-Camp — 2000-05-25 - 2000-05-28

Because of our physical condition we agree to stay here for a few days. Of course, we could go on tomorrow, but I did make a promise to myself not to rush through Australia. Tanja and I want to enjoy this country and experience it with all its beauty and uniqueness. We don’t want any time pressure on our expedition, and in spite of the Olympic Games in Australia, we are not participating in any race. As I have written in the introduction, it is not our objective to set up any new records, but to live our lives here and now. Although I must keep reminding myself not to overdo it, I feel quite well with this philosophy of life. Because it is so beautiful here, we do not have the slightest reason to hurry on and burn ourselves out even more. The last year and a half of preparations was so hard on us that I sometimes wondered why and to what end we take all these privations upon us. But now I know again. It is simply indescribable to have returned to the bosom of Mother Nature. On the other hand, it is strange how trying it is to extricate oneself from civilisation.

I feel fresh and relaxed this morning and taking Rufus along with me, sprint to the little river to get some stones for a fireplace. Our friends Claudia and Angelika are going to come to visit on Saturday, and I want to at least present them with a real campfire. I think I have mentioned before that building a fireplace to me has nothing to do with work, on the contrary, I consider it a “ritual” that satisfies my ego. Tanja and I spend three days by ourselves at the camp, because Tom has come to collect his dear Jo. She is underway for the expedition again. She wants to shorten all the camels’ belly straps, because their physical shape has changed from the bush tacker (green fodder). Hay swells their bellies, and the bush tacker gives them a completely different shape. In other words, hay can be compared to white bread and bush tacker to T-bone steak.

WONDERFUL SHOWER IN THE BUSH

In the afternoon I take the shower I’ve been craving. I take our large tin bucket, fill it with water from the river and set it on the embers of our fireplace. It takes only a short while to heat up. I take all my clothes off, grab the bucket and an Ortlieb bag that has a screw coupling at the bottom end of it. Equipped with a piece of soap and a bottle of shampoo I walk to the river. Then I fill the bag with hot water and suspend it from a branch. In a bent position I stand up under the self-made shower, open the plug and the wonderful hot water comes down on my thirsty skin. I soap myself quickly, not without having first closed the outlet to save the precious water, as I don’t have more than 10 litres at my disposal. It is barely enough to rinse the shampoo out of my hair. Rufus who sits close by watches me with envy and would love to also jump under my wonderful shower. “No, Rufus, this is for me. You can go take your bath in the river.” I say whereupon he looks away deeply offended. Trembling with cold, I dry up with my towel and return to the warming fire.

The days in camp 6 pass very quickly. On Friday, I use my satellite telephone to give interviews to some ABC news stations, Radio Berlin, Radio Gong of my home city of Nuremberg, and the “West Australian”. I’m happy to be able to tell the listeners about the successful start of the Red Earth Expedition. The temperatures drop down to minus 2 degrees Celsius during the night, but the days remain without rain in spite of some gathering clouds. At night Tanja and I sit by the campfire and we cannot stop marvelling at the clear view of the stars. The Milky Way seems within reach out here. Every now and again, one of the freight trains roars past, I call it “Ghost” because you can hear it for minutes before it comes into sight. Then the headlights of the traction engine cut through the night and immerse a part of the clearing into an unreal, glistening light, just to disappear into nowhere again in no time. The camels get more and more used to these creepy apparitions. Only rarely do they run back and forth nervously tugging at their leg ropes. I sometimes get up in the middle of the night to make sure they are okay and have not tangled their leg ropes.

On Sunday afternoon, Jo and Tom arrive. Jo has really shortened all the belly straps and done a number of other little jobs. Tom brings some fresh rain water to drink. We are so lucky that he’s been supplying us with the necessary potable water, because here in the areas inhabited by people we are reluctant to drink water from brooks and rivers. Too many farmers fertilise their fields with heavy chemicals that can easily be found again in the rivers.

Day: 14-17

 

Sunrise:
06:59

Sunset:
17:20

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