Tag Archives: wilderness

Self-Taught Backhoe Operation – Oops!

Image61

Back into the subject of our Wilderness Adventures (with no house and no amenities) in the Top End of Australia – Just getting onto the 250 acre block was proved interesting – the flat bit was too muddy and the steep bit was too steep, and it didn’t help that there was no driveway or any access tracks at all.

Greg had decided that we needed a backhoe. He thought it would be really useful. Personally, I thought it would be a waste of money and basically a toy he would play with, but he was right and I was wrong. The backhoe turned out to be the most important piece of equipment we could get. We used it for everything, lifting and carrying, digging holes (which saved me a heap of time in bodily waste disposal). It proved its worth on our very first morning, towing the caravan up the steep embankment that would become our driveway.

The backhoe was delivered to our wilderness block. It arrived on the back of a truck, which tilted down to allow the large vehicle off, then the guy and the truck left. It never occurred to us to ask for any instruction. Greg had a truck license and I had a semi-trailer (articulated heavy vehicle) license, and we both rode motorbikes. On the flimsy assumption that we “knew vehicles” we thought we had it figured.

On close inspection, we realized that it wasn’t as clear cut as we had supposed it would be. Never mind all the levers, even the pedal was weird – a three-pronged contraption that we’d never seen before.

There it sat on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, a beautiful backhoe, and neither of us knew how to drive it.

[Continue reading...]

Two Creeks in our Wilderness, Both Annually Drying Up!

024

We moved out into the subtropical wilderness of Australia, completely off-grid, suddenly without electricity at the flick of a switch, or water at the turn of a tap, no sewage system at all and no telephone either – even mobiles (cell phones) were out of range – oh, yes, and we didn’t have a house.

We brought with us a caravan which provided small office space and half a kitchen, not counting the fridge because we could not run it continuously – so add a fridge to the list of things we did without.

As Greg is a programmer and I’m a writer, computers are essential to us both and need protection from the weather, whereas we personally are waterproof. So, the caravan contained an office for each of us and we got to sleep in a tent.

[Continue reading...]

What the Heck is a Quoll? True Life.

018

A quoll is cute until it opens its mouth, then you are introduced to its serious side – Quolls are an Australian marsupial carnivore, cousin to the Tasmanian Tiger, but only about the size of a cat – although with canine teeth like a dog – They are nocturnal and eat whatever meat they can catch of small and medium-sized creatures, including possums.

020

Out in the wilderness of the Northern Territory, we had quolls all over our camp every evening. They came out at dusk and got up to mischief all night. They broke into our early idea of meat-safe (a foam lidded box) and ate our meat. They tried to eat our cat more than once, too, but he got wise to them and learned to keep out of their way.

021

They even moved into my office caravan. It was an old van with gaps and holes that we didn’t even know about. I opened a drawer one day and found a fair-sized quoll splayed out and fast asleep right on top of the papers that were in there. He had climbed in up through the floor and in through the back of the drawer.

I wish I had taken a picture, but I was too busy closing the drawer really carefully so as not to wake him and have him go Wild-Animal all over my office. :D

023

The pictures shown in this post were NOT taken of our local population. These pictures are all borrowed from the Internet as we never could get a good clear picture of one.

[A bit more... Continue reading...]

Stepping off a Cliff into the Wilderness (and out of Guilt). TRUE LIFE.

Image71

No, not literally off a cliff, never fear, it just kind of felt like that – I’ve been writing about life in the wilderness of the Northern Territory, Australia, when we moved out onto 250 acres of subtropical forestland, without amenities, without a house, and completely off-grid (Yes, there is a reference to writing sci-fi in this post – hang in there). :D

It was just the two of us, and neither of us had lived in the country before. By that, I mean in any rural environment – farmland, small towns, meadows and fields – nothing like that. We went straight from suburbia into Wild Lands, which was kind of like stepping off a cliff.

The silence was the first thing that really hit. By silence, I mean human silence. Prior to moving out there, we had pretty regular habits enjoyed by most people in civilization-hubs around the world. We both worked full-time, we’d come home and watch television. We’d listen to the radio. We’d get depressed over the news. We even adopted guilt! All the things we were supposed to do.

Out there, we were suddenly cut off from the constant drone of entertainment and political messages (which I didn’t even recognize as existing) – No radio, no TV, no telephone, no voices – suddenly it was just us and the bushland (forestland) full of wildlife and their potential to be dangerous, inconvenient, deadly and interesting. Mostly they were interesting.

While Greg commuted every working day into the city, I did not. I remained isolated, just me and the wild. I ventured off the block maybe once every three months, sometimes closer to six. Interestingly, guilt disappeared and self-confidence grew. Taking on responsibility for such things as the water in your taps (by that, I mean putting it there after putting in the taps and pipes in yourself, first) is hugely empowering.

Image94

[Continue reading...]

Black Skies, Hot and Humid – The Wet Season.

017

The Wet, the Dry, the Build-Up, those are the seasons in the Top End of Australia – yes, only three – When you get into tropical/subtropical zones, you’ll find the weather kind of turns upside down.

The Wet is the right time of year for Summer, and it’s certainly hot enough, but it’s constantly stormy and raining – heavy, tropical rains I’m talking about, rain you can’t see through. The temperature is pretty constant at 33 C (91.4 F) and at times humidity is at 100% which is NOT an exaggeration, you can literally see droplets forming out of the air. Before I moved to Darwin, I didn’t think 100% humidity was possible, I thought you’d have to be underwater for that.

The Dry (Winter elsewhere) sits around 27 C (roughly 80 F) with glorious blue skies and never a cloud in sight. If you see a tiny puff of cloud anywhere, you tend to point it out to people and say, “Look, weather.”

So the Dry looks like Summer, and isn’t, and the Wet looks like winter, and isn’t.

The Build-up is the worst. You get the heat and the humidity, but no rain yet to give relief. People go “Tropo” (crazy) in the Build-up.

The Wet is the exciting time. You get cyclones during the Wet. You get prickly heat, and if you stand still long enough, you might grow mold down one side of your body. Leather goes moldy in your wardrobe. Clothing rots. If you leave your windows open, mold will drape your walls.

[Yes, there's more. Continue reading...]

Office in the Wilderness – TRUE LIFE.

014

Being modern adventurers we had concerns that original pioneers never had – We were willing to give up grid-electricity, water on-tap, any sort of sewage system and modern conveniences (fridge, freezer, washing machine), and even go without a house, but we wanted to keep our books and computers.

As the computers needed protection from the elements, they got the caravan.

We had an office at each end, mine being the closest to the door (top picture). In the top left of the top picture, above the light switch, you’ll see two battery cables that were fed in through the window. The batteries came later, though. Initially we only had a small generator which ran only the computer system through the day and the TV and video player in the evening.

013

The air conditioner you see in the picture came with the caravan, but our gen-set (generator) was not strong enough to run it. That was bad news in the Build-Up and the Wet when I recorded 50 C inside the annex (122 F), but I’ll talk about the weather some other time.

[Continue reading plus a couple a CUTE CAT PICTURES...]

No Contact with the Outside World. Not even a phone – TRUE LIFE.

010

Although we settled into the wilderness, Greg still had to go to work and so he commuted daily into Darwin on his motorbike – the distance wasn’t great, roughly 100 kilometers each way, which is about 62 miles – starting off with ten kilometers (6.2 miles) of very rough and hilly dirt road until he reached the highway.

He left every morning very early before the sun rose and did not get home until after dark. That left me alone to deal with the basics – collecting water, storing power (when we had batteries), dealing with the wildlife – or dodging it – and digging toilets. The hardest job was washing the laundry because it was done by hand.

While the caravan gave us a kitchen and a gas stove (plus an office each, one at each end), we did not have anything else. We had no fridge and no freezer. We had no washing machine. We started off with a small generator that powered our computers and TV, although we could only watch videos – there was zero reception.

[Continue reading...]