Tag Archives: wilderness

What the Heck is a Quoll? True Life.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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Black Skies, Hot and Humid – The Wet Season.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Moving out into the Wilderness – TRUE LIFE.

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It was a decision we seemingly took very lightly – It had been a dream for many years, so when my husband got a substantial pay rise, and I was fed up with my job, I put forward the idea that I quit and actually get some writing done.

“Why don’t we go the whole hog,” Greg answered, easy as you please. “Sell the house and get a block in the wilderness, then you can man it and write there.”

What’s to think about? I said yes straight off and went to work that day with the whole thing at the back of my mind, an exciting adventure waiting to be. I made no mention of it at work, but when the Boss called out that very morning that her husband, in Real Estate, wanted to sell something so that they could go on holiday, such a happy coincidence could not be overlooked.

“Actually, we want big acreage in the countryside,” I said. “House optional.”

“You’re kidding!” she replied, and when assured I was not, made the call.

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Snakes and Writing – TRUE LIFE.

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When you live IN the wild, you live WITH the wild, particularly when you haven’t got a house and dwell in a hole in the ground – my caravan office didn’t give much protection either as it had gaps and holes, and the animals soon moved in there, as well.

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The subtropical Top End (Northern Territory) of Australia has its fair share of wildlife. There are wild boar (dangerous), dingoes (dangerous), crocodiles (extremely dangerous), buffalo (dangerous), spiders (yep, deadly) and lots of snakes (you bet, dangerous). In our camp we met Whip snakes, Death Adders, Black snakes, Brown snakes, King Browns and a host of others, all deadly poisonous. Except for one type, the giants on the block – Pythons.

Pythons are actually good to have around. They prey on poisonous snakes and keep their number low, but they also grow to enormous size (much bigger than these photographs show) and prey on other animals, including small wallabies and young kangaroos. We had pets to look out for, so I learned to handle them and move them well out of camp whenever they turned up.

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Carnivores in the Dark – True Life!

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When the dingoes came around that evening, I was alone. I was stranded on a hillside out in the middle of nowhere with no vehicle, no torch, no weapon and no retreat. My husband had taken the car to go and get a caravan, which would be our temporary home, leaving me by the side of the road with an open trailer of our belongings and two cats to look after.

He was already hours late and the dingoes arrived as the last light was going out of the sky. They moved fast and silently, using the dirt road as their track, not a yip, not a bark, nothing. They were a pack on a mission.

I saw them coming and stood up, not sure what my best option was. They detected me at the same moment. I knew that because, although they kept coming and did not change their pace, they slipped off the edge of the road and disappeared into the dense foliage on the side opposite mine.

I never saw or heard them as they circled around me and kept going. I know they kept going because I would see them again, on other days, coming from the other direction. But on this night, I did not know what they intended or where they went.

Then the night landed for real, and out there, when you’ve got no shelter at all, no light, no distant glow from civilization, and not even a box of matches, you are very aware of carnivores in the dark.

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The Team with the Murderer in it.

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First off, the young newcomer witnessed the murder in some vision, or something – Charlie didn’t believe her – then the death was reported and he knew at once Aleisha had been telling the truth.

Stephen claimed it was an accident and, conveniently, his team didn’t bring back the corpse. He made the report for very fundamental reasons, just wanting the woman off the payroll.

The realization comes too late, Aleisha has already joined the team. Now Charlie knows she is in serious danger, because that’s the team with the murderer in it.

So begins Charlie’s efforts to get her out again, as told in The Khekarian Threat, Book One in the Khekarian series.

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Win an Autographed Copy of THE KHEKARIAN THREAT.

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Coming up soon, a competition!!! I have four signed paperbacks to give away to four lucky winners.

You’ll hear details in the coming week, so stay close and you’re in with a chance to win!

The Khekarian Threat – Have it on YOUR bookshelf.

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