Doing the Pioneering Thing.

There was no house on our 250 acres of wilderness. There was no connected electricity, no running water, no sewage system and no phone. We had no refrigeration, no washing machine. It was going to be an interesting five years.

We were off the main road. To reach our block, we had to travel ten kilometres of dirt, some of it very loose and very steep (seriously scary on a motorbike). We landed there about 3:00 in the afternoon. Greg unhooked the trailer of gear and parked it on the roadside – we didn’t have a driveway as yet – and then he disappeared back down the road to go and fetch the second hand caravan we would use as our home until we could build one.

That left me sitting on the side of a hill as watchdog for our things, guarding two cats in cat carriers and filling in time plotting plots because I had nothing else to do except swat the march flies that tried to bite me.

By 7:00 I was still there alone. Not a single car had come by and it was getting dark. Something was happening, though. I had moved some of our things up the slope where there was some shade in the subtropical climate and a view down the road. Something was coming.

I’ll be honest, what I saw down the road and heading my way scared me. It was a pack of dingoes. Dingoes can be dangerous and these ones had clearly interbred, mixing with German Shepherd most noticeably. Big dogs. Smart dogs.

*

I had no retreat, of course. There was no car to hop into – Greg had it. I was just trying to work out what to do with the cats and if I could get them and me up a tree in time, when they sensed me. The silent pack moved off the road away from me. They continued their journey around the hills and I didn’t see them again. That was good. That meant they’d had experience with humans and didn’t trust them.

So I sat there as the sun went down and it got dark. I’m thinking of dingoes, and snakes too, and I tell you, it’s not nice being out in the bush when you have no lighting and no way to make fire and there are potentially dangerous creatures around you. I didn’t know Greg was going to be gone so long or I’d have planned ahead. I didn’t even have a torch. It turned out Greg had taken a wrong turning with the caravan and it was giving him trouble getting it turned around again on a different narrow dirt track.

It was a further hour or so before those very welcome lights turned the corner and Greg arrived with our home on wheels.

We were both fresh from the city. We certainly didn’t know the country the way we were going to get to know the country. Greg would continue to commute into Darwin every day to go to work. For him, coming home was like going on a camping trip. From my perspective, though, my life would never be the same. It wasn’t a camping holiday for me, it was being dropped into the deep end of pioneering, albeit in the modern way.

I was the one who kept things going. I had to collect water every day, I had to wash clothes by hand, I had to bury sewage (we very quickly ditched the chemical toilet as a waste of space). We started off with a small generator which ran my computer, and soon upgraded to a bigger generator and batteries to store power. I looked after that side of things, making sure we had power enough to run through the evening. We got water tanks, and I looked after pumping them full from the stream, running hoses half a kilometre from stream to tanks on the hill, and making sure those tanks were full to the brim when the Dry Season came and the streams dried up for six months of the year. Eventually, I dug a trench from the tanks to our campsite, using a mattock, and put in pipes so we had water on tap. Bliss! People take such things for granted, we got to learn appreciation for them.

Greg did his share, too, of course. He made a hot water system out of an old oil drum. Basically it was a burner we’d light an hour ahead of time to get good and hot, then run water through it. He erected our tin and wooden pole home, which we referred to as the tin tent, because that’s what it was. It gave us a bedroom (the caravan became my office) and a bed that the pythons and sometimes bats would hide under.

Mostly, my days were hot and dusty. It was hard work. To some extent it was dangerous for the simple fact of being alone every day from before sun up to after sun down. Meeting a buffalo almost nose-to-nose is dangerous. Fortunately he ran one way and I ran the other, so that was okay. Meeting snakes can be dangerous. A lot of Australian snakes are seriously deadly. Pythons were okay, although often large, and because of the streams, we had a lot of pythons. They actually kept the other snake numbers down, but we did have an assortment of poisonous snakes, too. When you’re in thick bushland, you’re going to meet them, simple as that.

My way of dealing with snakes – surprise, surprise – was to read up on them and understand their ways. I have never been frightened of snakes since. I have great respect for snakes. We left them alone and, for the most part, lived in harmony with them.

The biggest danger was wild boar because they do attack. We had a gun for them, but I never carried it.

We also had bushfires go through. We learnt to live with all of these things.

Probably the most dangerous time for me personally was when a bunch of hoons turned up and from the roadside let rip with semi-automatic gunfire. They weren’t actually aiming at me, but I was certainly within range. They were after roo (kangaroos), but didn’t get any. Point is, they were watching for movement and I figured if they saw any from me, they’d take me for a roo and make me their target.

I hit the deck when the shooting started. What that means is, I hunkered down behind a the 20 litre fuel can I’d been carrying because I’d been about to start the generator. The can was full of course. I thought, How smart is this? But there was nowhere else to go and I waited it out.

When those b**tards were done, they drove on up the road – saw our van at the top of the hill, realized there were likely to be people present, performed the fastest u-turn I’ve ever seen and took off as though I might be after them with my own gun.

I was just glad they missed me. Sheesh!

“Hi Love, what sort of day did you have?” You know? You just don’t get the same answers as you do in the city.

Cheers, all! 🙂

Allyson

11 thoughts on “Doing the Pioneering Thing.

  1. Yuna

    So, it looks like we will get a new adventurous life stories?
    “Meeting a buffalo almost nose-to-nose is dangerous. Fortunately he ran one way and I ran the other, so that was okay”–>> LOL. sorry to have a loud laugh over that story, but i imagined it and it came as a funny story Allyson.
    i think you don’t lack of wild animals. Is there another wild animal we missed here?

    Reply
    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Hi Yuna! 🙂 Well, it all fits under “research”. I haven’t gone into that sort of detail in my colonized worlds – yet! – but my life out in the wilderness certainly made me feel like a modern pioneer.

      Yes, I was lucky I scared the buffalo, too – he was bigger than me. 😀

      I haven’t covered crocodiles. Being in the Northern Territory, I was always watchful for them. There was a lake close by which was apparently free of them, but just before I left, freshwater crocodiles moved in. Freshies (as we called them in the NT) are a bit shy, so not so dangerous, but Salties (Saltwater crocodiles) feed on Freshies. As both move across land to streams and waterholes and even manmade dams, I figured the Salties wouldn’t be far behind.

      Fortunately, I don’t have any up-close-and-personal stories about crocodiles. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Yuna

        When i saw this reply, i thought i got a new post 😀

        Oh my god, not crocodiles, it gives me goosebumps just think about that creature -_-“!. i live at area which either river and estuary surrounded by crocodiles.
        in our area the estuary type is the most dangerous, it has more victim than the other and bigger one. oh yeah the fresh crocodile is much more dangerous than salt one in here. i thought, and from its victim.

        Reply
        1. A.D. Everard Post author

          Yes, they are very scary. In the NT and Queensland, saltwater crocodiles are the worse and the biggest. They don’t stay only around the coast, but come up the rivers and streams, too. In Australia, I haven’t heard of any freshwater crocodiles killing people, but saltwater crocodiles do kill people (and cattle) quite regularly.

          Now I am down south in New South Wales. No crocs here! 🙂

        2. Yuna

          oww, maybe that’s what i called estuary, the live in between? between sea and fresh water? that’s the most dangerous if it was the case. 0_0.

          That’s nice. No crocs.

  2. beth

    OMG!
    You are a crazy woman!
    Brave, yes. Independant, yes. Cool, most definitely yes.
    But still crazy!

    This whole pioneering thing is my own personal vision of He ll!
    :0

    Reply
    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Hi Beth! 🙂

      How do you think I got like this?

      It was a learning curve, that’s for sure, but I never once regretted being out there. I still yearn for a big block of wilderness to call our own. Hell for me is having to go shopping for clothes or shoes, especially anything I have to try on – trousers are the worst, they never fit, so I have to go through trying ’em on a dozen times or so. I usually grab the first ones that fit, never mind the style. Now THAT’S scary. 😀

      Cheers, mate! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Uzoma

    Only someone with a heart of adventure will dare the lands far away from civilizations. For the beauty of adventure itself, I enjoyed the reading. The step by step explanation of what was lacking, what was needed to fill in the void, and then the danger itself…man! That’s scary and exciting. Please did this actually happen?

    Reply
    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Hi Uzoma! 🙂

      Yes, it actually happened. We lived in the wilderness without a house for not quite five years. During all that time, I was alone there by day, keeping up with things. It gave me the confidence I have now. It’s very hard to describe to people who have never stepped away from civilization, but the inner boost you feel when you’ve achieved something that no one else could give you is immense. It sounds so simple – people turn on a tap, and the water is there, or flick a switch for electricity. They don’t think about it. I loved having water, knowing that I personally had put it there. I loved having lighting at night because I personally put it there.

      I will, from time to time, write posts about my experiences out there in the Northern Territory of Australia. It fits in this blog because I list it as hands-on research, and it certainly contributed to how I think about high tech colonization in a wilderness setting (although I haven’t written much in my stories from that basic knowledge – I no doubt will as my series grows).

      Everything I write about from a personal perspective is true. I share to explain how I think or what I am basing something on (such as colonization), and I see no point in making things up when the truth itself is full of interesting and exciting things. My science fiction series is where my fiction is, and everything else is explaining how the ideas for it got into my head.

      I drew a lot from my time on the land.

      At first everything was such a challenge, but I grew to love coping with whatever came my way. The big jobs, Greg and I worked together. We loved the sound of the wilderness and the lack of people around us. We still yearn to get back to that sort of lifestyle and that sort of acreage – restricted by funds (isn’t that always the way?).

      Who knows… if I sell enough books… I’m always hopeful. Cheers. 🙂

      Reply

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