In Doing the Pioneering Thing, I spoke about being left on the side of the road to look after an open trailer of our belongings while Greg took our then only car to go and collect the caravan we would use as an office (computers being more vulnerable to the weather, they got the caravan, we got the tent).
This is the road where Greg left me (our land is to the right), and it was down there I saw the dingoes moving in as it got dusk. I had nowhere to retreat to, but fortunately, the pack sensed me and disappeared into the trees on the opposite side of the road and continued their journey by going around me.
The problem was that Greg got delayed taking a wrong turn somewhere so it wasn’t until well after dark that he turned up. What a welcome sight his car headlights were! Until that moment, though, things were just looking worse. Totally unprepared for nightfall, I had no light with me, no torch, not even any matches, and I can tell you, one of the things most easily forgotten when you live in a city, or even suburbia, is just how dark it gets in the country when the sun goes down.
There was no one for miles. For the entire afternoon and evening I had been waiting there, not a single vehicle came by. The only living thing I had seen, apart from birds and insects, were the dingoes.
That first night we stayed in the caravan on that road. In the morning, the view was like this.
We had sold the house, but couldn’t afford to buy the land outright, so we basically swapped one mortgage for another. However, what we did get out of the house sale (apart from the caravan and a small gen-set), was something that I wasn’t sure we really needed, although Greg said we did. He turned out to be 100% correct, and this piece of equipment was far more versatile than I ever imagined. It helped pretty much with everything.
The backhoe was second hand. It was delivered to us that morning on the back of a truck from Darwin, then left of the side of the road.
The funny thing was, neither Greg nor I knew how to drive it. It had an interesting three pronged pedal, with each prong doing a different thing, and once we got it going, the key wouldn’t turn it off. That made for an entertaining start to the day, but Greg soon worked out the basics and learned how to operate it.
The first thing that was essential was just getting the caravan onto the block. 250 acres of wilderness meant just that – a dirt road took us to the block but there was no access onto it, no driveway, no road inward, not even a track. The high point we were at along the road fronted near the top of a hill, so that’s where we aimed. As you can see from where I was standing to take this picture (above), it was rather steep. The car couldn’t get up it, never mind with the caravan.
Greg did the work necessary to flatten out the hump and give us a driveway. We would set up camp not far from the road, in fact just at the crest of that hill. It doesn’t look like much of a hill because the road was high at that point, but on the other side of that crest, the land fell away steeply, although it does not really show well here.
By the time the weekend was over, we were a short way up the hill and settled into our first campsite.
Monday morning saw Greg off early to go to work in Darwin, leaving me to start my first day of writing in the wilderness – or so I thought.
“Just pop some roads in, will you?” he suggested, just before taking off down the road.
What? I hadn’t even been in the backhoe, never mind know how to drive it. I hadn’t even seen what Greg had done to operate any part of it, I’d been too busy taking pictures. The only thing I’d done with the backhoe was work out how to turn it off. You had to pull a knob, actually the knob was missing, so you had to pull on a piece of metal poking out.
Just pop some roads in?
Well, I popped some roads in – and that meant going over the steep drop – but I’ll tell you about that some other time.