Monday, March 10, 2008
The Back of Beyond
I am excited and terrified all at once. One month from now I will be spending ten days in the Australian Outback – that vast red expanse that American travel writer, Bill Bryson called “the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents – a place that has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else.” I figure if Bryson, a man invariably photographed wearing a tweed jacket, can go to Australia and survive the Outback, then so can I. The Outback is home to the Australian feral camel – that’s why I’m going - to join a 70-kilometre camel wagon safari from the tiny south-west Queensland town of Cunnamulla to attend the Noorama Picnic Races. I’m expecting Aussie larrikinism at its best and I’m hoping not to see a single snake – especially given that Australia is home to nine of the world’s ten deadliest. And let’s not even discuss the fact that the Cunnamulla area is home to 13 different snake species!