Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar. ~Bradley Millar
After I had calmed down and had been the centre of mocking the entire evening we packed up the van to get ready for bed. Mark was getting the sheets ready in the van, while the rest of us tidied up our stuff at the back. Though the guys had been laughing at my ridiculous adventure earlier, the second the dingo howling started again they leaped up. We could hear the dingoes walking around in the bushes next to our van but it was too dark to see. We were all facing the van when Dick suddenly noticed a dingo standing behind him inches away. “WHOA!” was hardly spoken when the four of us lunged ourselves into the van within a split second, ending up landing on each other. Dick and Mark squealing and screaming: “Shut the door! Shut the door! Shut the door!” ..mahahahaha…who’s a stupid wee girl now? Four other dingos appeared, the one next to our van looking at us sheepishly while Ben slammed the door shut before it felt welcome to join us. Scared to death but feeling rather stupid, the four of us sat in the back of the van peering through the windows to see what the danger dogs were up to. After scaring off another girl in a camper-van across from ours, they set off into the dark howling.
As guys do, they laugh at how scared the other person looked, take the piss out of that other person to disguise their own humiliation and in the meantime throw worried glances over to the bushes. Am I glad I don’t have to deal with that, I can actually use the excuse to be a girl and it is all understood immediately.
Sleeping that night was a bit of a mission for me. Tired but feeling kind of jumpy, I stayed awake for quite a while listening to strange noises and Ben’s snoring. Then, as expected, I heard multiple footsteps and saw shadows move across the side of the tent. The dingoes had not given up on us yet and a few circled the tent for a while. My heart thumping, I tried to block it out by pulling the covers over my ears. I was determined not to create another overly dramatic girlie scene again. The clattering of crockery, chewing and howling took over the silence. Ben straightened up in fright, but then relaxed. “They’re just eating our rice leftovers, go back to sleep.” He turned over while I sat there not feeling comforted at all. One of the dingoes kept walking closely past our tent, sniffing. Now scratching at the bottom of our tent, as if to get in, Ben sat up too. “It’s trying to get in your tent!” Dick yelled out of the window. “We know!” I replied panicky.
“Ains… do you still have those muesli-bars in your bag?” Ben asked accusingly. I had, I always had them in my bag and my bag was always in the tent at night. It contained all my valuables (and food, I’m always hungry) and I preferred to keep it with me. It all went ape-shit from here. Ben started yelling..”How can you! There’s dingoes looking for food and you have food IN the tent!” I just started crying. I didn’t dare to open the tent to throw them out. Ben was freaking out, I was freaking out and got angry at Mark and Dick for leaving the pans with rice out, everyone got angry at me for being a little cry baby and being stupid enough to have food in the tent with me. Then Mark and Dick got involved and it became a bit of a yelling fest for a while between the car and the tent, mostly directed at me.
Mark and Dick eventually opened the van door and started throwing things at the dingoes in an attempt to scare them off. It worked! They placed all the pans in the van and threw my bag in there too, before making clear to cut the crap and now really heading off to bed.
The next night we gathered around a big lantern we had lying around with an English couple; Nick and Nicky. Not only were their names funny, it was nice to meet some new people. As you know lights attract insects. Well, tonight quite an interesting little fellow joined our company. A praying mantis, a pretty big one actually. I’d only seen them in nature programmes and was absolutely ecstatic to see one up close. During the evening we found out that Eddie, as we had named him, was quite tame and friendly. All of us took turns letting him crawl over our arms and hands and when we tried to put him back down on the ground, Eddie would crawl right back onto our knees and make his way up to our hands again. Cute little fella…:)
The occasional dingo howl was heard throughout the evening and made us all laugh, but no unwanted guests tonight. Eddie accompanied us all night with his crawling curiosity.
When it was time for bed we tried to set Eddie free. Still trying to crawl back onto us when we got up, we really had to say goodnight to him and leave him. The light went off and was followed by a loud crunching noise and Mark’s guilty voice saying “Uh-oh..” Turning back on the light he stood there staring at the sole of his thong, covered in a green mash that was formally known as Eddie.
Nick, Nicky and the rest of us stared at him in disbelief. “NNooooo! He killed Eddie!” While Mark looked really guilty. “I’m sorry, it’s just so dark..I didn’t mean to..”
So sad to see our little friend end up squashed under a shoe. But that’s life isn’t it? (I’d like to insert a funny or wise quote here, but I can’t think of one to match this incident) Karijini was an experience to remember nonetheless.
A few years have passed now and I have overcome my fear of dingoes and I have even managed to pat one in a zoo. Yes, a tame one… but that’s not the point. Although I still believe I would wet my pants if the same same thing would happen again. Also Eddie is still in our hearts, may he rest in peace.
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