Lesson of the day: Little girls who go walk-about in the bush alone, will attract dingoes. They will chase you like you’re a Happy Meal.
The North-Western Pilbara region holds Australia’s most breathtaking national park, Karijini. In my opinion of course. Red rock formations light up against the green vegetation all around. Add a brightly coloured sunset overlooking this widespread landscape and you’ll get a good idea of why I love this area so much.
Thrashing our ‘old faithful’ of a van over the dusty dirt roads through the midst of this endless scenery, gave us all the feeling that this was what our trip was about. Like true outback explorers, we drove around for a while to see what Karijini had to offer. We discovered gorges, swam in the fresh water pools and screamed our lungs out while jumping off cliffs.
Back home I’d usually unwind by having a long walk after dinner, Ipod on, letting my thoughts flow, it was my little moment to myself I really valued. So after this amazing day, with the sun still up for a little while longer, I decided it was the perfect time to have a little wander around.
During all this driving around I felt like I had started to master this whole ‘sense of directions’ thing. Confident and excited I told the guys I wouldn’t be long, I mean, if I just stuck to the paths it would be fine. Heading off, I tried to make mental notes of at which tree I had turned left or right. Then after a few minutes I came across a sign indicating a 300 m return walk ahead. Ah.. 300 m, I could fit that in before the sun goes down! I started the walk on the grass-overgrown path but had to stop abruptly after a few minutes. A dingo came out of nowhere, stopped in the middle of the path and stood watching me, in silence – I started to panic.
Yes.. I am aware some people say dingoes are like pets, cuddly pets in fact, absolutely harmless. But then there is another group of people that say dingoes are like wolves. They aren’t big but they are wild dogs, carnivores. I am 5 foot nothing, to them a meal on legs.
I was terrified. Glued to the spot all I could remember from my days working as a veterinary nurse was to not look it in the eyes and back away slowly. As soon as I was able to move my feet I did exactly that. Still walking backwards, staring at the ground, I backed off slowly until the staring dingo was out of sight. From there all I could feel was my heart beating and the blind panic that took over. I started running as fast as I could, hoping it wouldn’t chase me, mistaking me for a half-priced meal-deal. Newspaper headlines flashed through my mind (I’m not exaggerating, they really did) “Backpacker attacked by dingoes whilst out for a walk”. Bloody hell! How could I have been so stupid!
While running I heard howling, which turned into more howls coming from all directions. The panic increased when I realised I couldn’t remember if I had to turn left or right at a fork in the road. I blindly chose to go left. SHIT! Nothing looked familiar. I kept running until I saw a camper-van through the trees ahead. Thank god, human beings! It wasn’t the camping-ground I stayed at but a French couple handed me a map and gave me directions. I must have looked like a complete crazy person, almost in tears, out of breath. I couldn’t thank them enough and ran off to the path where I should have gone right instead of left. Turned out it would have led me straight to the right camping ground.
Relieved to see the guys I explained what had happened. More howling, now close by. The guys laughed it off but said they’d keep an eye out for me.
Those smiles would turn into screaming soon…..
To be continued..