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Full Circle

Day 130: Katherine to King's Creek

King's Creek, Australia 
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King's Creek campfire, with bush hat and beer.
Michael Palin - Full CircleIan and the boys are indulging in that favourite Aussie pastime - winding up the poms ('pom', abbreviated from pommy, meaning anyone British, may have come from the letters POME - Prisoner Of Mother England - stamped on the clothing of the early convicts). Each is trying to surpass the other in describing the perils of camel-mustering - the 180° spins, the high-speed chases, the near-certainty of being flung from the vehicle at some point, the legendary exploits of Big Steve, who leapt onto a camel at full speed and grabbed the one next to it as well.

'And he was over eighteen stone,' adds Ian admiringly.

It'll be an early start and a long day so we turn in around ten. There is a cabin nearby which is a toilet and bathroom for the whole camp. As I push open the door I'm confronted by a stark naked man from Leicester. (He tells me this later. It wasn't apparent from his body.) His mouth falls open and he gasps: 'Michael Palin!' Grabbing his towel and wash-bag, he rushes off into the night.

It's ten past ten at night in the centre of Australia. I'm lying in my swag, looking up at a glorious sky, clear and sharp as only desert skies can be. Far away, shooting stars blaze briefly, closer to, bats sweep and curl across the sky. A cooling south-easterly breeze wails through the wispy, mournful branches of the desert oaks. There's a clean, clear, elemental purity to the world out here which is so pleasing that I fight to stay awake. Across the other side of the encampment Basil has no such problem. He's been bitten, quite painfully, by two bull ants.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 130
  • Country/sea: Australia
  • Place: King's Creek
  • Book page no: 188

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