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Full Circle

Day 131: King's Creek

Michael Palin - Full CircleThere is a flurry of radio exchanges with the helicopter. Craig, the helicopter pilot, has spotted camel and they're heading in our direction. Ian beckons me towards his vehicle - a dusty, hard-worked, short-wheel base Toyota pick-up, known in this land of abbreviations as a 'shortie'. Attached to the screen is a fiercely explicit window sticker: 'Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up and Hang On'.

Immediately behind the cab are two parallel sets of metal bars and he orders me to stand between these alongside Gunnar. I'm handed a wooden stick about four feet long with a rope loop on the end which (and now there is no question of a choice in the matter) I must drop over the camel's head when Ian gets the vehicle close enough. In theory it sounds no more hazardous than a three-point turn but Ian's last words before he starts up give me a flavour of what's to come. 'When it's over his head for Christ's sake get down. If you get your body entangled with the rope it could take your leg off.'

Then we're off. Off the track, for a start. Ian blasts the shortie through the bush, cannoning up and down slopes, twisting and turning in pursuit of a bull camel which runs, rather than races, away from us with its nose in the air. Ian tries to match it movement for movement and, after a few desperate attempts, over which Ian screams advice, I make one last lunge which the camel disdainfuly avoids. Westy and Wursty succeed where I have failed.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 131
  • Country/sea: Australia
  • Place: King's Creek
  • Book page no: 189

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