Footprints in the Sand. Visits in the Night.

We chose a camp site close by a small path leading to some towering sand dunes. We would discover later, with a nocturnal visitation, this spot was not a good choice but to start with it was perfect.

Dear Adventurous Reader,

Sometimes you hope to see something special when camping, it is a little cherry on top of a nice cake. Some places you choose to camp at because people have said that there is a great chance of seeing some special wildlife.

We have decided to drive to a National Park with a chance of seeing dingos. The camping ground is within our given driving range for the day, along the coast and the descriptions of the empty beaches sound fantastic.

There are three camp sites to choose from along a stretch of road running through this National Park. Each sounds a little different from the other and despite the additional driving we choose to look at each of them before selecting a place for the night.

We return to the first place we scouted. It is less crowded than the others, even though there is a class of year 9 students camped there for the night.

The camp ground is covered with a canopy of leaves, grown from tall trees. There is not much undergrowth, leaving us many places to pitch our tent. The kids all climb out of the car to stretch their legs and discover sand dunes along the edge of the bush.

A site close by the small path leading to the dunes is selected as our camp. We would discover later this spot was not a good choice, but for now it was perfect.

Dunes

A short path leads to massive sand dunes that tower above us all. The boys race up the steep incline of yellow sand, up to the top and look down at us below, yelling and waving. They disappear over the ridge and a short while later return to run down, leaping and rolling until they get to the bottom. They dust themselves off, trying to get the damp, sticky sand from their clothes, and climb up again.

They come back after a long walk, talking of dingo’s foot prints showing in the sand. Elijah excitedly tells us how he found them, "Dingoes! Dingoes!"

When the night falls around us, after dinner, we venture off into the vast sand dunes to see what we can find. A torch and some hand holding are not enough to comfort the little Lads, who, with all the excitement of finding dingo footprints, are quite sure they are hiding everywhere.

We retreat to the tent, get ready for bed and await the morning, when adventure in the sand dunes should be a little more desirable.

The Great Australian Bogan

We have seen kangaroos, thorny devils, eagles and now we encounter another Australian animal, The Wild Australian Bogan. They travel in packs with cubes of cheap beer tucked away in the tail end of their ute. Arriving at campsites after work has finished for the week, when the sun is down, they setup their tents with a beer in one hand - or if not in hand then not far away.

They will complain if the beer is out of reach or not within three paces. Citing another Bogan as having taken their beer.

You can tell the leader because the others will quieten down when he starts to talk and allow him to interrupt while they are mid-sentence. The leader will curse the most when he talks, as a verbal sign of his authority. Often times it will be his car they arrive in.

Their language is fowl. The use of adverbs would make Stephen King cry and usually begins with an "F". Very rarely will an adverb or adjective not be a curse word. Oftentimes the landscape of their speech is dotted with other curse words that, if spoken in public, would make babies cry.

And so, after 11pm our campsite is visited by the most common variety of Australian Bogan. They arrive and setup camp and talk. They talk and talk, all through the night.

Their discussion is loud enough to wake me up at various points and, instead of drifting off to sleep with the sound of waves, wind, or rain, I slowly drift off to drunken discussions about their home, or work, or topics I quickly forget. It is terrible.  When the sun has risen, while the boys are stuck inside the tent because of the rain outside, we hear them talking. Foul language flowing freely. Finally, when all the words have been said and we emerge from the tent, they fall silent. The soberness of morning has struck and they go gingerly about their business, occasionally calling on the only "mate" who has slept, with adverbs to try and wake him.

Sand Jumping

In the morning we pack up the tent between the rain drops. It started raining sometime before sunrise and we are kept inside the tent waiting for it to pass. Since the rain is not going to stop just for us, we get to work and have the tent away and the car packed early, leaving breakfast until we get onto the road.  With the rain drizzling we head once more for the sand dunes. The sand is damp and looks solid on the surface, but it is not. Sometimes your ankle disappears below the sand when taking a step.

Elijah runs across the surface of the sand, beating three of his brothers to the tree-covered mound we set as a destination. He laughs and does a little victory dance. Joash almost drops to the ground in disappointment but we turn towards the hills where the footprints were discovered yesterday.

Ezekiel tries to get his bearings. Nathanael points to a small hill. Levi runs and looks at the ground. The three of them, all at once, tell me this is the spot where they found the footprints. "Dad. It was right here." Zeke searches, "Oh! There's some more!"

The intrigued all gather around him. Yes; in the sand are some dingo footprints. They must have been out in the night. We look all around to see if there are any about. They are an enigma, but at least we have found traces of them, unlike the cassowary.

The rain starts to fall, heavier than the occasional drop. I marshal the troops to head back, but the dunes look like far too much fun to leave in haste. So, as the rain falls, we jump from small hills like it is a long-jump competition, each taking a turn. We choose a flightpath, run, and then jump over the edge, falling and rolling in the damp sand.

By the time we get back to the car, sand is in our clothes, we are wet - water is dripping from our hair - and we need to clean ourselves up. Cleaning is difficult when all that is provided at the free-camp is a drop toilet. We do our best, knowing how dirty the car already is and then squeeze into the car for the next day of travel.