We sat in front of the fire under the starry heavens listening to the crackle of the wood as it disappeared in flames. Beneath the sound of the fire silence reigned. We were miles from absolutely anywhere in the middle of the Australian desert. Then the white ute with the floodlight headlights passed our fire, music blaring from the windows. The car stopped, reversed, and turned into our little side-path, and out jumped Quentin.
A big black fella with a beard and jovial face lumbered up to us and lit a cigarette. His massive dog jumped out of the ute and sniffed around. Quentin was from another community and was driving to Ernabella for the footy. He works there herding camels with the ute and helicopter. He had his wife and kids in the car.
A high-pitched stream of unintelligible syllables streamed out from the car window.
‘Me wife,’ chuckled Quentin.
She tooted the horn.
‘We might see you in Ernabella.’ I said as he returned to his car.
The floodlights were on, and the music thumping car reversed, returned to the road, and drove off into the night.
Not many cars ply this road. A red, sandy road that heads south into endless nothingness. The country is green from the recent rains and very beautiful.
And the flies were bad today. They can keep up with me while I am cycling, and are dreadful when passing through deep sandy stretches. Both hands are required on the handle-bars as I slide and wobble through the sand. One extra hand is needed to shoo away the flies. The lack of a hand has led to stacking the bike on several occasions.
We were passed by several people that mostly stopped to chat. A couple from Ernabella, and also the teacher from there. We are cordially invited to drop past for a cup of tea. I’m looking forward to Ernabella.