(Or it’s easier for a poor man to enter the kingdom of heaven than to get a camel on the back of a trailer)
After a beautiful star filled evening I awoke at around five o’clock to the sound of rain and Gail forced winds. Quickly springing into action (well euphemistically speaking) I clambered out of my swag rolled it up and headed for the fire to greet Justin and get a cupper on.
It was our farewell to Justin, Vivian, Roderick, Ulreka and our two camels that we had grown to adore. But there was no time for sentimentality as we had camels to load and winds and freezing rain to contend with, such is the life of walkers and for those matter cameleers.
Now I don’t know if any of you have had the pleasure of loading camels onto a trailer, but I can tell you it’s a titanic battle, a David and Goliath situation. The first camel to be loaded was Ngala and she wasn’t having a bar of it. We roped her from the halter and with Roderick and Justin pulling hard, shouting “hut hut” to keep her moving whilst Vivian, Dylan, Locky and myself pulled ropes around her behind to give her a extra push in. Ngala nostrils flaring and frothing at the mouth was jumping and wailing like a camel possessed. All the while the wind was driving the icy rain in to our faces and hands until we where numb with cold. I looked around at my fellow cameleers to see Vivian ashen faced and shivering with cold. After a 40-minute struggle we finally got the camel on the trailer and sitting down, Justin hobbled her and tied her front legs with leather straps to keep her sitting down. However she wasn’t far enough to the left and we had to pull her across to the correct position.
At the front left of the trailer there is a small door barely big enough for a person to get through. Justin said to me “cobber if I untie the harness rope and if you open the door slightly could you pull her head over and she should reposition herself,” “no worries mate” I said. However I didn’t figure on Ngala being an expert escapologist and a soon as the latch on the door was opened she flung the door open with her head and proceeded to squeeze through the small opening. I on the other side was trying to hip and shoulder her back in to no avail, I don’t know what I was thinking as a camel is about 600 kg and Ngala breaking her restraints sprung forth and knocked me out of the way.
Anyway after another forty minutes of freezing wrangling we got Ngala back in and tied down and loaded Bijah in with minimal resistance. The sense of relief and achievement took away the biting could as we all laughed and hugged each other ready for the rest of the day and for us to part way with our new friends.
The day of walking in wild squalls and rain began with a 17km hike to poison creek where we will have two days of rest for our final push into Leonora.