LifestylePersona September, 21st 2011 by

"Into The Out Back"


 In the distance I could hear the hum of engines approaching, I had been back from Spain for three weeks I was fortunate this had been my second visit to Marbella this year. I had lazed around at my girlfriends Villa up in the mountains a short drive from Marbella where I had kicked off my Aussie boots, It was the middle of winter when I left Australia, stretched out on a sun bed next to the pool and enjoyed the sun shine, I also have to admit I may have had too many rum punches!

 In moments five four wheel drives each pulling trailers with camping gear pulled up at the roadside were I stood waiting to be picked up by the group of people I was joining and going on tour with into the Australian bush. We travelled in convoy on the Stuart highway straight up through the centre of Australia heading for the Jim Jim Falls and the Twin Falls in the Kakadu National Park. After about three thousand kilometres we arrived at Pine Creek a small place but a very important stop for us. We stocked up our food supplies, refuelled, checked oil and water levels, reduced our tyre pressure to 15 pounds, and made sure all trailer straps were securely holding our load down ready to turn right onto the Kakadu Highway and pick up corrugated 4WD access roads only leading into the bush.

We stopped at disregarded mine shafts disappearing into haunting blackness, and passed breakaway country cliffs with springs of crystal clear water thundering downwards bouncing off jagged ledges and collecting in water holes in the natural formation of the rocks. Majestic views of mountains fading into obscurity only to re-appear again around the next horse shoe bend.

Not many trips into the bush escape with out a vehicle getting bogged, we were no exception! in slippery slush! Our wheels spun spraying mud everywhere sinking deeper into the mud. With the help of a winch and cable along with lots of pushing and cursing we finely eased our vehicle back onto dry land and re joined the convoy. The road became hilly rocky and badly potholed. I hung on tightly this was our third attempt to reach the top of the hill with out rolling back again! Suddenly, we had a terrible shock Kangaroos hopped in front of us! They came from nowhere and in a flash vanished again into the density of the bush.

 Our driver slammed on the brakes and swung the steering wheel. We jolted forward the wheels skidded we missed the kangaroos but hit a gum tree nobody was hurt and our vehicle escaped unmarked saved by the bull bar. With dusk approaching and a little worse for wear we started looking for a spot to camp close to a mountain spring with a supply of dry wood to fuel the fire. Not under over hanging dead branches or on top of a bull ants nest. Plenty of bush cover was also of great concern!

The glowing fire was comforting as the evening chill crept around our newly erected camp site. The billy can was on the boil the camp oven roast smelled superb and the damper was rising beautifully. We were starving hungry! Thick meaty gravy topped our delicious beef with roasted vegetables and the hot crusty buttered damper. I cupped my hands around my mug sipping coffee and roasting pink and white marshmallows on a twig sharpened to a point with my pen knife allowing the flames to crisp the out side leaving the centres soft and creamy. I felt exhausted and longed to climb into my sleeping bag and sleep.

 We learned on tour how to tune our ear in to recognising different animals sounds, spot their tracks and hide outs. We learned when to approach them and when to stay away. We had cooking lessons using edible plants roots and berries found in the bush. We looked for the nests of a bush tucker treat! found in the roots of a specific Mulga tree which has been relished by indigenous Aborigines for years especially in Central Australia and the Northam Territory where they are in abundance,  Honey Ants.

The Honey Ant collects nectar and stores it in its abdomen which swells and looks like a large transparent sack like balloon attached to it’s body. It has 6 legs and three parts to it,s body. Sucking the bulging sacks of sweet nectar eaten with native berries made a delicious bush tucker dessert. Once sucked, you throw the body away!


 We caught barramundi, If your bate is attractive and they are looking for a feed you may be lucky and catch a beauty they can be over 80cms. In length. Thrilled with our catch we dug a shallow trench 65cms long and lit a fire. When the fire had died down to a bed of embers we scooped off the top layer and placed our Barramundi wrapped in paper bark peeled from the bark of one of the Melaleuca family trees into the hollow and covered it with the embers scraped aside. The fish was not scaled or cleaned we brushed it with oil sprinkled it with herbs and left it to cook slowly for about half an hour till a slightly smoky smell escaped and it was ready to eat. We learned the skill of stripping the skin with the paper bark away from the meat allowing the white flesh to fall leaving only the skeleton in one piece with the tail fin attached. This was fun to learn and even today when friends are invited for a fish on the barbecue I fascinate them with my acquired skill.

I mentioned using oil and herbs. Natural herb and oil treatments are popular and easily found on shelves at our chemists and supermarkets today. The Mixing of herbs plants and minerals for medicines have been used by indigenous Aboriginals for years. Such preparations are used to heal burns relieve pain act as antihistamines for stings and bites and even ease the common cold.

My sheep skin slippers felt good after my heavy walking boots, and my lounge room looked far more homely than tents and camping stools. watching my television cosily relaxing in my lazy boy I found myself engrossed in a gripping documentary called, “Creature Comforts” I am going to enjoy mine for a while!

 Author Dianna Collen, is a regular writer on the Marbella Marbella site, and has gathered quite an impressive following of visitors, who enjoy her stories.

Dianna hails from Australia. 


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