After the main group departed Valley Bore to return home, John Gorton and I stayed at the bore for a few more days and explored some of the mineral deposits. John and my newfound mate Linz were amazing with their ability to recognise the various minerals, rock deposits leading to even more crystals and a host of other geological facts for me to take on board.
Linz had arranged for me to meet the local Harts Range police officer, Eddy Josephs at the Harts Range Police Station and what an eye opener that was.
Eddy was a Vietnam Veteran and had been one of the elite ‘Tunnel Rats’ whose job it was, armed only with a sidearm and torch, to enter and search tunnels dug by the Vietcong. No easy job with the booby traps, unexpected enemy encounters and being far from help whilst at it.
Eddy fitted the local scene well. Respected by the station owners and the indigenous locals as well, Eddy and the Harts Range Police Station were a beacon of helping assistance for everyone, travellers included.
It was from Eddy that John and I learned the story of the donkeys as I had called them or more correctly, mules as Eddy pointed out.
In fact the Mules belonged to the Police Station. Eddy had acquired them to give the Police Station a lighter atmosphere and encouraged them, one in particular, to greet people as they came to the Station’s main gate which he always left open as a further sign of welcome.
THE ONE MULE WELCOMING COMMITTEE.
This particular mule had developed a liking for beer and Eddy was always ready to answer the call when a coldie was required.
Here is Eddy Josephs looking far more official after I asked him to don full uniform for a photograph.
As Valley Bore was not far, in Territory terms, from the Police Station our presence interested the mules, hence their regular visits. On one occasion when they were away from the Station for a while, the Tracker came down to our camp and encouraged them to return top the Station.
Eddy, his wife and daughter lived in the residence attached to the Station and his offical Aboriginal tracker and his family lived in a house at the back of the Station. They were good friends as well as work collegues.
It was fascinating to watch Eddy’s daughter at play with the Tracker’s kids. From totally different backgrounds they were as one, speaking the local Aranda language together and like all kids, just having fun.
Now you might ask why are these photos in monochrome?
The simple answer is that I’d gone through ten rolls of Kodachrome 25ASA slide film and all I had left was monochrome. Keep in mind that Alice Springs, a shade over 200 klms away, was the nearest place to buy film.
During our camp at Valley Bore, we had learned of an old timer named Walter Smith whom, allegedly was part Afghan and part Arrernte man. One story went that Walter had been a camel boy for explorer Madigan when he crossed the Simpson Desert and had also been privy to Madigan’s discovery of two enormous pieces of meteorite, one of which had made its way to a museum in Adelaide and the other buried at the Henbury Meteorite site.
Walter and his ‘mob’ were camped near Bonya Creek and Linz and Eddy arranged for John and I to meet him. Walter and I immediately hit it off but he was a bit reticent with John when probed about Madigan and the meteorite.
For the rest of our time at Valley Bore, John and I spent a lot of time with Walter and John persisted with his questioning about the meteorite and Madigan the explorer. Despite his persistence, John got absolutely nowhere.
One morning Walter asked me take him out to shoot a couple of roos for tucker. I always travelled out there with a .22 just in case and I agreed as I hadn’t fired a shot since leaving home.
Imagine my surprise when Walter turned up with Mabel, his lady. He introduced me to her and I knew enough about local customs not to offer a hand shake and spoke to her through Walter.
Off we went in my little Landrover, Walter in the passenger seat and Mabel sitting in the back on my swag. No one said a word to me for quite a while yet Mabel and Walter were chattering away in Aranda. Up till then I’d only learned a few words of Aranda including, if I remember rightly, Quadja for water, Macardi for hat and Manna for bread so nothing they said made any sense to me.
After about 20 to 30 miles or so Walter tapped me on the shoulder and told me Mabel had said I should have turned to the left about 10 miles back. It’s protocol that Mabel couldn’t address me direct or touch me and she relied on Walter to relay her message to me. He simply forgot he said.
We turned around and Walter directed me to the spot where I should have turned. There about 200 yards away was a small mob of roos.
I thought that here was my opportunity to show off my marksmanship. Steady, aim, fire. Missed by a mile and the roos were off at a fair pace of knots. Another shot, another miss.
Both Mabel and Walter were laughing the heads off and Mabel gave me a big smile and said something to Walter. I asked him what she said and he replied,” She say you white fella from the city will take a while to get your eye in.”
I couldn’t stop myself from having a chuckle. How right she was.
Anyway, we took off on foot after the roos and came across them about half an hour later thanks to Mabel’s tracking skills.
This time I had my eye in and two shots gave us two head shot roos.
We flung them in the back of the Landy and made our way back to Valley Bore to find an aggravated John. I’d forgotten to tell him where I was off to.
Anyway, that night I learned first hand how to cook kangaroo over an open fire.
I can honestly tell you that cooked like that it is an acquired taste.
Thats enough for now, but an Aboriginal mate told me today that Dreamtime is one word, not two. I should have known better.
Hoo roo for now.