Where's the wheelbrace?

21 June 2015

Where's the wheelbrace?

Last week I headed off for a day trip to do chase birds with my camera in an area I have been to many times before. After lunch I decided to head a little further away, to another nature reserve that I had not previously visited. I headed out on to station country, extensive grazing lands of bluebush and saltbush steppe, and scattered tracts of mallee trees. I soon encountered a group of emus, 22 of them in fact. But what was more extraordinary was that they decided to come and visit me, to see up close who or what I was. Normally when I see emus they have a strong tendency to run away, run away. So it was quite a delightful encounter which I will always remember. I headed further north and saw two flocks of orange chats but they were too nervous for me to get any photos.


Things went a little pear shaped after that. I got a flat tyre. No problem, out with the jack but where’s the wheel brace? No where to be seen, nor were there likely to be any cars around this part of the world for the rest of today, nor maybe tomorrow or the next day? I had passed a house about 5 km back but there may not have been anyone there. No mobile phone reception. So head off in to the hills to the west, maybe some altitude might get me contact with the outside world. After several hills and about about 4 km of walking I decided to head back to the car, too late to walk the 25km to the nearest town, 8km is enough this late in the day. Fortunately I had warm clothes with me, and there was an old canvas in the back of the truck and a plastic tarpaulin. I needed all of these to stay warm in the car overnight, plus gloves, beanie and plastic rain coat. I did actually manage to get some sleep during the following 12 hours I spent in the front seat.

First thing in the morning I headed on foot off before the sun was up, when it was just light enough to see the track ahead. I had some food, water and rain gear. I headed off with some trepidation up into the Bald Hills to the west, it was quite hilly country but the weather was perfect for walking, cool but sunny. After a 20km walk I eventually came across a couple of farmers who were able to help me out. I returned home tired, wiser and probably a couple of kg lighter than planned. That was week ago and I still haven’t been able to find the wheel brace anywhere, nevertheless I got to see some great emus.


I have of course seen emus many times before. Western Australia has an “emu proof fence” which is supposed to stop emus moving from the desert country into the croplands. I visited there once many years ago with a “fence ranger”, there were quite a few emu’s along the fence. In earlier times the emus had been such a pest they sent the army out with machine guns to try and stop the invaders on the fence. On other occasions when large numbers of emus were on the move so many died along the fence that other emus were able to climb straight over the top courtesy of the piles of dead bodies! Thankfully those stories are well in the past now and emus have a happier coexistence with most landholders.


Share this on: