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Ray's World Adventures 1999

Australia Adventure 1999
Ray's Outback Safari Adventure

Once again I found myself in the rugged but beautiful Outback in Australia, this time in South Australia. This is my first time in the south of Australia. I have spent time in Victoria, Melbourne and Lake Entrance, NSW and Queensland. The Australian Outback is like a magnet to me. So when I had an invitation to spend a week in the Outback on a Buggy Safari after the Adelaide International Kite Festival, I said, "Yes Please !" faster than the speed of light.

There were 20 of us, 19 of them lived to buggy I was hoping to learn a little about their passion. But to be honest the Outback was my passion and the real reason I was eager to go.

It took a few hours to get all the gear together. "Man you would think we were going for months!" But at last we were on our way. I was traveling with Ann Marie, the organizer of the Kite Festival and the Safari and my sponsor to Australia, her Son and lean and mean Henry.



It was roughly a 6+ hours drive to MT Ives Sheep Station which was going to be our main base. It was a pleasant drive and brought back memories of places I had only read about. Wild Horse Plains , Two Wells, Red Hill etc. The main road ended for us at a place called Iron Knob where we turned into the bush. Then it was a two hour drive through the bush to MT Ive. I was very surprised as the dirt road was much better than our logging roads. As you drive you leave a cloud of red dust behind you, which they call bull dust. The earth is a brilliant red color especially when it is wet. Australia has been called the land of the living fossils, and the bush is a vast open museum of animals and plants. We were met at the sheep station by the owners Joan and Mervyn Andrew who welcomed us with open arms. I got to know them very well and we had many chats, she loved the Outback and when she found out I did too, we became good mates. Their station was rather small compared to many others, it was 327 sq. miles, 209,000 acres and carries 9,000 Merino sheep, Western Gray and Red Kangaroos, Emus, Wombats, Joanas, Blue tongue and Stumpy Lizards and hundreds of different birds all of brilliant colors.

A 30 minute drive through the bush from the sheep station was the famous Lake Gairdner which is a dried up salt bed 150kms long and 35kms wide. When this lake was created they must have had bugging in mind. It was also great for kite flying, the only problem I had to use rocks for ground stakes as the salt was very hard. On the first day at the lake the winds were super and the buggiers were clocking 70 plus km/h much too fast for me but I had a great time being driven all over the lake in tandem by Phil.

One can be gone for hours, but it can be a very long walk back to camp if the wind drops to zero as Mr Buggy Man him self "Corey Jensen" found out on his trip to this lake after the World Cup in 95. He had a 12 mile walk!

To me the trip to and from the lake each morning and evening was an adventure in its self.The bush is so rugged and tough yet so very beautiful it is the same now as it was eons ago. the shrubs and trees all twisted and bend in there struggle to survive in this harsh land, they looked like giant Japanese Bonsai', full of beauty and character, plus all the native grasses added to the picture. One can understand why the Aborigines love this land and go on a Walk About at every opportunity.

Yes indeed the bush has its share of flies, the Aussie cover their faces and are forever waving their hands to ward of the flies. They could not believe that I could go shirtless and have literally dozens and dozens of flies on my face and not bother about them. They asked me how can I stand it. I said it is a waste of energy brushing them away and besides they only return but this time bringing all there mates with them!

Each evening when we returned to the sheep station Joan had a great meal waiting for us, mostly cooked on the 'barbie'.

We would all gather in the dinning shed eat have a few beers talk about our day, swapping stories. After 5 days living together, we were like family, but it all came to an end all to soon we had a great last evening together exchanging addresses, swearing to one another that we would keep in contact.

Lots of beer was drank, jokes were rolling and the laughter must have had all the sheep, Kangaroos and all the other animals on Joan's property wondering what the hell was going on! Early next morning after breakfast every one went their different ways waving and shouting "See Ya Next Year Mate". I headed back to Adelaide with Ann Marie, her Son Joe and Henry. I was pretty silent along the 2 hour drive through the bush as I was trying to savor every minute. At one time a Mob of 15 Emus crossed the track right in front of the car. It scarred the day light out of us, but what a beautiful sight to behold to see them in their own part of the world this was there land we were trespassing. We saw many more native animals before we reached the main highway to Adelaide.

Anne Marie and her family were my hosts for the next few days before flying home. The Outback Safari was a fantastic finale to my awesome Australian adventure. I have been asked if I would come back next year? "You Betcha!" What can I say to the sponsors and Ann Marie, the Adelaide and Safari organizer for once again giving me this opportunity to visit and to perform in your country plus the big bonus of spending such a awesome time in the Never, Never. "Thank you" and thank you Ann Marie and Phil for your hospitality and your friendships.

I enjoyed spending time with you and your family especially your mothers cooking.... Yum!! Another highlight for me was the time I spent in your Kite Factory and meeting all the local kite flyers and the ones from other parts of Aussie. This trip has given me so many happy memories, and I am looking forward to renewing and adding to them next year.

Thank you for listening,

Ray





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