Showering With Deadly Redback Spiders! A Day In The Life In The Australian Outback
Today We’re continuing our outback adventure and we’re going into really isolated country! We’re so excited, we’re going to be travelling on outback dirt roads that can quickly become impassable, there are 100s of kilometers between towns and no phone reception. On our way we come across deadly red back spiders, and flooded roads that cause 300km detours. It's all worth it because we find the most special place to camp rough under the stars, forage for food and spend our days cooking on an open fire We called ahead to find out if the road was passable and we got the all clear.
The roads are pretty rough and we've been driving for hours with no phone reception. Hours later we have arrived in the tiny town of Menindee, on Barkindji country, with a population of 551 people and no towns (or paved roads) for hours in any direction. We followed the signs to a campground but got there and it was completely closed, so now we are following more signs down a corrugated sand road, and we don't know how long it will be until we find somewhere to camp. Lake Menindee! The lake fills with floods and then drain again leaving it dry for periods. It's such a beautiful landscape and so different from home.
It feels so surreal to stand in a dry lake and I feel like im a melting clock in a Dali painting Off we go again and find a campsite, on the edge of the barka or darling river. It’s so incredible, and there are massive river red gums and so many birds! Mum’s collecting wood so we can light a fire and cook dinner. A pelican swimming past! Pelicans are so cool, they live anywhere that there is water, the ocean, OR in the centre of Australia and they have no particular schedule but simply follow fish. They can stay in a remote inland lake for years until it dries and they decide to fly to the coast. Sometimes they just get blown away with the wind somewhere and have turned up as far as New Guinea and Indonesia! We're just going to put our swags out and sleep under the stars tonight Mums making her special camping potato bake tonight, and everything tastes so much better when its cooked on coals!! We collected this saltbush and it’s perfect for the dish. Its a native plant and regenerates land by sucking salt from the soil and desalinating! Sleeping under stars is so extraordinary, in the night we watch shooting stars and listen to owls and birds and animals scurry through the bush.
kookaburras wake us to tell us that morning has arrived. For breakfast Julia is making an Australian damper. This is an Australian camping classic that everyone cooks around a campfire. We’ve recently learnt that it actually derives from a recipe used by early colonisers.
Colonisers never recognised that Indigenous People have such developed agricultural systems but Bruce Pascoe, in his book Dark Emu explains that Indigenous Australians grew grain and other crops extensively throughout Australia. And Indigenous Australians were actually the world’s first bakers! 36,000-year-old grindstones were discovered not far from here, used to turn seeds into flours for baking. There are such complex histories surrounding most Australian traditions, even cooking damper that we have done on camping trips since we were kids. As regenerative farmers, we are trying our best to learn, question and acknowledge these traditions and histories. Julia is making the damper from almond and buckwheat flour and adding currants and walnuts. It so good!!! Lunch time! When we camp, we spend our days chatting around the fire, drawing in the landscape or cooking delicious meals! It gets so dark here and the darkness is so full, it's truly amazing.
From the leftover potatoes, we’re making an omelette with saltbush. Julia also forged some warragul spinach in the campground. This is a native spinach that grows throughout Australia. We were so excited to find some growing here in the wild, we have it growing back home in our garden Yummmm Today we are off again, and the roads are open! We called into a service station to ask about the roads and they suggested taking the alternate route on the other side of the river, the road we were going to take is actually flooding! It isn't raining here but there have been floods in Queensland so the water is slowly coming down the rivers and flooding roads. It's a few hours drive to the next town. As we’re driving, we come across a flock of Red tailed black cockatoos.
They are standing like silhouettes on the road and look almost human. Back home, we are always visited by yellow tailed black cockatoos, the most beautiful big birds that glide so gracefully, sing and screech out and tell us that rain is coming. We’ve recently learnt that there is actually truth behind this -- apparently the grubs that they like to eat by digging out of the bark of trees are easier to access just before rain, when the bark softens. We’ve never seen red tailed black cockatoos before, and are so moved by their presence. They seem smaller than the yellow tailed black cockatoos that we know, but are so glossy and shiny and black against the red landscape.
We are so excited that we jump out of the ute and watch them for ages, and they watch us right back, before flying off into the distance. The red tailed balck cockatoo population is decreasing because of a loss of habitat -- so much of the forests that they rely on for food and shelter has been cleared because of unsustainable agriculture. The landscape is so beautiful and empty, we get excited when we see a cow or anything new! Almost 5 hours later we come into a town with phone reception, bitumen roads and showers! We’ve been camping in the bush for a while so service station showers have never been so appealing. I’m finally under some water and I look up to see this huge red back spider blocking the door. These deadly spider’s venom acts directly on nerves and have symptoms of severe pain, muscular weakness and nausea! There is an antivenom now but we are so far from any hospital! It’s kind of coming towards me but I decide that if i keep watch really carefully, i can stay safe and continue showering.
But as I’m getting changed I lean back into another nest with so many more spiders!! We counted all up 5 redback spiders with hundreds of babies! After, we tried to report it to the worker in the service station and she just replied in the heaviest Australian accent “Yeah, yeah, there's a whole bunch of them in there” Alright, time to get outta here and find a new camp. Our next stop is Brewarrina fish traps, the oldest humanmade structure in the world. But as we begin driving we come across road closures because the flood water has arrived! Now we have to decide whether to go back down trying to avoid the flood waters but going through the mouse plague or going way up, into queensland and then back down. We're excited to see outback Queensland and we don't really feel like navigating through thousands of mice so we decide to go north.
We arrive in a town over the border as the sun sets. Across the road from the campground Julia spots a sheep! I miss our sheep at home so I'm going for a walk, investigating more. There are actually two sheep and they are in the front yard! Also the gate is open and they roam the streets and then just come back home! On my way back to the campground, two doors down, I spot a goat in the backyard. This has got to be the best street in Australia.
The next day we drive on and there are hills! It starts to feel so much more like home, and although we are already starting to miss the serene desert landscapes, we have begun to get excited to get home and see all the animals. We camp on a beautiful lake in the mountains and watch more pelicans just float by. The next day driving home, everything feels so familiar, the tones of green, the shadowed cliff faces and vines and dense, bright foliage that spills over roads and grows everywhere. The smell of the rainforest feels like home but what an enriching journey it has been. Thanks for watching and subscribe for more! And a special thanks to our Patrons, we've come back to the farm so inspired and excited to create