In the late 70’s I got a call from my old hunting buddy, Sully.
"Hey Pee-wee, you know I have a Safari camp in Australia, Nimrod Safaris?"
"I know you are a writer and I'd love to have you write up some brochures for it. Are you up for a trip to Australia? Hey, we might even hunt some Water Buffalo while we’re there. Afterwards we could swing by Papua, New Guinea, then maybe go over to Singapore and Bali. Probably all told, a few weeks. And of course you will be paid for the work."
"Wow Sully, when would we be leaving?..... Okay. I would love to go, my passport is even up to date." I laughed, last time we had to rush it through.
Little did I know what an adventure I would have. I should have figured it would be though; because I had been hunting with him before; one a January in Alaska, and another when we flew to his fishing camp in Costa Rica. Going anywhere with Sully was always tremendous fun and full of unanticipated adventures.
It was a very long flight to Sidney, even in First Class plied with champagne, but Sully, being the life of the party wherever we went, made the time fly. He would have everyone around us partying. We stayed in Sydney for two days at the Hilton, resting from the flight, and doing some sightseeing. Then we took another flight to Darwin, passing over Ayers Rock and as I remember it, the flight stopped in Alice Springs to pick up some additional passengers, before we finally landed in Darwin.
Darwin had not recovered fully from the hurricane at that time, was still a dusty outback town. I remember being totally wide-eyed at the Aboriginals walking down the street, mostly because of their wild matted hair, and none of them wore any shoes, just wide, broad feet padding along the dirt. We would have to wait overnight before our private plane would take us to Nimrod, so we checked into the old hotel, then decided we needed something to drink. We went down to the bar, it was not air conditioned, but it did have overhead fans, which swirled the humid air around us just enough to make the beads of sweat now on our bodies into our natural air conditioner.
The white walls of the room contrasted with the dark wood trim, and our barstools looked worn but welcoming. We slid onto them.
“How ‘bout a Run and Coke Pee-Wee?” Sully looked cool as cucumber, another something I admired about him. He traveled the world and seemed to fit in no matter where he landed. His stories were legend among hunters.
“Oh yeah, I’m so thirsty.” I never had a rum and coke before, but the thought of a fizzy coke sliding down my parched throat was definitely appealing at that moment.
The first sip did not disappoint, and one led to another and another, until we were loud and funny in the way only drunks in the afternoon can be. We no longer noticed the heat, but had passed the point of needing to eat long ago, so at some point just before either of us would fall off of the barstool, we decided it best to go take a little nap. The nap evolved quickly into being more of us passing out on the bed, then me waking up in the middle of the night feeling really sick.
I heaved into the trashcan until I could drag my body into the bathroom. God, why did the sweet coke and rum that was so delicious and refreshing earlier now churn my stomach into a tidal wave spilling beyond the shoreline of my lips until I thought I would turn inside out? Sully held his booze much better than I did; I noticed he was still passed out through it all. Finally I was done and crawled weakly back into bed.
At sunrise I was still tossing and turning, my stomach now emptied. I needed some food before we would be flying again. Sully awakened seemingly not phased by the amount of alcohol consumed last night. Sully, who was twenty-five years my senior had the iron stomach I should have had. He consistently amazed me with his strength and agility, and his sheer ability to handle volumes of alcohol.
I showered first letting my red hair do its own thing, since there were no blow dryers. Even if there were, the humidity and heat were already too much to bear. Thus frizzy haired and tube top attired I declared myself ready for breakfast. The food did us both good.
From Darwin we took a small plane into the camp, about an hour’s flight from anything remotely civilized. I could not imagine how it must be to live out there, miles and miles from anything, dependent on a cleared jungle strip of runway to let supplies get to you. Everything needed to be flown in, or driven a very long way under extremely rough conditions. Even driving, there were only certain times of the year the rough road was passable.
When our twin engined plane landed, imagine the surprise to see a small film crew documenting our arrival. I found out it was for a documentary tentatively titled, "The Last Frontier". I remember hopping out of the plane, thinking...God, my hair is frizzy from the humidity, I'm sweaty and covered in dust; how great to be seen in a film looking like this. Yeah, I was vain enough to think about it.
Nimrod Safari camp as I first glimpsed it.
The Nimrod Safari Camp was hardly plush. But for a camp on the beach it was gorgeous; a series of large tents for the guests, and a couple of small trailers serving as offices. The kitchen was outside completely unencumbered by walls or the need for a ceiling. The choice of setting was unbelievably beautiful; open air, right on the beach. Inside of the tents were comfy beds, mosquito netting, and a table and chair. I was assigned to one, Sully was given the one next to it.
My tent. Not all of my luggage though!
The main office.
Wendy in the "kitchen."
The married couple who owned it, were South Africans who had run a hunting camp in Rhodesia, but had left everything behind when civil war began; Rob, his wife, Wendy, and his twelve-year-old daughter, Peta Lynn. Also there was their friend, Graham, who came with them when they fled the country. He was young, cute, and ran the day-to-day chores needed to maintain the hunting part of the camp.
A candid shot of Graham before he turned the hose on me!
The shower outside was rigged water tanks with a curtain around it for modesty, only the one shower, and a washing basin for face and hands. No place to plug in a blow dryer. Besides this, what passed for a mirror would never work anyway. I was doomed to have frizzy hair and go without makeup.
My friend Sully outside of the bath area.
It was so humid in the adjoining jungle away from the nice sea breeze we enjoyed in camp. Besides Wendy and her daughter, I was the only other female. There were other male guests; one was a former elephant hunter from Africa. He had written and published a book about it. I believe his reputation as Ivory hunter said it all, as in too much. But, still he was interesting.
Wendy and her gams were photographed often.
I saw so many amazing things; the red dirt termite hills stretching up, inverted cone-like structures, similar to stalagmites in a cave. I could not imagine how long it took to form them all, but they were massive. The red dirt reminded me of places I had traveled in Texas in my youth.
Because it was red, at just before dawn, I thought I saw some of the mounds moving...but wait, a closer look revealed they were not mounds but Kangaroos. My jaw dropped to see how incredibly gorgeous, and strong they were with their great forward leaps, some incredibly with babies hanging from their pouch! Of course these were older babies I came to find out, newborn kangaroos are the size of a bumble-bee, and they will live in the pouches for years. The jungle was alive in so many ways.
On this particular morning we were going into the jungle, and our Aboriginal guide had come to take us. We were in a jeep, but the guide ran ahead scouting. Yes, he too was barefoot like the ones I saw in town. Soon we came upon the river, churning with crocodiles, yet on both sides of the banks were thousands of geese. The Ivory Hunter and Graham decided to shoot some geese. Of course they were successful so dinner would be bountiful.
Geese by the thousands
Graham with a couple of the geese.
He would guide us to where he knew the older herds of Buffalo were. We would stop when he told us to, get out and follow him on foot, trying to be as silent as possible, considering the thick foliage. I could not help but notice the birds, wild and free were parrots with spectacular plumage, parakeets and other birds whose coloring would make my jaw drop for the sight of all the splendor of them. There was seemingly no end to the beauty of the jungle.
When we would find a few buffalo, we looked through binoculars to make a determination if they were young or old. I was taught never to shoot at a young animal, only the oldest; the ones not contributing to the population anymore. It is an acceptable thinning of the herds, and Tribes People used the meat for their ceremonies.
When after about six hours we had passed by many who were deemed inappropriate, finally they had one in sight. The men generously gave me the first shot. I bent down, steadied my rifle, looked through the sites, put the cross-hairs where Sully had taught me to make the surest, quickest kill and slowly squeezed the trigger. The force or kick from my rifle threw me down to the ground. I landed squarely on my ass. The noise it mad left my ears ringing, but even so I could hear the Aborigine guide and fellow hunters who were whooping and hollering. I stood back up and was stunned. I had actually shot him and he was down. One of the men took another shot, just to make sure it was not suffering.
At once I felt elation and sadness, the like of which I had never experienced before, nor thankfully, since. I was being praised for my shot, yet inside I felt incredibly sickened by having taken the life of this innocent, magnificent animal. I promised myself that from that day forward I would hunt only with a camera, no more guns.
Encouraged by the men I went over to the animal, who lay on the carpet of leaf mulch, approaching slowly, cautiously as the buffalo had an enormous horn span (some 76” I would later find out), because if I had only injured him he could get up attack. The guide and several of the men, Graham and Sully, had approached just ahead me, and once reaching the massive body confirmed I had with one shot killed him cleanly. They asked me to pose with him. I crouched behind his head, clearly an unpleasant look on my face, but my perfectly manicured red nails visible holding the gun aloft.
A mixed feeling smile.
We also hunted wild Wort Hogs, some of the ugliest and nastiest members of the pig family. I was a spectator only, but the guys managed to get one, pork would soon be on the menu.
They had a small barn, one used to house animals Wendy had rescued, the motherless assortment of infants. The Ivory Hunter stood behind me, and I could feel he was aroused. We had showered and I was wearing a short sundress. Silently, slowly I felt him reach under my dress and begin to touch me. Witnessing the birth of a calf was arousing us both, and he slid my panties down as I leaned over the Dutch door type opening. The other guests all were riveted on the birth, while I felt him guide himself into my, now wet opening. There, as we witnessed the birth of the calf, we moved, slowly at first, and then more rapidly as the cow expelled her baby. With that the group of onlookers broke into applause, sending both of us over the edge into waves of orgasmic pleasure. His groans had barely been audible, and he withdrew quickly and tugged my panties back into place. Nobody had been the wiser. We had sex a few other times, but in the more conventional tents, in private. Something about being outdoors, in the heat and the excitement that kept us in a state of perpetual arousal. Definitely a high point of the trip.
The Ivory Hunter, those are elephant hair bracelets on his wrist.
They needed to raise animals, and to fish and garden in order to feed their guests. Their time in Rhodesia had been the perfect training ground for this camp. In fact, the similarities between the terrain and weather are what initially attracted them to Australia.
Sully and I enjoyed going out in the small boat and fishing for Baramundi. They were a fighting fish, and large. Wendy would clean the fish, chopping some of it up into one-inch cubes and put them into a brine of lemon juice or vinegar with spices and onions, put them into a glass jar and bury them in the sand. The acid would cook the fish and it made for spectacular eating.
Sully and I with freshly caught Baramundi.
Wendy and Rob had given the Aboriginal tribe a freezer, which they would fill with the donated meat from the hunts. They were grateful, as they could trade a guide’s service for meat stored at the camp. It was a win/win proposition.
Each evening the meals Wendy prepared were served at a table, communal style. There was plenty of food, and alcohol.
As the big sun would sink a fire would be lit in the firepit, and we would pull our chairs around the campfire and the other hunters would tell their stories, getting more and more animated as the Southern Cross twinkled above us and the fire would slowly be fed for as long as the stories and booze flowed. I even got to contribute with my own hunting story from my first ever hunt, in Alaska...best left for another day.
The day before we left, Sully and I were taken to the Aboriginal camp of our guide. There on the gorgeous beach we met about a dozen or so fellow tribesmen, women and children. Their elder (as is customary) was an older woman. She had snow-white hair, and was the one who represented the faction of the tribes from the Northern Territories in Government. Overall, the visit was fascinating. I was given a rare glimpse of how it was having women as the ones with all of the wisdom and power, and the pride and high esteem she was held in. Their camp was so simple, only woven mats to sleep on and one tent; other than that a cooking fire one used also for heat when nights were cool. It was all they needed, and I briefly wished my own life could be as simple and uncomplicated.From the outback of Australia we flew to Singapore....but again, that would be a whole other story for another time....