Bush Camp to Kings Canyon
November 3, 1998
"What's the 'O' stand for? O My God It's
Crawling out of bed the next morning,
I wrapped up my swag and blearily stumbled towards the shower stall to take a quick
cleaning before heading out to the field where we would launch from our hot-air balloons
(it was still well before dawn, don't forget). Unfortunately they were a bit late,
so we had to wait for them and stare at each other: a bunch of groggy 20-somethings with
Eventually the bus did come, and we went out to the field. They were
still in the process of inflating the balloons, and
I got some great shots of them creating a lot of hot air,
without the benefit of politicians. There were a few more people than they expected,
though, so they needed two people from our group to go into a separate balloon.
Gentleman that I am, I went on with the other group along with Donna (a young lady from Glasgow).
They needed two flights to get everyone on: the first flight lasted until just before dawn, then the rest of us got to jump in
the basket. Climbing in and out of one of those things was trickier than it looked:
everyone was pretty well smooshed together! Pretty soon, he fired up the gas and we took off without so much as a whisper of sound...
The flight was spectacular: I caught some great pictures of the dawn as it broke over the bush
below us. The flight was incredibly smooth: there was a light breeze and no clouds to speak of. We did run into some
trouble towards the end: we couldn't find a place to set down! There were too many
trees in the way. Eventually we found a spot and with a few bumps, landed in a field
between some trees. It took about a half-hour for the chase cars to actually work
their way through the bush to find us!
While we were waiting, he started
deflating the balloon (after knocking down some dead trees that could have torn the
fabric). The balloon collapses to an incredibly small size: I was amazed they got it in the bag! Afterwards
there was a champagne and chicken breakfast, and we all got together for a group picture. Already there were some drunk
people in the crowd...
Snacks at the BushTucker Camp
After the balloon trip, we met up with the rest of the group to head off
to the Dreamtime Bushtucker Tour, where we would see a real Aboriginal community and see
some of the Dreamtime dancing that the natives do. This, unfortunately, was a
lowlight of the tour, I thought. The Aborigines apparently have no sense of private
property, and live outside as much as they live in public housing (built by the Australian
government). Or so our guide told us: maybe it's just my egalitarian outlook, but it
all seemed vaguely condescending to me.
In any case, they performed a dance for us which was a story about the Emu
and the Snake, which was really fairly lame: they danced for stretches of about 30
seconds, and in between they sort of milled around. The costuming and body paint was
kind of interesting, but overall it was a bit disappointing.
Less disappointing were the lessons in Aboriginal
foodstuffs: there was a gall created by a type of wasp that was scraped out and eaten,
some lovely witchety grub (the larva of a large
moth), all garnished with lovely leaves. Yum! Also good was a demonstration of
the various weapons the aboriginals used, where I was the main demonstration dummy
(ouch!). Later I also picked up some souvenirs, including an interesting painting
done by one of the native women.
Tomorrow, Kings Canyon
Leaving the BushTucker Camp, we headed to the Kings Canyon Resort, our
overnight stop before heading to Kings Canyon in the morning. Can't wait!