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Published: April 18th 2010
RINGEE SINGING HIS MORNING SONG
AND US POSING IN THOSE SILLY HELMETS
EXCERPTED FROM MY BOOK: OUR SUMMER IN AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND, AMAZON.COM
The camels our group rode were 8 to 10 years old, and very well behaved. After all,
considering what they might be made to carry in the old days, we were a very light load for a short ride. An easy day for the camels, so they’d better behave! Our camel was named Ringee,and just our luck, he had an attitude.
When first brought to this camp from Alice Springs,300 miles away, Ringee did not like one of the drivers, peed all over him and drove him from the pen. He also refused to eat. The owners, who are camel careerists, and dearly love them,determined that Ringee’s problem was being separated from his friend of many years, so he was on a hunger strike. Once Ringee and his “mate” were reunited, everything was fine. The driver who Ringee had literally “pissed off” was advised by the owner to return to the pen,and pee on Ringee’s leg. Ringee had to be shown who was in charge! The driver was new to this line of work, and wasn’t sure if he was about to have his own leg peed
on twice. But with courage, he took the advice; looked that 400 pound camel in the eye and peed on its leg. It worked! Ringee mellowed, and has been less of a problem since. I would give a lot to see the
photo of this guy looking that huge camel in the eye and calmly pissing on its leg.
We journeyed into the desert, being informed along the way about all the deadly
plants and vermin we were riding by, a tactic I really think was designed to keep us in our saddles, making it easier for the driver. The pace was relaxed, and not at all like some of the tales you hear, as camels are capable of over 40mph, which I can imagine could be quite an experience. I was just thankful Ringee had an attitude change, and was conducting himself as any competent camel should.
Except for the ridiculous helmets we were required to wear because of recent insurance provisos, the camel ride turned out not to be a “silly tourist” attraction, after all. We came away with a large measure of respect for these animals, and had fun, too.
We left Ayers Rock later that day for Sydney, only another 1700 miles, arriving home in Coogee Beach at 6:30pm, in time for our dull but satisfying routine, the evening news and a cocktail.
As a result of our twelve day crisscrossing of the continent we’re seven thousand miles wiser, and more appreciative than ever of what a fine place this Australia is.
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