“There are good people and there are bad people
and most often it's the same person.”
They say goodbye to Kalinda and finish walking around Uluru. It's too late to climb Uluru now so they head back to The Traveller's Rest to get their gear and come back to camp for the night. Kalinda's gone by the time they return and Tahara feels like the place is missing something without her. They set up camp and get stoned. This time Tahara does too. Kaitlyn is travelling by herself so always stays at Traveller's Rests but after today she's glad to be camping with her new friends.
They know there's no such thing as a rainbow serpent, but after talking with Kalinda and with the power of suggestion, they feel a bit apprehensive. An owl flies out of nowhere and perches just above their heads, silhouetted by the almost full moon and starts to hoot. They sit in silence for a while listening before crawling into their tents for the night. Tahara and Kaitlyn are happy to be sharing a tent, given the atmosphere.
The next morning they climb the 348 metres to the top where there's a depression in the rock full of water from the rain the other day. In the pool is a man with two other men just standing there. They walk over to say hello when the two men tell them they are the man's minders. They say he's a good guy and you're welcome to chat, it's just he can be violent when he gets frustrated. Tane jumps in saying gidday. They talk for a bit about how this pool is the best spot to enjoy the view.
'I wonder what's wrong with him,' says Kaitlyn as they leave the men. 'He looks normal enough.'
'Must be something,' said Alex. 'Some people are just born with problems.'
'Maybe he was dropped on his head when he was a kid,' said Tane.
Tahara is wearing her red dress. In a dream last night she had seen herself sitting on the top of Uluru wearing a red dress. Was it a premonition of the future or just a dream that her actions made happen.
'Hey, let's go over there,' said Tane, pointing to some trees. 'That looks like a great place to get stoned.'
Just then an iguana bolts out from its cover and runs straight up the front of Tahara. She screams, giving the iguana the fright of its life and it takes off down a crack in the rock.
Tane and Alex fall over themselves laughing.
'Why did you wear a dress up here?' said Kaitlyn to Tahara. 'It's not exactly climbing clothing.'
'I saw myself up here in this dress last night in a dream,' she said. 'And after what Kalinda said about the rainbow serpent, well, I kinda felt like I had to wear it.'
'That iguana mustn't have seen you at all,' said Alex.
'You're like one with the rock,' said Tane still laughing.
'Do any of you remember your dreams?' said Tahara.
Alex shakes his head. Kaitlyn says, 'Nothing out of the ordinary.' Tane is just staring at the sky.
'What about you Tane?' said Tahara.
'What about me, what?' said Tane.
'Did you have an auspicious dream last night? Did the rainbow serpent talk to you?'
'No nothing,' said Tane.
They sit down in the shade of the trees growing on top of Uluru that come as a surprise as they can't be seen from the ground.
The whole world is one big red rock floating in a sea of green trees when sitting on the top of Uluru. Well that's how it seems to me, thought Tane. Up here the world below is like a distant memory. The rock is everything.
“Everyone needs to be forgiven.
It's been a tough journey without exception.”
'Tane,' said Tahara. 'I had another dream last night about what happened back home. It wasn't a nightmare or anything but it was really intense. I woke up in a sweat, wondering if I'm doing the right thing going to the Sahara.'
'It wasn't your fault,' said Tane, after a moment to gather his thoughts. 'He died because the drains weren't filled in.'
'But it was my decision,' said Tahara.
'It was inevitable,' said Tane. 'If not you then someone else. If not then, then sometime in the future. Even if no one ever dies in the drains and over time they become safe, then it will be something else that is not safe that takes a life. Do you understand what I'm saying? If we live in a dangerous environment then people will die. That's why so many people came out to demolish the drains. Everyone makes mistakes, that's a fact of life, but that on its own should never be the cause of death. It's up to all of society to create a world where people can be free to make mistakes without disastrous consequences.'
'Do you think I'm doing the right thing going to the Sahara?' said Tahara. 'Am I just running away?'
'The way I see it,' said Tane. 'Is that you need to go to the Sahara. Not to make amends or anything like that, but for yourself, for your own healing. You're not running away, you're just going somewhere where you can get better.'
'I'm sure you're doing the right thing even if for the wrong reason. It's strange how our brain can trick us into doing what is best. Your subconscious knows you need to go so gave you the reason of making amends. It's time away you need.'
'Thanks Tane. I've been feeling a lot better since we've been travelling. Thanks for travelling with me.'
Back in town Tane is on a mission to find a local plant that gets you high. He looks on the Internet and discovers it's called pituri and grows on the edge of small streams. He saves a picture on his phone and thinks he could recognise it but doesn't want to make a mistake and end up chewing on something poisonous.
He needs to find someone who knows, so heads out to ask around. He feels a bit foolish asking people. It's not like he needs to get high or anything but likes to try new things. He gets talking to a guy his age who said his grandfather is bound to know and he's heading home now so he's welcome to follow.
They find his grandfather outside in the garden picking tonight's dinner. He knows the plant and with his cane draws a map in the dirt showing the way to a nearby stream where it can be found and he draws a picture of the leaves and what to look for to identify it. He says it's quite distinctive so don't worry about misidentification. They get talking about other things and Tane ends up staying for dinner.
On his way back to town Tane finds the plant and picks a few handfuls, taking just a few leaves from each plant and saying thank you. When he gets back to town Tahara, Alex, Kaitlyn and a few others are chatting over beer.
Tonight there's a full moon and Alex is going west tomorrow while Tahara and Tane are going north. This is their last night together and Alex wants to party. He has the idea of starting with a walk around Kata Tjuta in the moonlight. A few others from The Traveller's Rest are coming too.
Tane feels refreshed after going out on his own today. He's been in the company of Tahara and Alex twenty four hours a day since they left home. He decides it's best for him to spend some time on his own every day, and for Tahara he imagines having some time away from him can only be a good thing.
“Awesome is a word that's often overused,
but not tonight describing the moon."
The sun has set and the moon is rising big and red. The group head off on their bikes. Soon enough the moon is high and the sky is clear and there's more than enough light to see their way through Kata Tjuta.
They leave their bikes and start the short climb over the rocks that make a natural entrance.
'What's it like?' said Tahara.
'Not too bad,' said Tane with a mouthful of pituri. 'Here try some.'
Tahara takes a small piece of leaf and puts it in her mouth and chews for a bit before spitting it out.
'You must be joking, it's fucken disgusting,' said Tahara.
Tane thinks so too but he's determined to keep on chewing. He gives some to Alex who just like Tahara spits it out, repeating what Tahara said word for word.
Tane, disappointed offers the leaves to the others in the group. After seeing Tahara and Alex spit it out, they all decline. He stuffs a whole handful into his mouth just to prove them all softies.
Like most stimulants, resistance to the high comes after just a few times but because Tane's never tried pituri before, he's feeling really high. He tells the others but still no takers.
Later Tane finds out that pituri is usually dried and mixed with ash into the quid that is chewed for a bit. Then kept behind the lower lip.
The moonlight walk through Kata Tjuta is a truly memorable experience for them all. They head back to town in good spirits as tonight like every full moon everywhere is a full moon party with live music, dancing and beer.
The next morning they go north in a convoy of bicycles, all linked together and travelling at about one hundred kilometres per hour. Alex has gone west on his way home to the Pilbara. Tahara and Tane plan to go to the last frontier in Australia. The reforestation of Australia is almost complete, just fifty square k's to go. The deserts are all gone but this last patch of bush is yet to be inhabited by people. Surrounding this patch are frontier towns.
Frontier towns are different from other towns. They exist as frontier towns only as long as it takes to build the next town in. They are not sustainable but rely on the next town out. It's a progression from fully sustainable towns with villages of one hundred people each then progressively less people with frontier town only having fifty people per village and no children or old people. This is because it takes time to get the land to support one hundred people per village so the surrounding towns need to support frontier towns.
The people in frontier towns come from all over the world, who are looking for adventure and excitement. They are usually young and dedicated to the purpose of reforestation. Some stay to live in the town they built, others go back to their home towns and others carry on to build the next town in. Tahara is keen to stay here for a day or two to get an idea of what she's in for when she gets to the Sahara. There are no lakes here but the atmosphere should be similar.
The stories she's heard are of a work hard and play hard mentality, with tales of drunkenness and a complete lack of order. She imagines the tales are exaggerated but wants to find out for herself.
Frontier towns can also be more dangerous than other towns, not from violence or anything like that but because of the heavy machinery in use that run on bio-fuels.