In keeping with the theme of my latest blogs, I will relate a story about my most adventurous near miss.
As a kid on a cattle station, I was always on the move or on the run. I think as soon as I could walk I was off down the bush seeking adventure. You could call me a runaway, an infant escapee. Others may have used less flattering descriptions for me. As you would expect, living in the bush is more hazardous for a kid than one living on a suburban street. For a start there’s no wild pigs, thick bush, deep rivers or snakes in most leafy suburbs.
My parents just had to turn their backs and I was gone. A friend of my parents suggested they tie me to the clothes line if I was outside. My parents used to smack me when I came back but that was no deterrence. Usually I’d disappear for a few hours, usually in the company of two cattle dogs. I remember a female dog called Battler. Those dogs are most probably the reason why I didn’t die. I’m convinced God and those cattle dogs were looking after me.
The day of the Great Escape, I apparently took off in the early morning, heading for the river as usual. Mum was left at the homestead as Dad and the stockmen were out mustering cattle. As you would expect, mum soon went into a blind panic when she couldn't find me. She ran to the river but couldn’t find me. She could see bubbles in the water. She went in but of course I wasn’t there. She ran back to the homestead and tried to use the radio but she couldn’t get it to operate (we didn’t have a phone). She tried to start the car but without success, then she attempted to catch a horse but it bolted. She must have been overwhelmed with fear of what had happened to me. Alone and afraid, she probably had already decided I wasn’t coming home. All she could do was to keep searching, hope and wait.
As for me, I don’t remember much about that day (I was aged only three) except for two events. I can still see clearly in my head, the two cattle dogs attacking a bunch of wild pigs near the riverbank. Whether, I had walked into them and the dogs were defending me, I can’t remember.
The other recollection, is sitting naked (I apparently always took off my clothes when I took off. Thankfully, it’s not a habit I have anymore) and covered in sand in the kitchen of the homestead. Then my mother came into the kitchen, saw me sitting in the chair. You'd think she would have grabbed me and smacked my bare behind wouldn't you? Instead, I remember clearly her crying and collapsing on the floor.
I probably kept running away but I never ran away for that long again. Even as a kid, I saw no future in it.