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made it to Kununurra: time for a break

3 September 2009 | 83 km | Heading west total: 9,376 km

Meet Klaus the cameleer.

He’s not unique, there’s a woman doing the same thing but he’s the longest currently on the road.

One of the world’s great free spirits. He was taking a break during the heat of the middle of the day at a shady spot by a flowing stream. I was introduced to Snowy (aged 11) an ugly looking beast if you ask me but I kept clear of Willie (12) who is a bit more stroppy. And I met his new dog Shorty a Jack Russell. (Dogs don’t last too long with him due to various dingo poisons and snakes.) He’s been using camels for 7 years now, prior to that he spent 15 years travelling round Australia on a bike. They, actually only Willie, drag a small Suzuki van that has no engine, has a large set of solar panels on the roof to power a bar fridge, (thanks to last year’s $900 free spending money from Kevin Rudd), and moves about 50km a day.

Klaus, who is 66, has to walk with them or the camels decide they will stop as well. He has a militant attitude towards the preposterous bureaucracy that he encounters. He knows the law regarding his rights that’s for sure. He confirmed what I have long suspected that there is a long history of long distance travel in Australia and you are allowed to camp anywhere along the road quite legally and even go onto farmland to get water. He has to occasionally knock down a fence to get the camel’s to water: you just have to reinstate it afterwards. At least out in the countryside you have a legal right to water and a place to stay.

I spent 3 hours chatting with him but his standout story was his issues with the rangers at Uluru National Park.

Last year he had come down the Great Central Road from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia the 1500km towards Alice Springs when he received a few messages that the rangers were not going to let him go through the park. The park public relations officer came out to speak to him as he got close. Mysteriously the gate next to the cattle grid at the park entrance was unlocked. The rangers became pretty stroppy when they caught up with him. He ignored them the first time.

The second time they asked for his permit. He said he had one and whipped out his Australian passport which has a standard statement asking for the bearer to be given all assistance in having travel without delay or hindrance etc. If they had a problem with this they could always ask to speak to the GG, or if she wasn’t available they could contact Elizabeth. He was enjoying recounting this.

The final day as he got close to The Rock they came back with some of the aboriginal traditional owners. With the ranger frothing at the side they all had a good laugh as he chatted for an hour about life with the camels. Of course he could come through. They had just wanted to meet him.

PS If I start to look like Klaus can you come and fetch me back to civilisation.