Saturday, 2 February 2013

Friends and hunters and inspiration

I've not written about Namibia for a long time, and what I have written has yet to pop up here on DaggaBoy Blog. Like many good stories, this one starts with a neat little anecdote... and in this case it goes to show that friends and hunters and inspiration can be found in the most random and unexpected places.


To celebrate the Australia Day holiday I packed the car and headed south to Victoria - "the place to be" - for a road trip with my daughters. We did a lot of driving. We swam every day in the freezing Indian Ocean and we went into the national parks and walked a few of the trails.


Monday morning found us on the Triplet Falls track in the Great Otway National Park. We pulled up in the little parking area and got ready for our shaort trek – water bottles, shoes and cameras.  At the other end of the car park I could clearly make out the chatter amongst a South African family with their distinct Afrikaans accent.  Mum and dad, three kids and a couple of grandparents.

Triplet Falls at Great Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia
The girls and I hit the dirt, the track starting with a fairly steep descent and a set of steps carved into the earth, not quite made for little people.  It was slow going and soon the Afrikaners had caught up and were passing us on the stairs.  Dad with the youngest child in a pack stayed behind us and after a while he spoke to us.

“You hunt in Africa much?” he asked.

“That’s an odd question to ask a stranger bushwalking in a southwest Victorian rainforest,” I said to the man, “what makes you ask?”

The man smiled; clearly this was a friend not a foe I was dealing with today.

“The hat – Africa Hunting.”

I grinned; I can be a bit dim at times. I spend a bit of time on the forums at Africahunting.com where I go by the name of daggaboyblog. Jerome, the fellow that runs the site started making branded caps, so I bought a few to show some support. It's not unusual for my two girls and me to get around town with our matching caps.

“Yeah, we’ve hunted there a few times. Mostly plains game, buffalo in Zim, and we hunted elephant last August but didn’t bring home a bull, didn’t find one big enough.”

That's Christophe Morio's .458 Lott; image courtesy of http://africahunting.com/
 We chatted a while as we walked.  The man married a South African lady and they had settled in Victoria; his wife’s parents were South African living in Namibia.  On holidays to visit his wife’s family, my new friend would head out with cousins and uncles and hunt antelope for biltong.  Speaking to his father-in-law back at the car park, turns out they lived in Outjo, a township in the north of the country, 95 kilometres southwest of Anderson Gate, the southern entrance and main gateway to Etosha National Park.

“You didn’t stop at the bakery in Outjo, it is famous.” That got me thinking, so I pulled out my journal from our 2009 safari this week…
 
In August of 2009 I spent a few weeks traveling with my family through Namibia.  We spent a week at Epacha Game Lodge, 45 kilometres east of Anderson Gate and just on 100 kilometres northeast of Outjo. Each morning we would collect our packed lunch from reception, throw our gear into the Hilux 3.0L Turbo Diesel we had hired in Windhoek and by 5:00am we would be on the road to Anderson Gate, in the queue waiting for the gates to open at 6:00am.
 
Life was tough at Epacha Game Lodge...
The daily wait at Anderson Gate that would take us into Etosha National Park
On the 5th of August we were up early and we raced towards Windhoek for our last night in Namibia before flying to Zimbabwe for our buffalo and sable hunt.  First stop was Outjo – we fuelled up the Toyota, but no, we didn’t stop at the famous bakery!  We drove on to Otjiwarongo where we stopped at a Spar Supermarket for a cheap lunch, then to Otjihaenamaparero for a planned visit to a farm that had an old riverbed that had become Etjo Sandstone, capturing the footprints of Ceratosauria and Syntarsus, both bipedal carnivores.
 
Ceratosaurus: the tracks we saw from this dinosaur are 219 million years old!


Syntarsus: this much smaller dinosaur roamed Namibia along side Ceratosaurus.
We headed east along the roads beyond Erindi Private Game Reserve and spotted Gemsbok, four Southern Greater Kudu bulls and a few cows, and more Steenbok and Warthog than I’ve ever seen, with some amazing ivory on a couple of the boars!  Once we hit the B1 Highway, it was a straight run south to Windhoek.
 
This gravel road eventually linked us onto the B1 Highway and into Windhoek.
There’s so much to write about our travels in Namibia, more than I can possibly do justice to tonight.  That’ll have to be another day, and I must do a bit of research on this famous bakery at Outjo.  And I’ve yet to hear from friend, the hunter I met in the Great Otway National Park along the Triplet Waterfall walk, but he has inspired me to dig out my journal and share a few adventures…

 

 

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