It is no secret that grey nomads need to be constantly aware of the potential threat posed by wildlife.
In recent weeks, there have been headlines about crocodile attacks, shark attacks … and of deadly snakes finding their way into cars and sleeping areas. And then, of course there also things like spiders, dingoes, and even kangaroos to worry about.
Most grey nomads who’ve been on the road for a while will have a wildlife encounter tale to tell.
Adventurous solo traveller, Gwynnie Cahill, has a couple … and counting.
The first saw her running for dear life with a pair of charging feral pigs hot on her heels. And all because she stopped to pick up an eagle feather in the Outback.
It was a day that started like any other for Gwynnie, who is in her mid-60s, and who had been travelling the highways and byways long-term in the 1996 Toyota Hilux 4X4 with slide-on camper combo she calls ‘Beauty & the Beast’.
After spending a hot and humid night in the Mathison Bush camp just southwest of Katherine in the Northern Territory, the lone adventurer hit the open road bright and early. She was travelling along slowly and carefully when she saw some large swooping birds in the distance.
“When I got closer I saw a dead eagle was part of the roadkill,” Gwynnie told the GNT a while back. “The most likely scenario was that it had come down to feed on the dead wallaby already on the road and, being heavy and slow, it probably got ‘collected’ by another vehicle.”
Not being one to let an opportunity pass by, Gwynnie parked well off the road and walked back to the roadkill to claim a feather for her hat.
And that’s when things got interesting.
“I was standing there looking down when loud snorting, squealing and grunts alerted me to oncoming danger,” she said. “I looked up quickly and saw two large wild pigs charging towards me at a rate of knots … they were obviously keen to clean up the roadkill they thought I was about to take from them.”
Despite everything, the fashion-conscious traveller still snatched up the prized eagle feather off the ground before making a hasty retreat.
“With ‘wind beneath my wings’ I bolted back to the safety of my vehicle … and just in time,” she said. “I reckon I very narrowly missed becoming part of the early morning feast.”
But if Gwynnie thought that that was the end of her wildlife worries, she had another think coming.
Not long afterwards, she was driving near Curtin Springs opposite Mount Connor in the NT when a big rogue camel came racing down the road towards her.
“Thinking he would dash off the road when he noticed me I slowed up and tentatively kept driving,” said Gwynnie. “But with legs swinging and mouth foaming he spotted my car and, as I looked back over my shoulder after passing him, I saw the camel getting up a gallop towards me!”
By now though, Gwynnie was a dab hand at escaping from angry mammals.
“Accelerating to ‘WARP’ speed I drove off finally managing to leave that crazy camel behind me!” she said. “Phew!”
Somewhat surprisingly, it seems that Gwynnie’s close encounters have simply whetted her appetite for further excitement.
“I grew up in a large family around Mt. Hope and Bourke so I am a country girl at heart with a love for adventure and the Great Outdoors,” she said. “My immediate plans are to buy a metal detector and have a hand at ‘gold and gem fossicking’ and, of course, always going fishing where possible.”
And with a can-do attitude and so many grey nomads with the same outlook on life as herself, travelling alone is not really a problem. “I have made so many new friends on the road that I am never really alone,” she said.
Oh, and the eagle feather looks great in her hat!
• Have you had any crazy encounters with wildlife? Email us here to share your experiences.