At one time, in the 1960s, Australia was actively searching for people to move to their country and be productive citizens. This is rather amazing really; in the eighties we saw a flood of immigration here in the states, but rarely do countries actively invite strangers to their shores. I’ve heard rumors that Canada is welcoming and polite to foreigners, and I am thinking of moving my family there, to determine if I can leave my doors unlocked, and be free from homicide by gunfire.
My father took Australia up on its offer to become a modern pioneer, settle in the outback, and become a blooming citizen. He had retired from the Air Force, earned his helicopter pilot’s license, and flew small aircraft. He and a partner were going to start and run a crop dusting business.
It fell to my mother to hold down the fort at home with four kids, and after two years of uninterrupted single motherhood, she packed us all up, we boarded a Quantas airplane, and off we flew to New South Wales. There, after a suitable interval of getting to know Dad again, we all set out for Kununurra, a tiny outback town in Western Australia that looked just like the town where Crocodile Dundee lived when he wasn’t wrestling crocodiles.
Crocodiles were as elusive around Kununurra as the black sambas in Africa where we spent Pan Am layovers in Monrovia, or the cougars in northern California where I lived for two years, or the black bear in Colorado, where I also lived and hiked. I never saw hide nor hair of any of them. Perhaps they are all urban myths.
My father saw some crocs though, like saltwater crocodiles that were in excess of thirty feet long. He also brought us fire opals of all sizes; they were abundant in the outback, and could be scooped up like any other stone.