Australia

Dung of Darkness – Redux

The journey to Bali in a stolen Indonesian ‘feral’ boat from Broome, Western Australia, took two days.  It was quickened toward the end of day one, when an Australian Navy ship under the guise of Operation Sovereign Borders towed me to the maritime border, unhooked my vessel and steamed back south.  Once the cries of “Tony Abbott says stay out!” subsided, I called back, from my slowly sinking boat: “Thank you!”  Little did they know I’d been tasked by their very own government, albeit confidentially through ASIO, to reach the tourist island off East Java and execute a mission which “had, did and would never exist”.  The mission was simple: an Australian national had set himself up in the Ubud Sacred Monkey Sanctuary as the leader, and in fact king, of a group of monkeys, one white tiger, a kidnapped drop bear and the attractive female host, known only as “Gina”, of failed reality TV show Big Monkey.  It was alleged by ASIO that the aforementioned were all serving as his bodyguards, while he set about recruiting as terrorist foot-soldiers Bali natives disenfranchised by drunken and drug-addled Australian tourists.  Well, I guess that part wasn’t simple.  But my mission was: to kill, with extreme prejudice, the Monkey King of Ubud – otherwise known as King Chewbacca.

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While the sun set over the South Kuta peninsula and my all-but-submerged boat disrupted angry surfers riding swell pounding the beach off Nusa Dua, I realised I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d do when confronted with the strange man who had put himself in such an unlikely position.  To be sure, I wasn’t sure what he’d do, either.  I’d been briefed in Broome that a group of Aussie surfers would be waiting the morning after my arrival outside a Nusa Dua hovel of a hotel.  All six of them, tired but wired from earlier salt-water endeavours, were preparing for a day trip of monkey-business in Ubud courtesy of a north-bound bus.  Five of them went along with my cover story of being a fellow wave-rider keen to innocently tag along to the island’s interior.  Their leader, paid both to ensure the others’ cooperation and ask no questions, did just that.  I asked them about a rumoured Balinese monkey king.  A couple spoke in sweaty whispers of surfing primates in the line-up, who would drop in on foreign surfers and scratch or chuck shit at any who dared challenge them.  The leader simply sat with me up the front of the bus, throwing knowing glances to the driver and me while silently sipping his Bintang beer.  “Someone needs to take care of that guy,” said another of their number, who had thus far remained silent.  And whose face was covered in still bleeding and yellowing scratches and smelled of monkey faeces.

Their leader upended the dregs from the can into his mouth just before the JI. Raya Tebongkang Ubud Road became the JI. Raya Kangetan, and we turned right.  Minutes later and in the mid-afternoon, we arrived at the sanctuary’s entrance.  The surfers were unnerved by the screaming monkeys and lone, occasional tiger’s roar audible from outside the forest.  So they left me alone at its gates.  Their leader threw me a Bintang, which I swilled greedily before walking calmly under the leafy, cool canopy.  Almost immediately I could hear unnaturally wind-like sounds then heavy impacts of something moving from tree-to-tree above me.  “But he’s a great man,” the trees muttered.  And I knew it was Garrett, the displaced drop bear.

“He stole you from your family, your home, your country, Garrett,” I whispered to the leaves.

Whoosh, thud.

“But he has good taste in music.”

“He caused you to miss Australia Day 2014, Garrett.”

Whoosh, thud.

“But there are so many Australians in Bali, not least himself.  So I need not leave.”

“He made a mockery of the drop bear myth.  Garrett.”

Whoosh, thud.  The snap of a branch.  I whipped the knife from my waist and lingered it in his furry neck just as he landed, fangs bared, on mine.

“Dare you mock this!?” he rasped, drooling on my shirt.  The smell of imported eucalyptus leaves and stale beer almost had me reeling.

“And you, this?” I calmly pressed the knife further into his coat, drawing both blood and a stifled wince.  “Help me, Garrett, and I will remove you from this equatorial nightmare and back to your sub-tropical home.”

The pacified koala muttered Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel and even a little Ball Park Music (Rich People Are Stupid), while the forest sucked us further toward its heart.  And my designated, mysterious foe.  I had to brandish the knife again when he began a Killing Heidi number.  Which silenced him.  He was less startled when intermittent growls and flashes of white started coming from and appearing around us.  “Calm,” he urged as we loped through the undergrowth.  I kept the knife handy.  It seemed Garrett was already midflight, fangs bared, not to mention screaming “Thunderstruck!” (an AC/DC number) when ferns to our left suddenly disgorged an enormous white tiger.  I was still running while the vision of a snarling gray ball of fur attached in combat to a growling white behemoth stuck stubbornly in my mind like a heavy footprint in mud.  Distant dog-like howls and pained roars shook the jungle to my rear.  Sensing my prey was near (a heinous smell was growing stronger), I pressed on.

A steaming pile of monkey shit landed beside me as I began my final approach to the promised royal tree house, adjacent the 14th century-built Holy Monkey Temples.  I glanced upward, only to see an angry cousin of my evolutionary family sitting in a tree, stroking a spear.  A baboon, which surely meant Rafiki the king’s head priest and part-time evil wizard.  Presently I saw the first of the surfers I’d accompanied on the journey from Nusa Dua, beside Rafiki.  Head removed from his body.  Attached to a spike.  Face contorted in a strange mixture of terror and humour.  Sploosh: more shit.  Another monkey: sitting spear stroking in a tree.  Mojo, the thief, royal footrest and, reportedly, dunce.  Horror: another head on a grisly spike.  Another three times this happened, much to my regret (as much due to the smell of the shit, as to the fear of the monkeys, as to the revulsion of the severed heads).  Jo-Jo, the King’s Paw; Timmy, the escaped mental patient; and Simeon, the stuffed monkey.  Until I came face-to face, albeit from ground to tree house-top, with the Monkey King – the severed head of the surfer group’s leader sitting prominently on a final bloody spike at his side.  “Word Journeyer,” he giggled, confident in his elevated position and surrounding of me by his minions.  “What took you so long?”  A rope ladder unfurled from above and landed at my feet.

The Monkey King lay sighing, much less commanding than at the moment I’d first sighted him, upon a hammock after I’d finally scaled the 50-foot ladder.  A woman, brunette, green-eyed and captivating, was sitting on a stool and stroking his head.  Meanwhile, a positively ugly monkey so disfigured by some kind of past attack that she had an extra nostril (whom I took to be Scar Face – the king’s obstinate suitor) jumped madly around the room while throwing her shit at Gina – who calmly ducked each acrimonious attack and maintained her attentions on the king’s throbbing forehead vein.  I was unprepared for such a scene.  “What’s the problem?” I asked.

“Oh, y’know, Word Journeyer,” he started.  “Too much power.  And too many crazy, beautiful, and crazy and not so beautiful, and completely insane and hideous women after me, as a result.”

Gina silently nodded, Scar Face threw another clumsily-aimed crap and I insincerely nodded empathetically.  It was then I noticed in a cobwebbed corner the computer he’d been using to organise his kingdom, recruit his anti-atavistic-Aussie-tourist terrorists, and blog about it.

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“You’re a lucky man, Monkey King,” I said, which he responded to by looking wistfully up at Gina, then glancing warily at Scar Face, but ignoring me as I inched toward his outdated Compaq laptop.

“Lucky?”

“Yeah,” I moved closer.  “People either fear you, or want to be you.”

He nodded.

“But they don’t want to smell like you, sorry.”  Within striking distance.

“Ah, that’s ok.  The plumbing in this tree house isn’t. . . .

I plunged the knife repeatedly, viciously into the laptop’s screen and keyboard.  Damaging it beyond repair.  Chewbacca screamed and struggled in vain out of the hammock, Gina silently held her right hand over her mouth; Scar Face threw what was surely her last shit for a while at me.  I ducked, grabbed a vine hooked inside the window, and swung out of it into a blood-red tropical sunset barely penetrating the sacred forest.

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Categories: Australia, Bali, BIg Monkey, Humor, love, Relationships, Romance, television shows, travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I captured a drop bear named after Peter Garrett

I am hungry for hot food, so I pull up at the drive through at a KFC in a lovely place called Beenleigh. To pass the time in the queue I turn the music on.

“What do you want?” I asked the drop bear I had captured in my back seat.

“Popcorn chicken thanks,” the drop bear said. “And Mountain Dew. Who would go to KFC and not get Mountain Dew?”

We don’t eat until we’re sitting under a bridge by the river. I drag the drop bear out of the car, but I refused to let him out of the net. He struggled for a bit but I said he wouldn’t get any more chicken unless it behaved.

He settled.

“So what do we call you?” I asked.

“Garrett.”

Drop bears are heavily into music. They listen to what they can. This is why Garrett speaks excellent English. Drop bears mostly attack hikers who have radios, stereos, and Ipods.

In drop bear tradition (apparently) it is customary to be named after Australian musicians. When I learnt this we broke out singing Blue Sky Mine (Midnight Oil). Garrett even pulled out a harmonica from somewhere and he wasn’t too shabby at it.

“Who’s gonna save me!” we sang, just before Garrett howled, crying.

I felt sorry for him and I let him out of the net. “Sucker!” he yelled, and waddled away as fast as he could, a small packet of popcorn chicken in his paw. “I’m not leaving my girlfriend, Minogue.”

I shouted promises to Garrett to get him back. I promised him more KFC, a trip to Movie World, and then a holiday to Bali.

“I’m king of the monkeys, you know,” I said.

“Good for you,” Garrett said.  He wouldn’t come back, so I shot him with another tranquiliser.

Anyway, so now I’m on a plane back to Bali. It was a challenge thinking of a brilliant way to smuggle a drop bear out of the country. But I’ve worked it out.

Garrett is in a cage somewhere down in storage, unconscious, dressed in a dog onesie. I smile as a hot waitress serves me a ginger beer. I am thinking of the monkeys’ reactions when I return with a drop bear.

Categories: Australia, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How to capture a drop bear

DROP BEARS are good singers. I mean, ridiculously good singers. I didn’t sleep a wink last night, resting in my sleeping bag, hearing a variety of Queen songs through the trees that could well have belonged in their Greatest Hits album.

At first I didn’t know it was the drop bears. I mean, I thought it might be ghosts singing. Or Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (never heard of them? That’s little Australians’ folklore thank you, look em up). Or maybe the mushrooms I ate a few days ago down by the creek were giving me magical powers, making me hear amazing sounds that really didn’t exist.

Magic school bus

At three in the morning – to the tune of Under Pressure – something rustled in the tree above me.  Whatever it was, it was heavy. Paranoid and starving  (my last mandarin ran out days ago), I stuffed my sleeping bag with the clothes I had been wearing, and slithered through some rocks, and waiting with my dart gun.

“Aha!” something roared twenty minutes later. A big furry thing jumped on the sleeping bag where my head would have been, and savagely mauled the canvas. I waited, and shot a dart at it.

I got it in the eye. I know this because it screamed, “Argh, argh! My eye!” before it fell asleep on my sleeping bag. I got rid of my cages at some point in my trek (too heavy) but fortunately I still had some nets in my bag, so I pulled one out and tied the drop bear into the net.

Meanwhile, the voices in the trees went silent, as if sensing that one of their own had been captured. I tied the net to a branch and left the drop bear hanging. Then I stood guard in the rocks, waiting to see if maybe another would come and rescue it.

This morning – when the light settled through the trees – I checked out the sleeping beast. It was about four metres in length. It was as grey as a koala, but looked more like a cross between Stitch and Oscar the Grouch.

Drop bears sort of look like this, but with longer ears (and not as green). Photo: www.fineonpine.com

Drop bears sort of look like this, but with longer ears (and not as green). Photo: http://www.fineonpine.com

I had given up on my quest to hunt a dropbear for a few days, trying to find my way back to O’Reilly’s carpark. As luck would have it, after dragging the bear a few exhausting kilometres, I found a path, and eventually a sign back.

“Ow,” it grumbled. “Ow. A rock. Ow.”

I checked to see if was awake, but it wasn’t. Finally, I emerged from the trees. Victorious!  A few campers heading to the trail I came from stared at what was snoring in the net.

“Um, what is in that net?” one middle aged hiker asked.

“Just a whole bunch of mind your business,” I said. Which was rude of me, I know. I got to the car and I shoved my prisoner into the back seat and buckled the seat belt around it.

“Where are we?” the drop bear mumbled but didn’t speak again until we were halfway down the mountain. “Damn, damn, this feels like a rollercoaster ride. Am I at Dreamworld again?” But I didn’t answer and then it stared screaming, yelling all sorts of swear words at me I do not wish to repeat.

Even a monkey wouldn’t have used the kind of words that drop bear did.

I was so tired I nearly had a micro-sleep, but fortunately the bellows of rage kept me awake. Finally the drop bear calmed down, and then it said calmly, “anything good playing on the radio?” and I said “I have Green Day on CD,” and it thought about my answer for a bit, and then said “their early stuff, or their new crap?” and I said their late stuff, and it said, “I can’t stand punk when I’m coming down from tranquiliser,” and that response just opened up a whole new round of conversation.

Categories: Australia, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lover Boy in the bush

About a day and a half ago I left the trail and got lost.

Not stuck on an island with an insane smoke demon sort of lost. Almost as bad though.  I’m in the middle of a rainforest which has the most reports of fatal drop bear attacks in the world.

There is no reception, so I am writing this on paper and hoping to transfer it to a digital form when I have survived (if you read this, hey! It means I’m okay now!). I’m starving, I’m cold, and I hate the stupid mozzies.

Worse, for the last few hours I’ve been hearing singing. Long, drawn out sirens through the trees, as persistent and as hidden as buzzed out cicadas.

I’ve recorded the music,  and it is disturbing when you are a lone, young and vulnerable man stuck in the middle of the woods.

The voices are scattered through the bush. I’ve been walking towards the noise but it proves impossible to track. When I get near the source of a voice it stops and I walk towards another voice without realising until it is too late. So I’ve been walking in circles.

I almost didn’t pay attention to my bearings, and I nearly fell off a cliff. One of my cages fell crashing down a hundred metres. The voices stopped a few minutes. I could imagine the malevolent thoughts surrounding me, wondering why I had disturbed them.

But they started singing again. It’s the same song, and they sing it over and over again.

Lover boy

The bush voices are singing Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy.

QUEEN?!? And where the hell is the piano?

It makes no sense whatsoever.

It’s disturbing when you’re alone in the bush at night – with no tent cause you forgot to pack one – searching for drop bears, hearing tributes to Freddie Mercury in the dark. In a campy gothic sort of way.

And I am freaked out. In the context, this is one of the scariest songs I could be hearing.

Categories: Australia, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bear hunt in Lamington National Park

I’m in Lamington National Park, preparing to go on a bear hunt.

Queue relevant music to set the mood. 

Lamington National Park is a mystical place. It is unexplored territory of rugged mountain scenery, waterfalls and thick impenetrable rainforest. It is remote because the road up Mount Lamington is difficult and windy.

Most people never leave the trails. Some are foolish to do so. Most of these people are those who have been attacked by drop bears.

Map of part of the national park. The dots you see are locations of reported attacks.

Map of part of the national park. The dots you see are locations of reported attacks.

I am here to capture a drop bear. I have spent the last few days gathering materials needed to capture a bear, and have decided where I need to go. What I intend to do is walk the trail until I come to a creek, and then I will follow it.

I am at the O’Reilly’s camping ground now, going through my stock. I have:

X3 underwear

X1 sleeping bag

X1 protective helmet with sharp pieces of metal and glass stuck on the top.

X1 monkey onesie (maybe I can reason with a drop bear if it thinks I’m an animal)

X2 recording devices

X2 cameras (if we count my mobile phone).

X2 mandarins

X3 packets of two minute noodles

X4 two litre bottles of water

X6 horse tranquilisers

x2 steel cages

x1 banana boat sunscreen

X1 dart gun

X1 backpack bought from Army disposal place

X1 map

X1 compass

x1 bird whistle

X3 homemade nets (mostly made from hammocks, plastic bags, and hay bale twine)

X1 towel

I’m as prepared as I’m ever going to be. It is time to enter the forest, now. There is no reception in there, and so you will not hear from me until I come back with a drop bear.

Categories: Australia, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

10 little known facts about drop bears

I mentioned in the last post that I am hunting the drop bear. It has been a while, but I am back in Australia for a short visit. In fact, I’m in Brisbane (all the family is in Sydney, and I want to avoid them).

But hunting the drop bear is not a simple task. So, we must research our prey and its habits before we continue.

So, here are ten facts about the drop bear:

1)      According to Australian Geographic, drop bears are least likely to attack Australians than they are international tourists. It is not clear why this is the case. It could be due to tone and pitch of the victim’s voice (accent), or the differences of chemical compounds (from food).

2) Australian Geographic states that populations are thought mainly to exist in forested coastal regions of eastern Australia, from the Cape York Peninsula (top pointy bit) to the island mentioned in LOST. However, the concentration of attacks are centralised in the heavily forested regions between Brisbane and Sydney.

Map of Australia. Caution: Map might not be to scale.

Map of Australia. Caution: Map might not be to scale or even remotely accurate.

3)      Australian Geographic claims that drop bears do not travel far from their nests.

4)      It is widely believed that drop bears live at the top of trees, and from there attack a passer-by when hungry. This is not entirely accurate. A drop bear usually climbs a tree when stressed or feeling threatened. However, they generally live close to where driftwood collects, near billabongs, so they can easily gather materials to make their own nests.

5)      According to the National Office of Predator Prevention (OPP), A drop bear’s nest can be as large as a four man tent. Entering a drop bear’s nest is highly dangerous and is likely to result in fatality. The drop bear will then attack nearby persons or property, to “send a message”.

6)      The OPP published statistics last year, which state that in the 2011-12 year, 15 people were killed from attacks caused by a “native bear”, and 26 were critically injured. A further 14 received minor injuries. (it is worth noting that these minor injuries might have been scratches and abrasions caused by fleeing the scene). Attacks have decreased every year for the last 15 years.

7)      A drop bear attack can be identified by the gaping teeth marks on the victim’s head and throat. However, contrary to widely accepted belief, a victim is usually killed by suffocation. The bear fits the head in its mouth, due to its extendable jaw.

8)      A drop bear prefers thickly covered eucalypti forests. Unlike its koala cousin, it does not feed on the leaves.

9)     According to local opinion, Vegemite or yeast extract might be used as a repellent, but as yet there is no scientific evidence to support this.

10)  An OPP report titled Native Bear Statistical Report 2011-12 reveals that O’Reilly’s campsite, Mount Tamborine (QLD, close to the NSW border) has had the most reports of drop bear attacks each year since 1953. Previous attacks were thought to be from a variation of wild cat.

Location: O'Reilly's rainforest. www.pentaxforums.com

Location: O’Reilly’s rainforest. http://www.pentaxforums.com

Categories: Australia, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hunting for drop bears

This week I intend to hunt and capture a drop bear.

I wrote a list of 24 things to achieve before I turn 24 a few months ago. Well, I turn 24 in a few weeks, and I’ve only crossed one thing off that list. And that was to buy a toothbrush.

So it’s high time to cross off a few more difficult things off the list.

In order to do this, I need to leave Bali and go to Australia for a week or so. The monkeys refuse to join me. Jo-Jo says the land down south is a cursed land. In Monkey Latin, Australia is known as Terror Australis Incognita Monstro.

Drop Bears. Reliable eyewitnesses believe they wear war paint before a hunt.

Drop Bears. Reliable eyewitnesses believe they wear war paint before a hunt.

Monkey legends from as long ago as the formation of the Ramayana tell of a monster that lurks in the eucalypt forests of the south. Monkeys throughout the world have avoided the Australian phantom.

But I am determined to return with this monster, so that these monkeys can see there is nothing wrong with drop bears. Perhaps then, the monkeys will visit the home land with me. I will show them where I grew up, my local Woolworths, where I often got my hair cut, the town swimming pool, Uluru even, if we have time.

Besides, how could a drop bear be worse than our Timmy? (a crazy wild monkey that was “transferred” into our forest to be a part of the now defunct Big Monkey TV show. The zookeepers that caught him seem to have forgotten about him. Surprisingly, instead of running away, he stays in a tree far from the forest entrances, on the other side of the creek, carving words like kill and die king die and Megadeth forever into the bark)

“Don’t go to Terror Australis!” Mojo said. “Don’t go! There is nothing but death down there.”

I told him I had lived in Australia for 23 years, and that I had turned out okay.

“No you didn’t!” Mojo howled. “We’ve only just trained you to be socially acceptable.”

50 of them insisted on coming to Denpasar airport with me, as some sort of guard of honour, so we had to hijack 10 scooters so we’d all fit. Jo-Jo kept smoking while steering a moped with five others stacked on her head.

I am at the airport now – nervously hoping I will be allowed through customs. Technically I have overstayed my visit to Indonesia.

Categories: Australia, Humor, List | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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