The Stuart Highway, near Kulgera NT 2016

The Camel

I looked, but I didn't see anything...

I was on the Gunbarrel Highway, one of Len Beadell's straighter roads. I had driven out from Ernabella with a load of grape vines for the people out west. Now I was on my way back east to the Kintore Avenue to go down to Iltur, Coffin Hill, which is half way to Maralinga. The road was very good just here. So I was sitting, very alert and watchful, on 70 miles an hour, trying to chew up the miles. Then something happened that made my blood run cold. My brain belatedly informed me that a very large camel had decided to step off the road to get out of my way. The sort of camel which is big enough for a Toyota bonnet to fit under the belly of, so that the belly wipes off the cabin and kills the driver. My brain also informed me I had missed the camel by about six inches.

I had been looking at that animal for at least two minutes as it stood straddling the road nibbling out of the only tree for miles. I was not tired. I was just blind. I learned that day that we can be in perfect health and yet quite blind. My picture of the world had had no room for camels on the road, so I didn't see this one.

Perhaps I was sleepy. Well, one morning on my way to work a responsible middle aged driver stopped at the stop sign up ahead and looked carefully to his right and then down to his left towards me. I always have my headlight on. Then, he pulled out right in front of me! After a second or so of howling tires I looked in the window close enough to kiss his wife. He had looked and not seen me because he was blind.

Everybody views life through a set of spectacles and filters. Some people's spectacles don't pick up motorbikes. They look for a car, and don't see the bike. Again and again the police are told, "I looked, but I didn't see anything."


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