He probably wasn’t an axe murderer.
I mean, skidding into the carpark in a cloud of dust, ‘Uptown Girl’ blaring from the stereo, and parking well away from the only other car in the car park?
Despite my lack of hands-on experience with axe murderers, I was pretty sure this wasn’t archetypal behaviour.
But through the clouds of red dust partially obscuring our view of the intruder from our vantage point half way up Wild Dog Hill, I couldn’t help wondering.
Was it just a coincidence that he’d arrived here in the wilds of the otherwise deserted Whyalla Conservation Park car park right after we did??
And apart from listening to an outdated, albeit entertaining, 80’s play list (by now BJ had switched to ‘Call Me’), he wasn’t doing ANY of the things on the Whyalla Conservation Park attractions checklist.
The longer we watched the longer the list of things he WASN’T doing got. More specifically, as Blondie switched to ‘Funky Town’, he wasn’t:
- having a picnic OR
- drinking (alcohol or otherwise);
- hunting the elusive Western Grasswren, OR
- trying to spot any other (feathered) birds;
- taking photos;
- checking out the rock formations;
- walking the track around the base of Wild Dog Hill OR
- hiking the 1.5 km loop trail to the summit of Wild Dog Hill;
- reading the interpretive signs about arid land plant adaptation OR
- admiring the diversity of sometimes rare arid land plants in the park; OR
- just looking for wildflowers and rare lichens OR
- Western Myall and Bluebush spotting (Note: sightings of both these arid land plant species in the Whyalla Conservation Park is what’s known as a ‘sure thing’)
Which pretty much covered off on the Park’s ‘Main Attractions’ list!
He also wasn’t
- waiting for anyone.
Other than a possible imaginary friend. Because although he changed into a different T shirt shortly after arriving, no one else showed up.
Which, according to the axe-murderer avoidance manual, was probably a good thing.
Because being the only witnesses to a drug drop or illicit liaison mostly isn’t a story that ends well.
Especially so if you use the ‘I-didn’t-see-a-thing-I-really-only-used-these-binoculars-around-my-neck-for-bird-watching-not-to-watch-you-no-really’ defence.
Only 10 km north of – yes, you guessed right – Whyalla, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, the dirt track from the main road through the 2000 hectare Whyalla Conservation Park leads through a landscape lifted straight from the remote Outback.
That means the public loo in the picnic area, a few kilometres over a rough, rocky road from the main entrance, simulates a remote Outback dunny almost exactly.
So even though Iron Triangle town Whyalla isn’t that far away AND you can see the coast from the expansive 360° view at the top of Wild Dog Hill, the (mostly) trackless arid landscape makes an outstanding Outback outhouse setting.
Plonk an alien (or clueless tourist) down there and they’d think they’d landed on Mars.
But despite its impressive credentials, our carpark companion hadn’t driven all the way out here to visit the loo either.
Because by the time we reached Wild Dog Hill’s summit and Pseudo Echo had switched to (strangely appropriate) 500 Miles, I could see he also wasn’t:
- scenic-loo-spotting OR
No, my psychic powers hadn’t turned hyperactive. The only track I could see leading through the scrub from the picnic area was the path to the dunny, and he wasn’t on it.
Besides, the Proclaimers had switched to ‘Reckless’ and if I could hear it from way up on Wild Dog Hill, then it must have been dynamite right next to the car. He sure wasn’t leaving THAT excitement just to take a pee! Or to do anything else other than wander aimlessly around in the scrub near the parking area.
But maybe. Just maybe he’d seen the empty car and figured we’d return sooner or later. And that’s when he’d make his move!
Australian Crawl faded away behind us as the track led down the other side of Wild Dog Hill and around its base en route to the scenic loo.
And back to the car – tyres un-slashed, windscreen unbroken, locks intact. And ‘All Out of Love’ – possibly the most inoffensive, innocuous, insipid 80’s song EVER echoing through the car park.
It seems our conservation park comrade also wasn’t:
- otherwise indulging in axe-murderish behaviour OR
- interested in us AT ALL.
If you’re thinking I’m showing the signs of early-onset (or perhaps advanced) paranoia, just remember that no one thought Wolf Creek was sinister either until the movie!
But as we drove the 65 km back to our campsite in Port Augusta I developed a working theory.
The Whyalla Conservation Park is no Wolf Creek (see link below) but if anything DID happen out there amidst the bluebush and western myall trees, there’d be no one to hear you scream.
Although listening to a few eighties hits might be pleasantly nostalgic, a prolonged overdose in a confined space could easily bring on a screaming fit.
So what’s a not-so-sinister-somebody hanging out for an eighties-music-hit who’s lives in a zero-tolerance household to do?
Yep, you got it.