Skip to content


‘Then I thumped him. Blood everywhere. Hit the floor like a ton of bricks.’

Dog loves this stuff. He’s taking bloke lessons.

‘So, he’s lying there and we look around and here’s a dozen of his mates getting up outta their chairs.’

I never meet people like this.

Je-e-eessus, those guys were wired…’

It’s like finding a new channel on the TV, an invisible parallel universe.

 ‘So we pissed off quick, got in our car and headed for the highway. It was bloody close – bee’s dick. I mean they would’ve killed us!’’

He was a slow talking country boy, a rare man without guile, wide open and ready to talk. The tousled blond curls, the ripple of muscles in his filthy shoulders, the shine of desert sun through the hairs on his arms – Dog was sitting next to some absurd Australian caricature; the love child of Edna Everage and Crocodile Dundee.

What’s going on?’ he blurted suddenly, ‘I can’t keep on doing this shit.’

Dog didn’t know Scotty. Scotty didn’t know Dog. Fate threw us together for a long drive along a long dirt road in Pitjantjatjara country, the dead centre of Outback Australia. We were in his yellow 4WD bouncing along on a blistering afternoon, heading for nowhere. Somewhere in front of us another six vehicles led the way to nowhere in convoy.

‘I thought of all the times I’ve been angry. It was a lot. Last birthday I spent punching my surfboard to pieces.’

‘Bit extreme, pal… why’d you do that?’

Scotty was navigating across a dry river bed as we spoke. He took a long minute to concentrate on his crossing then, as he revved up the opposite bank, relaxed his grip on the steering wheel, swore softly and replied.

‘That’s what I been thinking about. I dunno. I dunno.

Scotty didn’t know how he got here and he couldn’t find his way home.

‘I just lose it mate; get the furies, just lash out. It’s not like I bash up my girlfriend or stuff like that – mostly I just take it out on myself. I just lose it and go feral. Self-destructive, that’s what she reckons. So I’m trying to sort out my shit – my issues, she calls ‘em. That’s why I’m on the road.’


My accidental companion was on his voyage of discovery, an odyssey through a land called Scotty. My Aussie snail even had his house with him; a mattress in the back, the sound system and what few possessions he owned. It was the quintessential hippie-mobile.

Trinkets from his life exploded over every bare inch of dashboard and ceiling; postcards from Thailand, a photograph of a petite blond woman, a shark’s tooth, the skeletal part of something’s backbone, two feathers arranged over a tiny statuette of the Buddha lashed to the dash; a set of black and white bone beads dangling over the rear vision mirror, lurching and swinging wild with every turn in the track. CD’s lay strewn on the floor amidst the general detritus of traveling life; an empty Coke can, several muesli bar wrappers, what may have been a pair of old jocks and a folded Swiss Army knife all lay in a small field of red dirt and rocks. Dust covered everything.

‘It’s just like a floodgate goes open and then it’s all bright white and bash the crap out of anything that’s around. Which is me. I’m always around. I trash my room or my stereo or my board or just trash myself; get really pissed, get in fights – just lose it. Just lose it…’

A single bead of sweat ran down the side of his chest, wound its way past the soaked blue singlet clinging to his back and dripped out of sight towards the loose board shorts that flapped around his knees. He reached down, took a swig of his water bottle and sighed.

‘Jeez, I’m hot.’


Scotty sat forward and drove grimly for a while. He needed a break from the conversation. He drove aggressively, always alert, quick to react; seemed to relish every bump and slide on the track, flicking his gaze from side to side, judging the road acutely. Dog felt safe with him, safe enough to drift and dream, gaze deep into distant hills.

‘Dunno why. Bit of a tough time at home, maybe. That’d be part of it. Mum died when I was nine. Dad was pretty rough…

Out of thin air. Scotty has been brewing these last few kilometers.

‘He always told me I was crap.’

Dog lurched from his reverie and landed back in the front seat with a thud.

‘He put me down all my life, mate, told me I was nothing, I was dumb. He always said I was dumb. Every day. Arsehole.’

There’s that look again, that look of pure hurt; daily hurt, habit forming hurt; hurt that brands you, paralyses you, traps you and squeezes – hurt that dumbs you down.

‘Maybe I am dumb. Even my girlfriend makes me eat muesli in the morning. She says it’ll make me think quicker.’

Wow, I thought, what a gal.

‘She wants a commitment,’ he mumbled bleakly.

One scared Anzac drove through the dust ticking off the remaining seconds of his bachelor life. She’s played her trump card. No wander the poor bugger was confused and angry.


‘I’m getting worried mate, we should’ve turned off a while back, I reckon.

‘Look there’s a track!’ I pointed hopefully at some vague corrugation in the road..

‘Nah, should be fresh tracks. Six cars have just been through here if it’s the right road. I reckon we better turn back, mate. Not looking cool to me.’

Dog was pretty stoned, awash in his own thoughts, rolling free with every bump and wobble of the car. He’d been rambling. Scotty took executive action over the babbling fool beside him and slowed the car to a halt.

‘We’ll have to stop. I’m sure we missed the turning back there.’

‘Well, let’s have a break for five minutes and then turn around, eh? It’s so beautiful out here.’

I would have stayed there forever but this was a moment of country that was as transient as it was magnificent – a sweet late afternoon light rolled across the open plain as we watched, conjuring purple hills, lemon yellow grass and neon orange earth. We both fell out of the car in wonder and Spotty turned his back to piss while I wandered aimlessly into the scrub and looked around. An unseasoned rain, the early swipe of the coming wet, had soaked this country for weeks and now the land screamed with color.

Everywhere I looked the earth was alive. The bare dirt trembled with the scurry of ants; I could sense the roots spraying from each plant, feel the fine electric buzz of growth under my feet. I followed a sea of tiny pink flowers hugging the ground, a carpet of strange danger that stretched far away to the hills, carried along, sucked into the narcotic beauty of the landscape, seeing it through strangely different eyes.

A mass of storm clouds glowered from a distance, sliding in front of the sun, slicing it into golden shafts that speared the plain. Far over on the horizon I could see the pale shape of the three quarter moon, waiting in the wings for her moment of glory. For now the sun had the stage. He was running through all his tricks for the visitors; a desert son et lumiere, a casual parade of wonder.

Dog felt the first slither of a cold night approaching and a tiny lurch of fear.

That’s odd, he thought, where’s the car?


I did a slow turn scanning the landscape for that familiar yellow bulk. Nothing. Just wind, a soft warning howl around him as the sounds of the  land moved in. A tiny stab of bile grabbed at my stomach. Suddenly I felt scared.

The rocks were still warm from the heat of the day, gnarled red boulders, skin flaking off from a million years of heat. Boots slipped with a snarl as the rock crumbled beneath him. I was about three meters in the air with a commanding view all around. I couldn’t see a road, let alone a car.

‘Scotty! Scotty! Where are you pal?’

Just wind and shadows for reply.


I wasn’t even sure which direction to shout in. I’d forgotten to mark my location, map my travels, just drifted off sideways and didn’t look back. The evening chill stole across the plain, silencing the insects, stopping the flies. I felt quite alone. As sunset lengthened I faced the dying sun and marked the quadrant, calling out at each quarter, shouting into the dusk. After each yelp I stopped and listened, training my ears past the wind, over the swish and sprinkle of the flying dust at my feet and towards my rescuer.

C’mon Scotty, beam me UP. 



We are looking for men of courage and heartfulness who wish to join us in a remarkable journey of reconciliation and meeting with spirit. This trip is for men who have considerable experience in the spiritual life and in personal growth and who wish to make significant change in both themselves and the world. The trip is to teach about traveling between dimensions of reality, working with the spirit of the land and to find and implement the vision for your life. This is your chance to take a significant and profound step towards living your greatness.

Seven years ago a group of 15 men led by Swami Greg, Baba Darisha and Ranald spent 10 days in Central Australia. The group were all men who were involved in spiritual work, healing work and personal development. A lot of that time was spent with senior Pitjanjatjara men and women. The trip was the one of the most profound journeys into the magic and the mystery of the desert that I have experienced in my 20 years living and working in Central Australia, providing a deep and lasting connection to the heart and soul of the land.  Now we are going back. It will be a completion of one cycle and the beginning of the next…


My correspondent attached a note:

‘Why don’t you come? We’ve got room for one more. You don’t have to do all the shaman stuff. Just rock up and spend some more time on the land.’ 

Twenty-four hours later I was in the Alice.


Three men stood in front of me, their backs to the setting sun. Each had a halo of light around the edge of his body; soft shafts of pink sunset poured through their arms and legs and as Dog watched in silent amazement, this still image came to life. One became Ranald, smiling in relief; another glowing face was Swami Greg. Between them an old man clasped his hand to his forehead, closed his eyes and whispered a silent prayer.

As I approached, he opened his eyes and arms wide and smiled.

‘Ah-h-h, there you are, my friend. I thought I could bring you back.’



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: