To date, I haven't seen a camel in the wild. Traveling from White Cliffs toward Wilcannia, Broken Hill and Menindee in outback New South Wales (NSW) we saw this camel not that far off the road and as I pulled up, my eyes focused on the camel wagon. On stopping, the owner, Ken, stood up from his seat on the ground beside a small campfire with a black billy.
It takes time and effort to build a relationship. After chatting for some time, I ventured to ask if Ken would allow me to take some photographs of Mazan the camel, the camel wagon and of the adventurer. That was fine by Ken.
Mazan had pulled the camel wagon 500km from the Murray country, east of Adelaide. In the course of conversation, Ken explained that he'd walked most of the way to lighten the load on the camel, the exception being down hill, when I guess Ken had his foot on the break pedel.
Carrying most of his food for the trip, Ken had got some more flour in Broken Hill. Tied on the side of the wagon was a 50 kilo bag of flour.
The campfire was of sticks in an area, flat, without a tree to the horizon; just a small, dead wattle scrub about half a kilometre away.
Lesley suggested I give Ken an armful of the solid firewood we were carrying for a campfire when we reached Lake Mungo. This, along with some friendly conversation was my contribution to this great adventurer and his equally great adventure. Payment, if you like, for the photo opportunity and the story.
Although not lame, Mazan was developing tender pads due to the wear of the trip on his soles. This was the end of the run for Ken and Mazan, unable to proceed.
Ken had somehow arranged for a camel man from Menindee to take Mazan and the camel wagon and he was to bring a trailer to float the camel and wagon away.
As Ken spoke of a change in his lifestyle, I felt for him. He'd been on the road with his camel wagon for three months. Although he'd had Mazan for six years, this was their first big trip.
The wagon had been Ken's home for twenty years. It had been built up from bits of old wagons and whatever else, in Lightning Ridge. This was a time of great change for Ken.
Ken thought he might buy a car and trailer and go somewhere, maybe home to Lightning Ridge.