Been Lost Here Before

Karen Lethlean

© Copyright 2022 by Karen Lethlean

Photo by Alfred Aloushy on Unsplash
Photo by Alfred Aloushy on Unsplash

Started out fine, like those song lyrics…

Could have been the whiskey, might have been the gin.

Could have been three or four six-packs

We all know how such indulgence ends.

Regardless, a lovely day, Monday holiday, long weekend. Slightly stir crazy after so many days work and nothing much else other than being chained at a keyboard on days spent at home.

You know your mobile phone won’t work on the pipeline.’ My first warning.

I won’t deviate. Promise to stick to those plans.’

Grand Plan: Down to Pipeline track, off onto Bullawarring, out near Kingfisher pools, to Waterfall train station, meet up with my partner for lunch.

As I walk away, intent on curtailing my spirit of adventure, resisting any temptations to explore new trails.

Mirang Pool is tagged to draw attention to distancing required during Covid 19, but no precise measurements mentioned. A second notice outlines advance booking are necessary for campers. Increasing an ability to trace contacts, I suppose.

Woronora Pipeline, cited as one of the best running trails in the world by world champion triathletes who live nearby. I test my phone, send a message before I turn off main, clearly marked trail, an unsealed roadway capable of vehicle traffic. Adjacent to work office for pipeline maintenance, an ongoing, never ending function. Age, poor initial engineering, subjected to mercy of elements all contribute to engineering weaknesses. Large signage indicates numbers to ring when leaks are identified. I’ve already encountered work crews, tracks from vehicles, equipment; compressors, welders left on the track on weekdays, as well as still in situ over weekends. Figured no one will steal or broach locked yards so far from roadways. Counted myself lucky to make use of new convenient toilet facilities. Confident of not being disturbed. Any workers were well away, near their machinery, strategically located at repair points. As I continued my run home, one worker yelled, ‘we got any toilet paper in the ute?’

Yes, mate, why?’ A reply from his fellow wearing a wide grin as an unsuspecting jogger eavesdrops.

I need a shit!’

Near pissed myself giggling, as did his work mate.

So today, alone I tested my phone signal. Despite warnings; worked. Evident with an electronic swish as my text bounds homeward.

Heathcote creek, trips over a low causeway, flowing through outlets, east of Woronora river, running into spillways from Woronora Dam. A tributary of Woronora River, making recent media due to topographical impact of coal mining.

I photograph this full waterway, usually a turnaround point. Plan a Book of Face post to impress followers. Plus declare a beginning, off main trail, jumping off location. Using my earlier analogy, I just pushed into my first bar for a few beers. Truthfully a waterway reflecting surrounding trees, clear sky mirrored in expanse of water. Impossible to see hidden snags in my image. Water right down to dappled surrounds of rocky skirts.

My shadow, soft edges, is a silhouetted image not as strong as in summer. But I can see an acknowledgement of my outline, wraith, rather than entire me, present at this point. Superficial, about to dispel, leave my body unshadowed. I am reduced to a rough outline, turtle shape with backpack straps hanging down. Wafted across concrete edging, about to step off. Like a Hans Christian Andersen tale about a shadow which moves off and lives its own life. Little did I know these sensations acted as portends.

This new trail only a minimum, half hidden break in vegetation.

Another photograph angled up ridges, a flat rock I must now ascend, to reach the trail, is depicted. Marking signs of a track, just visible from within encroaching vegetation and shadows. A way, but not readily recognizable as a trail, if not for signage, would walkers turn here? Should my trek be written in a walk book? Bad luck there isn’t one.

My image preserves a trail name. I assumed this was Goanna track, but that’s not correct. I will meet a junction with Goanna Track a few kilometres from this point. Might be able to refer Bullawarring trail head as located adjacent a Causeway, but I am sure this is not the only spill-way crossing Woronora Pipeline. Not even sure about the correct name for this creek. Memory really is fallible.

Awareness already slipped in, right from accessing Friendly Trail near a local scout camp, this walk would be too difficult for Rod. He now lacks pelvic flexibility to cope with constant steps, leaps and already encountered degrees of difficulty. Rough as guts, an apt description.

Further than I expect is an intersection with Goanna Track. I’ve been here before, after an Anzac Day dawn service, keeping alive tradition of a difficult trail walk to link re-enact experiences of troops in trenches. Nowhere near mud, guts and intensity of the Somme. Plus no one shoots at us. On my previous walk, we argued about being lost. Another portend?

Signage indicates only half a km back to Woronora Pipeline, feels much further, but Goanna trail does go steep uphill then down again, traversing precipitous slopes, to steps across pipes and onto bigger better marked, can’t possibly get lost trail.

Another occasion on the Bullawarring track, I remember dragging a mountain bike, his, too big for me, over these sections. Misdirected again. Or just accessing a trail not built for an MTB? Perhaps another trail altogether. So many tracks, on foot, running, and pedalling, exploring mere stone’s throw distances from my house.

According to signage, Bullawarring Track is double the distance back to the pipeline, a full km. Less than five kilometres to Waterfall, should be there in just over an hour. Good time to meet up – depending on how long I have to wait for a train. Kingfisher pool is only three km away. Everything clearly demarcated. What can go wrong?

Things head array way too quickly. Much of my headspace is spent thinking this track is very overgrown. If I refer to my allegory again, head spinning from too much drinking. Ducking, pushing aside tree limbs, doubling back more than once, stumbling through mini spaces.

Not until I hear voices of other walkers – above me. Then I do concede, this is not the correct path? I know how close you can be to a trail and nothing is visible. Nothing demarking a trail can be seen uphill, toward sounds of others. If I push up this incline, that way takes me deeper into National Park bush. Too steep anyway. Rocks block my progress, as if Bouncers, saying, on your way, too drunk already…

I continue to avoid efforts to push through thick brush, scratches on arms and legs, and encountering a sinking panic not being able to identify locations of tracks. Any signs of humanity vanished, consumed by bush. No wonder escaped convicts stooped to cannibalism, or preferred returning to their cells, suffering punishments rather than stay, alone, trapped out here. Trees, scrawny besides trail edges, fringed with unexpected sinister broodiness. Made my skin tingle.

Know where I am, been lost here before. A frequent comment from my trail running group. A local institution, famous, just like these trails. Not a good track record, if my previous two walks along this same trail are added to a lost ledger. Different when you are surrounded by comrades.

What to do on discovery you are alone in the bush? Take a pee. Too many drinks, time for a break in the Ladies Powder room. I stumble around. Now I can’t even find evidence of the track I was on. Vanished, overgrown instantly, no longer visible as the Bullawarring trail. I am surrounded by steep ridges, more than my body length to descend. Blocking any upward progress too. Slippage potential, right here.

At this point I make my first major mistake, a decision to head downhill. Impossible to visualize errors until after. Better to ascended and search for correct track location. Yell in the direction of those fellow walkers. Coo-wee’d, bush whistled…somehow attracted attention. But I did not want to stumble further into lost territory, deeper into a National park, made invisible, stumbling to South west. Knowing how undetectable a track can be, even if you are almost right on top of single file cleared lines, designated for bikes, or people.

At least if I drink all my water I can refill from flowing creeks. Might not taste nice, but at least I won’t die of thirst. Possible to follow waterways and pick up Bullawarring trail later, so says calm, pragmatic elements of my brain. Listening, I descend those boulders, lucky not to fall and hurt myself. As if I exited my first few hotel bars, and now stumbled, hit in the face by fresh air, tripping over unfamiliar roadways. Except no roads, only trees, Gymea Lilies, shrubs and deep recesses in rocks. More than once a stumble through thick ferns, wet from recent runoff. I begin a mantra, don’t fall.

Finally, beside a waterway, sand is a big surprize. Piled up into major banks, clean, cream, fine sand. Storm damage, major tree limbs carcases, are to be expected, blocking simple straightforward movement. I look for foot prints, assess where others might have walked. Noting random muscle shells, surely not washed downstream from picnickers at KingFisher pool. First people’s food? If so, laid around for some time, centuries.

I am pushing upstream – another mistake, downstream would have brought me back to the Pipeline roadway. Without hindsight, focused on keeping as close as possible to my initial plan, working myself deeper lost.

There is a map in my backpack, why didn’t I look at it, at least assess how close creek crossings, were to a thin blue line of Bullawarring track. Found a name for this waterway I am clambering along. What difference to know I am on Heathcote Creek, a division into Python Gully was upstream, closer to Kingfisher pool. Ignorant of how far away this landmark, can’t be too far. I’ve forgotten distances from signage, numbers slipped away since last time I saw it. Didn’t look at my phone to see how far.

Crossing the creek. Perhaps another mistake. Didn’t see any alternative, limited chances to make my way upstream, looked easier on the other side. At least I could transition over a shallow rock hop, after encountering deep sections. Perfectly still water, no ripples and no breeze. I know down in these ravines air remains unmoved, compared to ridgetops. Warmer, less extreme but any day will not continue this restful ambience. Take a photo of deep section of creek. Did not expect such deep swimming holes, maybe I am closer to Kingfisher pool than I think. Would not be able to cross unless I swim. Then what happens to my not necessarily water proof phone.

Have swam to get out of unfamiliar trails before. Never know what strategies are to be encountered with Billy’s Bushies Trail running group. Again, surrounded by like minded numbers very different from being here, alone. Comrades amplifying therapy in time spent out in nature. Different from a jaw clenching flash back happens to similar childhood adventures. Finding my way to Dad’s bee hive sites. Issued with instructions to find the dead tree, or grey rock, then head west. Those were times of youthful ignorance, thinner bush, sand hills not deep ravines.

Not used swim strategy on other, getting myself lost work out sessions. Factor in mini lost scenario situations. Times I deviated away from clearly marked trails and bush-bashed. Why do this? Put my heart rate up, increase tension, make use of problem-solving skills. Never this lost. I carry a mental map of trail locations. As far as I know no alternatives exist here.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Will I walk this trail again – unlikely. Will I realize where I went wrong. Was it the beer, several six packs, maybe the whiskey! But I am in trouble now. My allusion continues to pull me deeper.

At this point I do look at my phone, realize deep in this abyss I have no signal. I cannot access maps, contact anyone, or generally use any of the device’s technology. I have a decision to make. Do I cross again and stay on the side closest to Bullawarring track? Regardless I will not get a signal. So, another hiatus, I need to head uphill, away from this technology black-hole. Get high enough up the ridge line, to access commanding views of folds of the hills, site off phone towers.

Again, I am stumbling through shrubs, tripping on rocks, yelling, inside my head, at un-answering emptiness. Pause to take in breathless hushes. Listen to wind, take note of which way I am walking, east, toward the highway, can’t be too far. I am not circling, may not be walking in a straight line, but I am moving to the east. Not oscillating, nor wavering. Able to plot connections with known landmarks, roadways, tracks, and my own slushing breath.

My phone picks up, notches to indicate a signal, but I am still in rough bush. Rock outcrops, jumping across, pushing through trees barely a body width apart. Develop a strategy of pushing under-story plants away, stomp down low branches. Must work for deer, wallabies, even big lizards. Be easier if I found a deer trail through this bush.

Do not Fall!

12.06 – finally an admission. Sent an - I am lost text message. Announce not sure what to do. A mind abyss. Unfamiliar and troubling. A cerebral stumble. Inform him of what I am trying to do – get out to the highway. Use the phone - maps function, arrow of direction – still said Princes Highway is 18km away. Surely not. My planned walk was only 13k in total. Can’t be so far, it’s only 6 k along highway between Heathcote and Waterfall.

Already scratched, bleeding. Hot liquid on my leg, give surface injuries away. I have some Band-Aids, cover the worst spots. Lasts about a Nano second. Before falling off, and bleeding anew.

I envisage keeping Rod posted. Arrange to be picked me up somewhere along the highway. Despite his reluctance, no desire to venture out into post Covid lock-down holiday weekend traffic clogging roadways. Surely it won’t be too bad this early in the afternoon.

Repeat I am not sure. My heart races, a knot settles in my stomach. I tell him, powerlines are visible, at least as wires overhead, but at least one more ridge away, much further than I imagined.

Can you turn around?’

Is backtracking an option, downhill, invalidate now depended upon phone signal, find Heathcote creek again, how difficult is that? Find my way back to the pipeline?

Time is sucked up into bush, gullies and creek lines. I am not aware it’s taken more than an hour to get up this ridge. His suggested backtrack means another descent, get out of phone comms zone, find the creek, follow it. Too many what if…say I cannot miss something important. Anyway, I tried backtracking, after the initial track vanished on me, don’t want to go back there.

Tell him, Phone said highway is still 18k away. Shit. In thick bush.

Still strong signal, but stumbling again. Turning my face to survey treed ridges and a phone tower, quickly descended into rocky outcrops and thick vegetation.

He suggests, you need to call emergency services. Get some help, identify locations. Asks, does your phone have plenty of charge? Am I child being supervised?

I admit, I don’t know what to do, but I have plenty of charge.

Already contemplated calling State Emergency service, accessed this on Google, suggests that if an emergency call 000.

He agrees, go straight to 000. Makes sense, but my attention strays, my teeth grind.

Can I confirm your name and address? Am I speaking to Karen?’

I expected this request. A calming strategy, perhaps.

What type of phone do you have? Do you have an Emergency App on your phone?’

Go ahead and down load an App called Emergency +.

Several attempts involving multiple passwords, appears I cannot download this capacity without full signing into Apple store, getting through a password page, and then my phone will install requested function. Complaints bounce off a wall of technology. With a sour taste in my mouth, I am left wondering what type of person attempts to download this sort of function, when it is not required. Without a dire need, why would you? Unless someone attempt to install such an app on someone else’s phone to track other family members.

Nope won’t work.’

Stumbling, leaping, pushing through resistant vegetation, an official voice asks, ‘are you moving. You need to where you are.’

Can they see I am moving, signal from my phone is not stationary? My phone is on speaker, should be able to hear – muffled curses. Thuds, as I almost stumble. Don’t fall…Wishful for some bush fire damage, or recent control burning. New green shoots only just breaking through. A little bushfire damage would mean I could easily walk through pale almost colourless windswept grass, craggy rocks with blackened dead trees sticking out like skeletal fingers. First people maintained a variety of trails, kept areas open to game. Knew where they were going. Did indigenous people ever get lost?

After fires mountain bikers can build a lot of new trails, because they now find new ways through. Not like me. I long for recovering bushfire landscape corpses with no flesh, just bare bones. Tree trunks completely bare and bleached white by sun’s glare through this thin air. When last did Rangers conduct fire management?

My emergency contact gets hung up on, ‘how did you get down to the Pipeline. Where did you depart from? Not Oliver street?’

No,’ I tell her, shaking my head, although she cannot see. ‘Through the scout camp, down Friendly trail.’

My first indication that husband’s arthritic hips and long-term pelvic injury wouldn’t coped with trails on this walk. Bullawarring was even more rough, even before I lost my way.

Can’t locate a scout camp on my maps.’

My head can’t stay still. Why does it matter, I aren’t on the pipeline anymore, if I was there’d be no problem, I’d just head home!

She continues to ask about my beginning points, I do understand she enquires about did I access these trails from a car parked at a trail head. That I need to get back to a vehicle. But no, and no are my answers to this line of questioning. How much longer will this line of questioning continue? How much longer will charge last on my phone?

A text message comes through. Now I know how to access another service, while continuing with a phone call, a recent laid down knowledge. I read my husband asking, how are you going?

I wonder does this beep across my 000 call. Can they see my messages?

Tell him, talking to police, but not helpful.

He offers to call SES while I am taking to police.

Tell him, He will only end up in a loop, told again to contact 000.

I suggest he should have some lunch. Try not to worry about me.

Do I have water and food?

Yes,’ I replied, feeling knots tighten in my stomach. Already instructed to take a large water container. Bit of a waste now, as I am no longer on the creek so I can’t refill

Is your husband at home?’ The operator asks. Perhaps, but I did say I might try to get to the Highway. I imagine Rod parked somewhere waiting for me to stumble out of the bush like an endangered life form.

Another text, from him, asking, if I am staying in the same spot.

I reply honestly, am being told to, but am not. Say I did? How would those searching and the lost get together?

I’ve ridden my mountain bike all through this park. Carried, pushed and bush-bashed with the thing on trails and not. If I can find my way to a trail, I can walk out. The operator already asked me to, ‘stay in one spot.’ But not in really insisting.

Okay.’ But I am not in a panic, and keep moving.

Another attempt is made to triangulate my location using the phone, access a website called three words, by sharing those three words with another person, your location can be plotted.

Obscure words, like rectify, oscillate and originate. Gambit, verify and statement. Reinvent, illuminate, censure. A form of security, I suppose. In the background I can hear a third person giving instructions on how to manage this technology.

Asked, ‘have you crossed the highway?’

Believe me, if I had, I’d be walking home and much more comfortable, less anxious about slipping, falling and seriously hurting myself. Aside from scratched up arms and legs I am relatively unscathed, and insisting on pushing further toward where I think the highway is, can I hear traffic yet?

Ignorant that another person is also lost, in the Royal national park, further to the east of my location, and they are blurring my signals.

Are you near Abaroo trail?’

Oh great, now she can find nearby tracks on her maps. Being I’d taken a photograph of a brand new swanky directional sign, only a few days before. I know I am not near this trail. If she cannot locate my position, how will anyone else?

Help is 20 minutes away, stay where you are.’

I cannot comply with those instructions, keep still like a stunned mullet. Further declare my own uselessness and stupidity. More endurance is needed not to move. Seriously, it’s taken me much longer than twenty minutes to be in this position. How on earth? Sure, at some points, I’ve been highly visible, sun shining down from an exposed rock ridge. If I’d stayed still, I’ve be seen, but mostly from the air. At least I feel as if I am doing something, taking responsibility for my own actions, freeing myself from this trap.

Appears my three words, position plotting did not work. I must try again, using different words. I am sceptical about usefulness of this technology. Again, I overhear things not meant for a lost one?

‘…not injured, no need for air support.’

Then directly to me, several mentions of, ‘McGill Avenue.’ I have no idea if this is a search and rescue access point. And wonder is that a road which runs through Waterfall? West of the railway line. I’m not near there. If she thinks I will be found in less than 20 minutes…As if penned energy is release, I simply cannot remain still now. They must be aware I am moving. I imagine uniformed police pushing through thick bush, finding me. Just out of sight is a vehicle track, for sure.

I understand why you head out on a bush walk, I live not far from a national park, and enjoy local trails. Positive benefits from getting out in the bush.’

Can’t help thinking this is a strategy to strike up supportive/kindred relationship. I begin to shake my head, watching charge on my phone go down. But, in response I share, ‘I belong to a trail running group and we run park tracks all the time.’

Another mention of, ‘help is 20 minutes away and to stay in my present location.’ I don’t know the time, or how long I’ve been lost but aware help will take more than 20 minutes to get to me.

Stumbling, thick vegetation again. Wistful of a deer trail. Warning myself not to stumble, break a lower limb, then I would have to stay put, and be winched out. Don’t want this to be my eventuality. I am descending into a new ravine.

Beep, beep, beep! As I am cut off. Probably a good thing, charge was reducing. I’d already began to wonder how much longer my phone would last.

Surprized at not being contacted again. Why don’t 000 ring back? I am still lost. As if my drinking buddies, have deserted me while I stumble around too full of booze.

Look at the phone, I’ve stumbled into another no signal area. Didn’t seem a deep enough ravine, but black holes capable of sucking up phone comms right through this national park, along with trails which vanish, or purposely closed off with fallen trees. A management strategy, declare a track is closed off to mountain bikers. Often doesn’t make a lot of difference.

There are several missed calls. Some time ago I set the phone up so any unfamiliar number do not automatically get through. Often callers who want to upgrade my power supplier, get donations, or assist with getting solar panels installed. A mantra, if important they’ll leave a message. Or call back.

Didn’t realize I’d been getting text messages and missed calls from police.

Rod also messaged – Police were just here. He gives me a number to call. Won’t do that, not much charge left on my phone. Or text, ask for Sam.

Again, being asked if I am on the pipeline side of the highway.

Yes, due to my west coast heritage, north and south might continue to give me problems, I can recognize west or east, especially when a major four lane highway cuts across those compass extremes.

Tell him, maybe not far, can hear traffic.

I am being asked, send a screen shot of Google maps so my location can be assessed. Given instructions about how to do this, use volume, and main back switch, the big circle on your phone face.

Nope, I figure out why this won’t work on my phone. Another thing to evoke jaw clenching of frustration. Glimmer of knowledge about taking screen shots, I do realise I need to use the on-off switch on my model phone.

Wondering what might be assessed using google maps, all that is showing is blank national park space and a blue dot. Variant arrow even as I look at my phone.

Make a comment, not sure how much use this will be.

My next text message asks, can I zoom out and get some features.

Different from my first image filled with a blank screen, this one takes in location of the Princes Highway, and even blue expanse of Woronora Dam. Two landmarks I’d have no difficulty getting home from, if my progress crossed either. With this second image I can be readily seen as west of the highway, east of the lake.

This image appears more useful. Except my progress is now blocked by a rock ledge. A sour taste of hopelessness in my mouth. Has to be a way past, I’ve clamoured across like obstacles today and numerous other excursions into the park. Has to be a lower niche I can ascend somewhere, I just need to find a foothold. What if I just gave up? But then say I do? I am not injured, there will be no helicopter to lift me out. I keep shuffling up and down looking for a lower section, remind myself not to fall.

Suddenly my phone is busy Asked by my husband did you contact, Sam, the police?


I spot overhead power lines. Between thick scrubs, a glimpse, enough to be breathless.

A text comes through, asking me, are you level ground?

Now. Yes.

Can you hear our sirens?

Yes, I can!

My phone rings, Sam asks, ‘can you hear me yelling?’

Tell tale shouts come over my mobile phone. ‘Only on my phone.’

Shit. Sorry I will mute the phone, and try again.’

Faintly, but yes, I can hear someone yelling my name.

As if my new quest, getting out to power pylons exists beyond impenetrable barriers. I am drunk, from a night spent in overconsumption and a vomit builds, but won’t quite release the pressure. I hover so close, fall badly in thick trees. Head over a toilet bowl waiting, cursing my stupidity. I lost sight of power wires, a few times. But know they are out there.

Akin to experiencing the darkest moments just before dawn, thickest tea trees are before a cleared track. As if an impenetrable barrier was necessary to protect flora from ribbon of gravel cut across by mankind. I fall, badly. Unable to get myself upright, rolling around in leaf litter like pine needles. Be about right if I have impaled myself on sticks mere moments from release out of here.


Sam asks, ‘what’s happening are you okay?’

Fell over, take me a while to get up.’

Haven’t hurt yourself, Karen?’

No. Hang on a minute, I need to pull myself upright.’

Finally, I tumble out, breaking through, exhilarated. Am at a power pylon, expecting to see a police vehicle. But no-one, nothing, I am still alone. Under a land mark, on a recognizable roadway, no longer necessary to tumble through vegetation. I begin to wander slightly uphill, following this track. Noting run off from recent rains still dribble, mud as yet undisturbed by bikes or people.

Are you at the power pylon now?’


Can you tell me the number?’


Is that all?’

I am nervous about the yellow symbol appeared on my phone about switching to low power mode. My finger trembles. Cold wind makes me shiver. If I’d paid attention to the time I’d appreciate late afternoon looming. Chilling air.

Might be good if stay in one place.’

I am prepared to comply now. Despite a lingering sensation if I walk along this trail I will eventually find my way to the highway. Sam is telling me, ‘we are on the way.’

Ok thanks.’

In the background I can hear police discussing flat ground verses inclines. ‘…mountain bikers ride these trails all the time.’

A jumper, I have warmer clothing. Time to eat the pieces of fruit I brought with me. Wonder what to do with discarded peel, surely vegetable material is permittable litter in a national park? Forget it, police aren’t here. I reapply Band-Aids to worst bleeding scratches. A little inner dance of joy. I am safe, I will be found.

I have pol air overhead.’

Yes, a helicopter is flying, nearby, but not over me.’

Can you see the helicopter now.’

Yes, its heading south, slightly to the east of my location.’

Penny drops, they are waiting at another power line. Apparently the one I am under is now defunct. The main line now progresses slightly east of me. I can’t see pylons, but wires are just over trees on the next ridge.

You saw the helicopter, south of you?’

Yes, it followed another power line to my east.

While I pace about, still unsettled, inner mantras now silent. Wondering what I should do now, pol Air emerges above surrounding ridges. Ruffling swathes of air, getting closer. Thumping in my ears, I can see occupants in the capsule below rotors. Invisible confetti to celebrate discovery of lost settles. Smiling and waving from within this helicopter. Do I wave back? Within a short time, two police four-wheel drive vehicles emerge. Sam isn’t in either. Or at least I am not introduced to my rescuer.

As we exit the national park, along very familiar trails, I certainly have ridden my bike all through here. I am encouraged to text Rod, and let him know, I am found, secured, about to be delivered home. Now a way out of this maze of tracks, built no doubt to service power lines must be found. We pull up to a rear fence of bordering property.

Is there a gate up here.’

I could have told them yes, without a little dog doing a total yapping fit, and drawing attention to a wayward walker. ‘Yes, but you need a key.’

That’s fine says the passenger, we have all sorts of keys.’

Eventually accessing a gate back onto the highway, a great deal of time is spent waiting for a police car sized break in endless lines of traffic, returning from various interludes on the south coast.

War wounds are superficial. I reject an offer, ‘we can arrange for an ambulance to meet you at home, and assess your injuries.’

Cheeks flushed as I have already wasted a great deal of valuable resources. I want to pull my hood over and cacoon myself away. Even more embarrassed when I don’t give them efficient directions and we must execute a three-point turn to get onto the correct road. These constables are probably thinking, no wonder she got lost.

Quickly grew dark, cold. Rained that night. If I’d followed advice of 000 operator, still be out there, sitting on a rock. Now without water, eaten those two mandarins I took, and wet through. Suffering from exposure.

Decide to pen a thank you letter. Especially in light of a great deal of negative publicity associated with overzealous police arresting criminals.

Chief question being asked, centres about, ‘Do you have to pay for helicopter services?


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