National Geographic : 1970 Apr
On our way back to the homestead Ian stopped at a pole in a pasture. He removed a piece of tattered canvas from an old-fashioned telephone and advised Margaret we were heading home, then replaced the canvas. "Wonder what Mr. Bell would think of that," Ian mused. Jet Planes Steal Camel's Thunder The Rankins' nearest neighbors are atypi cally near in this land of infinite distances. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kunoth have a sheep station at Mount Clarence, only eight miles north of Mabel Creek. "But I really got started at Marree," said 68-year-old Charlie, "about 230 miles east of here. I was born four miles north of Marree in the bottom of a buggy at 3 p.m., and the temperature was 120. 460 "Marree was a great camel center-staging base-in those days," he said. "It was all camels then. I grew up in the camel era." And now Charlie's living in an age when jet planes streak overhead on the 3 1 /2-hour continent-spanning flight between Adelaide and Darwin-a journey that would have re quired three months by camel. Leaving Mount Clarence, we left the north ern fringe of South Australia's sheep country and flew over land that somehow supports cattle. How livestock could live off the sere, reddish earth mystified me; yet, mind you, everyone called this a good year. I strained to find signs of life on the land that appeared as flat and barren as the copper bottom of a frying pan. Once, though, I did see a herd standing as if in sun-struck stupor around a small, muddy, man-made pond.