Thursday, 30 October 2008

Where the stars shine bright

Earth Science Camp, Episode 5:

It was dark. There were lights around the barbecue but everywhere else was pitch dark and the kids looked a little worried for a moment. Then they ran off to inspect their accommodation. The boys were a bit miffed that their tents were so far away from the girls’ dongas (these station people knew their teenagers), but the girls soon sorted themselves into twos and decided which pairs of beds were theirs.

The lady in charge of the barbecue pointed in the vague direction of the two dimly lit tin huts off in the distance. “That’s the toilets” she said.

Faces fell. They were ‘miles’ from the dongas or the tents. The girls begged me to go with them to inspect. Three girls bravely went in. All came out, screaming. Spiders! The others went in to have a look. We’re not going in there! I just smiled. There’s always a trip into the bush with a shovel, I pointed out. Actually, I didn’t see any spiders, only lots of cobwebs. They weren’t bad toilets really. They even flushed!

Then a wail went up from one of the girls. “We can’t stay here. We have to go NOW!” The teacher and I looked at each other. Did she have a phobia that we didn’t know about? The spiders? The dark? Snakes, dust, old-fashioned beds? No. She held up her mobile. “I can’t get a signal! How can people live where there’s no signal?” We all shrugged and left her to work it out.

After a sumptuous barbecue with salad, our first decent meal since we set out, the kids all looked ready to turn in. No such luck. The main reason for being here was that it was the best place for looking at the stars. The teacher had even borrowed a 16inch telescope to do just that. That was when we discovered the dust. As the bags and equipment came off the trailer clouds of thick dust rose into the air. We must have brought half the road with us. Fortunately the telescope was pretty well sealed in metal boxes, so that was okay.

I have to admit that once the telescope had been set up and I had caught a look at Jupiter and two of its moons, I crept off to bed. The moon was just coming up anyway, so there wasn’t much time left to see anything.

Why does the moon look so much bigger in the outback?

Facts about teenagers, No. 5: Many teenagers are unable to remove their thumbs from the keys of their mobile phone even when they cannot possibly call anyone or receive a call.


C.R. Evers said...

LOL! This trip is a YA novel begging to be written!

I can soooo totally picture this! I guess cell phones are the teen equivilent to blankies and binkies and other comfort luvies. ;0)

I must say though that you've shattered my idea of Australians. I thought you said "barbie" instead of barbeque. I don't think it's possible for an American to try out their best Aussie accent w/o saying "put another shrimp on the barbie."

OK, now I'm off focus.

Great post! I love your discriptions.


Kate said...

Oh dear, Paul Hogan has a lot to answer for! Yes, we do say 'barbie' sometimes, but not in great literature like wot I'm writing here! lol.

I must admit I do have some stories going through my head.