Jatbula  Trail

BOLTING through scrub towards Edith Falls and away from a Tinder date I’d just spent five days in the bush with, I felt I was running for my life.
But I also really wanted some hot chips with vinegar.
I’d take hot chips and vinegar over a Tinder date any day anyway.
Having been driven by my Tinder date out bush and not having planned to do a runner on him, I had to hitch a lift back to Darwin.
As I hoovered the chips I bought in Pine Creek, I asked the father and son who were giving me a lift, ‘do you think he’ll ever talk to me again?”
The son laughed “well I’d never talk to you again”.

I swiped right to meet Julian. His adventurous profile led me to believe I was going meet a cross between Crocodile Dundee and The Solo man.
I should’ve had concerns after he sent me a one word text that said: “sexy”.
But my dry season had been going for 18 months and there had been no build up let alone a wet season or even just a wet patch.
Two dates later Julian popped the question: “will you go on the Jatbula trail with me?”

I had to Google it. On a plane trip with the Chief Minister I asked him if he thought the trail would be challenging. He, said ‘yes’, but I knew it was political spin for, “there's no way I would f**king survive’.
I don’t even like crossing the street let alone trekking 65 km over 5 days in the Outback in the Build up but it had been a long drought and I didn’t want my lady garden to die. I needed to slap some skin and see if things still worked.
I’ve always made good decisions, so going out into the bush alone, out of mobile range, with a bloke I hardly knew, after a series of Tinder murders, seemed like a good idea.
Most of my friends and colleagues were convinced my life would be swiped left.

“Can you please send us a really shit photo of this guy so when something does happen we have something to run on the front page.” one said.
Day one was an NT Tourism ad; not the fake boundless possible one but the real majesty of the Outback, ending up at a beautiful water hole and watching the sunset one.
Deep in night time activities I thought I felt the earth move but it turned out to be stampeding brumbies near our campsite.
But hiking 38 kilometres over three days started to break the glue that binds even the most solid of dating app relationships.

The Build up. The small inclines that seemed vertical, the woman who looked like a Koolie sheepdog, with two different coloured eyes, and the small flies which festered on my lips which evolved into horse flies that dented my arms.
My advice to you - apart from not going on a 5 day hike with a tinder date - is don’t go on this trail in September - it’s hard to maintain any sort of sex appeal when you have sweat streaming out of your arse crack that resembles a piss patch.
In the first days I entered each waterhole gracefully, like a swan but by the fourth night, exhausted, I was hitting the water belly first like an epileptic dugong.
We were running out of food, which wasn’t helped by the amount he was shovelling in his mouth and the dehydrated stuff we did have had made my stomach swell so much, I looked like a pregnant pony.
I was running out of water purifying tablets and didn’t want emergency services coming across, me, hysterical, vomiting from both ends in the middle of bum fuck nowhere.
It couldn’t get any worse. Then day five happened.

Things happened on day five that can never be printed. There are Vietnam vets that have less flash backs from Nam than I’ll have from day 5. And then Julian suggested staying another night and I would rather have manually masturbated a wild buffalo than have stayed another night out there.
At the peak of my dehydration,and mango madness, Crocodile Dundee meets Solo Man became Rod Ansell meets Bradley John Murdoch and there was only a shallow grave between me and not having to imagine what being a Tinder murder victim would feel like.
My supportive mind chose this moment to remind me of words of advice an NT copper told me.
“If you bury anyone more than ten metres from a roadside, they will never find the body.”

To me, Julian became so infuriating. It is that feeling of settling, that couple feeling where you can just be yourself. But I just thought: “I don’t ever want you to be your-f**king-self.”
With four bastard kilometres still to trek, he needed to go the toilet and told me to go ahead to the next water hole as he’d “be awhile”.
I bolted towards the finish line like a fat kid at a cupcake.
There was no way I was spending another night out here.

Back at Edith Falls, I almost snorted a Coke bottle whole and pleaded for my ride to freedom. The father and son suggested to me than leaving someone in the bush by themselves was a little harsh. However my coke addled brain saw no problems and knew my actions where completely reasonable.
As I attempted a world record for how many chips a person can shove in their mouth hole at once I sent Julian a Facebook message explaining that it wasn't him but my mind playing tricks on me. Showering him with love and reiterating how much fun I had.
I told him I'd love to catch up once he got back to Darwin.

He never replied.