I've got a lot to write so this will take up a few entries.
Tuesday morning we checked out of the Beaches hostel in Airlie Beach and boarded the Oz bus headed for Dingo. We had a new driver, Matt, or "M&M" who liked to grumble to himself and make fun of everyone. He also played some great Australia songs over the stereo, classics like "A Home Among the Gum Trees." Our morning wake-up song was the cheerful, "We're All Gonna Die Someday." According to Matt, Dingo is "in the middle of BF nowhere." We voted to have a picnic lunch also in the middle of nowhere along the way to nowhere, so we stopped at a supermarket and picked up sandwiches and had a nice little lunch along the side of the road. After driving a few more hours we arrived in Dingo (pop. 50), where we got off the bus and were introduced to Derek, one of the resident cowboys at the farm. (Matt reckons that Derek is really a FC, or Fake Cowboy. Not sure why.) The farm we visited, they say, has property roughly the same size as the country of Belgium.
The first thing we did in Dingo was learn to crack a whip, which is a lot harder than it looks. I was semi-successful, able to make a small pop. At least I never whipped myself across my body, which is more than I can say for many of the other Oz kids. Next, Derek gave us a demonstration on how to throw a boomerang, and I was one of the ones who actually got to try it. It did come back to me, but I failed to catch it whihc would have been worth a beer from Derek at the bar that night. Next we all went to have billy tea, learn about didjoredos, and have the opportunity to buy some authentic aborigional art. Finally we were loaded onto a cattle truck (literally) and driven out into the wilderness. We learned that the cows they breed here are the same type as the sacred cows in India, thin with big floppy ears and the ability to withstand very hot summer temperatures (40 - 50 degrees Celcius), unlike other cows that would keel over. We drove to a clearing where Derek demonstrated how to shoot a rifle and let one girl try it. Next he talked to us about shotguns and gave us the opportunity to have him shoot holes through our clothing to give it a special look. A couple of people handed over their jeans or shirts.
We drove back and went to our dorm rooms, which were kind of like camp cabins. We found a 4-person cabin, then went to the dinner/bar area for some drinks and our meal. After dinner we had to wash our dishes in these buckets of soapy dirty water, but we couldn't rinse them really, and it all seemed a little unsanitary but whatever. The thing about Dingo is the water is all taken from the ground, so it is slightly brown. Basically you're showering, washing your dishes, and brushing your teeth in dirt. After dinner the cowboys gave us some line dancing lessons and we did 2 different dances. Next was the drinking game. Everyone at the farm that night was either on our bus (southbound)or on the Oz bus headed north, so there was a sort of northbound/southbound rivalry. Each bus selected 6 teammates to compete in this game, another chugging race. We won hands down (thanks to the efforts of Alison and Alyssa), and as a punishment for the losers, the entire northbound bus had to get up on the veranda and moon us. After that it all became a big dance party.
Wednesday morning we got up early for breakfast. First I tried the juice, but it tasted like dirt so I opted for tea instead. Again we rinsed our dishes in the dirt water, then got on the bus headed back to the coast and to the town of Bagara.