Percy the sulphur crested cockatoo, to whom we were linked by only three degrees, is one of the best behaved parrots we have ever met. She needs to be.
She’s travelling Australia with Ross and Iryna Lawn from Rockhampton and gets to go to all the good places, usually perched on Ross’s shoulder. Ross and Percy are inseparable but occasionally she hops aboard someone who stops to chat.
We stopped to do that in Broome’s Chinatown (ABOVE) because Tony had spotted the parrot that morning in our caravan park. As Percy popped on to Tony’s shoulder, Ross and Iryna explained they acquired the male bird three years ago. By the time they found out Percy was a sheila, the name was rusted on to the parrot.
Iryna, we learned, had grown up in Maryborough. She pricked her ears at our surname. Bates? She had been besties in primary school with a Barbara Bates – yep, Tony’s younger sister. She had been Iryna Taraschtchuk, whose father and brother worked in Walkers. Tony remembered them but not little Iryna who had had sleepovers with Barb at their Tinana home. Tony decided he must have been bush at those times.
We met up again with Iryna, Ross and Percy a couple of days later at a roadside stop south of Broome. They are just cruisin’ for a few months. Ross reckons he’s a bit over standing knee-deep in surf to catch a fish and their gem-hunting forays have petered off. Ross, who went to New Zealand for a couple of decades and spent 17 years as a Kiwi cop, has a fabulous story to tell about a brilliant sapphire find but I am not allowed to tell you about it.
We went our separate ways and met up with a Sunshine Coast chap at lovely Cape Keraudren at the southern end of 80 Mile Beach. He had not long separated with his own beloved pet that had travelled with him. The old cattle dog had not handled the 40+ heat too well and was buried near Tunnel Creek.
Mr Sunshine Coast was also morose at being separated from his dollars via the fuel bowsers. He hadn’t expected costs of more than $2 a litre out in the bush when he decided to pack up and go exploring Australia. He was travelling slowly so as not to visit bowsers too often but even so was wondering if he might need to get a job.
Bev and Maurie Appleyard from Tamborine had a different idea of separation and were clearly not too worried about fuel costs. They are travelling around Australia for four or five months: she goes out front in a Suzuki 4WD and he drives behind in a 7m Toyota Coaster.
“I relax while I am driving but I get a bit nervous when Maurie’s driving the bigger vehicle,” explained Bev.
“We do the ‘breaker breaker’ thing. I go ahead and tell him about superduper dips and cattle and he tells me when a road train is coming up behind. I pull over because I don’t enjoy them wobbling past.”
She paused. “And it means we get to spend a bit of time apart. I don’t think that hurts.” I can hear a lot of Grey Nomad comments: “Copy that.”