Eat the peanuts out of my shit.
That’s what the bumper sticker on the ute next to us says.
Eat. The. Peanuts. Out. Of. My. Shit.
But then, Territorians love a bumper sticker. It’s our second favourite thing after personalised number plates. In a place where you can drive any car you like as long as it’s diesel, bumper stickers are the means de jour to express personality, eccentricity and anger on the open road.
I float and I vote = Marginally Political Fisho.
Game fishing is going out with the boys on Her Birthday = Slightly Funny, Mostly Sexist Fisho.
Bundaberg Rum – I like to drink.
Jack lives here – I REALLY like to drink.
Magic Happens = I own a pair of fairy wings.
Fuck off we’re full = Racist. And punctuationist.
It gets confusing when Magic Happens is on a car with a number plate that says SKANKUP, but hey, each to their own.
Mr Tea and I are venturing into Darwin’s Rural Area, and it’s bumper sticker heaven. Where the Hell is Noonamah? screams one Pajero. And then a Hilux speeds by: The Lord Said Unto the Shepherd…Piss off, this is Cattle Country.
The noticeboard at Coolalinga Shops has turkey chicks and quad bikes for sale; someone’s also lost their pet python. $50 reward.
Toto? I don’t think we’re in Nightcliff anymore.
We’ve been home a week and Mr Tea has resumed his favourite interest: looking for boats on Gumtree. He’s managed to find two kayaks for $300 in Bees Creek.
It’s a bargain, so we’ve made the 40 minute trek out to a rural block near the Elizabeth River. After all those months of hankering for rain like a smack addict, it’s finally raining. It’s pouring. The old man is snoring.
We get to Bees Creek and the drive way is a waterfall. A sign proclaims that trespassers will be shot on sight, survivors will be shot again. A rooster and two peacocks are taking cover under the verandah. They nestle under a buffalo skull with horns and a small cross-stitch of a cheerful glass of bubbly that says “Get me a drink!” Three cocker spaniels jump around, while Dave from Bees Creek, owner of the bargain kayaks, greets us and grabs a raincoat for himself and one for Mr Tea.
I’m not a dog person, but I’ve always had a soft spot for cocker spaniels. There’s something about those long ears and pleading eyes.
“We used to have five”, says Dave. “But see that creek down there? They like to chase birds, don’t they? Wound up at the river for a drink and SNAP.”
Yep, this is the rural area. Your pet dog isn’t hit by a neighbour’s car, it’s taken by a crocodile at the bottom of your garden.
Dave leads us out to the shed, and my thong blows out straight away in the rain so I walk barefoot, past a collection of Brahmin cattle, a demountable and some old railway sleepers.
Dave is glad we came today; he has pistol club tomorrow.
The kayaks are in good nick. Dave is a painter and got them from a guy who couldn’t pay up.
“Bloke reckoned they’re worth $500.” He shakes his head.
Mr Tea is drenched in his borrowed Bunnings raincoat but he can barely contain his excitement.
The boat empire continues.
It’s on the way home, $300 lighter and two kayaks heavier, that I spy Mr Eat the Peanuts out of My Shit of earlier bumper sticker fame. He’s driving aggressively, taking over from the left, true to form.
I gawp for awhile. If nice Dave from Bees Creek with his peacock and cocker spaniels is one end of the rural area spectrum, this is the other.
And with that, I’m home. Sri Lanka is over. This is the Northern Territory.