What do you do when your caravan of camels gets stuck in the rugged Tasmanian wilderness?
After exhausting your attempts to convince your 300-kilogram companions to shuffle along, you do what adventurer and cameleer John Arthur Elliott did – call the State Emergency Service.
Mr Elliott’s odyssey across Australia began in 2019, trekking with his trusty dingo cross red heeler and five camels loaded up with gear, including a portable fridge and a generator.
But on Monday, they found themselves in quite a pickle on the Tasmanian Trail near Poatina in the central highlands.
Descending rocky terrain between Cathcart Bluff and Mount Blackwood, the deteriorating track caused by recent washouts led to Mr Elliott’s camel convoy becoming stuck.
Unable to move forwards or backwards, Mr Elliott called for help and soon after, police, fire service and SES volunteers arrived at the scene.
Volunteers become cameleers
SES Volunteer Anne Fareley was among those who received a speedy tutorial in “cameleering” before helping guide the creatures along 1.2 kilometres of steep uphill terrain.
“We basically became camel handlers,” she told ABC Radio Hobart.
“They kept slipping on the rocky terrain and he needed assistance getting them back up.
“Some of us were leading the camels and others were encouraging them to get up the track.”
The volunteers embraced their peculiar assignment and everything was going well, until a tricky water crossing threatened to derail the operation.
“Two of [the camels] did not want to go across,” Ms Fareley said.
“That took a bit of work and a bit of problem solving to get two of them across the creek.”
Finally, after a couple of hours, the crew had success.
Safely back at the top of the trail, the camels enjoyed a well-earned feed while the crew of SES saviours made sure to get happy snaps with their newfound friends.
The journey continues
For a very thankful Mr Elliott, the escapade is just one chapter in an epic journey across the country.
The former Perth businessman ditched his job, walked away from his house and gave his car to charity in exchange for the ultimate sea change two years ago – setting off on an unplanned route with his lively caravan in tow.
So far they have encountered drought, dust storms, searing temperatures, bushfires, snow and coronavirus quarantine.
Mr Elliott is using the journey to raise awareness about melanoma.
Residents of Longford might see the travelling party in the coming days, with Mr Elliott and his camels set to pass through the town as part of their 1000-kilometre Tasmanian leg.