Who hasn’t looked at Peter O’Toole mounted on a camel in Lawrence of Arabia and said, “man doesn’t that look cool!”
The first time I saw that movie I certainly did and I’ve been intrigued to have a camel ride ever since. I was recently able to check that experience off my Life List. I’m happy to report it was every bit as cool as I wanted it to be.
Zozo, Jules and I meet up with Ken and his business partner John, the directors of Port Macquarie Camel Safaris.
They own a camel farm with about 12 working camels, which are used on Lighthouse Beach for ride experiences. Both men are prototypical knock about Aussie blokes. Picture someone like Steve Irwin mixed with Crocodile Dundee who looks like Shane Jacobson (Kenny….if you haven’t seen the movie, get it, it’s very funny). They love a good yarn and are an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to camels.
Here are some interesting camel facts as told to me by John…
- A one hump camel is a Dromedary (if you look at the letter D it has one hump)
- A two hump camel is a Bactrian (if you look at the letter B it has two humps)
- A camel can carry a car!! Yep that’s right a camel can carry a car
- Australia exports camels to Saudi Arabia
- Camels can drink salt water as its kidneys filter out the salt
Did you know Australia has the largest population of wild camels in the world? Well you do now.
John and Ken are very hands on when it comes to running the business. They are on the beach 6 days a week, and must walk some serious miles each week as they guide the camels.
“Lean back and hold on tight”
Is the call from Ken as the camel moves from a seated position to standing. They rise up back legs first so all your weight is thrown forward. If you don’t hang on it’s like being pitched over the handle bars of a bike….never a fun thing I can tell your through experience.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with regards to a camel ride. Was it going to be a smooth, rough or rhythmic ride? First off I think it’s a more comfortable ride than on a Horse, but not nearly as exciting as an Elephant.
We have a lovely journey up the beach and even through a little water. None of this phases the camel, they are happy just plodding along. It’s interesting to note that the camel changes it’s gait according to the surface it is walking on. When it walks on hard ground the steps are shorter. When it walks on soft sand it puts its rear foot into the footprint left by the front foot. An economy of energy in built in the camels physiology. I am fascinated.
The camels are a beautiful creature and amazingly versatile. Jules , Zozo and I have a ball. This is actually the second time Zozo has ridden a camel and Jules has done a fair few camel rides. Most notably in Egypt when she toured the Pyramids of Giza.
Through a little mismanagement we are the last riders for the day. We are lucky enough to watch the camels being loaded into the transporter. As a reward the camels are given fruit and vegetables. Zozo, Jules and I hand feed the camels. The camels are extremely well behaved and we feed them carrots from our mouths.