A night at Rabbit Flat

Sunday columnist Peter Leith is 89 and says he is “half-deaf and half-blind”. He faces daily challenges but he makes every day – and every word – count. A night at Rabbit Flat continues his series of short stories and observations about life now and then.


We were flying from Longreach to Broome in a four-seat Cessna and landed to spend the night at the Rabbit Flat airstrip and roadhouse on the edge of the Tanami Desert.

The airstrip, roadhouse and pocket-sized general store were run by Greg, a retired stockman, and his wife, Anne-Marie, a French girl who had come to the Territory as an au pair and nanny for an outback station family.

Sleeping accommodation on offer ranged from a four-bed tin shed bunkhouse to one or two-person pup tents or a sleeping bag under the stars. As two of our party were a honeymoon couple, my mate and I decided that the gentlemanly thing to do was to sleep outside.

“A sleeping bag under the stars” sounded pretty cool to me, but Greg warned that a solitary old buffalo bull had taken to raiding their rubbish tip at night. I settled for a tent and during the night was woken by the sniffing and snorting and stomping of a large animal.

The next morning, examining the large pile of dung and huge hoof prints around my little tent, convinced me that I had, on that occasion, made the right decision.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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