The road through Bullen’s African Lion Safari was long and winding, really excellent for motion sickness.  But the good thing about the park was that the population density of lions to humans was high, or so it appeared to this seven year old girl.  Prey you make it out alive.

Safety being the park owners greatest priority, there were many signs warning the unwary and stupid to stay in their cars and keep the windows closed.  Also no stopping was allowed, but that seemed to be an optional rule, much like keeping the windows shut.  It was the ’70s after all.  In the event of a breakdown, preytrons were instructed to beep their horn until help arrived.  Apparently it was quite common for lions to rip the bumper bars, windscreen wipers and rear-view mirrors off cars.  And last, but not least, there were signs warning that trespassers would be eaten.

As we drove through the hunting grounds sanctuary, there were a lot of lions milling around, on or near the road.  It was almost like they saw their next snack coming.  I suppose my father could have kept driving, very slowly, as instructed, just forging a little path between us and those lions.  But noooo… he had to stop.  As the sun beat down on our dark green car, the temperature and tempers in the car began to escalate dangerously.  Yet, caught in the gleam of several pairs of amber eyes, we were spellbound by those magnificent beasts.  The feeling was mutual.  They could not take their eyes off us.  The languidness and sheer size of the big cats dulled my father’s mind and senses.

Trust in me.  Copyright Brett Rail Photography

My little sister and I might have got a little hysterical as the lions jumped onto the bonnet and roof of our car.  We might have been told to keep the noise down, or words to that effect.  One squeak out of us, and the cats would be able to smell our fear.  A tasty little snack, and I don’t mean ice-cream.

Those lions sure did have good taste.  They claimed the car and us as their own.

Hunting.  Copyright Brett Rail Photography.
Two tasty little morsels.  My little sister was chubbier.  You get my drift?

We were so lucky, ladies and gentlemen; lucky to see those beautiful creatures up close and lucky that our car was built so sturdily that it could withstand the heft of several lions.  There must have been about six lions on the car, or maybe only three.  Anyway, more than one.  A lot.  And yet more, either curious or hungry, circled the car, peering through the windows.  Pacing and peering.  Peering and pacing.  They were in no hurry to move off, and we, in this royal command performance, could only gaze in awe or terror, all the while basting in our own fetid juices.  Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, my little sister had vomited, whether from fear, heatstroke or both, I really don’t know.  I cannot abide the smell of vomit, a smell so putrescent that it immediately causes me to vomit too.  A smell was on the breeze.  Naturally, my father’s first reaction was to start winding down the windows.  His action stayed only by much crying, screaming and gnashing of teeth.  Outside, the disturbance was the subject of much interest.  The predators were getting restless.

There was only one thing to do…  [Cut to photo of lions eating.]

Eat a snack.  Copyright Brett Rail Photography.

Get the fuck out of there.  No, not out of the car, ladies and gentlemen.  Out of the park.  So my dad shifted the car into gear and took off.  I think all the screaming must have scared those lions because they scattered to the winds.

So how did the story end?  Neither lions or vomit deterred my dad.  He had paid a lot of money to take us on this safari and there were many more lions and other predators to see.  We had to see them all, preferably before they saw us – driving along with our windows down.  Screams and retching could be heard intermittently from the back of the van and the front windows were wound up and down depending on the sound effects.  And then finally, as the sun set in the west, we all drank lemonade.

What a day!  Good story, eh?  Unpleasant sure, but gee, what about those lions?  How cool was that?  It’s all true.  At least the bits I remember.


Read Part 1 of this story here.
For more of Brett’s photos see here.
Response to the Ragtag Daily PromptPutrescent.

60 thoughts on “A Smell On The Wind – Part 2

  1. Oh it was worth waiting for you to publish! lol Great post!

    I actually met Stafford Bullen several times in the late 1970s. Bullen also opened up a lion safari park in the outskirts of Perth, now part of bustling suburbia and hard to believe lions roamed here once.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 When I did the research for the post, I saw that Stafford Bullen had also opened a lion safari park in WA. Someone was seriously injured there, and another person was killed (suspected suicide). The danger was real. It must have been fascinating to meet Stafford Bullen. It really was a vocation for him I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We did the Lion Park thing in the ’70s too (albeit in Perth), I remember being disappointed by how fast my father drove around there (no big cat was going to dent his Holden Premier roof!), There was also a smallish zoo outside of the Park proper which is (much to the mirth off onlookers) where a donkey chewed and attempted to swallow my 8 year old hand 😦
        As was quite normal for me back then, I threw up in the car on the way home (it was a stinker of a hot day too).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So now you know what happened to those who dawdled. 🙂 That donkey sounded a bit vicious. They are a bit like that. Deserving of a their own warning sign.

        Glad you’ve recovered from your motion sickness. You must have been born for the front seat.


  2. Great story! The voice and humour in this kept me totally engaged! What a wonderful family story to have recorded. The photographs are terrific. Nice combination, your words and your brother’s photographs??! I wonder what the lions were thinking….easy supper….a little fun terrorizing the humans…hmmm.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fabulous. What a memory to have…….well sort of good memory…how many lions on the car lol
    I too am a sympathetic vomitter. Yep, you paid all that money so we are going to enjoy everything on offer. Lucky for you you had the chubby sister too

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘Prey you make it out alive.’ Good one, Tracy. This was fantastic! The idea of all those lions on your car is both fascinating and scary. But, dammit, I would want my monies worth, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Magnificent!! Standing ovation!!! Every little nuance was truly brilliant!

    So glad you published all of it in one day and I didn’t have to wait for the sequel like with Kill Bill.

    Thank you very much for surviving your dad’s safari adventure to tell this tale 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Linda. It’s just a run of the mill, quintessential Aussie adventure. Probably why we Aussies are so odd. Haha. I do suffer from claustrophobia. Maybe the experience has something to do with that. I’ve never thought about it before. On the other hand, just ordinary summer driving in those hot cars could have done that to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As you might have guessed, I have stories. Some even, not boring. But, I confess, few to match lions and vomit in a hot car. That’s a unique and dramatic combination. Thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A wonderful story Tracy and so glad it had a happy ending. All the way through I was worried about you and your sister getting heat stroke on top of everything else. Splitting the story in two parts worked a treat! 😁💖🦁 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Xenia. The heat was certainly unpleasant and was the thing that stuck most in my mother’s and my mind when I was fact checking the story with her. I don’t think my dad really thought about the implications of having to keep the windows closed when he planned the trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I laughed, I gagged, I remembered gong to the African Lion Safari in Ontario in the late 1980s with my sister and her family, where the terror were the baboons. And you are probably right about two little girls looking like lunch to the lions; someone told me once that tourists have to be over a certain minimum weight and height to join wild safari trips, I mean, lions are not made of stone! 🙂
    Great two-installment story, Tracy!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ha! That was worth the wait, and telling the story in two parts worked just fine. My nephew went to Africa a few years ago on a “budget safari package.” They slept in tents, with strict instructions not to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom alone, because lions did wander freely through the grounds. I think the budget price he was so happy to get was because some of the travelers were considered to be lion food….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Main thing to remember is that you don’t have to outrun the lion…. just your slowest companion….
    Good story Tracy


  11. What a wonderful read, Tracy! Memories that will stay with you forever. But you really must come visit us to see lions in their real natural habitat and experience them totally ignore the humans in their metal cocoons gawking at them… Guaranteed no retching!

    Liked by 1 person

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