On The QT

Aussie Adventure Day 13

Blogger: Pat Lynch

Day 13 – The Outback & The Camel Graveyard – July 14th


Up at 6.15. It is the warmest morning so far with some cloud cover. The sunrise is spectacular and I get some great pictures of it. The fire is got going from the red timber from the night before to boil the water for tea and to wash the dishes. Off at 8am and we head on to the shore of Lake Disappointment. We drive along the shore of the lake for several hours. What a breathtaking view. The sand is soft on occasions. We pick up Robs marks that he created in 1993. There has been very few people out here. We see 4 camels and I get some good photos of them. To save some time we cut across a peninsula which is really hard going. We really get thrown around in the jeep and as we get back down to the lake we get stuck in a sand dune. One tyre is off the ground suspended in the air. Some shovel work and out we go. We can now drive 40km p/h along the edge of the lake. Sometimes it gets soft. Just saw a photographed a bustard bird. It is a protected species and can not fly very high. It is a turkey type bird. Just missed a photo before he got in the air. We come across another 4 camels and I got the best photo of camels so far on this trip. After they look at you for a while with curiosity they then start to run away and they vanish quickly. Very little bird lift here but one does see the occasional small bird. We stop for tea at 11am. After the next 2km we leave the lake and move inland again heading east. No flies out here as there is a nice breeze from the lake. A few drops of rain fall on me during our tea break but it did not last for long. We now have turned east and the terraine is quite rough with spinifix the height of the bonnet of the 4 by 4. We enter a clay pen which is the size of a football field. This is a dry lake. We drive around it and exit through a sand dune on the other side. We are now traveling in the valley of 2 sand dunes. We can see the Runton Range 444m high at the highest point in the distance. We head towards SirFowell Headland. We enter a small clay pan and as we exit on the other side we burst a tyre on severe overgrowth. The tyre is beyond repair but it will be kept until we get nearer civilization to dispose of it. A patch on the inside with a tube would get us out of trouble if we needed it. Within 15 minutes we are on the road again. It is now 12.30. Time passes very quickly out here. One never knows what is around the corner. Nick loses his rear number plate as he comes out of the clay pan. It is found and put back on.

We are now half ways through our second week. It is difficult to believe a week has passed since we left Perth. We will need 2 days of highway driving in a few days just to get back to Perth. We are currently looking for a dry lake to get on to. It is always easier to drive on the shore of a lake as you can see what you are driving on and we make great progress. We are heading to a camel grave yard known only by Rob. This is a spot that camels come to die. We move on and we find the dry lake. Much easier now to travel. It is nice and flat and we can travel 2o kl per hour. We can stay on this lake for 3 km. It is dry. Progress is slow as we exit the lake. Three different gullies to negotiate. All done successfully. The terraine is very rough again. We have not far to go to get to some open wild grassy area. We often come across Robs tyre marks from 1993 and we are on the same path. Camel paths are used when we see them and they are heading in the same direction that we are going. Camels are like cows in Ireland. They constantly use the same track. We stop for lunch at 1.30 and set off again at 2pm. It is 26 degrees and it turned out a lovely day, blue skies with some white cloud high up. Flies can be an issue here particularly at lunch time but I am getting used to them. Once sundown arrives they are never an issue. Mosquitos do not survive here as there is no water. We arrive at a gorge which has water and it is used by camels. Over many years they have build up a lot of droppings around the water hole. The water hole itself is very murky but the water is clear on top.  We decide to do some hill climbing up the gorge. We find a cave with Aboriginal drawings in it. It is a basic drawing but thousands of years old. We drive on to the next gorge about 4 km away. The teraine continues to be tough. Progress is down to 5kl per hour. Nick leads but he stops suddenly due to a strong burning smell from his vehicle.  This can be a very serious issue as spinifer seed (like high grass) often sticks on crevices under each vehicle. Everyone jumps out with there water spray bottles. It is important to act quickly if a fire starts. A vehicle can be lost in minutes in this type of country. Luckily it appears only to be the fact that the hand break is left slightly on. It is a new vehicle and Nick is still getting used to it. We are just about to move on when Rob notices a small steak sticking out of his tyre. This is our 4th puncture in this vehicle. It is plugged and now he notices the rear tyre to be slightly down.  He decides to pump it and we will investigate it further when we set up our camp tonight which will have to be soon as the sun is dropping. We move on to find a camp site. It is now 3.35. We want to get nearer to the next gorge and we will explore it in the morning. The slow puncture drops quickly in our vehicle and we need to change it.  Two scouts went on foot to see if the gorge we heading to is suitable to camp at. It appears it is not, lots of stones. Another route is checked near a sand dune . We head for that. Lots of punctures to repair before dark.. The next hour is full of section with up to 5 punctures to repair. I take on the task of preparing the dinner which consists of stew with carrots onions red peppers and 2 cans of tomatoes. Unfortunately it gets overdone but still very enjoyable.

Some drops of rain as we get ready for bed at 9pm. It is very mild tonight and the stars come in and go out with the cloud cover. I cover my swag with a plastic sheet but thankfully the rain does not materialise. It is quite hot tonight and I sleep on the ground with my head our of the swag. At some stage during the night it gets cold and it wakes me. I quickly smuggle back inside the the swag and go back to sleep. The quietness is unbelievable except for the distance snoring of David 150ft away.I guess he will keep any dingos away from us. Rob could not find his swag as he heads from the camp fire to where he put it when we arrived in daylight. I help him find it and then go to sleep myself.

Tomorrow we get stuck on a dry lake…tune in for the details


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