On The QT

Aussie Adventure Day 16

Blogger: Pat Lynch

Day 16 -The Fernit and friends – July 17th


Woke early to the chirping of birds. It is like a soft relaxing CD playing. I drift in and out of sleep and the stars go out one by one. Daylight breaks and I whistle back to the birds which seems to cause them some confusion. What a great feeling. Everyone should do this once in their lives. I get to see the sun rising. First the rays hit the hill to the west and a bright orange effect appears on the hill with a shadow on the valley not yet reached by the sun. What a spectacular sight. I get the fire going and the guys rise one by one. No one has to wake anyone in the morning. It is still quite chilly and it is nice to put ones back to the fire to get rid of the chill. We have plenty of wood left over since last night. It is a process now at this stage for breakfast. Water is put in the billycan and straight on the hot ashes from last night and a billycan of water is put on to wash the dishes. After breakfast we load our vehicles and we set off. It is 7.45am. It is my first chance to drive the Discovery on the sand paths created by Rob back as far as 1983. We head to a known water hole as this is where there will be signs of life from the past. It is great to be driving. After a few miles we find we are on the wrong path as we go up over a sand dune. Rob quickly recognize we should be heading west. We turn around and I get a chance to drive over the same sand dune again. We find the right track and off we go. We arrive at the water hole by 9am. We quickly see it is dry and very barren. There is bird life here so there must be water somewhere. At the water hole some previous people that visited left a metal stake marker to indicate that they were here on 12th June 2007. Saying the The Fernit and friends, were 1258kl from home in WA. We are now on coordinates S24.12.44   E123.20.39


We  now head to another gorge not far away . It is strange to be driving and not see ditches, barbed wire and know that as you drive you will not see anyone. After about 7kl we stop and walk about 1.5kl up a creek where we find the water hole which is totally dry. I spot a dead lizard which is half eaten by birds. This is a known location where the last of the Aboriginals were found looking for water before they were brought back to civilization. We return to our vehicles and have coffee with some of Robs wife Jill’s cake. It is a Christmas cake without the icing. It is divine with our morning coffee. It is hot today 24 degrees by 11.30am and the sun tan cream is layered on.  We drive on and follow a path which leads us back to where we came from. Ten minutes lost . We decide to cut out a leg of the journey to save some time and stick to the path created by Rob back in 1995. Otherwise we would be bush wacking for 50 kl which is tough on the system. It is comfortable on the path created in the sand. This path is between sand dunes and can be 20kl long. We stop to check our bearing and decide to go cross country. We come to a sand dune and we need to decide how to cross it. We stop and a walking party checks out the best crossing location. The sand dune leads to a  creator and that would be difficult to get through if we negotiated the 1st dune. Its now 12.45 and at least 40 minutes has been spend trying to get a suitable crossing. The wind is strong through the overgrowth and the temperatures are high at 25 degrees. We find our crossing and all vehicles are successfully across. We drive on for another 3k and find our creek which looks like a lot of flat stone formation. We walk about 150m to find the water hole but it is dry again. Looking at it I would say that it would not hold more than 600 gallons of water. We had lunch at the creek and we move on again at 2pm. Lunch consists of orange juice and crackers with cheese and tomatoes.

The vehicles are checked underneath for spinifex that gets clogged under the vans. We are always in fear that this may catch fire and if it does one has to act quickly to put out the fire. There is a water bottle and fire extinguisher in each vehicle in case of a fire developing. Many vehicles have been lost in the desert due to a fire starting from the heat generated by exhausts. We drive on and within 3 kl we prck up Robs tracks frpm 24 years ago. It is faint but no one has ever traveled here since. We lose the track a few times and find it again. The going is tuff. At 3.07 we stop to check our bearing. This is a constant feature of the trip. We are in the wrong sand bunker and we change to the correct one. Just as well we had not to far astray. We always check our position at the start and end of each sand bunker. At 3.15pm we get a puncture and so does the lead vehicle. Both cars change tyres and we are back on the road at 3.30. The fierce heat of the day is declining and it is more bearable for me. It is so important to keep drinking water. Also with all the bumping around in the vehicle Vaseline has been my best friend for bum protection. We drive on. We now want to get on to a track which is easier to drive on the other side of the dune and we need to cross it. We find a suitable low and all 3 vehicles cross. We are the last car and we are over the other side. We fail to find the path and we now think it is in the valley in the next dune. It is much higher dune to cross and it is much harder. The Nissan gets through after 4 attempts. I see 2 camels inquisitively looking at us from the top of the sand dune. It makes a great photo. The Toyota goes next followed by the Discovery. Both make it on the first attempt. When we get over I realize that the bag of my movie camera has fallen out of our vehicle on the other side of the dune. I run back as the others wait for me and luckily I find it. I leg it back to the vehicle.

It is getting dark and we find a camp site not as good as last night. We chose it because there is an old rotten tree there. We wrap a chain around it and bingo wood for the fire for the night. We had to shovel away the spinifix to make a suitable camp, which lights very well and it is easy to dig out. It grows in circles as small as 6 inches to several square feet  and it is very prickly. Camels just eat the seeds off the top of it which is like hay. They do not eat the base as it prickles there mouth. Camp is set and we have sausages, some chicken, fried tomatoes with eggs and peas followed by fruit and ice cream. It is cold tonight with all the stars out and we enjoy the stories of the day around the fire before we go to bed at 9pm

We see some Emu’s tomorrow so stay tuned



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