Trek 2010 – Under the Southern Cross – week 5

WEEK FIVE

Day 29 – having now completed some 3554.6k’s since leaving Dongara – started as a morning of major slipping and sliding through water and mud.  There was also some bogging along the way but ‘Uncle Harry’ was to the rescue each time.  Our lunch and fuel stop was taken at Mt Dare Hotel before we continued on a very rough road in to the famous Dalhousie Hot Springs and camping area.

This was to be a two night campsite to enjoy the hot springs and ‘collect our thoughts’ as the saying goes.  Allan treated us to a great roast lunch on the Sunday followed by a shared fish dinner, with contributions by all and cooked by George.

As said before we don’t miss out on ‘fine dining’ even around the campfire!  George decided to make bread (yeast and all) to go with the fish meal so went through all the stages of rising, kneading etc before putting it in to the camp oven and on to the coals.  At this point he went to do a welding job for Harry and being distracted he didn’t realise the heat of the coals and alas the bread burnt.  With the bread being considered ‘dead’ Dick entered the damper competition and whipped up a sweet damper – yum.  Much to our surprise though George decided to rescue his loaf of bread, give it a bit of a scrape and we all gave it top marks as well.  As we were sitting at the fire after dinner a large ‘rig’ pulled in to the park and next thing there was a voice from behind our wind break asking if we were the guys with the tractors.  Our guest was Ron McGehee from California who was touring around the outback of Australia in a Uni Mog shipped here from the USA.  Ron asked if we were going to be crossing the Simpson Desert and when we said yes, he asked if he might be able to ‘tag along’ with us and so he did, right through to Birdsville.  Also when we arrived at Dalhousie we met up with Helen and Bill Taylor; Susan Ruby and Charlie Gardiner and also George Baldwin, all club members but doing a private trip in their 9Gs that year.  They departed the day before us to make their crossing of the Simpson Desert.

On Day 31, with our ‘tag along’ we headed out from Dalhousie at 8.45am facing more of the same, rough, wet and muddy conditions.  In saying that though we all enjoyed the experience so much.  Because of the rains in recent times in the centre of Australia everything was so green and lush and from all reports from those travelling East to West on the Simpson these conditions continued all the way, unlike the dryness experienced by the Trek in 2000.  We were still travelling in the Witjini Reserve when we passed by Freeth Junction and Purni Bore.  Some of the crew took the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful hot shower at Purni Bore.  We then proceeded on into the Simpson Desert.

The desert greeted us on Day 32 with a real frost – 3 degrees was the report and condensation a plenty!!  Our newest official Club Member Walter James was heard to mention being freeze dried in his swag!!  At this point in time the group would like to make special mention of our Support Team in Barbara and Dick Garnett.  As they are often heard to say themselves they are no spring chickens having both reached a special milestone in 2009 but to some of us we could only watch in amazement at their camping and bush capabilities.  For this trek they decided to tent/swag it, agreeing to be an additional support for us from Wiluna, WA to Eromango, Queensland. They carried all their needs on the back of their vehicle and both managed so very well, adapting to any situation whether it be pitching the tent in the rain, waking up to ice and condensation inside their tent with 1 to 3 degree temperatures or even seeing their vehicle almost float in creek/river crossings!  They smile and enjoy every single day.

Once back on the road, we were straight into the first of the 1100 dunes that cover the crossing of the Simpson Desert.  Water, mud and rough roads were still part and parcel of the day.  65k’s was to be the total covered for our first day in the desert!  Finding a campsite at the end of the day was not so easy either because of the sparseness of our surroundings.  It was very much a roadside camp for the night this time.

Day 33, 1 degree, ice and condensation!!!  At 9am we were packed and ready to go again.  The day saw us crossing many, many dunes, valleys and basically having all sorts of conditions in one day. The green of the desert along with the beautiful varieties and colours of wildflowers made such wonderful sights to see.  We thought it was awesome at the beginning of our crossing, but with each turn or dune there was something else wonderful sights to see.  We thought it was so great and it just seemed to get better and better.  Our cameras did not stop clicking.     W

62k’s was about it for this day when we were all ready to camp up and relax for the evening.  We enjoyed watching some of Barbara and Dick’s photos on their digital frame, then more on Walter’s computer.  Walter then played the DVD of the 2000 trek to refresh our memories of the adventure and also to show our tag along guest Ron what it was all about back then.  An enjoyable evening finished off a great day.

The early morning desert treated us a little better on Day 34, it was not quite so cold getting up and we all seemed to be managing to adjust to the condensation situation a lot better!!!!!!  We can only say the day was “more of the same” which could make one think that it was boring but be assured crossing the Simpson Desert  in a 9G group is far from boring, it has to be one of the greatest experiences.  Cedar and George were the only ones in the group who had undertaken the inaugural trek in 2000 and they were amazed at the changes the wet had brought to the crossing.  Their 2000 experience was of a vast, dry landscape, dusty tracks and loose, sandy dunes.  They said the going this time had the same degree of challenge just with different conditions.  Our evening gave some of us time to sit and chat with our guest Ron and find out about some of his travels and experiences.  He had travelled extensively in and around Australia during the past 5 years and had a wonderful knowledge of our country.

So it all continued on Day 35, we can only say once more how lucky we are to be having this experience and hopefully our many, many photos will tell the story when we return home – it is all so hard to put into words.  We made camp at Poepell Corner for the night after visiting the point where you can basically stand in three states at one – Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.