Monday, 10 September 2018

Day 7 – Creeping Along

Another 200km of rough track to reach the Great Central Road and we are creeping along nursing the broken trailer suspension in an effort to avoid abandoning it.  A rest stop at Mount Beadell provided more panoramic views of the Victoria Desert.
At the top is a replica of Len Beadell’s theodolite in a cage.
This is probably the most remote part of our entire trip. 
A replica of one of Len Beadell’s original plaques can be found embedded in a stone cairn on top.  Regrettably sometimes these plaques get stolen by souvenir hunting travellers

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We’re moving quite slowly so we need to keep going whilst there is daylight.  It was back to flat terrain through Spinifex grass that was sometimes as high as the vehicle windows.  Instead of just one track it would frequently split into 3 or 4 tracks running parallel.  These would have been created by other travellers attempting to avoid the corrugations, ruts and washouts.  It didn’t seem to matter which track your chose as they were all equally as bad.
I held the action camera out the window in an effort to capture both the state of the track and the movement of the vehicle.  The footage below is deceptive as it appears we are travelling faster than we actually were.  Note the corrugations and the way the vehicle bonnet bounces around.  Of course the suspension was working even harder.

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Sixty-one kilometres later we reached another of Len Beadell’s plaques.  This one is mounted in a tree.
Another replica
By now the tree of us had noticed the columns of smoke on the horizon.  Bushfires!   Bushfires are frequently started by lightening strikes and the ground is currently tinder dry.  We’re actually surrounded by thousands of square kilometres of combustible fuel.  Moreover the smoke is precisely where we need to go.  We could be in more serious trouble!
Eleven kilometres later we reached the junction of the Gunbarrel and Heather Highway’s.  This is where the ‘Old Gunbarrel’ continues to head east to ‘Jackie Junction’.  A special permit is required to traverse this route… and we don’t have one!  This is where we turn south and head down the Heather Highway to the Great Central Road.  It’s also where those columns of smake are located.
So that’s the Gunbarrel completed
We’re not continuing east on the Old Gunbarrel
It’s south down the Heather Highway.  I’d read the Heather was in worse condition than the Gunbarrel, however it must have received some maintenance as some part of it appeared to have been graded.  We have another 68km to reach the Great Central Road.
10km later we encountered the fires and it quickly became apparent this was a controlled (I use that term loosely) burn. 
Both sides of the road were on fire.  This is aboriginal land and they manage it by burning the dry vegetation.  Removing the dead vegetation by fire encourages new growth which in turn attracts the native animals.  Originally these provided food to the indigenous population, although these days they mostly appear to buy the bulk of their food.  I suspect they are paid by the government to manage the land and this is done the traditional way using fire.  However I suspect they don’t like walking as all the burnt areas appear to be very close to the few designated tracks (yes I’m cynical)
Just another photo of the corrugations
It was starting to get late and we needed to find somewhere suitable to stop for the night.  Eventually we reached a piece of land beside the track that had been burned clean.  It was unlikely the fire would come through this area again so we set up camp for the night intending to reach the Great Central Road the following day.


Carol said...

That last picture in amazing Tom!

Tom and Jan said...

Fluke Carol! :-)

Mike Griffin said...

The whole journey is amazing! - the pics. don't seem to enlarge though. I wonder if a 4 wheeled trailer would be better. Thanks for great read though.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Mike,
The photos won't enlarge because I always reduce them in size to fit the blog page (and the file size).

I suspect a 4 wheel trailer would be worse and it would just double the number of corrugations to traverse.