Day 5 started under cloudy skies, obscuring the sunrise that we enjoy so much out here in the bush. Continental breakfast was followed by a presentation to Steve Larke by Carl for his dedication to the team this trip, driving, preparing meals and really pitching in.
Finishing short of Emu Fields and its campsite the day before, we first moved off to visit the sites of the two atomic test bombs that were detonated by the Poms here in the early 50’s. After that we visited the airfield and clay pan for a blast and a clean out of the pipes. The red Beemers perfomed very well. From here our target was Vokes Hill, which was an estimated 225 kilometres away. The previous day we pushed out 193k's but we were anticipating better track conditions today.
Track conditions did change with a run through some sandy country with soft conditions and lots of twists and turns. The boys on the bikes enjoyed this with lots of challenges and quick thinking required. There were plenty of ‘offs’ when the turn just wasn’t going to be made so the only option was to go straight. An off from Carl right in front of the team precipitated a stop for lunch which today was a barbeque featuring Mick Oxenham snags and burgers.
The track improved and the D-Max even managed to get out of second gear and into third and even fourth a bit.
The country continued to change subtly with us as we tracked through the swales of sandhills that were running east to west and converging and breaking. We entered spinifex country for the first time with large rings and blobs of the grass scattering the country and increasing in numbers as we continued west. Evidence of wild camels was everywhere and eventually Brocky and Gary actually spotted one walking down the middle of the
It became apparent as we continued on that we might not get to Vokes Hill today even as the track conditions continued to improve. The track straightened and the ruts and corrugations lessened and our speeds increased. The ‘offs’ reduced but then we learnt of someone having a one big off; something that we all feared may happen but hoped against. In the D-Max Ferg and Steve came across Carl and Joc on the side of the
road. As they hopped out it was apparent that there had been an event. Joc had hit the deck hard as a tree he skimmed past had flipped his handlebar around as he sped past it. This caused him to highside and go to ground on the sandy track fairly hard. He got up and and continued on, in obvious pain and discomfort as we
continued on behind in support. We pushed on to finish with our camp established at the eastern edge of the
interestingly named ‘Unnamed Conservation Park’. This was 30 kilometres from our target of Vokes Hill, but acceptable given that Joc was starting to feel the effects of his big hit. He struggled off his bike and we gathered to support him with strapping to his ribs which were giving him trouble, along with his shoulder which was also sore.
We were happy to consider, as he and Carl described the incident, that he wasn’t hurt more badly but also concerned for his condition and obvious pain. He took an early bed, struggling to get into his swag, and we gathered to eat Sharon’s chicken tikka masala with rice and Steve’s hand-crafted flat breads.
The night was clear but our minds were clouded with concern for Joc and how he would be in the morning.
As one or two drifted off, the evening discussion group were entranced by the Goon Fairy and discussed our situation, considering the life habits of bull camels, and turning to watch a brilliant display of a meteorite or space debris spotted by Brocky burning up in the sky. We were hoping that Joc the Joker hadn’t burnt out today.