Absent during the heat and wind of the day, in the dark of the morning they have their say, speaking to their neighbour’s about the new people in town. Then at around 6.50 the flies start work. Working a 12 on 12 off FIFO roster, if you are unlucky enough to have left your flyscreen zip slightly open they will find their way in and seek out your eyes and nose. You shoo them away and then do up the zip. There are moments of serenity as you look at them gathering on the mesh outside your little space. It makes it hard to get out as you know that as soon as you do they will swarm upon you until you can rub more Bushman’s repellent on top of the last lot of sunscreen and repellent from yesterday.
Once up and about we had a chat about our options; planning from last night saw us decide to cut our pack
sizes, fix up and park chuck wagon right here on the side of the track, and just like going on from base camp at Everest, go down to Maralinga and then come back this way. We had to contact Robin at Maralinga to see if he had fuel for us as consumption calculations indicated that we didn’t have enough to get there and back.
Carl’s BMW F800 GS is getting about 300 kilometres out of the 16 litre tank in on the Highway. Scotty’s
KTM 690 Enduro R with a 12 litre tank is going about 200 kms. From where we were on the Highway it was about 750 kilometres return trip to Maralinga, then another 150 back to Coober Pedy. Word from Hooch and Hector in Coober Pedy was that fuel was good at Maralinga, and that all they could do was get the spring welded up, and no treg hitch.
We had a rationalisation of our food and clothing. One pair of jocks and socks each, toothbrush tee shirt and sunscreen. Thongs and boots, and that’s it. We planned out our meals for two or three days and packed the
necessities; the shovel, spare bike tyres, one plate and one tin cup per man, five cans per man and as much of the water and fuel that we could carry. Once sorted out at around 10.30, we sat and waited for the return of the Pajero. Like the kangaroos we sort out the shade and the cover as the wind was hot and dry and there were no clouds. Yesterday the temperature got to 38 degrees and we reckon it was going to 40 today.
Rohan called up the Pajero on the UHF and they were only a few kilometres away; but they had picked up a
steady leak in a tyre. As Hooch and Hector landed and we were working on removing the axle from the chuck wagon so we could take the springs with us as spares. We changed the tyre on the Pajero, packed up the wagon and left a sign on its side and shot off down the track.
It’s difficult to describe the Anne Beadell Highway surface. Our research prior to leaving told us that it is a really hard track; no maintenance and significant amounts of corrugations. Significant is not a strong enough word to describe its condition. We left our trackside camp at about 1.00pm and got to Emu Campsite at about 7.00pm. On Scotty’s speedo this was 163 kilometres, including a diversion out and back to the sites of the two atomic bomb tests conducted here at Emu. The track was tough and so was the weather. We had no choice but to leave at 1.00pm, and this meant we rode in the heat of the day, which topped 40 degrees, with a northerly wind. If it was Victoria the Chief would have pulled the TFB Trigger. Two of the boys hit the deck, luckily only minor spills, but enough to leave them bruised and sore.
Highlights of this tough part of the trek were of course the many markers and reminders of Len Beadell
who cut the track as part of the establishment of the atomic testing program. Benchmarks, an indicator
of the centreline of the Woomera rocket range, a plaque at Tallaringa Well (which was dry) and of course the rest of the Anne Beadell Highway that we will leave here as it continues into the distance to Western Australia.
Len is often called Australia’s last great explorer and we can only wonder at his strength and resolve to be out here on his own in the 1960’s in a Landrover…with no track. To us he represents what we try to achieve with Trek The Trak.
The other highlight is the remains of the first two atomic bomb tests on mainland Australia. Today we visited the ground zero obelisks for Totem 1 and Totem 2. It was interesting to look at these reminders of our history and our links with England, although at the end of a long day of hard work on the track we were more relieved to be at the end of the day and nearer to tea and our swags; the discussion on the philosophy of atomic weapons and the impact of the tests on the indigenous people of this land and he members of the armed services who participated in the tests. It was ironic also that we were one week off the sixtieth anniversary of the occurrence of one of the totem test.
We camped at Emu Campsite and enjoyed Sharon’s rogan josh and chicken korma which went well mixed together and heated over the campfire in Hooch’s camp oven. We adjusted the amount of rice we cooked from five cups to four but still had heaps left over. The goon fairy made a quick visit and then we were all retty much in the swags at 10.00pm.