The circle is complete. Today we travelled back to the east and then north, with a small run into the west and the dying sun.
Although happy to be leaving Maralinga and heading home, we felt that we were leaving much behind. Much more to see, much more to hear…but the trak must be trekked and the trailer picked up. Preparations were quick as much work had been done the night before. Some Maralinga Mementos were presented to the boys and then farewells said to Robin as he gave us a quick tour of the old hospital which is his home. The building is largely intact from the 50’s and 60’s and contains some amazing photos and artefacts. We travelled away from this village of amazing and yet sad history, thinking of the lives impacted and curtailed for the avancement of the science of war.
We left the Maralinga area at Nawa Junction and headed off down a road that was only to be found on one of our number of paper and electronic maps. We were travelling in the Great Victorian Desert, a place of varying but magnificent landscapes. Initially we travelled through the
swales of the dunes that run east-west, with a lot of trees and a great display of flowers. The track made for easy rolling, although it had the bad habit of taking a little unforeseen dogleg every now and then; being sandy, several of the riders went straight when they were supposed to go left.
We came out of the sand dunes and into more savannah-like country. We had another breakage,
with the roof rack on the Pajero getting tired and drooping down to rest on the roof. Running repairs were made and we continued. We had left the Maralinga grounds at 9.30 and we got to our lunch spot, the Dingo Flat Gate in the dog fence at about 1.45pm, a very solid stint of demanding driving and riding. Lunch was the left-over rissoles and sausages that we had; no bread as this had run out. There were odd bits of fruit and muesli bars. The last banana was auctioned to raise money for the flying doctors; Joel paid $10 for this. A tough haggle then followed for the last remaining sausage; Garry forked out $11.50, but promptly on-sold half to Rohan for $6.00. Nothing like and old clearing sale man to make a bargain.
At this spot we picked up the Dingo fence and ran north, then east and then north again, making faster time. The countryside ranged, with sand, stone and also gibber in and around Igy Corner. We named this road the dingo fence road of death; dead animals abounded. Camel carcasses abounded and in the traps set regularly along the fence there were dingos, foxes and even a feral cat (all humanely passed away of course, no animals are harmed by TTT). An old worker’s accommodation trailer was found by Joel and some nice salt lakes were also sighted. The last of our convoy, the D-Max, pulled into the intersection of the Dingo Fence and the Anne Beadell at 6.30 pm. Ahead of us was the last 30 kilometres of our 383 kilometre total for the day.
That last 30 was the hardest of the day and took the cars an hour. The bikes skipped ahead and
found the chuck wagon, which we had left alongside the track four days previously, with most of our stuff locked inside, was still there, intact, unharmed and it even looked as if no one had gone past in this time. The bike boys opened it up got out the chairs and re-started our fire of previous days. It was just like being home again. After the cars arrived, it was on; we split into teams, with tea cooked (Kerry’s ripper lamb curry with even more rice), the axle , springs and wheels put back in chuck, swags spread out and equipment sorted. Once all done, well after dark, we sat around and looked tiredly at each other. Again a monster day, again the TTT team pulled through.
Tomorrow we leave the Anne Beadell behind with a last run back into Coober Pedy…would it bite us again?