Our evening at Ned’s Corner saw us occupying old worlds and new. Sleeping in shearer’s quarters from another century, where two men slept in a room that is 2.5 metres by 3.5 metres with roof and walls of corrugated iron, we communicated with family and friends by mobile phones, texts and Facebook. For tea we had Mick the
Butcher’s steak, mash potato and vegies, cooked up in the camp kitchen. A small ceremony was held to hand out our new TTT clothing, and we wiled away the hours chatting and catching up on
the last 12 months. With no light about and the moon not appearing, the couple of guys who chose swags had a
carpet of stars above that is just not seen at home. Of course even with a cloudless sky there was still a steady rumbling thunder coming from the bunks.
Next morning the early birds had us up at around 6.00am for coffee, bacon and eggs. A highlight of last year was our daily awards ceremony, and the tradition continued this year with awards presented. Uncle Gary got the premiership cup for his premiership effort of not putting his uhf radio on the right channel and steadfastly not hearing any of the many calls from the other car during the day and Joel got the Outback Spectacular Hat just for being out here with us for the first time. We were organised pretty early even though we had a big day prior; Big Scotty covered 675 kilometres on the KTM.
We headed off west along the Old Mail Road, ducking in and out of the scrub and watching out for kangaroos that were in abundance in the low salt bush. At Ned’s we had identified a bit of an issue with the hitch on the Chuck Wagon; the block in the treg hitch had a crack in it. As we crossed into South Australia amongst the almond farms and pulled up at Paringa we could see trouble coming; the crack in the block was getting bigger.
We started working the phones and the internet and had a lead or too in Renmark that turned out to be duds; eventually we got on to a guy in Port Augusta who had what we wanted…but we were still over 400 kms
We started rolling through the Riverland country and out into the dry. A steady headwind bashed us as well as
the road flattened out and this also slowed the bikes and the cars. We decided to hit Burra, our old mate from last year, for lunch and an assessment of our situation. At Burra we worked out that our situation was dire, and we needed to put a temp fix into place. At the local public dunnies car park we went to work, led by the mechanical genius; we swapped the blocks from one trailer to the other and put a few hose clamps around the split block.
This sorting took some time and we knew that we would miss the 3pm Port Augusta deadline, so we steadied the ship and continued along the Mt Lofty Ranges, covering ground from last year to get to Port Augusta. We had a quick planning meeting at Peterborough and the suggestion of a campsite in the National Parks prior to Port Augusta got support. Brockie got a good lead (thanks Cynthia!) on a campsite at Hancock’s Lookout, looking over Spencer Gulf and across to Port Augusta, so we hit it and got there for the night. Down a dirt road for 7 k’s, with green hills tinged with splashes of purple of Patterson’s Curse, it turned out to be a popular spot with lots of people coming up to camp, including a bunch of backpackers on a Groovy Grape tour.
We collected the wood, lit the fire, set out the swags and watched the sun go down in the west; tomorrow we will try for Coober Pedy.