2nd June 2019
Bush Camp 9kms South of Well 41, to Bush Camp 17km South of Well 42, 43kms
After our discussions yesterday, we had decided to have a short day today, and get some personal chores done. So, with no rush to get going, Max departed camp on the Troll around 9am. Will and I faffed around, for another half an hour before loading up and heading off the nine kays to Well 41. It was not the nicest of areas, but we found a couple of trees for shelter and a clothesline, and proceeded to get clean.
The Wells are becoming more baron, but at least some still have water. I am not loving being this dirty all the time, but hey, what do ya do!
We all washed our clothes and had a “bath”. The Well is right out in the middle of the clearing, so no cover should others drive in to check it out. Which, while Max was having his extra-long, luxurious cup soaking, someone did just that. Luckily, we could hear them well before we saw them, and there was enough time for Max to pull up his shorts. Phew, that was close.
This is after my wash, in clean clothes…………oh dear God, these flies!
The couple who arrived, heading North/South, were farmers from Western Queensland, and made many comments about the flies. Both got out of their 70 series Landcruiser wearing fly nets. They’d never seen flies this bad, in all their years on the cattle farm. Just goes to show how bad they actually, were. We are not big whinging sooks.
After a delicious damper, with cheese and chorizo for lunch, and a relaxing time waiting for our clothes to dry, we all jumped in the Pussy Wagon, and drove the rest of the day’s kilometers, to the bush camp, just south of Well 42.
The dunes are getting a bit taller, and even more cut up by bad driving style, speed, weight and incorrect tyre pressure. We even crossed the highest dune at the 29km mark for the day, 361m. It was just on the top of this dune we spotted 4 camels in the valley between the dunes.
Dune after dune after dune! They are not all the same colour, size or shape. You could literally stop on each one and find so many little animal prints, different plants, and sand.
Unfortunately, it has been way too windy, the past few days, to fly our drone, so there has been so much amazing landscape we weren’t able to capture for you. It really is a special, special area.
3rd June 2019
Bush Camp 17km South of Well 42 to Africa Camp 81kms
Another windy morning in an exposed Bush Camp Site, and Max decided he would battle the wind and ride. Will and I departed 30 minutes later at 9am. More and more sand dunes, lots of smaller ones, that just seemed to join each other, and over one of these, we saw a large striped brown & black snake. We got footage of it on the GoPro, and think it was probably a Black-headed Desert Python. Not the Worma we were all hoping for.
We didn’t give Max a very big head start, thanks to the flies and the wind, who were working together to make our lives a misery. So, we caught up to Max after about 10kms. In between two dunes, we spotted him, legs pumping, concentrating on his line, and preparing to take on the next dune. It was a pretty big one. His head lowered down (he is very serious and deep in “The Zone”), he tightens his grip, and puts his legs into it. Halfway up, his front tyre gets bogged in the ruts us car drivers have made, and his foot goes down. A few moments, as he resets himself, and goes for the second half. In the car, (which he doesn’t actually realise is following him), Will and I are cheering him on enthusiastically. “He’s almost there, he’s doing it, oh no, he’s stopped.” “Come on Max, you got this, push it, push it, come on!” He hears none of it, but we are recording his efforts on the GoPro, and because of that, I am quite close behind him, in high range first, trying to maintain my revs and momentum, so I don’t get bogged. He stopped at the top of the large dune, right in front of us, making us stop short of the dune crest & causing us to become stuck. Bugger! I tried to rock the Landcruiser out and achieve the last 2 meters, but the clutch wasn’t liking it, so we reversed down and started again. At least it gave Max time to recover properly.
Well 42, and I left a sticker on the square drum, like lots of other travelers. It was very dry, but enough of a puddle for some animals to drink.
Max was enjoying his ride today, so he continued on. Another 10 kays, and we could stop for lunch. Now we are ahead of him, struggling to find a good spot for lunch. It is warm, windy and burnt, not a lot of shelter. We finally stopped for lunch at a bench marker clearing. Will and I set up our chairs and organised some lunch. Sitting out here in the middle of nowhere, with only the bush noise, is very pleasant. One thing we notice, is the Willy Wagtails. Every time we stop, they are around. Curious little fella’s, who are not shy in investigating things closely. I love them.
Yes, we are over the Wells in ruin, but it is still driving home the harshness of our land. Those early explorers and Traditional Owners, were a hardy bunch.
Kilometres need to be achieved, the wind was increasing, and Max agreed to hop in the wagon. The original plan was to camp between Well 43 and Well 44, as our maps showed a treed bush camp between two dunes. Well, yes, that is all good until a bloody, raging, hot fire sweeps through and burns everything. After Well 42, which was in ruins, with only a small puddle for animals, the scrub was sparse and much of it had been destroyed by fire.
Well 43, another in ruins, was average camping with no water. On we go! It is now getting on in the afternoon, and our planned stopping time of 3pm, has gone. The decision is to push on, and Will has located a proposed camp site on Wikicamps. Burnt, burnt, burnt, and after we crossed Lake Guli, on our way to Well 44, we followed a Shot Line. It was straight road, and crossed about 25 large dunes, one after the other. Up, down, up, down. Twenty five times. The first few were fun, they were steeper than the previous ones, and quite firm, but after about ten, and as the light was starting to fade, we were over them. (Ha ha ha, good pun!) We also came across two vehicles heading south. Don’t know where they were planning on camping, we told them of the last spot we camped.
Arriving late to “Africa Camp” (4.50pm), meant all hands-on deck, and quickly setting up camp. I sorted out the tent, Will collected wood and made a fire. Max gets his little home sorted, and has a wash, as well as collecting some wood. Dinner was beef stew on the campfire. I am really enjoying cooking on the campfire, and we all love relaxing around the fire at the end of our day. We tend to debrief a lot and discuss things that could be done better or differently and assess our progress. It was pretty windy tonight, but Africa Camp is nicely sheltered. Thank goodness.
4th June 2019
Africa Camp to Well 46, 60kms
Windy morning! Bloody windy! Getting worse by the second. At first the boys got up and I just chilled out in the tent, then the tent kept hitting me in the face, and sand was getting blown in all over me. What the hell is this shit? A sandstorm had come in, and it was so bad, we were forced into a hurried pack up. We looked around us, and as far as we could see (not very far) the sky was full of sand. Not much blue to be seen today. Max had no choice, but to abort his ride & jumped in the car. After we had driven 20kms, we had come into a rocky area, that was still windy, but didn’t have so much sand to blow around. Phew, it was amazing to drive through that kind of storm, with the sand filled wind, covering any tracks that had been made yesterday. We stopped just south of Gravity Lake at some Caves. These were obviously used by animals, and possibly traditional owners once upon a time. It was cool to explore in and around them.
Fantastic find. We had been tipped off by some of the other travelers, and it certainly was fun to explore carefully.
Just after Gravity Lake we came across a convoy of two vehicles the second vehicle was towing a small 17′ Van and struggling to get over the dunes. At the beginning of their journey, heading south, I don’t know how long it is going to take for the front vehicle to become pissed off with having to pull their mate out of a bog and over the dunes. They hadn’t even got to those 25 big dunes in 15kms. I don’t know that it is smart towing anything on this track.
A totally unexpected view from the cave area too. It wasn’t a steep little walk, so when we turned around and could see for miles, it was a Wow moment. Also seeing the dust storm around us was pretty good. Especially cause there wasn’t enough sand around here for the wind to pick up and chuck at us.
We stopped at Well 45 for lunch (no water, average camping), lots of flies encouraged us to get mobile again. Just north of the Well is a burnt-out Jeep Wrangler. Plenty of wrecks out here, giving you plenty of reminders to take it easy, monitor your vehicle and remember to do regular checks. If you are not cautious, and diligent, you can very easily come unstuck, and you are a long way from help.
Massive expanses of what looks like, not much. The termites are a pretty hardy bunch, and determined to make a life for themselves out here. Ant cities!
One thing you do out here, is get an appreciation for colour. Natural, organic colour. Not to mention space. The sky is huge out here, and often empty.
The mind boggles at people who carry all this stuff out here. Consume the contents and feel they can’t carry it back out again. “No one will notice if I just dump my empties right here, it doesn’t matter!” Well it bloody well does you useless gits! Don’t leave your garbage laying around on someone elses back yard. Grow up! Pick it up and dispose of it properly. Grrrrr!
After many burnt out areas, we came to a nature haven. It was lush and full of variety. No fires here for a long time. This meant slow driving and trying to get as few “Bush Pinstripes” as possible. It was really pretty, and a lovely change from the deep burnt red.
Arriving a bit late at Well 46, another restored Well, we found some shelter in the scrub, and set up camp. As we did that, a couple of other vehicles arrived. They didn’t see us and camped at the other end of the area. This Well has average water, with some discolouration, and a bit of a smell, but was good for a wash, and the boys filtered 20 litres to get us through to Well 49, the last one with water.
This vehicle was a recent one, from last year. Not sure exactly what happened, but we had heard about it while doing our pre-trip research.
The boys went off to filter water before it got dark, while I was having a wash. They were still off doing their thing by the time I finished. They hadn’t lit the fire or done any of their other jobs. Now it was dark, and we needed to eat. No fire, no light, no nothing. Grrrrr……. Yes, I am starting to get tired and running out of energy. I could easily just drive out of here tomorrow. But we had a plan, so we want to see it through. I lit the fire, prepared dinner, and put up some lighting. Just then the boys come back, all cheery and full of joy. Hhhmmm. I don’t know, this is getting hard.
5th June 2019
Well 46 to 202km From Bililuna, Bush Camp, 57kms
For goodness sakes, this wind has been blowing for a week now, and I for one am sick of it. Max is a champion, he is keen to cycle, no matter what, and seeing as there isn’t any sand in the wind, he is going to push out what ever he can. He left pretty early, after we delayed him with a morning coffee, and we left late, after enjoying our coffee a lot more slowly. It was nice driving, and we saw five vehicles today. I think that is the most we have seen in one day, this whole track. Two lots of two, and a solo guy.
The driving today was nice, slow going due to lots of corrugations, not too much sand, and both Will and I are starting to get annoyed with the pace. After catching Max and arranging to stop a further 10kms along the track for lunch, Will and I carried on. There were no good spots to park for lunch at the ten kay mark, so we very slowly rolled on another few kays. When there was still no safe, clearings to get off the track, and we kept rolling on, we actually came to the junction of the Track and the turn into Well 47. It is 4kms in, to another ruin. Nah, Will and I can’t be fucked! That is it, we are Welled out! There was a good clearing at the junction, so we parked, set up the awning, and hid on the Lee side of the car, out of the wind.
What to do while we wait, well, of course, nature will call when there is actually no cover. By gee, by jingo why is it always me? Hmmph, off I go on a five mile hike just so I am sure no one will see me from the track. By the time I am confident about that, things are a bit “urgent” shall we say, and that makes digging difficult. Sometimes you have to dig after the event, just sayin! But dig you must!
Poor Max is cycling with a hearty head/cross wind, and it took him about an hour to reach us. We were bored and cranky by then, but sucking it up so we don’t spoil Max’s journey. He wanted to cycle to the Well, and 8km round trip, so he did. Yep, nothing to see there folks, but he did have a rapid trip back to the Pussy Wagon for lunch, with the howling wind behind him. He was now happy to hop in the car for the remainder of the day, after pushing through the last 37kms. He is truly dedicated and driven.
There are not many dunes left on the track, and we had driven out into an expanse of flat terrain. Off in the distance we could see a little range area, and when we got there, Madame Google instructed us to drive on the track that took us up a steep rocky incline, to a lookout. Who am I to argue with the Madame, so in low range first, we climbed the lookout. So much fun, and what an amazing 360-degree view.
Nothing like a steep climb to get you going, except maybe the steep decent!
Now the Madame was telling me to just drive straight off the edge of this cliff? What the hell lady, are you crazy? I got out and had a look. Huh, the track actually did go straight over the other side, and down an even steeper, rocky track. Will had a squiz, reckoned I could do it, Max was excited (he’s not the one driving us off a cliff), so it was decided we’d drive off a cliff. Team meeting, discussion had, Will was on media, Max was line monitor, in the passenger seat, and I was the Head Pilot. Over we go!
We’re going down, we’re going down as slow as we can go…..!
Holy crap, I was pooping my pants, but super excited at the same time. I’ve never done anything this steep before. So much fun, and by the time we got to the bottom, Max and I wanted to do it again. The mind of reason (Will) shook us out of our adrenaline induced joy, to remind us it was getting late and we needed to reach our camp spot. Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay!
Camping options for two small tents & one vehicle were pretty grim. The scrub has been burnt out & there is only limited protection from the strong Desert Easterly Wind. Wikicamps had a few options, so we drove to all three, deciding on the last one, which we all thought we could make do with. Somehow the boys found wood, and we managed to have a great night under the amazing desert sky, again. All is not so bad, is it?
PS. Will has put together a little film from the Drone footage. Please go and check it out at Wiljens Adventures on YouTube. If you like, please hit like and subscribe. There will be more to come soon. Cheers and thank you all for following!