Monday, August 04, 2008

DAY 279: Bush camp to bush camp 15km W on Karajini Drive

Position S 22 36.722; E 118 35.105
84km @ 13.5 km/hr
Tues 29th July 2008
Sunny, 31 deg C
Elevation of /destination 743m
Distance to date 17162 km (10726 miles)

As I opened my eyes I saw that there was quite a bit of streaky cloud on the horizon with the sun just about to peep over, so I walked up the small hill at the side of me with the camera. It was as spectacuar a show as sunset yesterday, and I sat and watched for a while as the surrounding mountains slowly lit up to their usual deep orangey-red. After a wash in the pool I picked my way across the km of barren spinifex plain back to the road and set off at 0830 with an easterly sidewind. What a great campsite that was, and what a relaxing day I had yesterday!
The 31m to Auski Roadhouse was pretty heavy going - a steady drag undulating gradually upwards with just a few distant mountains to look at. It seemed longer than the 2 hours it actually took me, and I was glad to roll in for long wished-for breakfast of bacon egg and beans. It was a fair old plateful too, just the job. I got the usual free ‘driver reviver’ coffee (or tea) funded by the government to persuade sleepy drivers to get some caffeine and wake up, and the 3 mugs certainly gave me a kick too. The truck driver at the next table was telling me all about his job e.g. They are only allowed to drive for 5 hours then have to have a half-hour break, plus they must have at least 7 hours continuous rest / sleep every 24 hours. They don’t have tacographs here, but have to keep a log of times that can be inspected at any time and must be complete. He was driving from Darwin to Perth - over 2000km - which will tae him 3 to 4 days. They have UHF ‘CB’ radios truck to truck, but if driving in remote areas (! it’s all remote up here!) they can be given powerful HF radios that cover Australia (I think that’s what he meant).
I took advantage of the rare internet terminal here ($5 for 15 minutes!!) and replied to a few e-mails before leaving, and also took on more water for possible bush camping again if I don’t reach the caravan park at Karijini.
The next section to the Karjini junction continued steadily uphill, and the scenery got much more interesting, and much steeper - to 6% for 2km - as the road passed through Munjina East Gorge. The diverse and very red rock faces and steep cliffs were amazing - a myriad of constantly-changing shapes and vistas; hopefully the pics will explain better than I can. Even after this steep section, when I was reduced to 7 km/hr, there was little you could call a descent; the road struck ever upwards.
After the gorge the wind did it’s regular shift from east to north, so as I was heading south I was flung along - for about 5km - but on turning right for Karajini NP / Tom Price it was all over, and I was straight into a NE-er, right in the face, and to add insult to injury the road continued to climb slowly as before. Pretty soon I was at 800m and had had enough for the day. It was 1530 and I started to look for a campsite. It wasn’t easy at all; either the vegetation was too thin or, more usually, the spinifex totally filled in all the ground between the trees and shrubs, and it's inpeneterable. This is horrible stuff - spiky grass that you can’t even go near without getting thorns in clothing, which then irritate the hell out of you by sticking into the skin at regular intervals. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat picking these out of my socks, and even shorts!! It’s evil stuff, but ubiquitous around here.
During one aborted attempt to get across to a likely campsite I accidentally stood on a broken plant stem which stuck straight through my sandal and into my heel - it was very painful, and I had to remove the shoe whereupon the broken bit of stem fully 5mm diameter came out with it covered in blood - ouch! I eventually found a good site off to the left that had a network of bare fractured rock ‘paths’ in and around the spinifex, and I managed to get way off the road behind some thicker shrubs and trees - perfect. Left is best today because the NW wind will take the smoke from my fire away from the road and add to my anonimity. There’s lots of good firewood here too, necessary not just because it’s nice to have a fire, but also because the repair to my stove pump was unsuccesful and I’ll need a fire to cook dinner on. I did actually buy a sliced loaf at the roadhouse, but prefer cooked food.
After putting up tent I got the fire going straight away, and within 30 minutes it was dying down having left a good red bed on which to place the pans. I did mash in one and veg and tune in the other, and as usual it tasted delicious. Samey, but delicious.

No comments: