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Tanami Desert and a jaded P1

juddles

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It was extremely pleasant to meet a few of the Adelaide AFF'rs on Friday - was a fun night! Thank you so much for taking the time at such short notice to meet :)

Sat morning we picked up our hire trailer, but had a few issues which slowed our departure down. Ended up delaying departure until this morning, but Sth Australians being the relaxed race they are, nothing bloomin opens till 11am on a Sunday!! Reminds me of Africa, or South America ;)

Frustrating day due to these delays and hiccups, but we were determined to get out of the city anyway. Finally managed to leave late arvo, and after yet a last couple of hiccups with the trailer, only managed to get to Port Pirie tonight. But really happy to be finally out of the city!!!!!!

open road.jpg
 

juddles

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After the long day leaving, was not in the mood for photos, but this is a quick snap of the wheat fields near Snowtown:

wheat fields.jpg

Patchy rain on the way out. Which was rather pleasant. But I am looking forward to the morning so I can finally reach the desert. We are taking it easy tomorrow, km-wise, as I want to do a good visit to Woomera. Probably then continue up to Coober Pedy area.
 

juddles

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What emergency comms have you arranged, juddles?
Rooflyer, we have an epirb (or whatever they call the land versions, but I take a more traditional approach - effectively keeping some people appraised of our location and expected next days travel, etc, so if we fail to contact interest is raised. We are not looking to get way off the main roads/tracks - ie we are not going off into the real isolated bush. Not much anyway :)
 

juddles

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Diesel LC80?
How many spare wheels?
Mud terrain tyres?
Air compressor?
UHF? HF? Sat phone?
High lift jack?
Diff locks?
Uprated springs and shocks?

when you have time would really like to know how you are isolating the cranking battery from the other batteries and your battery charging regime
Quickstatus, over the next couple of weeks will find time to detail ALL the gear. With photos, etc. I promise :)
 

stm1sydney

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after yet a last couple of hiccups with the trailer
Looks like a Patriot camper. Interested to know what the hiccups were, what you are paying for it, and (over the course of your trip) your review of it. Thanks.
 

juddles

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Am currently in Alice - staying in hotel so am taking opportunity to post a few more things - but my main camera is locked up in car and am too tired to bother going to fetch it - so will just include a few shots from my phone camera for now..... so because of this will just skip quickly through the past couple of days and later go through it all in detail.

Arrived in Woomera Monday morning. Visited my old home site, the hospital where I was born, the pistol club, etc, and we had "brunch" at Spud's Roadhouse. Continued up to Coober Pedy, arriving early afternoon, where we decided to "camp" yet again in a hotel. We made this decision as we had worked up a thirst on this first real day in the heat, and as any experienced bush traveller does, we wanted to conserve our supplies before heading further into the desert. So we found a fine establishment that served Bundy cans :)

Coober pedy drinking.jpg

I think this place was called the "Desert Cave" - had a very nice underground bar.

We had wanted to find underground accommodation - but as this stop was not planned we had no bookings. And to my surprise almost the entire town was booked out because they are currently filming the latest Mortal Combat movie here!

Coober Pedy is a bit of a bizarre place. Obviously, it exists only because of the opal mining. And those mining activities are in a bit of a boom phase. The basics of opal exploration/mining these days is that you punch an auger down 10-40 metres or so, looking at the material coming out to see if you get any opal. If you do, you make any even wider shaft with a bigger auger down to the layer, and then dig out sideways following whatever opal you get. I remember vaguely from my childhood that there were "quite a few" little piles of whitish dirt where people had made these shafts, but I was absolutely stunned at just how many there are now. Talking to a drilling crew at brekky the next morning, we were informed that there are now over 2 million holes within a 40km radius of the town!!

So mining is thriving, but the gear all looks like ancient, patched-together crap. It is a harsh place.

And the second big thing is tourism. It seems there is not a cafe or shop in town that doesn't sell opals - most of it cheap touristy stuff. The town is full of relics and closed-down shops - many failed business attempts. But as per the "Desert Cave" there are also flash succesful things.

Me being me, I always stop to ponder some of the little details. Just before leaving the next morning, I went into the IGA supermarket, just to get a bottle of water as I walked around town. I grabbed the cheapest one, which was on special - it was Fiji water, for the modest price of $2.

fiji.jpg

It is a strange world we live in. In an era where the favorite topic seems to be Global Warming, and included in that all the excesses there are in relation to resource use, I was sitting there in Coober Pedy drinking simple drinking water that had been shipped from a Polynesian island! :)
 

juddles

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But I loved Coober Pedy - there was something about it that just felt right for me. Cities have never been my thing. So to be able to walk down the main street, covered in dust and sweat, wearing my battered bush hat and a singlet, and blending in, was very relaxing. :)
 

drron

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We have stayed in Coober Pedy twice at the Desert cave hotel
It is a very interesting place and you do meet some very interesting people.
The first time we met we dined every night at Mary and Tom's Greek restaurant.It was very good.Unfortunately they were in their 70s and when we got back they had gone and not nearly as good.
 

kookaburra75

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It is a strange world we live in. In an era where the favorite topic seems to be Global Warming, and included in that all the excesses there are in relation to resource use, I was sitting there in Coober Pedy drinking simple drinking water that had been shipped from a Polynesian island! :)
Back in the Olden Days i.e. 80's, we used to go around to the Desalination Plant in Coober Pedy and put coins into the machine to buy drinking water by the litre. If you can now buy Fiji Water in the supermarket then I consider that to be a very big step up - although trying to do the conversions for inflation etc in my head, it was probaly about the same cost
 

juddles

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Tuesday we left Coober in the morning and continued on the main road (Stuart Highway) north. The highway is perfect - so different to when it was dirt in the 70's when I lived here. Check this out for superb road:

quality highway.jpg

But it is very hostile ground - this part of Australia may not be the classical "desert" of sand dunes, but by God it is a harsh climate:

not sandy desert.jpg
 

juddles

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.......
The first time we met we dined every night at Mary and Tom's Greek restaurant.It was very good.......
I think that is the place my offsider searched for in vain! He also said it was great, and was very disappointed to realize it has gone. The years pass... :)
 

juddles

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Our plan was to camp south of Alice Tuesday night, so as to skip through briefly on Wednesday and continue straight to the Tanami Road. We made very good time, having lunch at Marla, and rather than just stop by the side of the main highway, we did a detour off onto the Hugh River Stock Route, about 100km south of Alice. This was perfect - absolutely no other people or vehicles. first camp.jpg
 

juddles

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The evening was great - or at least it was once the sun went down and the hordes of flies gave up. I don't exactly like flies, but any pain they cause is forgiven due to the glorious night time without mozzies - I really hate mozzies :)

The menu for dinner was simple: pork chops with salt and pepper cooked over coals, potatoes first boiled then fried on the grill plate, and a garden salad with fresh lemon and garlic dressing:

first meal.jpg

We spent a few hours after dinner enjoying some icy cold cans of Bundy, listening to Nick Cave played on decent speakers :)
 

juddles

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Being just a day or so past full, the moon was impressive. This photo is about an hour BEFORE dawn, as the moon went down:

moonset.jpg

And then the sun came up, and as can be seen in this photo, so did the flies...........

first dawn.jpg
 

juddles

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Yesterday (Wed) drove the last 100km into Alice, where we are staying two nights to sort out some more issues we had identified on the trip up. Main one was that the suspension was simply not coping with the obscene amount of weight we are carrying, so Pedders have installed air bags in the rear - it is now much better. Second problem was that the Rhino Rack "batwing" awning suffered two breaks - these are a fancy awning that attaches to the roof rack and deploy into a single-piece awning that extends from the rear and side of the vehicle. There are four poles that connect to a hinge on the rear corner of the rack and two broke off at this point. Have decided I am not a fan of this system - it may be cute and compact, but I suspect that it is simply not a design with any real inherent ruggedness. ARB at Alice have removed it and will repair it before we come through Alice in another week, and meanwhile have installed a simpler side-only one as a temp measure. Great service from them, but again, am not a fan of the batwing....

The Patriot camper has a similar awning design - has different materials and connections, but again it attempts a 270 degree coverage which requires this same design of a corner point having multiple poles anchored there - the supplier of the trailer said he feared this as the weak point of the system.

This has cost us a full day, and we will be off at dawn to finally tackle the Tanami.

Obviously though, this has given me a chance to really have a good look around Alice - has been 40 years since I lived here :)
 

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