Dune Top on French Line, Still June  4 - 5 2017
The Swift family kept us occupied for a while.

Occasionally one lands at the entrance to what we think are nests.

Just briefly.

Looks like just long enough to feed young.

But of course they hide from us.

The wagtail also kept us amused.


Within 300mm of large feet  it seems to not see.

Eating things too small for us to see.

Wagtails survive in all parts of Australia.

No longer are we reduced to crying "there's a bird".

We are now much more sophisticated.

Even "there's a wren".

Some have passed by, but they are far too wary of us to present a photo opportunity .... yet.

Simpson Desert sand is advertised on eBay for about $100 per 400gm.

We have samples from several of our stops.

Just to compare the colours.

They are noticeably different.

Its nice, dry, runny, sand.

But no use for building sand castles.

Margaret is in charge of vehicle counting.

Some drivers seem to treat the track as a runway and try to take off in a flight of fancy.

We wait each time for the "thump" or "graunch" of tortured metal as the take-offs inevitably fail, the nose wheels unerringly re-establish contact with the ground, and the vehicles descend the far side in flurry of sand.

We are unsure whether to give a low score for poor technique or a high score for artistic excellence.

The irony of scoring others while ourselves stuck due to gear failure escapes us not.

The axle fracture is in an unusual position, near the wheel end, with classic evidence on the fracture face of fatigue emanating from a surface defect followed by brittle fracture. Metallurgical failure, not overstressed sound component.

I can say this as I once spent many hours in a metallurgical laboratory analysing such defects.

Time a matter of is it - as Master Yoda would say..

Our evening stroll was the usual mixture of dune top and swale.

We've seen some tracks of things moving under the surface.

Peter unearthed this specimen.

After a short period of inactivity it paddled backwards backwards to burrow into the sand.

We almost expected a buzzing sound as we had watched the film Beautiful People (Jamie Uys in the Namib and Kalahari - later renamed as Animals are Beautiful People) just before we drove into the desert.

Some cloud has arrived.

Very high. Rain very unlikely.

The tree caught our eye.

As well as seed pods it seems to send out runners.

There are little trees growing from the runners.

As we look further we see some dead trees with runners and little trees around.

A bit like strawberries?

The cloud paints a different colour across the landscape.

The dune overlooking the clay pan seems to be the limit of our excursions west.

We take the mobile phone, which has open street maps showing the track and a compass.

Also a very old gps for walking.

And the radios, and the satphone, and the PLB.

Although the dunes are described as long and straight it is remarkably easy to become confused as they join and separate.

Our big wide dune, between two parallel dry lakes, is better described as several narrower dunes with small dips between them.

Further west the smaller individual dunes were more distinct.  

We were joined by Peter and Peter and Sandra.

An arrangement made roughly at Taggerty.

Sat phone has been a bit iffy but we also sort of knew where they were from passers by.

Looking east from somewhere in the air.

With thanks to Peter.

Here's what the dunes look like on the map.

And our position.

About 1.6km east or west gets us to dry lake bed.

The east west dune about 1km south of us looks confusing while walking.

The South Australia - Northern Territory border is a couple of km to the north.

Unmoved for 5 days.

The wind continues to wash sand from around the wheels so we are slowly sinking.

Night time.

We've finally mastered the technique of shining the torch and looking for reflections from spiders' eyes.

Very bright pin points reflected back at the torch, but difficult to see if we are not near the torch.

They generally sit still or move slowly.

Wolf spiders.

This is the hole that the spider disappeared down when it got bored with us.

A very quick movement.

A very straight hole.

Just a hint of spider a few cm down.

Surprisingly, the solar still experiment worked a little.

A few kg of seemingly very dry sand yielded a few drops of water after about a day in relatively cool temperatures.

Not enough for a feast. But then it was a small bucket.

We suspect including some foliage would have worked better.

... Look To The East June 6 - 8 2017

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