Lake Gairdner August 24 - 25 2018
  There was a couple of mm rain overnight. We checked the south australia outback roads web page and still no update since 5 days earlier. All roads in this area open.

So we set off south. Towards Lake Gairdner.

  Surprise. We haven't seen sheep since .....
  A bit of water on the road.

There are patches where the surface is a bit slippery, but truck coped well.

  We had a race with a few kangaroos. We think the colours in the scrub are special.
  There is water somewhere.
  Just before Kokatha we cross a small range of hills.

Looking north is Lake Harris.

  South is Lake Everard.

Kokatha Station is down the hill and just around the corner to the right.

  A short stop to take a pic of the flowers.

Most of the rain we've seen fell north of here. But there must have been some recently.

  On the other side of the dunes is Lake Everard. To our west.

We've seen more emus and kangaroos this morning than in the whole of the trip so far.

  Yellow flowers this time.
  The junction near the delightfully named Skull Tank Camps.

We turn left towards Mooneree. Our aim is the national park camp about 20 km south of the station.

  About 200m from the junction, this must be Skull Tank.

The roof is low. Just high enough to collect water for the tanks.

We suspect this may be what the Waltumba Tank may have looked like before it was built as a below ground tank collecting runoff from the road.

  A house with no name. A small square on the map. Satellite dish, solar panels, windows intact ...... surrounded by beautiful colours, but harsh and isolated.
  We cross the boundary from Mooneree into Yardea Station.

A magnificent old cart. Designed for transporting heavy loads. Perhaps wool bales?

  Waltumba Tank.

Built in 1933, designed to collect surface water run off. The road is behind me.

On a government stock route.

Restored 2002.

There's some water remaining in the roof gutters. There's also good water in the tank. Extracted with a hand pump.

We turn towards Lake Gairdner to the Waltumba campsite. Inside the national park that holds the lake.

  Fascinating botany as we walk up the granite hill. Flowers so small.

We know its granite because the sign at the tank said so. It also said there was an interpretive walk up the hill to the north of the campground - look for the signs.

The signs we found were where a track had been cleared. So we followed it. Interpretive signs may be an unfinished project.

  A large cairn at the top.

Looking north along the edge of Lake Gairdner. Its about 150 km long. We are two thirds of the way south.

  Looking south.

There's a little water, but mostly salt.

If we looked across the lake there's a granite outcrop island in the middle.

  The granite we are standing on is the same colour inside and out. Lichen growing on the surface.

Perhaps its a different colour, more like the grey of granite I'm accustomed to, deeper in the rock, away from the surface. I think I read somewhere its about one and a half billion years old. Which is more than long enough for oxidation to occur below the skin. But I really don't know.....

I wonder if this is the type of rock that was crushed and used for those reddish sealed roads around Coober Pedy and elsewhere.

  Intrigued at the "salt bushes". There are green flowers on the shady side. We see others which have progressively flowered until flowering on the sunny side.

The long (for us) days driving, with driving every day since Purnululu, take their toll. About 1800 km for crows but 2300 km for us, in 8 days. Roughly 300 km per day. Which we think is reasonable for us considering most of the roads were the antithesis of motorway standard.

Within three weeks we've watched the landscape around us change from the monsoon coastal area of Cape Domett, past the southern edge of the monsoon at Purnululu, across the Tanami Desert, skirted the western edge of the Pedirka Desert, past the eastern edge of the Great Victoria Desert, and where the land isn't labeled desert its arid. Most of the way we've seen varietions of spinifex and cane grass with acacia and gum trees of various heights and densities. Since we crossed the rail line at Kingoonya there has been little, but mainly no, grass. Most of the way was cattle country, or country recovering after de-stocking. Lakes were mainly ephemoral and creeks don't reach the sea. South of Kingoonya we see sheep. If we continued traveling south after the Gawler Ranges we would see the wheat fields of the Eyre Peninsula.

We'll have two nights at Lake Gairdner then probably five nights in Gawler Ranges National Park, about 100 km drive, where we'll meet up with Peter and Margaret before heading to the Great Victoria Desert.

  With the morning came the birds.

While yesterday afternoon had a strong cold wind this morning is completely still.

But it doesn't help us know what this bird is. If it wasn't for the beak we'd think "raptor".

I think we've met this problem once or twice previously, but can't recall where.

  At first we thought this was the same bird. Just moved to a different tree.

But no, very different, we think a red wattle bird.

EDIT:- but now know it is a spiny-cheeked honeyeater ....

  I used the still day to tackle the cab heater. To reconnect the heater to where the engine connections were plugged when engine replaced.

I ummed and ahhed a bit about whether to connect the house diesel heater to the engine again. I decided yes. It's worked that way since I built the truck 7 years ago. Engine can heat house and hot water, diesel heater can do the same and pre-heat engine.

Away from workshop facilities, and any help, it took a couple of hours as I plodded my way carefully and methodically through the task. Not difficult, just awkward connecting hoses and tightening hose clamps.

  A couple of Australasian Pipits visited us in the afternoon. Picking among the flowers.

When we look closely the marking are quite distinct, not just "another bland, non-descript, overall light brown, speckled, bird" to highlight my prejudices.

A bit before 4pm the wind returned, but not as ferociously. Like a sea breeze, fed by the salt lake.

  The granite hill behind the truck looks inviting in the late afternoon sun.

I'm wondering whether its rhyolite, a close relation of granite and basalt.

  Near the lake sure, and the edges of dry creek beds, the vegetation is darker, with some red.

Succulents. Presumably there's just a fraction more moisture than on the plain.

  Near the top of the hill a surprise.

A red-capped robin.

We last saw one in Karijini at the campsite. A surprise here as the ground cover is so different.

  The granite islands in the lake.
  Waiting for the sun to become lower in the sky this wee fella popped his head up.

Almost a wren. But not quite. A tail that's not quite like a wren.

We are used to a flock of wrens continually on the move. Foraging. This redthroat stayed in the one bush. Mostly in the middle of the bush where it was wonderfully camouflaged, but occasional excursions to the attic.

  And occasional excursions to the ground around the bush.

But never straying far.

The bird book says "uncommon" and "shy".

I couldn't decide if there was more than one.

Its nice to have our patience rewarded.

We also saw wrens, behaving as wrens normally do, earlier in the day near the lake edge.

  Looking south as the sun lowers.

There's a large shed just visible in the far hills.

  And south west, at the truck and the long inlet.

The Gawler Ranges are much more extensive than just the Gawler Ranges National Park. As if a barrier between arid land to the north and increasingly fertile land to the south.

  The way down was a bit tedious.

At the top I pulled something in a calf muscle which made walking difficult and a bit painful.

So a welcome pause to say hello to a kangaroo.

There are several around the base of the hill.

We haven't seen emus here, but there are some tracks.

  A last look at the lake from the car park. Before hobbling to the truck.

About 35 km west of us is Lake Acraman. A very different shape on the map to the other lakes in this area. Roughly circular, about 20 km diameter. "Next time" we'll ask the station if we can use one of their tracks to have a look at it. Its a big meteorite impact crater. Some of the displaced rock has been found in the Flinders Ranges, about 300 km to the east.

Gawler Ranges National Park - Kolay Hut August 26 - 27 2018

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