Great Victoria Desert - Maralinga Tjarutja September 3 - 5 2018
  Our field trip begins. Westwards along the Eyre Highway.

Crops give way to sheep. And then relatively unadulterated plain.

  Though we have to pass a few windmills.
  Fuel at Nundroo. We won't be short of fuel, but its better to be sure.

The estimate is 1600 km round trip from Ceduna.

  Then north, towards Ooldea. A railway crossing which used to supply steam trains.

The road is sealed to support a mine.

  The vegetation becomes shorter as we head north.

We turn north west off the bitumen.

  A good gravel road.
  Not far west of here is the longest straight stretch of railway line in the world. Almost 500 km of it. About 4 km west is where the lines built from east and west met. All the way across the continent.

Kingoonya, we crossed the line there on our way south a couple of weeks ago, is about 350 km to the east.

  We join the old, sealed, road to Maralinga.
  Site of 1950's nuclear testing.

And people displaced.

  A Quandong Tree.

Part of the field trip is to assess camel damage to quandong trees.

This is a healthy specimen.

  With fruit not yet ripe.

A few km short of where we turn off the Maralinga bitumen road a major problem.

The bracket that holds the panhard rod (that stops the chassis moving left-right relative to the front axle) broke almost free. When the body moves sideways the steering is changed so the vehicle turns. The effect is an almost uncontrollable vehicle. The cracks are through the chassis where the bracket is welded to it.

The fix is to remove the steering box to gain access to the bracket. Re-align the bracket. Weld the bracket to the chassis along the cracks. Replace the steering box.

  But we still have time to look at the wild life.

A desert pygmy goanna. Held with just the right amount of pressure.


  A clamp was made from some 6mm steel lying near an old car about 100m from our camp. Clamped using threaded rod through the holes in the chassis for the steering box.

Welding with 24 volt MIG (with cored wire) that Peter has been carrying for years. Not an easy welding job at odd angles with limited access. Peter was sprayed with water before starting.

The fix took all day.

Ooldea provided an internet signal.

  Another bird we couldn't recognise in the bird book.
  A bit of safety was fire extinguishers, water, and sand.

A strap across the top of the bracket was made from an old steel (2mm) door lying just off the road. Held in place by the steering box bolts which pass through the chassis.

The strap will be the first item to show future failure.

  So after two nights we set off along the Lake Dey-Dey Road for Oak Valley Community and, with permission, beyond into Maralinga Tjarutja Lands.

There's a slight rise as we cross the Ooldea Ranges.

The road was originally built to support Aquitaine's search for oil.

  A working shed tank. We met older north of the Gawler Ranges.
  Heading north west, south west of Lake Maurice (Carie Thulka).
  To Oak Valley. To say hello and maintain relationships with community and (yet to be established) ranger programme.
  Westwards along the Lake Dey-Dey Road.

Header tanks, part way between the water bore and the community a few km away.

  We stopped at the tank shed near the bore and had a look at Buffel Grass.

A noxious weed.

This site is well marked and known. Should we see more the authorities would like to know.

The example in the photograph has produced seeds.

  Fire is a part of the natural cycle and essential for the germination of some seeds.

This is the site of a recent fire. A small rectangle survey site was established in previous visits. We photographed and counted Wyola Mallee seedlings to add to the record of recovery.

  By chance, a Western Bearded Dragon emerged from its egg laying hole at the edge of the road.
  At the Lake Dey-Dey Road - Voakes Hill Road - Aboriginal Business Road cross roads we turn north. Towards Voakes Hill.
  Wyola Lake is soon in sight. A short track to the east.
  A minor hiccough while we changed a flat tyre.
  And down the hill to the lake side for a 4pm camp.
Great Victoria Desert - Maralinga Tjarutja - Wyola Lake September 6 - 8 2018

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