Great Victoria Desert - Maralinga Tjarutja September 12 - 14 2018
  Quandongs for breakfast.

Fourteen quandongs, half a cup of sugar, a squirt of lemon juice. Bring to boil and simmer for a while.

A bit like plums!

High vitamin C, high protein.

  Overnight we were visited by hopping mice.
  Then a trip to the top of the dune.

The hopping mouse almost stepped on the spider's trapdoor.

  Looking for marsupial moles.

Dig a trench and look for tunnels in the sides.

  A surprise Bardy Grub.

The grub stage of a beetle.

It looks like it moves in its own air space in a similar way to the mole. Perhaps some of the small mole tunnels are really bardy grub tunnels.

Perhaps the moles eat bardy grubs.

  Of course I took a pic with it's legs on the ground. It turned onto its back, we imagine so it could graze on roots poking through the roof of its tunnel.

It moved into its tunnel in a cyclic motion, turning back on itself to compress sand behind it.

We idly contemplate how to mimic its sound, to attract moles. Sounds so much easier than random digging.

  At last.

We have heard birds, but struggled to see them, let alone take a pic.

After three days in the camp we see a couple.

This is a black-faced woodswallow.

But not in the flocks we have encountered along the north of Australia.

  "To be identified".

I happened to have the camera pointing in the right direction as it landed. It stayed about 2 seconds.

  We followed the same shot line as a couple of days ago, south.

A staked tyre. We thought we were lucky to escape with only the one.

  Then west to intersect the Rig Road.

Relatively easy to find the track, even through this well burned, but well recovering, area.

Must have been a hot fire.

We camp next to the Rig Road south of the Aboriginal Business Road.

Apparently long-tailed parrots have been reported here, but we are sceptical.

  Another day, another puzzle.

Left over from a cricket. It brings the sand out and forms the cylinders.

  The ant lion is neither an ant nor a lion. We've seen it burrow backwards into the sand many times now.

It metamorphoses into a lace wing dragonfly.

  A mature adult male bicycling dragon.

It moved very fast but I persevered and found it under a bush.

  As we head south on the extension of the Rig Road we encounter a marker for buffel grass.


  Interestingly it also marks a boundary between spinifex and malley to grasses and mulga.

Perhaps also the boundary between the Great Victoria Desert and Nullarbor "Interim Biogeographical Regionalisation of Australia" regions.

  A very different landscape.

The dunes faded a km earlier.

  Sandalwood is of the same family as Quandong.

The termites reached this branch before we did.

  The mulga becomes more sparse as we continue south.

We are seeing the northern boundary of the Nullabor Plain.

  A well established kangaroo trail through the grass.

Probably leading to water. Either to east or west.

  Not Acacia.


  No prizes for this.

Just that we didn't expect it.

Sturt Desert Peas in the middle of the track.

  The Serpentine Lakes form a dry water course from north to south.

The course leaves the Mamugari (Unnamed) Conservation Park and there's a north south track (between the ends of shot lines) that intersects the course.

The depression is obvious even to me.

  The track crosses the dry channel to more open forest.
  Then begins a descent to cross back.
  The bottom of the depression is noticeably more sandy.

There is also an edge where the sena that grows in the bottom gives way to mulga and grass.

Vegetation in the depression is more dense.

The depression is the beginning of an old delta where water disappears.

  We head east again, to return to the southern extension of the rig road.
  The transition from grass to spinifex, from mulga to malley is easily observed again.

This pic was take about 1 minute after the previous one.

South of here the land is tilted downwards to the coast at about 60m every 100 km.

North of the Aboriginal Business Road it is tilted upwards at about 120m every 100 km to the high point near the border between South Australia and Northern Territory.

Not a big difference, but rock and soil and drainage and vegetation all change.

The biogeographic regions adopted a landscape based approach to classifying the land surface, including attributes of climate, geomorphology, landform, lithology, and characteristic flora and fauna. 

  Another bicycling dragon.

Caught this time.

  Nearly back at camp.

We weren't traveling fast enough to need a "camels on track" warning sign.

This one wondered across the road.

We are nearly at the end of our visit to Maralinga Tjarutja. Tomorrow we travel east via Oak Valley.

  There are still Spring's flowers around.

Our camp south of the Business Road is next to a couple of isolated dunes.

  Which of course leads to marsupial mole hunting.

This time a horizontal tunnel near the surface.

  Perhaps the mole, or insects, are eating the lily tubers.
  Whatever it is left some scats.
  We've discussed several times whether the road south would eventually reach the rail line, or at least an east-west track shown on the map.

For vehicles approaching the Business Road junction from the south there is a "cross-roads" sign. At least our track is recognised by a road authority bureaucrat anticipating traffic from the south.

  We meet a Ranger at the tank shed.
  And some zebra finches arriving rapidly after us to partake of water.
  And a beetle.
  And us.
  A couple of people hunting a camel for dog tucker.
  Into Oak Valley for "show and tell" at the local school.

Unfortunately most in the community are at a funeral in Yalata.

  South again, towards Irish Well.

We are more comfortable with the landscape south west of Lake Maurice than when we passed it last week.

  Down a small escarpment as the sun lowers.
  We even recognise hills.
  And ................. a Quandong with lots of fruit.

No camels around here!

Nullarbor September 15 - 16 2018

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