Cape York via Simpson Desert 7 - 9 June 2015 – Days 6, 7 and 8

Tuesday, Jun 09, 2015 at 16:18

Peter Beard (WA)

A very big thank you to Ashley at Country Diesel in Alice Springs, whose magic with a drill and a set of Easy-Outs and his knowledge of where to get parts means we will be back on the road tomorrow, heading south and east for the Simpson Desert. It has been a great couple of days in Alice Springs, but we are both eager to get back to the adventure.

Pete checked the nuts on the steering arm again on Sunday morning and another stud sheared off. Once again it is incredibly fortunate this did not happen on the road. But we will need transport over the days we’re here so Ali walked into town to do a bit of shopping and picked up a hire car while she was there. We drove the hire car out to the Finke Desert Race to watch the bikes start on their adventure south, an amazing spectacle. Our favourite was the Kawasaki 650 road bike optimistically setting out across the desert. Not sure if it is inspired or sheer lunacy, but we suspect the latter.

Pete spent the afternoon stripping out the left front hub, much to the interest of the Quest Apartments staff and guests. It took a few hours and lots of degreaser to remove and clean the hub and associated bits allowing Pete to make up a parts list for Tuesday. Four studs, cones and nuts for the steering arm and a swivel hub seal kit. Pete was able to prise one stud out of the housing but there was not enough purchase to get the other out so it will need to be drilled. We also noticed a bolt neatly embedded in the tyre. No air leaks, but it shouldn’t be there so we will take the opportunity to get it removed and the hole plugged while the wheel is off.

Having all that sorted on Sunday afternoon left us with all day Monday to enjoy the Finke Desert Race. We spent from 8:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening at the start/finish line, cheering the compeitors home after their night in Finke and blast back up to Alice. It was a very, very cold day. The sky was clear apart from a few wispy clouds but the sun failed to get the temperature much above the low teens. A very light breeze added to the chill factor and did very little to disperse the dust haze caused by a couple of hundred assorted buggies, cars, motorbikes and quads thundering across the desert.

They came across the line in various states of disrepair – both people and machines. Flat and shredded tyres, missing body bits (on the vehicles), swollen and broken limbs (on the people). The Kawasaki 650 road bike did not make the whole trip, unfortunately, we were really hoping to stand and cheer that one over the line. The enduring memory of the day will be watching the competitors as they limped around the paddock after the race, covered in dust with pain, tiredness and triumph etched into every face. What an amazing achievement. We are so glad we were able to share in the excitement and add our voices to cheering on this incredible event.

That brings us to Tuesday. Pete was on the phone just after 8:00 to Ashley at Country Diesel, we had been given his name by one of the people staying here at the Quest and he has lived up to the recommendation. By 9:30 we had the all the parts from Don Kyatt Spare Parts, Ashley had the steering hub in the workshop and the tyre was at Tyrepower getting fixed. By 11:00 Pete had the steering hub back and by 1:00 it is all back together. Ali spent the day washing, shopping and finalising preparations for the next leg of the trip – offering TA services when required to hold or position bits while Pete put the front end back together.

So we are all ready to go. We will decide over a beer tonight whether to take the Old Andado Track or follow the much shorter route straight down the old Ghan line to Finke, then on to Mt Dare. But given that was the route of the Finke Desert Race this year we think Old Andado might get the tick. Either way we hope to be in Mount Dare tomorrow evening.


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