Simpson Day 7

Saturday, Jul 20, 2013 at 23:03

Dusty Hat

Day 7, Saturday – Rest Day
Recently Jan an I changed our phone plan to Aldi pre-paid – because it utilised the Telstra network and was much cheaper than Telstra from Telstra – but there is a catch. Telstra ain't Telstra, Sol. Both Telstra and Optus have mobile service in Birdsville, but not Aldi Telstra.

There is a free vehicle washing facility here in Birdsville, specifically for washing mud off vehicles – using hot artesian water. It was well patronised by us, however that clay does not like coming off.

At around 3 we all headed north for a look at the Waddi trees, then a visit to a nearby lookout offering a spectacular 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside – a harsh country with its own beauty. Bev, Jan, Jean and Peter then returned to camp, and Damian left his car at camp, riding with Jessica, while the rest of us went out ostensibly to view the sunset from on top of Big Red. The sunset was rather ordinary, but our first real sand dune of the trip certainly brought home the importance of tyre pressure. There were several ways up, some harder than others. I chose one of the harder tracks; 16 psi front, 18 rear: one try was enough to tell me not to bother. 10/12 psi and I was just able to negotiate it. Others had similar experiences.

Climbing (driving up) these dunes takes a lot of engine power and unfortunately it appears to have been too much for Martin's car. It got up okay, then up another rise before descending, but as we started the journey back to Birdsville, he barely made 200 metres before the engine decided it did not like running. It did not want to restart, and when it did it was not happy idling, usually stalling immediately. There was uncomfortable engine knocking happening during these restart attempts, making me think the problem may be a valve or ignition timing issue, perhaps a slipped timing belt? Because of the engine knocking we decided the safest thing to do was to flat tow him back. So while Jamie towed, Martin steered his sad Subie back to Birdsville. Fortunately the road was relatively flat and the distance only about 35 km.

We were back at camp by 8 pm, with enough time to get to the Birdsville pub for a buffet tea. Those who had stayed at camp had already eaten but were still at the pub to greet us. Martin has RACV Total Care, so tomorrow morning he has to ring the RACQ (this being Queensland) so they can ring the local garage we are camped opposite to give them permission to assess the vehicle. Fortunately the garage is open tomorrow morning (Sunday). Then as a group we will be in a better position to assess our options.
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