Murloocoppie Rockhole - Disaster strikes...well a serious problem at the least!

Monday, Jun 23, 2008 at 00:00

Mick O

Monday 23rd June, 2008
Murloocoppie Rockhole
80 km north of Coober Pedy.
28 30 47.81 134 11 52.40
Odometer 185277 Trip 1688.3km


Disaster has struck our small expedition in the form of shoddy engineering …and… "it’s not my fault!". We’ve pulled up some km west of the highway near Murloocoppie Rockhole after another long straight day on the bitumen. The cruise control went on at 7:00 a.m. and didn’t get touched again until 2:15 p.m. as we pulled into Coober Pedy.

What can you say about the northward trek up the Stuart. I just confess to still enjoying the scenery although some would argue that there’s not much of it. The low, worn and ancient landscape has an aura of mystery about it. The slow inexorable climb upwards to the dizzying height of 240 metres above sea level that takes all day! The vistas across the seemingly endless expanses of salt lakes. The shimmering haze of afternoon heat across the saltbush plains. The road kill and the Wedgies. All part of the mystery of outback travel. Thank god we can cross it at a comfortable 90 kph with the stereo blaring.

We were on the road at 7:15 a.m. north out of Port Augusta and were able to watch the sun rise through the flinders, painting hues of gold on a canvas of clouds. Thundering northwards, our mighty convoy only halted briefly to gain sustenance from the land in the form of bacon and eggs at the ever present “Spuds” road house at Pimba. The open fire was a welcome sight warding off the early morning chill. Then back and northwards again. We decided that the speeds of yesterdays travel were most appropriate so I set the cruise control for a shade under 90 kph. It was a long drive and dare I mention the ignominy of being passed by a Honda people mover towing a large Galaxy caravan!

We drove into Coober Pedy at 2.15 p.m. where fuel was a mighty $1.99 per litre. Unbelievable, mind you I recall saying that every year I’ve travelled north. I remember the outrage of paying 48 cents a litre for petrol at Mount Willoughby in 1982! We took the opportunity to fuel up Scott’s ATV and spare tanks as well as the vehicles and then I did a spot of grocery shopping whilst S & G headed to the Visitors Centre and posted an entry to their blog site.

We found a camp site 80 odd kilometres up the road following a track into an "alleged" rockhole. Once camp was set up, Scotty was greasing the trailers when he identified that we had a serious issue. We’d lost all travel in the springs and they were sitting hard on the trailer main frame. Scott’s spring had actually displace the inner edge of the guard on the RHS. It was immediately obvious to me what the issue was, and one that I’d raised at the time of construction. The rear spring mount had been set to far forward when it should have been offset to the rear by 25 mm. Too bad I’m only the apprentice. We got on the sat phone to Drew and he and Scott have identified a solution. Never the less it means a trip back to Coober Pedy to have the rear spring seats cut off and re-welded is some shape or form. Can’t be helped I suppose. I took the ATV for a quick spin around to locate the rockhole. We are camped against a series of small dry creeks surrounded by stunted mulga, low shrubs and gibber.

Dinner was a fire roasted affair of spuds, carrots and beef snags. Bloody marvelous stuff. The first scotch tasted great as well. The bright side is a day or two in Coober will give us a chance to get everything in the vehicles bedded down and allow me to chase up the Surveyor generals corner permits from the DIA in WA.

The sky is a fire with stars tonight. It’s magnificent.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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