The Pilbara - A "Rest" day of sorts at Pearana Rockhole

Sunday, Jun 27, 2010 at 00:00


Sunday 27th June, 2010
Pearana Pool.

As much as it can be during periods of extensive outback travel, today was a rest day. What that usually entails is a more leisurely start to the day and a relaxed or extended breakfast. The rest of the day is taken up with the little repairs and chores you haven’t had the time (or inclination) to undertake over the past week or so. Rest in “rest day” therefore means rest of the stuff I should have done sooner rather than relax!

So that’s what this day was, late to rise and leisurely breakfast of bacon and eggs around the fire. I unloaded the quad while Outback Al headed off for a look see about the place on foot. I decided to take a ride to the east to scout the conditions and the eventual destination of the track that leads into and past, Pearana Pool. This country was vintage Pilbara. Hills of harsh, sharp red stone, spinifex and deep gullies. I followed the track for several kilometres until it petered out in the low hills to the east. I could see the upper reaches of the Pearana Creek or a tributary thereof so made for that direction and followed the winding path of the creek back towards camp.

The creek provided a great ride back along its wide, gravely bottom amongst it’s shaded gums. Here and there were muddy waterholes and in one spot, a patch of rocks that forced me to head to the bank to find a way around the obstacle. Unfortunately, as I put the quad up the steep bank, the front left wheel mounted an anthill that was hidden in the dense spinifex on the creeks edge. Before I could even get my thumb off then accelerator, the ant mound was under the sill panel and the quad was leaning dangerously to the left forcing me to put my foot down. Forgetting that I had 40 litres of diesel in the back box, the added weight caused the rig to tip slowly onto it’s left side with a resounding crunch. As it had all happened in slow motion, I simply stepped off and away uttering a few choice exclamations. Bugger, 320 kgs of quad lying on it’s side and wedged fairly tightly by brush. Switching her off, I began the task of unloading the box. I managed to kick the bleep out of the anthill as well and then surprisingly, once that weight was gone, I managed to get the quad back upright. I had visions of having to lever it upright with a pole or similar if it proved too heavy. It was right about this time that Outback Al materialised on the scene having heard the crunch of the rolling quad from a nearby hilltop. Bugger, no keeping this a secret and I reckon he hung back until I’d taken care of all the heavy work.

Leaving Al to finish his hike, I headed back the short distance to camp deciding I’d have to fess up to all and sundry before Al got back and embellished the tale suitably. Damn. After a comforting cup of tea, I removed and patched the trailer tyre that I had staked the previous day fitting a good sized internal patch. Being of the "butter walled" variety, there was no issue reseating with a compressor. A stroll around the rocky ridge that surrounds the waterhole turned up a few interesting things including a cache of old cans that looked very much like someone had sat here staking out the waterhole in the past. Very old cans all opened in the same way with a knife or similar. I couldn’t help but wonder what the provenance of this find was.

More little chores throughout the afternoon and watching Suze turn out a lovely cake in the camp oven. Today is Scotties birthday (54 ha Ha) so we’ll have a surprise for him tonight. We had a visit from a couple of young blokes who were working in the area with one of the mineral exploration companies. There 78 series ute had certainly copped a beating. It was interesting to discuss the major mechanical issues this type of vehicle was suffering with a bit of harsh treatment in the outback. More philosophical posturing on the types and respective merits of various tyres in the Pilbara. They were none too happy with the MRF’s! Late in the afternoon, Scott and John attacked the shorting issue with the ignition switch on Big Red. They stripped down the ignition switch module on the handlebar as well as most of the wiring harness on the quad. Slowly but surely, a process of elimination identified the dodgy wire. Putting the ignition module back together, they reversed the “Start” button. They were to lazy to rectify the fault, which I find ironic for two perfectionists, so I now have a “TRATS” button. Actually, I don’t know if it was laziness of the competing nature of a cold 4XXXX calling. The 4XXXX won and I will be forever tratsing the quad!

Dinner was a one pot wonder eaten with gusto by a hungry hoard under a colourful sky. The purples of the sunset were simply amazing…again. Over a bottle of red, Suze produced her masterpiece surrounded with citronella candles.John had sourced some local wire during the day and had made Scott a camp fire hook which he had painted fluoro yellow. There will be no losing this one. A very enjoyable evening eating cake and drinking red amongst great company.

''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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