Great Sandy Desert - In search of the McLarty Track

Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 00:00


Thursday 8th July, 2010
Great Sandy Desert
19°20'39.24"S, 122°30'6.82"E

Thankfully the touch of hot water at the end of even the hardest day leaves one feeling fully refreshed and although totally exhausted after a very hard day in the desert, we all feel pretty good. We’ve managed a whopping 50 kilometres today across some of the hardest country that I can recall travelling. Some patches seemed harder than last years jaunt into the desert while other stretches were relatively easy. It was never one or the other, always a mix and the driver never had a chance to relax.

Our day began early with the second rim having to be welded in the early morning light. Dave was up early and I emerged not too soon after into a grey, overcast day. The wind had been up during the night and the emergency stop meant that I hadn’t had a lot of space or time to properly align the vehicle into the wind. As a result the canvas flapped all night keeping me awake for a lot of the evening. Their mission accomplished, Dave and Pauline were set to head back out to the highway and continue their journey home but before leaving I wrestled their Trackranger into operation for them.

Farewells said, we hit the road at 9:00 a.m. and headed south into the dense scrub. It took a bit of serious bashing and a good dune crossing before we finally found the remnants of the track and began our route south. We had about 20km or so of twisting southward track to complete before our journey would take us to the east. I was out front and paying believe me. The sand was quite soft and while not loose, the vehicle sunk up to the rims as it pushed forward making the trip slow and arduous in L1 and L2. We spent more time off the track than on due to the overgrown nature of most of the track.

The quads were outriding but the bush was so thick in places that the girls were given strict instructions to stay within sight of the vehicles as they only had to ride 50 metres and they were lost to sight, swallowed by the dense scrub. 3 hours of slogging saw us almost at our eastward turn. Soon after, this, about 1.00 pm we stopped for lunch. I was exhausted so immediately pulled out a bit of shade cloth and lay down on the soft sand. I was asleep in no time and power napped for 20 minutes or so before joining the others for a spot of lunch before resuming our eastward march with JW leading. Scotty picked up a slash in the back right wheel of the guppy pretty much straight away. It was an explosive decompression that blew great gouts of sand vertically into the air each time the wheel completed a revolution. It required a wheel change and while doing so, John and Suzette easily tracked the source of the damage by following the shallow holes drilled in the soft sand by the escaping air. At the end of their trail was an ugly looking stake.

Towards 3pm he got a second in the trailer and at 4.10, a third on the trailer which was a tubed split rim. We were here to camp. Bit of a god forsaken place with no real trees to mention but beggars couldn’t be choosers so we soon scavenged enough for a fire and got to work. I patched the Cooper while Scotty worked on the splits. It was a whopping gash about 9 cm long coming from just below the tread line. I used my biggest patch a 20 cm monster and then maverick bonded the external cut to good effect. Also pulled a plug and patched that wound while I was in there.John was patching a rear boot on the back of suzettes quad. Scotties second tyre was a beaut with a 10 cm vertical gash in the side wall. Again a major patch and I again used Maxibond it on the outside. Tubed up, she’ll do as the spares.

Scott decided to run the two spare Coopers on the trailer as well meaning we can plug if we need to. We were all pretty rooted by days end. It had been warm and humid and still is as I type. There were huge banks of angry storm clouds brewing as we pulled up but we’ve only received a few drops of rain. Scotty, with the last of his energy, set up the shower and the result was transformational. I’d managed to cook up a curry while Suzette prepared rice for us. Stodge to sleep on. It’s a very humid night, so bound to be uncomfortable.

''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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