Karlamilyi (Rudall River) NP - The things you can break out here! (and exploring to the south)

Sunday, Jul 07, 2013 at 19:00


Sunday 7th July, 2013 - Tjinkultjatjarra (Tjarra) Pool,

Karlamilyi (Rudall River) National Park

A lovely dawn, the early morning light reflected by an occasional patch of cloud. We were out of the cot early and finished unloading the quads. A hearty bacon and egg breakfast rounded out the early morning activities. My first task of the day was to attend to the displaced airbag.

With recent suspension modifications to the truck, I moved from a convoluted bellows type air bag to a ‘rolling sleeve’ configuration, ostensibly to accommodate the greater load variance. In simple English this means there’s a fair difference in ride height between empty and fully provisioned for an off track adventure. The ride height varies at the start of the trip with tanks topped off with 450 litres of fuel and 200 litres of water, and the latter stages when travelling on vapour and fighting camels for a drink (we’ve even been forced to bath in scotch!).

The convoluted bellows (CB) type bags are sealed with a top and bottom bead plate. A restrictive girdle in the middle gives them their hour glass shape. The CB bags don’t move much in height. The sleeved bellows bag allows for a greater range of vertical movement and as I found out, neither end is sealed with a bead plate. Rather the sausage shaped bag is open at each end and folds down over a piston. The inner cone of the piston also forms an internal bump stop.

Each end of the rubber snag has a hard ring that makes a very snug and airtight seal over the piston end. There is absolutely no stretch or ‘give’ in the rings so I imagine my problem is becoming obvious. The ends are too small to fit a hand inside the bag to assist in pressuring the bag back into position. It was going to be a bastard of a job to get the sausage back on to both piston ends.

John, Larry and I wrestled the damn thing while ‘The Dingo’ and Suze offered advice from the sidelines (and the occasional cup of tea – god bless her). Despite numerous methods we could not force the bag back on. Eventually Larry suggested filing the outer lip of the piston marginally to allow it to slip over. Not wishing to damage the integrity of the seal, we filed the edge very lightly, akin to removing a burred edge and bugger me, a bit of CRC, some cursing and it slipped straight on, almost effortlessly. After nearly two hours we had achieved what we thought was impossible. Five minutes later the offending bag was completely reassembled.

With the rear wheel off, the misalignment of top and bottom mounts was clearly visible. Removing the bottom mount, it became apparent that during fitment of my extended diff, the plate had been put on backwards. By simply reversing it and refitting, both mounts lined up perfectly and were unlikely to displace the bag again. After all the excitement it was near lunchtime. By the time the tools were packed away, Jaydub and I had spent a few restful minutes underneath the Tuck Truck inspecting all the under chassis real estate with a view to future engineering. More things for the wish list!

We had some other more minor matters to attend to on both the 80 and the Mog before heading off for a ride along the Watrarra Creek. Sticking to the rarely used and hard to locate southern track, we meandered beside the creek, occasionally ducking down to inspect the larger water holes that now dotted its course. The phalaris grasses were incredibly thick often making the quads and riders hard to see. The amount of wild life drawn to the water was amazing, we scared up numerous bustards and a few dingos. Negotiating the stony gullies along our path, we reached the main Rudall crossing and crossed the river to inspect the memorial plaque on the northern side. We then headed back across the creek and south the five kilometres to the old hanging rock track. The dingos that crossed our path here didn't hang around as we gave the quads a squirt across a broad gibber plain.

This track does not see much use these, days with most people heading out to Hanging rock via Tjarra Pool. These tracks meet at the switchback on what I know as the Sawtooth Ridge, a point some eleven kilometres south of Tjarra Pool. The amount of grass and new plant life was astounding. Desert pea bloomed in abundance, forming a carpet of red in places. At many of the creek crossings, torrents had washed away the gentle entries to the creeks exposing rocks and creating a path that required caution to negotiate.

On a broad elevated plain, we rode to the top of a nearby rise and were rewarded by simply fantastic views to the north. The rich mixture of colour added a vibrancy that spoke of the rare times of plenty in a harsh land. Greens, reds, brown and blues combined in a clarity only ever experienced in the isolated outback. Nearby ranges called, beckoning us to head their way and explore. Activities parked for another day as we continued on towards the Saw tooth ridge.

Reaching the T intersection, we veered due north and began the run out of the quartzite hills and onto the flats around the Main Watrarra and Rudall tributaries. The view across the basin to the ramparts of the Throssell Ranges was magnificent. We found another sizeable pool on one of the minor creeks some three kilometres from camp. We also stopped to pick up a bit of firewood along the way, arriving safely back at camp in time to enjoy a magnificent sunset by the waterhole.

In my many visits to Rudall over the years, I have never seen the place so alive. The vibrancy was tangible with the richness of it all soaking into you. It is amazing what a little water can do. As the shadows deepened our voices and laughter echoed around the surrounding hills our presence doing nothing to deter the local birdlife, from drinking and resting in the trees above camp. What an amazing place.

''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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