About 4 km to the NW of me is a small ridge of mountains brown and grey. Directly in front of me is a washed out river bed extremely dry from years of drought. On my head and face and crawling in my eyes are at least three dozen flies – fortunately the non-biting type.
All around me are miles and miles of seemingly endless dry, dusty unforgiving outback landscape.
I spent yesterday flying an ultralight sport airplane – a challenger. It’s brought me into this desert and I spent last night sleeping in the cockpit. To my surprise it got down to 12 degrees C last night and I am currently in an Australian cold snap. I came here for the heat but I’m not getting it. It’s October – the beginning of summer “down under”. It can easily switch and be as hot as 45 °C tomorrow. I came dressed for that not 12 °C!
Numerous birds – cockatoo, parrot, etc etc. are all around me and are very vocal. After hiking a few hours in the cool morning winds I’ve come to a place with a large eagle’s nest, which I figure is a good omen.
I still haven’t seen any water so I’ll see what wild edibles I can find here and then move on until I find a good water source.
Day 2 – Night
I was able to find some tar vine, some lemon grass and even some acacia victoria tree sap. All good edibles to keep me going. It didn’t get too hot really, maybe 80°C F and it’s a “dry heat” as they say. I have only one paper match but managed to split it into two, giving me the chance to make two fires. I’ve cleared an area in the sand and laid my rope all around it since according to some aboriginals the snakes don’t like to cross over it. It’s warm now beside the fire but I’m sure it will get cold tonight without cloud cover.
Day 3 – Evening
Last night wasn’t too bad. I was surprisingly warm sleeping on the ground. The firewood here gives off an incredible amount of heat. I spent the early part of the day hiking the desert to find water. Better than just a puddle I found a fresh water spring! And it is full of crayfish! I slept for a while in the shade and then used the last half match to get my fire going. I’m burning a large area of the ground to heat it up to sleep on.
After eating some watercress I found, I split apart the rope from the plane to get fishing line, tied a small piece of beef jerky to it and caught a good sized crayfish!!! I will try to catch as many as possible tomorrow. I have a good break from the sun in the shade of the trees.
Day 4 – Middle of the Day
Well last night was interesting. I had a huge bull (cattle) come walking through camp. Fortunately he wasn’t the ornery type and he kept on going, after checking me out for a while in the dark.
I heated the ground all day with fire and pushed the coals aside right before bed. After putting down some greenery and the cushion I pulled from the airplane, I ended up sleeping in warmth all night long on top of the heated ground.
The first action I saw this morning was 3 sheep that came walking by and a tree full of doves. I tried hitting one of the doves with a rock but no luck. I did have luck however find witchity grubs! I found a medium one that I ate raw and a huge one that I cooked up. It’s mid day now and I am waiting for the sun to move around putting the spring is in the shade and I can go after some more yabbies.
Day 6 – Mid Day
To pick up where I left off on day 4: for the rest of that day I first did a walk (while making a patrol map) and cut two more huge wichity grubs from young gum trees. Then I took a tiny piece of old beef jerky – tied it to a string (that I got by breaking down the thick rope) and tried fishing for yabbies. I caught 7!
I also made a trap using the sleeve of my shirt but it didn’t work as well as the line fishing. On Day 5, I moved location further downstream to find another good batch of grub trees. My “shelter” is just a flat spot on a rock cliff but it has an overhang and may help to keep me away from the deadly king brown snake. This valley I am in has obviously had a major flash flood – debris is 10 feet up in the trees. Unfortunately, moving was probably not the best thing for me to do. The other location had cleaner water and all those yabbies. This place has a lot of skeletons of kangaroos, a decaying dead sheep and way more annoying flies. It also seems like an area very prone to flash floods but I doubt I have to worry about that in this drought.
I’ve spent my time here searching to no avail for trees with grubs. Most of the water is putrid with decaying naimals in it so I have had to dig for water in the mud beside the stagnant ponds. I carried my fire all the way here in a small pot. I used the sheep dung to carry the ember and it worked like a charm. I’ve set out yabbie traps but I will be luck to catch anything here. This is a strong lesson of why sometimes it’s better to stay put when you’ve got a lot of present advantages. My last site was much better for a lot of reasons. I want to test out the Spot GPS satellite messenger tomorrow to see if my safety crew can pinpoint my location to come in and get me out of here.
I pressed the button on my Spot unit and it took only a couple of hours before the crew landed right above me on the cliff top so it’s time to head out of here and get a nice cold fresh glass of water!!