ON THE DIRT AT LAST - West on the Giles-Mulga Park Road NT (our 2012 Adventures)

Saturday, Jun 16, 2012 at 00:00


Saturday 16th June, 2012
Giles Mulga Park Road, Northern Territory

For some reason I awoke well before 5:00 a.m. listening to the unseen hunters of the night, an owl or similar barking as it went about its nightly business of death. A cold wind sprung up around 5:00 a.m. , the chill penetrating the warmth and protection of the roof top taj. At 6:15, the call that must be answered got the better of me and I had to descend the ladder into the early dawn gloom. It didn’t take long to get the fire going and then I set about fitting a new back right mud flap to the ute before the rest of the camp arose. The slow leaking back left tyre had also gone flat overnight indicating that I have a bigger problem than first thought.

Because we were camped in our little gully, the sun took longer then usual to reach us leaving us reliant on the warmth of the fire till the first rays of the sun poked across the surrounding ridges. So it was that breakfast was a jaffle by the fire and then it was to work packing up camp in the early rays of a sunny morning. Winding our way back along the little used track, we hit the highway at 8:30 a.m., the precision pack up ability of the team becoming apparent. I led the way north the remaining 200 kilometres to reach Marla. Here and there the odd wedgy lumbered grudgingly into the air disturbed from a road side kill. One roo had three crows emerge from the hole where its arse had been to take flight covered in gore and entrails. I hate crows!

We reached Marla at 10:30 a.m. to the news that my aunt had passed away that morning. Despite trying I wasn’t able to reach anyone back in Melbourne. After fuelling up, I swapped out the troublesome rear tyre in the car park and we were all back on the highway and heading north a half hour later. It was a pretty uneventful cruise north, occasionally speaking with fellow travellers on the UHF and then reaching the crowded border stop at 1:00 p.m. where we aired down and deposited rubbish.

Theres a time honoured ritual for me that involves the donning of the Akubra once we turn onto the dirt of the Giles-Mulga Park Road. It corresponds beautifully with the hum of the corrugations under the tyres as we finally began our trek west. The road was its usual mixed bag of sand and corrugations. We pulled over for the odd photo stop along the way and also spotted a group of 10 Wedge Tailed Eagless gathered around a recent road kill. The sight of so many birds around the one carcass was remarkable.

Once past Mulga Park the road conditions deteriorated considerably. We decided to pull in on the western side of Mount Fraser well into the Mulga and calling it a day about 4:00 p.m. A great camp fire was soon underway and a magnificent dnner of steak and vegies followed by Suzette’s famous apple and sultana crumble. We got to witness the effects of the setting sun upon Mount Fraser. The darkening red hues of the rock and soil was simply amazing. All has been going well to date but a very early start will be needed if we are to reach Warburton tomorrow, a distance of 532 kilometres from our current campsite.

''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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