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Outback

Nicky and I left the ute and trailer at Arcoona Homestead and headed off on the motorbikes for the week.

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Heading east along the track toward Bosworth Station, we stopped for lunch in the shade near Arcoona Lake, then continued east for several kilometres, turning north onto the remains of the former main road to Andamooka.

There had been good rain a week or so before and the good road had numerous impassable spots with sidetracks.

But this disused track was terrible!

I suppose we'd gone five kilometres or so when we came to a low spot on the track. There had obviously been water puddled up in previous days. It was one of those situations where it's no good stopping; just keep the bike moving and we might get through. Trouble was, it got worse as I went and I was soon stuck in a mess of fine clay silt.

The tyres on the trailer built up with mud to the point that it jammed in the mudguards. The slippery mud built up on the bike's drive wheels so that I had no traction. Much digging and scraping! Nicky found an old sheep bone among the salt bush to use as a scraper.

I corduroyed the wheel tracks with saltbush. That kept the bike up a bit and gained some traction, but then the corduroy started picking up and building up in the mudguards making the clearing job harder.

Sometimes we'd get the bike moving for a metre or so, only to be forced to repeat the digging and clearing process.

But, after an hour or so hard labour we were out onto firm ground and got going at a good speed, mud flying off the tyres in all directions.

A few kilometres further we came to our first creek crossing. The creek was running a little and the crossing was a waterhole. Clay everywhere; wet, soft and slippery! Time to turn back!

A kilometre or two back along the track is an abandoned stockmen's hut near the top of a rise. In a flash of inspiration I wheeled into the entrance track with Nicky following. The hut overlooks the creek that had blocked us. Up the creek a bit further we saw the disused wells that had once watered the sheep.

The creek bed looked a bit stony so we wandered about till we found a spot where it looked like we'd get across, moving some rocks to make a crossing. No worries!

Along the flat, among the saltbush and over a few small sandhills, getting stuck in the sand, but not too badly. Dodged around the swamp and finally came out on the road again. Great! Success!

Another five kilometres or so and we came to another flooded creek crossing. Nicky got bogged in the clay near the creek, but we got his small bike out OK.

On walking down the creek a fair way we found a spot where we may have got across. There was no water running but the creek bed was a few hundred metres across with sand and clay patches in the multiple channels. Not worth the risk! Time to turn back. If we got over this creek, there would be another!

On the way back I could feel it in my bones. I was passing close to a washaway and the slope prevented me from getting away from the half metre drop.

Well, I got the bike past the worst bit, but the trailer, with nearly as much gross weight as the bike, but with only two wheels, broke the bank down and rolled. Several times I've been so glad that I made the trailer coupling to allow full rollover without the trailer taking the bike over with it.

It's good that I could feel it coming and was going slow.

As Nicky found me left behind and returned, with my back to the load I got my hips under the weight with bent knees and with the most determined look on my face, managed to right the trailer.

Then I ramped the bank down with the shovel and proceeded to back the trailer down, standing on the foot peg on the high side to keep the bike upright.

Ah well! We got out of that all right and got going again with the afternoon fast fading.

On leaving the track to follow our wheel tracks cross country again, the sun was shining full on my sunnies. I soon lost my tracks amidst the glare and before you could say Jack Robinson, I was in the swamp. Stuck!

Well, same deal as before! Clear the mud from the tyres and wheel arches. Clear a track through the mud, looking for firmer ground under the slippery clay silt. Corduroy with salt bush.

After several small moves we'd got only a couple of metres with maybe 10 metres to go to a small raised patch where Nicky's bike was parked. No use!

So we started unloading the trailer, carrying the gear across the mud, trying to walk on the patches of salt bush to keep from slipping and to avoid the mud build up on our boots.

At one time, the mud was so thick on my boots and the foot pegs that I slipped off. Could have ripped my leg open of sprained an ankle. Then we'd have been in a fix, huh!

Eventually we took the empty trailer off and with more digging and corduroy, got the bike to firm ground and man handled the trailer along.

I checked the narrow, boggy patch to the next firm ground, where our gear was stacked, and reckoned we'd gun it and get there. Nicky went first and I followed, getting into second gear while still on the firm ground.

By this time it was as good as dark. Even if we could find the creek crossing, there was no way I'd tackle it in the dark, so we opted to camp beside the swamp and fortunately there was a half dead, small tree only a hundred metres away on comparatively high ground, maybe four inches above the swamp.

Irecoil from damaging the environment, especially when it's the only tree for a kilometre, but we were pretty desperate.

A cheery campfire and a meal of roast veggies washed down with a cuppa made all the difference.

In the dead part of the tree were a couple of old bird's nests that Nicky was concerned about so we tried not to disturb them. The dead wood was a bit rotten and broke easily. It burnt hot, but like other outback timbers, burnt away to ash, with few coals, fairly quickly.

Ah! Great to sit by the campfire and talk over the day's adventures before bed, our campfire fulfilling all our expectations.

In the morning I wandered about the area with the camera. The recent flood waters had obviously covered the ground all around our camp site.

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