|Day 9 - 13/7/04
It was an early 8am start from the Dalhousie camp area where we had been camped for 2 nights, the idea being to get a head start in front of the traffic after our rest day. The morning wake up music had been postponed due to the previous days Black Betty vs. Viking tussle. All were packed early with many deciding the 38 degree water of the Dalhousie Spring to be too luring.
We passed the grader on the way out of camp to the rubbish dump, with Darren once again announcing to the group that he was getting the driver to repair the road ahead specially for us! Once the rubbish was out dumped, and the source of a quiet ticking sound emanating from under the Prado was established (a cable tie around the tailshaft ;-), we were on our way. Robbie William's rendition of the old song "Ain't that a kick in the head" boomed over the radio, a title aimed at our long gone neighbour.
Morning Tea stop was at Purni Bore, where the group made the most of the facilities where we weren't to see for days ahead, before we headed for the French Line. We stopped and let our tyres down at the intersection, took a pic, and contemplated the condition of this part of the French Line and our previous up and down experience days earlier.
Just over the first dune on our way along the French line, we heard a clunking from the Prado's suspension. A quick inspection revealed the fault - the lower eye had parted company with the body of Darren's LH rear Bilstein shocker. By the time the rest of the convoy had caught up and stopped for a look, amid many "ooohs", "ahhhs" and other 4 letter words, the repair was underway. Knowing how difficult it is to remove and replace the LH rear shocker due to a lack of access to the top nut, it was decided to remove the rear wheel and weld the eye back on whilst in position. Craig volunteered a battery and his welding mask, Peter his electrodes and Terry parked his vehicle close enough for a second battery required for bush welding.
With jumper leads in place and the Prado's batteries disconnected, Terry in his flameproof (West Heidelberg wedding suit) flannelette shirt did the welding, along with myself doing the chipping duties. The repair proved quite successful so all was refitted to the Prado and we were soon on our way again. I think the whole exercise was a real eye opener for the many onlookers, and the many pictures that were taken should prove that!
After turning right onto the Colson Track, it was time for a lunch stop at a clay pan. The lunch break obviously got the Sergeant at Arms mind ticking over, because as soon as we were on our way again, a personal challenge was put up by Ivan - to find the identity of "Mr Whoopy". Those of us with our brains stuck at idle were amused at the calls over the radio from those that knew what it was all about, those that thought they did, and those that just wouldn't give up. Tail end Charlie (TJL) managed to allow 2 extra vehicles into the convoy while trying to figure out Mr Whoopy, a 100 series and a 90 series, both travelling at quite a pace. Even faster than our Dazza. Numerous attempts to contact them by radio had failed at this point.
Before they managed to work their way too far to the front of the convoy, Darren and I crested a dune to be confronted by 9 camels staring back at us as only camels could do. Then they were off. At 40km/h the camels were trotting, wobbling, or staggering, or however you would describe the weird movements made by a camel at pace. One things for sure, they were quite obviously at full load as 9 waste gates were wide open laying trails of smelly pallets on the track in front of us, and the foamy blow by from their mouths looked like we had interrupted them brushing their teeth ;-)
We changed the order of the convoy to allow everyone to have a closer look at the 9 beasts, at times in single file, and take a few photos. The camels pace had dropped to 20km/h by now and this proved to be too slow for the impatient 90 and 100 series which had entered our convoy, and they took off through the scrub on our right and overtook us and drove the camels off the track. We continued along, and crested the next dune to find the IFS 100 pulled off the track, and he mumbled something over the radio (yes they had been listening previously) about his missing shocks and motioned us past. His mate in the 90 continued on without him.
A few km's further ahead we found a nice flat clay pan where we decided to camp for the night, just early enough to use the red (before 5pm) Lcool stubby holders, while the kids went out in search of firewood again. After dinner and before the religious 8pm fine session around the fire, another "whuska" was set off, and Craig gave us yet another Katherine wheel demo. It was another cool night with crystal clear skies, and we needed all the extra heat we could generate.
Airing down in anticipation of soft sand and slow going.
Darren investigating a knocking sound from the left rear of his 90 Series Prado. As he lifts the car with his left hand - keeping steady with the right, he discovers a the lower eyelet from his shock absorber broken off the shocker body.
John making sure that nobody missed the fact that Darren broke a shock absorber.
Terry's 80 to the rescue with a couple of batteries, jumper leads and he's ready to weld the shock absorber eye back on. Due to the fact that the rear shock absorber top mounting on the 90 Series Prado is about as ridiculous as it gets, it was deemed quicker and easier to weld it in the sandy confined spaces below the car. Removing the rear shocker on a 90 is not an insignificant task. The guys "proper" 'Cruisers giggled.
None the less, a real team effort got things going. Craig's welding goggles, Peter's electrodes and Terry in his best "wife basher" flannelette shirt doing his stuff with GG holding the shocker in place. The hammer is at hand in case Terry's shirt catches fire.
Not too shabby a "cocky poo" weld under the circumstances.
All finished and the lads gather around.
In the mean time, the kids kept themselves entertained.
Peter's filthy 80.
The long red track ahead. Someone has kindly graded the peaks of any bumps in the centre of the track - no doubt unintentionally.
Racing with camels... These guys picked up a good deal of speed when they saw Darren's Prado approaching.
Everyone would have had a chance to view the camels until the dodo in the red Prado went bush and overtook the convoy - scaring the camels away.
Craig stops for a photo of the dead straight track ahead.
Ooooh yes...fire is good....