The troopy developed a few brake glitches. I will not jeopardise the safety of my kids so when the Rangers visited the community I asked them to accompany me in convoy on their return trip so I could take her to town for maintenance. If things are dodgy, you want company on hand. It turned out she needed a bit more work than a mere adjusting of the brakes. Could be some time.
Rather than deprive anyone in Halls Creek of their work vehicle I decided to use my own Taistealaí in the interim. I really wanted to take her for a ride anyway, because since I last drove her out to Marella Gorge she has had a bit of “doing up”. and I was keen to give her a run down the Tanami and out into the boondocks.
She has been in to have a thorough service and a roadworthiness check. She had a bit of electrical upgrading, so I can use the second battery to run a few appliances, including my CPAP machine, while the ignition is turned off. A snorkel was installed and the air-con was regassed. Although she was in pretty good nick when I bought her, and I trust the vendor who sold her to me, I wanted to start out with the secure knowledge that everything was top notch. I requested that anything that needed fixing should be done. Just tell me if it was going to cost me heaps. I got a really good deal from Steve at Bailey’s Auto. For the snorkel and all the above work including brake repairs he charged only $2,100.
The snorkel is not just a device to allow a diesel engine to run under water, although it does that, but it reduces dust getting into the air filters and, I am told, actually improves performance and fuel consumption by enhancing the engine’s respiration. Also it looks cool.
I had hardly been back in the community for more than a few minutes when the first of a dozen people approached me to ask whose car it was. On learning it was mine they all asked if I wanted to sell it. I could have sold her for twice what she has cost me so far. Everyone wants a lifted series 80.
The first opportunity I had, one afternoon after work I took her for a ride out to Lake Stretch where Molly and I had a bit of a training session. Then, on a whim, we jumped into the Toyota and I followed a track I had not been on before, just to see where it went.
Along the way I saw a couple of emus and quite a few skippies.
The sunset was beautiful. The picture above does not do it justice and I don’t have my Photoshop on hand to bring the image up to the reality.
It gets dark pretty quickly after sunset. The twilight does not last long. Soon I had no idea where I was. I knew I could turn around and back-track at any time, but I decided to press on.
Driving the bush in the dark is a whole new experience. Even with my bright lights the track was a bit hard to spot in places, as it went from spinifex to scrub to trees and back again. It meandered around copses, through dried riverbeds and over dried lake beds. Judging from its condition and the lack of tyre marks, the way I was following had not been used for a long time. I began to wonder if it actually led anywhere, or if it was just going to peter out under me in some old lake bed and I would have to turn around and drive slowly back on my own tracks for an hour and a half. I stopped occasionally to get out, douse the lights and admire the sky while Molly hunted around in the dark. We shared a couple of bottles of water.
The Milky Way is spectacular out here.
Finally I suddenly realised I knew where I was. I had arrived at Salty Bore after having travelled a huge semicircle West and South and East. I have a marine compass on my dash and now I knew my location, I knew which track would take me out to the Tanami, about half an hour south of home.
Just in case you think I was foolish to do this alone, it may help to know that I carry at least 10 litres of water, a camp stove and food (and dog food) and I have satellite communication in case of emergency.
The only thing I don’t routinely carry is my CPAP so getting lost means I will not get much sleep.
This track is the well-used main highway to Lake Stretch.
Taistealaí at Lake Stretch
Molly in the golden glow of sunset.