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Making good ground

Saddle Break-Camp — 2000-07-12

We rise at 6:00 a.m. as usual, pack our things together, load the camels and find ourselves on the way to Paynes Find by 10:00 a.m. Jo is leading the caravan again and I tell her all about my wild water rafting adventures and the terrible death of fellow club member, Otto, as she loves hearing gripping stories. Tanja follows at a distance behind and things go smoothly, besides Hardie keeping more to Sebastians side than behind him while constantly pulling on his nose line, as at the beginning of our journey. Sebastian keeps up his usual high speed of 5,8 km/hour and Jo is hard done keeping him at that bone breaking pace! Obviously he is still worried that his comrades will run him down from behind.

Around midday we take a 40 minute rest and enjoy an instant soup as usual. Jo steers the Holden as we head off once more, I lead the camels and Tanja walks alongside me. We make good ground and other than a few half-hearted attempts at breaking out the camels gradually settle down and the afternoon passes without incident. The red, earthen track is lined on the left and right by high bushes and it is 3:30 p.m. before we start looking out for a good camping place. Unfortunately there’s not enough space on the road for us and the Holden due to the thick vegetation on either side and we can’t just leave the car parked on the verge of the little-used track. Occasionally vehicles travel along the road to Paynes Find in the middle of the night and the chance that a tired truck driver might oversee our car and run right into it with his road-train is an unthinkable risk to take. Due to the heavy rains of late it is also impossible for us to leave the Holden in the mud on the side of the road where it could very well sink. We need a firm track… I glance at my wristwatch nervously and notice that it’s already 4:00 p.m. and that in 1 ½ hours at the latest it will be dark. ‘I hope it’s not going to be a forced march’ I say to Tanja who answers in a worried tone ‘It doesn’t look good’. Suddenly we spy a path between the bushes on the right side and with relief we lead the animals down to settle at it’s end. There’s even room for the Holden on the narrow way. We quickly unload the camels and Jo says ‘Hey, look at this Denis’ I suspiciously ask ‘What then?’ and Jo points to Goolas saddle. The saddle frame has broken right where the L-frame is attached. ‘It can’t be! Wont it ever end?’ I sigh in dismay and try to stay cool. ’It’s a good thing the car’s still here’ Jo says. ‘Yes’ I answer thoughtfully. This evening we discuss what we should do. ‘First thing in the morning I’ll take the car to John’s workshop in Beacon and get the saddle frame repaired. If all goes well then I’ll be back by 11:00 a.m. and we can continue on the same day.’ I suggest. ‘Sounds good’ Tanja thinks and we all agree that Jo should stay with us one more day to see if all goes well with the camels and their load. If no problems arise then she will leave us the day after tomorrow and get back to her own life.

Day: 62






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