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Doors and gates are open

Card-sorting-Camp — 2000-07-25

After yesterday’s effort, neither Tanja nor I feel we can continue. She is suffering from painful back ache and I have problems with my hips and back too, nevertheless we force ourselves into action and load the camels up without incident. At 9:40 a.m. we are back on the road, the camels had opted for just a short display this morning before deciding that all that jumping around is much too exhausting. Even Sebastian is for a change in today’s programme and seems to have realised that forever pressing forward is a waste of energy and doesn’t bring anything in the end.

Half an hour later we reach grid number 18, we’re in good spirits and are pleased to find that the fence is easy to bend. Just 3 kilometres further on we rejoice as we pass light-footedly through the open gate next to grid number 19. ‘Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!’ I cry loudly as we leave this pesty grid behind us. ‘They obviously don’t worry much about keeping gates closed around here’ Tanja laughs in relief. ‘I imagine it has something to do with the gold mines in the area’ I answer, studying my map.
We experience yet another change in the landscape, it gets rather hilly and rock formations can be seen to the left and right of the track. This is our first cloudless day since leaving the roadhouse in Paynes Find and the winter sun of Australia warms us pleasantly, hinting at the heat that must prevail here during the summer months. Upon reaching one of the many crests, we are greeted with a tremendous view seemingly never ending wave upon wave of beautiful Australian bush land, and decide to take our midday rest here. After the obligatory instant soup and musli bar, washed down with a cup of hot coffee, we recline in the arms of a tree and watch the camels chewing their cud for a while, happy to be part of this world.

Two vehicles approach us as we continue our journey, they stop about one hundred meters away and two men emerge to wait for us. We shake hands vigorously with the friendly chaps and agree to let them take a few photos of us, in exchange for their interesting stories of recent gold finds. I gaze at a tiny nugget of gold and ask how long it had taken for him to find it. ‘Oh, four days’ laughs the gold digger from Perth. ‘Hard earned money’ I remark, the nugget is perhaps 20 or 30 dollars worth. ‘Ah, we don’t go searching for gold out here in the bush for the money, we just want to enjoy the way of life’ he answers. We talk shop for a few minutes, discussing detectors and such, then part ways once more.

Convoys of two or three groups of tourists pass us in the course of the afternoon, they stop, take photos and shake hands before disappearing before our eyes in a cloud of red dust. We pass exultantly through the open gates beside grids number 20 and 21 before finally reaching our next camping spot at 3:45 p.m. We’ve managed to cover 25 kilometers today, due mainly to the fact that we’ve not had to lay down a single fence and we are in good spirits, although Tanja still suffers from terrible back pain.

I take the maps out and study them after Tanja turns in for the night at 8:00 p.m., checking our GPS co-ordinations and drawing them onto the maps, exulting over our progress today. We have reached the edge of our current map and I search in the back pack for the following one, proud how well we’ve prepared and organisedthis trip. I roll one map after the other out on the ground before me as a feeling of apprehension slowly grips me, I can’t seem to find the connecting sheet called Kirkalocka SH 50-3.
I bend down on my knees and search feverishly in the flickering light of the fire, a cold northern wind makes me shiver and the maps rustle. Suddenly I have no eyes for the beautifully clear and starry night sky, and despite the cold a wave of heat passes through my body. Could I have forgotten a map? That wouldn’t be good at all, without the maps I don’t know where we are, where the important windmills are to water the animals and lots of other necessary information.

It is 9:00 p.m. and my knees hurt from kneeling on the stony ground as the missing map suddenly makes an appearance, but still without an area of around 60 kilometers between here and it’s beginning. I probably thought I could do without them at the time of purchase and opted to save myself an extra 15 dollars instead.

Day: 75






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