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Only enough water for 1 ½ days

Peak Hill Camp — 2000-09-20

We get up at 4:00 a.m. again and are on the road by 8:30. The landscape remains unchanged and our progress is hindered by one stony hill after the other. By now some of the stones have become so sharp that they jut up like knives out of the ground and it’s just a matter of time before one of our boys cuts his foot. If this happens then it will put a stop to the expedition, it usually takes about a year for another thick layer of skin to grow over a camel’s foot. Tanja and I know this and are under constant stress.

My GPS announces our arrival at the Murphy Well at 11:45 a.m. but there is no well to be seen. The map shows the water hole right next to a wide dirt road which runs from Meekatharra in the south to a couple of Stations in the north west. The road works appear to have wiped out the well and I search the whole area trying to find a sign of it. We stop for lunch and are disappointed at not finding water but relieved to have found a sign of civilisation. After lunch we follow the enormous dirt road for a few kilometres and it is a great feeling to be able to travel on this man-made creation despite our incredible weariness. Finally our fears that one of the camels may suffer injury are gone and we look forward to being able to fill our water bags in the small town of Peak Hill. At the next turn we leave the main road and head to the right toward Peak Hill.

At 4:00 p.m. we set our camp up beside the dirt road about three kilometres outside Peak Hill. I feel the urge to set the radio up and call Jo and Tom. It works. I give a sigh of relief and we are overjoyed to hear the voices of our friends once more. I tell them that we only have enough water for one and a half days and that we have just been through a hell of a time. I ask Jo if it’s possible to get Goola’s frame welded in Peak Hill. ‘If we can’t get it done there then maybe we can find someone who can do it at Bryah Station, it’s just 16 kilometres behind Peak Hill,’ I say to Jo. ‘Okay Denis, I’ll try and get hold of the telephone numbers and talk to the people there, then I’ll call you back in an hour.’ Not long after that the speakers splutter to life again and Jo’s voice can be heard over the static. ‘Denis, there is no water in Peak Hill. The mine was closed a few years ago and the town doesn’t exist anymore!’ We catch our breaths. ‘But I spoke to a kangaroo hunter in Bryah Station,’ Jo calms us. ‘His name is Geoff Wood and he knows that you only have another 20 litres of water. He said that there’s plenty of water at the station and he can probably help you with the saddle too. He will be awaiting for you both tomorrow afternoon,’ Jo gives us the good news. ‘No worries, if nothing else unexpected happens then we’ll be there tomorrow afternoon,’ I answer. Tanja and I sleep deeply tonight in the knowledge that we will soon have life sustaining water once more. It has never happened to either of us before on any of our expeditions that we’ve only had water for one and a half days. Even if we can replenish our supplies tomorrow, it’s just too close. What’s another two or three days? A broken bone, a twisted ankle, a poisonous bite or any other of the countless things that can happen could mean a longer stay in the bush as planned. Sure, we have the possibility of calling Jo or Tom on the radio or setting the satellite phone up in an extreme emergency, but what if something causes Sebastian to take off with the important load? What if the valuable equipment is destroyed or he disappears into the bush forever? The security is over pretty quickly then and more than likely our lives too.

Day: 132






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