July 23, 2009
The Postie Challenge - Part Four
I was the alarm clock. It was up to me to make sure everyone was out of bed, packed and ready to leave for Lake Eyre just before sunrise. That part was easy. Dee decided he would ride out on his postie. He left ten minutes before Mitch, Nic and I headed out in the four wheel drive. We left our trailer behind and decided to come back for it. The turnoff was only about twenty kilometres away so that wasn't too bad. Our trailer was already beaten up so badly we weren't too confident it could handle much more. With the benefit of hindsight, thank goodness we left it behind!
Mitch drove and he did a splendid job. I am so proud of him. He seems to have really grown up lately. I was surprised at much how he could handle. Experienced drivers would have been really tested with this pathetic excuse for a road. All was fine up until the turnoff and then the 'fun' began.
The sun began to rise and Ooooh my, what a sun! It had to be the biggest, 'orangest' sun I had ever seen. I guess that is how the sun rises in this part of the world. Unfortunately I was too busy trying to see the road to admire it. It was blinding. I don't know how Mitch saw what he did because I could hardly see a thing. Truly. Really terrifying actually. I insisted that seatbelts had better be fastened because there were times we had taken the silly liberty of not wearing them.
As we tried to cope with seeing the road, all of a sudden the corrugations began. These are hard, ripple like bumps in the road that literally threw us about as we drove over them. It was so bad in places, that Mitch drove up the sand and offroad to avoid as much as possible. This was not ideal either, with bushes and rocks to dodge. This went on for what seemed like ages; although we had only driven about fifteen kilometres. Before long we caught up to Dee; who was riding very cautiously and slowly. This was going to be a long sixty two kilometres! We stayed behind Dee the whole way, but we didn't always take the route he did. It was every man for himself out there!
About thirty kilometres in, we came across the first postie heading out. He was alone and he wanted to get an early start on his long trek home. Clever fellow. He warned us about the bulldust holes up ahead and told us to watch out for the red flags because that is where the really bad holes were. He also said a few more kilometres and the corrugations would improve dramatically. We thanked him, watched him ride off in a puff of dust and on we struggled. I couldn't believe this awful road that would lead us to such a famous Australian landmark. What on earth must some of our international visitors think?
A little further and another truck appeared. It was three people from the postie group continuing their Aussie adventure as they were hoping to reach Alice Springs. We wished them well and loads of luck in their journey ahead. Mind you, we could use a little luck ourselves right now. The bulldust holes were very soft and deep and could absolutely wreak havoc with a vehicle's suspension if you hit one. Mitch hit a small one but other than that he managed to avoid the big baddies!
About twelve kilometres to go and another postie coming our way. It was Hubby. He wasn't sure if we were coming so he left early to find out. Well find out he did. Joining Dee, he turned back and we didn't see him again until we reached The Lake.
Lake Eyre. We made it.
If what I have been told is right; we are standing in the driest place in Australia; in the driest state of Australia; in the driest country in the world, Australia. Wow. That sounds rather dry, doesn't it.
Apart from dry, the word salty is most appropriate out here. Lake Eyre is a shallow salt lake about 35 feet below sea level, the largest lake in Australia and the lowest point on the continent. Wow. Although the view before us is rather stark and contrasting I somehow feel we are in a special part of the world. Although my insides are still "rattling", yes, it was worth it.
Needless to say, salt permeates through much of the ground and the sand. Unfortunately we missed seeing the lake full, by about two days. The water had retreated and was a long way back. It was soggy walking through some of the lake, but we didn't really see the water apart from way out in the distance. We have to respect nature's choice.
Salt crystals are easily visible on the surface of the lake.
The mummified corpse of a rabbit. In this salty environment it would remain preserved for quite a long time. We found a dead seagull and other birds too, but I thought one corpse was enough to get the picture.
Walking where only two days earlier water had been.
Some Lake Eyre vegetation.
Little red riding hood getting wind blown to bits.
The postie came. The postie saw. The postie conquered.
Despite the fact we had reached our destination this favourite quote of mine couldn't be truer; "It's not the destination that counts, it's the journey getting there". I love it and I couldn't agree more. Sigh!!
The wind had died down a little. We wasted no time. We hit the road with a sense of urgency. Our return trip was better (at least we could see clearly), however it was still long. I managed to get a few photos on the road back as we bade Lake Eyre farewell. As always, the posties had to ride upfront.
How quickly the landscape changes.
Two bikes about to disappear over the hill.
We are catching up.
What a brilliant blue outback sky!
We get back to William Creek safely but a little too slowly. I cannot imagine the long day's drive ahead of us. All of us pitch in to reload the trailer. With all this weight in the back now, perhaps the trailer won't bounce around as much. The posties are packed. Their travelling ends here. Next time I see our mailman delivering our mail, I shall view his "horse" with greater respect. I cannot believe how tough, reliable and well-made are these little posties. Hats Off to the postie!
We observe the map, the places we've been and the places we need to go.
According to this pole; we have 202 kilometres to get to Marree. It's time to commence our long journey home. Our trip however isn't over. We may have reached our destination, but the journey continues. Sometimes the most fun happens when one least expects it.
END OF PART FOUR.