CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TRAVEL BACK IN THE DREAMTIME- PART 5

After leaving Valley Bore at sunrise and dodging roos along the way, we arrived in good time in  Alice Springs and went immediately to the railway station where we deposited the enormous box containing John’s mineral find.

It  seemingly took forever for him to complete the paperwork necessary for the box and it’s contents too be delivered to the Sydney Technical College in Ultimo, a close city suburb where John taught.

After a hearty breakfast and filling the Landy’s two ten gallon fuel tanks and  four jerry cans jerry with petrol, we set off for Henbury at top speed. By way of technical information, the 2.25 lire engine in my Landy could, downhill with a tail wind propel the vehicle up to about 50MPH. I think that’s about 80 KPH.

Eventually we reached the Henry Meteorite site after a few directional enquiries.

JOHN GORTON
JOHN G IN NAVIGATOR MODE – IT’S THIS WAY, ISN’T IT?

There had been some rare downfalls of rain en route to Henbury but not enough to delay our arrival and not too long after midday we arrived at the meteorite site.

After checking his geological site map John suggested we camp in the Number 6 crater as around it’s  rim we were most likely to find meteorite particles deposited there after the meteorite struck the ground and fragmenting as it created the crater.

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MY LANDY PARKED IN THE No6 METEORITE CRATER AT HENBURY.

After setting up camp we scrambled up the crater wall and began our search for meteorite pieces using very sophisticated equipment John had brought all the way from his Sydney Office. After an extremely short hands on period of tuition, John declared me to be sufficiently trained to utilise the equipment. Fortunately he allowed me to keep my issued equipment in case I returned at a later date to continue the search.

I’ve retained it ever since and photographed it a few moments ago for your edification.

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MY ISSUED SOPHISTICATED METEORITE DISCOVERY DEVICE..

Regretfully, the piece of string I used to drag the magnet along the rim of the crater has long since disintegrated and has simply disappeared.

Anyway, John and I dragged our string pulled magnets around the crater ring with great success. We both scored many, many small pieces of the highly magnetic meteorite but found no trace of the large piece Walter Smith had told us about.

Over the years I’ve given all but one piece of my Henbury meteorite to the student children of my friends and associates so they could skite at school and write projects about their little bit off space history.

Here is an image off my remaining sample that I took this morning.

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HENBURY METEORITE.

The meteorite samples John and I recovered are all highly magnetic as shown in the following image, again made this morning.

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QUITE A STRONG MAGNETIC BOND.

By the time John and I had circled the crater rime about twenty  or more times it was time to relax and have a glass of wine or two.

While I played cook, John set about cataloguing his finds and writing up his day book. I learned a lot from John about  documenting the day’s events. Yet, although at work I kept a daily diary of everything I did, down to the last detail, I made only scant notes on this whole expedition, except about what happened next.

Darkness descended rapidly and we retired to our tents for an early night.

About 6am the next morning I thought I was dreaming as my li-lo( air bed) seem to be moving about. I put my hand down and horror of horrors I was afloat in my tent.

I shot out of my sleeping bag to find that water inside the tent was over my ankles. I couldn’t believe it. Out of the tent like a rat out of trap, I saw that the crater was filling with water that was already almost up to the Landy’s wheel hubs where it was parked near by.

Almost simultaneously, John shot out of his tent and I told him I was going to try and get the Landy up the crater wall and down the other side before it became an impossible climb.

Luck was with me, I engaged low range second gear, and with minimum wheel spin drove directly up the crater wall, over the rim and down the other side onto soggy but well drained dirt.

I raced back up into the crater, pulled down the sodden tent, grabbed my gear and with tent dragging on the ground and air bed now deflated under my arm I struggled back up and over the crater, dumped my stuff on the ground and went back to help John. By that time the water seemed to have risen even more and it was lucky we noted our predicament when we did.

Strangely that morning, it seemed that John had enough gear with him to equip another full expedition. Never the less in a short time we had everything on the other side of the crater and nothing was missing.

It seemed to take forever to get all of our wet gear packed away and patchy rain had begun to fall intermitently.

We regretfully decided  to abandon our meteorite searches and  head off to Ayres Rock as it was then  known and to the Olgas.

Before we headed off, I went back to the crater rim and took the following image of the crater floor and where we had camped the night before.

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OUR CAMP SITE IN CRATER No 6.

I made a specific note of the time. It was 8.30 AM.

When I got back down to the vehicle, John was looking a little crestfallen.  I soon found out why. While I was taking the photograph he was rechecking his Geo map of the site. The day before he had simply missed a margin note describing Crater No 6 as, wait for it, The Water Crater.

Apparently it became a sump for the adjoining craters during periods of rain.

We were fortunate that my camera hadn’t got wet during the night and the Kodak slide film  I’d purchased in Alice Springs was still in pristine condition.

As the say in the classics, ‘All’s Well That Ends Well.’

Hoo roo, Part 6 isn’t too long away.

 

 

 

 

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – MORNING.

Here at Cassa Creakingbones every morning  follows the same ritual; coffee followed by  cereals, toast, fruit and more coffee.

Fortunately there is one  departure from routine.

Sunday mornings.

First, peruse the two Sunday dailies.

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THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH. ITS ADVERTISING JINGLE USED TO BE,’ SUNDAY JUST ISN’T SUNDAY WITHOUT THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH.’ 

 

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WHEN IT WAS A BROADSHEET THE SMH WAS THE INTELLECTUAL’S CHOICE. THAT WAS BACK IN THE DREAMTIME BEFORE IT BECAME JUST ANOTHER NEWSPAPER.

Second, determine which  local or distant cafe will be our venue for breakfast.

Today we chose to go to Roses Cafe, a pleasant cafe overlooking our local central park.

She Who Must Be Obeyed chose Eggs Benedict whilst my selection was simple scrambled eggs with bacon, grilled tomatoes and toast.  In addition we added the almost compulsory coffee and orange juice.

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PERFECT EGGS BENEDICT COMPLETE WITH GROUND BLACK PEPPER.
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SCRUMPTIOUS SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH GOODIES.
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WELL PRESENTED HOT, TASTY COFFEE.

In addition to their great blackboard menu, Roses Cafe is well known for the prepared delicacies which stand refrigerated at the counter where clients place their orders. Close proximity to the displays makes menu decisions somewhat difficult. Here’s why and just a note, these two images don’t show every available goodie or nibble.

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PART ONE

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PART TWO.

All of these refrigerated morsels are freshly prepared and cooked on a daily basis. I know a couple of locals who are progressively making their way along each shelf from left to right.  They reckon its the only way to go.

Today too, by way of a change, I used my iPhone-6s-Plus to make the images.   I found it amusing that using the phone to make the photographs created no interest at all from the cafe’s staff or customers.  On the other hand, if I presented with my DSLR you’d think I had two heads, the way people stare.  Lesson well learned.

Hoo roo till next week.

 

 

CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TRAVELS BACK IN THE DREAMTIME -PART 4.

After much discussion, John and I came to the conclusion that after one more day at Valley Bore and mucking about, sorry, collecting mineral samples in the  Harts Range we would move on to the Henbury Meteorite Site.

As usual, we set off early to Harts Range, armed with information from old Walter Smith and prospector Linz.

As we intended to leave early the next day we said good bye to Walter Smith, his wife Mabel and the rest of his ‘mob ‘ who lived in their Gunyahs not too far from our camp.

I let Walter know that I’d stay in touch with him through Eddy at the Police Station and he seemed please at the thought.

Once on our way, our first port of call was an area named Mud Tank which was known locally as a place to dig for zircons.

The ground at Mud Tank was pockmarked with holes from previous digs and John pointed out that as I was considerably younger than he, it was my job to do the digging, particularly as the long handled shovel was part of my kit. Always generous to a fault, John offered to take the following image.

ZIRKON DIG

DIGGING FOR ZIRCON AT MUD TANK.

I must confess that I was digging in a hole mostly dug by some other prospector.  After about an hour’s hard labour I gave up digging and helped John sift through the fresh dirt. We found absolutely no zircons or anything else of geological interest and moved on into the range proper.

Back then, easiest access into the range of hills was behind the Harts Range Race Course which is immediately behind the Harts Range Police Station.

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HARTS RANGE FROM NEAR THE RACECOURSE

The annual races at the Harts Range Race Course rival many such Territory race meeting and have very high attendance numbers.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, the course was deserted as we passed by.

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HARTS RANGE RACE COURSE.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Harts Range was and still is a geologists dream.   Mineral formations are everywhere from lengthy  exposed quarts veins to garnets, large and small  lying everywhere  and unusual force formed shapes and sizes of crystals just waiting to be collected.

My strategically placed peological kick highlights one such interestingly  shaped short run of quartz and other minerals.

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I collected quite a few nice garnet samples, the slides of which are amongst the hundred or so I can no longer find.  Unfortunately because over the years I’ve given all my garnet samples away, I can’t photograph them now to show you.

Fortunately this morning , although the slides are missing, I was able to photograph two of my remaining samples from that great day on the range.

The first is a good example of the quartz crystals that are strewn across the range. The second/third is a large lump of either Hematite or Kyanite, I can’t remember which , or perhaps it is neither of the two.

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QUARTZ CRYSTALS.

The next two images are of my mineral sample I’m unable to positively identify.

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John collected many, many samples but most importantly, he located an enormous feldspar crystal, well over three feet in length that required both of us to lift and, get back to the Landy.

Our work done, we called into the Police Station and bid farewell to Eddy, his family and Eddy’s Aboriginal workmate and tracker.

Farewells completed and much later that day, with assistance from Linz at Bonya, we crated up the sample, said hoo roo to Linz and his wife Joan and returned to Valley Bore to pack up for the last time, ready for an early departure en route to Henbury via Alice Springs.

That’s it for now so,

Hoo roo till next time.

 

CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TRAVELS BACK IN THE DREAMTIME – PART 3.

After the main group departed Valley Bore to return home, John Gorton and I stayed at the bore for a few more days and explored some of the mineral deposits. John and my newfound mate Linz were amazing with their ability to recognise the various minerals, rock deposits leading to even more crystals and a host of other geological facts for me to take on board.

Linz had arranged for me to meet the local Harts Range police officer, Eddy Josephs at the Harts Range Police Station and what an eye opener that was.

Eddy was a Vietnam Veteran and had been one of the elite ‘Tunnel Rats’ whose job it was, armed only with a sidearm and torch, to enter and search tunnels dug by the Vietcong. No easy job with the booby traps, unexpected enemy encounters and being far from help whilst at it.

Eddy fitted the local scene well. Respected by the station owners and the indigenous locals as well, Eddy and the Harts Range Police Station were a beacon of helping assistance for everyone, travellers included.

It was from Eddy that John and I learned the story of the donkeys as I had called them or more correctly, mules as Eddy pointed out.

In fact the Mules belonged to the Police Station. Eddy had acquired them to give the Police Station a lighter atmosphere and encouraged them, one in particular, to greet people as they came to the Station’s main gate which he always left open as a further sign of welcome.

HARTS RANGE P.S.

THE ONE MULE WELCOMING COMMITTEE.

This particular mule had developed a liking for beer and Eddy was always ready to answer the call when a coldie was required.

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I FEEL LIKE A TOOHEYS OR TWO AS THE OLD ADD USED TO SPELL OUT.

Here is Eddy Josephs looking far more official after I asked him to don full uniform for a photograph.

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NOT LOOKING A BIT RELAXED AS I TOOK HIS  PHOTO.

As Valley Bore was not far, in Territory terms, from the Police Station our presence interested the mules, hence their regular visits. On one occasion when they were away from the Station for a while, the Tracker came down to our camp and encouraged them to return top the Station.

Eddy, his wife and daughter lived in the residence attached to the Station and his offical Aboriginal tracker and his family lived in a house at the back of the Station. They were good friends as well as work collegues.

It was fascinating to watch Eddy’s daughter at play with the Tracker’s kids.  From totally different backgrounds they were as one, speaking the local Aranda language together and like all kids, just having fun.

Now you might ask why are these photos in monochrome?

The simple answer is that I’d gone through ten rolls of Kodachrome 25ASA slide film and all I had left was monochrome. Keep in mind that Alice Springs, a shade over 200 klms away,  was the nearest place to buy film.

During our camp at Valley Bore, we had learned of an old timer named Walter Smith whom, allegedly was part Afghan and part Arrernte man.  One story went that Walter had been a camel boy for explorer Madigan when he crossed the Simpson Desert and had also been privy to Madigan’s discovery of two enormous pieces of meteorite, one of which had made its way to a museum in Adelaide and the other buried at the Henbury Meteorite site.

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WITH WALTER SMITH, JUST BEFORE HIS 80th BIRTHDAY

Walter and his ‘mob’ were camped near Bonya Creek and Linz and Eddy arranged for John and I to meet him. Walter and I immediately hit it off but he was a bit reticent with John when probed about Madigan and the meteorite.

For the rest of our time at Valley Bore, John and I spent a lot of time with Walter and John persisted with his questioning about the meteorite and Madigan the explorer. Despite his persistence, John got absolutely nowhere.

One morning Walter asked me take him out to shoot a couple of roos for tucker. I always travelled out there with a .22 just in case and I agreed as I hadn’t fired a shot since leaving home.

Imagine my surprise when Walter turned up with Mabel, his lady. He introduced me to her and I knew enough about local customs not to offer a hand shake and spoke to her through Walter.

Off we went in my little Landrover, Walter in the passenger seat and Mabel sitting in the back on my swag. No one said a word to me for quite a while yet Mabel and Walter were chattering away in Aranda. Up till then I’d only learned a few words of Aranda including, if I remember rightly,  Quadja for water, Macardi for hat and Manna for bread so nothing they said made any sense to me.

After about 20 to 30 miles or so Walter tapped me on the shoulder and told me Mabel had said I should  have turned to the left about 10 miles back. It’s protocol that Mabel couldn’t address me direct or touch me and she relied on Walter to relay her message to me. He simply forgot he said.

We turned around and Walter directed me to the spot where I should have turned.  There about 200 yards away was a small mob of roos.

I thought that here was my opportunity to show off my marksmanship. Steady, aim, fire. Missed  by a mile and the roos were off at a fair pace of knots. Another shot, another miss.

Both Mabel and Walter were laughing the heads off and Mabel gave me a big smile and said something to Walter. I asked him what she said and he replied,” She say you white fella from the city will take a while to get your eye in.”

I couldn’t stop myself from having a chuckle. How right she was.

Anyway, we took off on foot after the roos and came across them about half an hour later thanks to Mabel’s tracking skills.

This time I had my eye in and two shots gave us two head shot roos.

We flung them in the back of the Landy and  made our way back to Valley Bore to find an aggravated John.  I’d forgotten to tell him where I was off to.

Anyway, that night I learned first hand how to cook kangaroo over an open fire.

I can honestly tell you that cooked like that it is an acquired taste.

Thats enough for now, but  an Aboriginal mate told me today that Dreamtime is one word, not two. I should have known better.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

 

CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TRAVELS BACK IN THE DREAM TIME -PART 2

Our little group settled in at Valley Bore and waited patiently for the rations truck to arrive from Alice Springs.  We had no idea what goodies waited us and when the truck finally arrived, if my memory serves me correctly, we were all bitterly disappointed.

Here we are busily unpacking and sorting through the packages.

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Valley Bore obviously was named after its bore which required service from time to time. The station owners had built this little shelter complete with verandah for the workers who occasionally visited the bore and here it is, complete with blow ins.

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LEFT TO RIGHT, Dr DAVE, YOURS TRULY, I CAN’T RECALL THE NAMES OF THE OTHER THREE AS WE POSED IN FRONT OF THE SHED. CAMERA ON TRIPOD, DELAYED EXPOSURE .

From time to time our little camp had unexpected visitors and because they were so used to humans we wondered from whence they came. That’s a story for perhaps the next part of this little series.

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YOURS TRULY HAVING A CHAT WITH A LOCAL.
EDDY JOSEPHS MULE
ONE OF THE EXPEDITIONERS REALLY GOT TO KNOW THIS MULE. OBVIOUSLY SHE DISLIKED THE FLIES.

On another occasion the two regular four legged visitors turned up accompanied by two Aboriginal men and during a yarn with them we learned where the mules and their two Aboriginal companions hailed from. Again, that’s a story for later on.

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OUR CAMP VISITORS AND FRIENDS.

One day we ventured around the various water sources and saw how the station utilised the artesian bores powered by the windmills. As it wasn’t practical to turn of the mills where then tanks were full, an overflow pipe either led to an open trench as in the image below or to an above ground trough.

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JERVOIS CRUISER AT ENTIRE BORE
THE LOCAL BIRD LIFE ENJOYED THE UNENDING SUPPLY OF WATER FROM THE TROUGHS.

Similarly, when the tanks were full to the brim, the birds enjoyed unhindered access .

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Not every local inhabitant enjoyed a continuous supply of piped water as they moved around the country side. A couple of us were privileged to accompany a local Aboriginal man to some rock holes where a supply of drinking water  was accessible if you knew where to look. It was fascinating to see him open the hole and there, sure enough was clear water. Our guide didn’t wish to be photographed facing the camera hence the following  composition.

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At Valley Bore we had a continuous flow of water and we could have a shower whenever the mood took us. If nudity offends you can ignore the following image of an expeditioner partaking of his ablutions. Name not supplied to protect the  innocent.

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From the hills near our camp there were views of a different sort.

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LOOKING ACROSS TOWARDS THE HARTS RANGE.
RED ROCK VALLEY
LOOKING ACROSS THE ENTIRE VALLEY TOWARDS Mt FRANK.
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LOOKING DOWN ON MY LANDCOVER FROM ONE OF HART RANGE PEAKS.

it’s interesting to note that the names locals use to identify various features such as large hills are often the names of local characters and not necessarily names recognised by the Geographical Names Board.

Well, we’ve arrived at a point where the expeditioners are preparing to head for home.

The few who joined the geological group learned a lot and collected many samples.

For those who were part of the ornithological group, they were disappointed as they failed to locate a single trace of the Australian Night Parrot.

They were not devoid of excitement though. One of their group tried to catch a snake believed to be a deadly King Brown and was bitten on the hand by the reptile.

Fortunately for him the other Doctor on the expedition had a small supply of antivenin which he administered on the spot.

No Flying Doctor service was available so Leon made an emergency dash with the patient and attending Doctor into Alice Springs Hospital where further medical intervention saved the life of the victim.

Unfortunately from a photographic point of view there was no photographic record made of this incident. It would have been great to be in both places at once.

After the appropriate farewells, Leon, Roy and Ted  together with the rest of the expedition headed back to Sydney.

John Gorton, the geologist and I stayed a little longer then headed off towards the Henley Meteorite Site.

More about that in a later blog.

Hoo roo for now.

CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TRAVELS BACK IN THE DREAM TIME – PART 1.

The other day, an old mate from the Sydney Landrover Club and i were reminiscing about the long trips into Central Australia  we used to do.

Our yarn reminded me that years ago I was at a meeting of the Club (the LROC as we used to call it) when the Club’s President announced  that the Sydney Technical College( now the University of Technology) was mounting an expedition into the Simpson Desert and were needing volunteer driver/cooks with their own four wheel drive vehicles to assist the expedition.

I remember that at the meeting it was indicted  the aim of the expedition was to find and film Australia’s Night Parrot, an extremely rare bird that had not been reliably sighted since the late 1800’s.

Four of us signed up on the spot, Roy with his Series 1 Landrover, Leon with his Series 2 long wheelbase Landrover, Ted with his WWII Dodge Power Wagon and yours truly  with my Series 2A short wheel base Landrover.

The students and lecturers were to meet up with us at a spot on the Plenty Beef Road  near Jervois Station in the Northern Territory, about 200 miles north east of Alice Springs at a date, if my recollection is correct, early in May,1973.

Those memories caused me to hunt through my slide archives and I found just on 200 Kodak ASA 25 slides that I made during the expedition. Took me nearly all day yesterday to cull them and scan the selected 144.

No need for panic, you are not going to have to wade through the lot.

Our little band of volunteers didn’t have much information about what to expect but it didn’t matter, for us it was just another trip into the middle of Australia with the added opportunity to learn about the mysterious Night Parrot and ‘meet new people.’

In our planning for the trip,  we decided to travel via Bourke in NSW, then Mt Isa and Urandangi  in Queensland then down the Plenty Beef Road to Jervois in the Northern Territory to meet up with the students and the rest of the expeditioners.

We had quite a few adventures of our own en route. Miscellaneous stops for routine welding of cracked chassis, failed electrical systems, fuel blockages, CB radio failures and of course, tyre and tube repairs.

Eventually we reached Jervois a day or so early and eventually teamed up with the expedition proper.

First up, one of the local identities, Linz, a prospector  who lived at a place  on the edge of Jervois Station had offered his hospitality and a welcome BBQ for all of us.

I can’t remember the exact numbers but there were at least 30 to 40 people all together.

By the way, Linz and I are still mates, correspond regularly and for many years post 1973 I was an annual visitor and  accompanied him on his prospecting around the Simpson Desert. That is a story for another day. Perhaps.

Anyway, the ration truck with our supplies had not yet arrived from Alice Springs and our generous host catered that night for the horde of visitors.

You can imagine the  surprise when  people who had never left the City of Sydney arrived at our host’s camp and saw our raw freshly killed evening meal hanging in the sun to rest  prior to being cooked on an enormous hot plate.

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TWO SIDES OF BEEF WAITING TO BE TOSSED ONTO THE ENORMOUS  BBQ PLATE.

At the BBQ, our little group of volunteers learned the an ornithologist and a herpetologist from the Australian Museum in Sydney, a geologist from the Sydney Tech and two doctors were part of the expedition’s professional support team.

We also learned that the majority of the students were ornithologists/herpetologists in the making and the remainder were interested in geology.

Roy, Leon and Ted opted to support the first group and I selected the geologists. As it transpired, it was a great choice.

The geology group set up camp at palace called Valley Bore. The site was selected as it was close to the Harts Range, described to me as a geological scrap heap. That’s my green tent in the foreground.

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OUR LITTLE CAMP AT VALLEY BORE 

The Harts Range is a rugged landscape with few tracks and the rocks are sharp and unforgiving. Using my  Landrover  I ferried the geology group to various fossicking sites around the range.

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NEAR ONE OF THE DROP OFF POINTS.

One for first places the geology students visited was known as Red Rock Valley because of the prevalence of garnets at the site. In fact garnets were just lying about just waiting to be collected.

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AFTER GARNETS.

I’d long been interested in geology and had done a course in Sydney during which time I purchased a Geological Pick. Here it is next to an interesting rock formation. I’ve still got the pick, now safely stored away in my man cave in case I ever need it.

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MY PEOLOGICAL GICK AS THE PROFESSIONAL REFERRED TO IT.

It’s rough country out there and accidents do happen. One girl in the geology party suffered a nasty face first fall and required medical treatment from one of the expedition doctors.

There is no privacy in an outback open air surgery and I was able to take this photograph of the Doctor about to administer a tetanus injection by the light of the camp fire.

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Dr Dave and I are still good friends after all these years and he always calls in when passing Cassa Creakingbones.

All of the expedition activities took place on edge of the Simpson Desert and one thing that stands out in Central Australia is the sense of humour of the people who live there as evidenced by the sign on this Station gate which reads’ Shut this gate please. Don’t knock it off.’

In the Aussie idiom, ‘knock it off,’ means ‘steal it.’

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A TYPICAL STATION GATE

Talking of local idioms here in the Land Down Under, Station means what Americans call a Ranch.

Picking the geology group was a wise choice as after three weeks when the expedition was coming to a close, John Gorton, the geologist mentioned he was heading off to the Henbury Meteorite Site near Ayres Rock ( now known as Uluru, its Aboriginal name) and inquired if I was interested in accompanying him. Of course I said yes.

Thats a story for my next blog in a day or so.

Hoo roo for now.