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