The following recollection is from my (Michelle’s) point of view and my experiences. Please be aware that there are approximately 155 other experiences had over the past 3 days. I hope both you and I get to hear a few others.
The night before we were due to leave Coober Pedy, RB sent a crew out about 100km to check the first part of the track we were to head out on. There had been rain the night before and a few locals and tourists were telling us the road was impassable. Never fear… we had a group of fearless officials take a drive out just to check we could indeed get through. They got back later that evening, covered in mud with big smiles, and a thumbs up.
So, off we headed. The first 100km consisted of lots of muddy bog holes, plenty of slipping and sliding, not to mention the very high spirits of our Super Crews. Within this first 100km’s we came across our first broken car… alas, they had to be towed back to Coober Pedy. What will happen to that crew? Stay tuned. We had also left a crew in Coober Pedy whose car had broken down and they were contemplating alternate arrangements to meeting us in Kalgoorlie. Stay tuned for what happened to that crew.
After leaving Coober Pedy and getting through that first bit, the track dried a bit and good news. It had been graded since RB did his survey a little over 12 months ago. So instead of doing an expected 20-30km per hour, we could actually get up to between 30 and 40km per hour. Although the road was a bit rough and tumble, the scenery was amazing. There has been rain this year in the desert and it is spectacularly green at the moment.
So, travelling along that first day, we came across a few broken down cars who were able to get fixed up and on the way again. Then we came across 2 cars, who couldn’t be fixed and needed towing. We were only half way through the first day… Both cars were expected to make it to the other side with no troubles. One was a backup, Toyota Landcruiser. So, we got these two vehicles hooked up to two other vehicles to begin the tow through the desert and beyond. (The Landcruiser went behind us – RB.)
Over the desert RB planned to have 2 camps. An eight hour and a 10 hour camp. The first lot of cars were to head to the 10 hour camp and pull up and camp, and the 2nd half of the field to drive 8 hours and set up. (There are no camps… no facilities such as toilets and showers… nothing. The ‘camps’ were space for us to park and set up our tents etc.) Anyway, we ended up in the second half of the field and made it to the 8 hour camp after about 10 hours. Quick check on the 2 cars in Coober Pedy and our main sweep, S1 and the news is: The car that was left behind originally and that was making alternate plans, was fixed and will travel with S1 to catch up. The car which broke down within the first 100km was getting left there and the crew were negotiating to buy another car and would travel with S1 also. Great news, great camp, lots of laughs and it rained!
Next morning, spirits still high, we loaded up and off we went. A big night was planned at Ilkurlka (nothing really there except a very basic community shop, our specially ordered fuel, 1 long-drop and 1 donkey shower). A big night was planned with a locally born and bred band which has had some success and produced a couple of albums, and our very own Roo Arcus belting out a tune, all to entertain the RBR mob and community locals which had travelled over 100km’s (3.5 hours), to come and check out the once in a lifetime show. We didn’t make it to town on time, but from what I’ve heard, it was fantastic.
Our day started at 8.30am when we hitched up our new ‘buddy’ behind us and after 14 hours, unhitched him at our camp, at Ilkurlka. We had a heap of fun along the way. We stopped every 50km for a rest and running repairs. 50km took anywhere from 1.5 hrs to 3 hrs. We had a long day.
About 100 kms from Ilkurlka we came across another broken car. One which we expected to break very early in the RBR, however, they didn’t. We left them with a couple of willing helpers to try and fix them.
We managed to get almost everyone through to Ilkurlka on the planned itinerary. Keeping in mind that RB was very open to the possibility that our planned itinerary could have been extended by a number of days. As of last night we had 6 cars and their crews approximately 100km (approx. 4 hours) from Ilkurlka. They set up camp and stayed together. I’m sure they had a few laughs of their own and a great camp fire.
This morning, RB gave his briefing and sent everyone on their way to Laverton.
We are now about 20km out from town and reflecting on the last few days. It has been a truly amazing experience. The place, the people… WOW.
The desert was nothing like I expected. It was very green. This was also a surprise to RB as it was not green when he was out here.
We run into a 4x4 Club in Coober Pedy who had been watching the RBR and was interested in our plans, as they too were heading over the Anne Beadell just a couple of days after us. I don’t know if they were interested or just thought we were entertaining, as they didn’t think we could make it.
Well… we did! Every single one of us. Sure we had to tow a couple of cars a bit of the way, weld a few cars, push and pull a few cars, and we haven’t yet seen the 6 cars who were in the desert last night, however we are in touch with them and they will catch up tomorrow.
Congratulations to all of those who came across the Anne Beadell and the Great Victoria Desert. You will have amazing stories to tell and memories which will last a lifetime.
Now… let’s get ready for the next few days. It’s not over yet…
NOTE FROM ROAD BOSS: To all the pessimistic critics and nay sayer’s that said we’d never make it and it couldn’t be done, well I say…………………. You do not know me or my 'mob' very well. Anyone can do easy.