Day 7…I am going outside and I may be gone for some time…

Thursday, 7th August 2008.
After the excitement of the previous day, today was a pleasant stroll along quiet country roads through Knowsley to Barnadown. I started back on the bridge at Eppalock and then wandered north along the tree lined lanes listening to galahs and corellas and enjoying the few moments of sunshine. When Beckler travelled this way he described it as “calm, congenial scenery without any particular charms”.

Today had a top of 10°C and I have been wearing gloves since I left Melbourne. Each day I start with three layers of clothing; a thermal top, polartec top and hi-visibility shirt (with a fourth layer, a gore-tex for protection from the wind and rain). I have been starting out in temperatures around -1°C and shed layers as I warm up. When I decide to stop for a break I put all the layers back on straight away and then once I start walking I shed layers again.

I really feel the cold (I am sure any Tasmanians reading this have little sympathy for my plight). In my defence and to avoid being considered a wuss, I was born and brought up in Yorkshire, lived in the Brecon Beacons mountains in south Wales where the temperatures regularly droped below -10°C, climbed in the Swiss Alps, kayaked year round in the oceans around the UK, skied in Scotland and worked in the Blue Mountains, Jenolan and Katoomba in winter time; so I am no stranger to the cold. However twelve years in Cairns in tropical Far north Queensland, (where temperatures below 12°C make the front page of the Cairns Post under headlines such as “Cold snap hits far north !”) mean I find the cold weather difficult. I am hoping that I am just acclimatised to the heat and will therefore hit my straps when I get to the desert later in the year. However, if later on this year I should be found to be complaining of the heat, you are more than welcome to remind me of my earlier whingeing.

I am looking forward to a bit of warmer weather, but I know that the heat I will face in the desert will be fearsome. Two years ago I was working over Christmas and spent Xmas Day with a group of tourists at a property outside Boulia where the temperature reached 48°C. Alan was managing the place and we spent “Christmas with the kangaroos”, sweating, swatting flies and swimming in Paravituri Waterhole. The next day as I drove into Alice Springs the temperatures reached 49°C at Glenormiston. The heat is just tremendous – the sun comes up at 5.00 am and by 6.00 am it is over 40°C. Temperatures stay over 40°C until long after the sun has set. I have suffered with both hypothermia and hyperthermia and have to say that given the choice, it would be more preferable to die of cold than heat. I am sure neither is preferable and I am not plannning on doing the Captain Oates thing tonight. Equally I do not fancy doing the Coulthard thing either.

William Coulthard was exploring north of Port Augusta in 1858 with two other men, Scott and Brooks. They ran out of water and Coulthard went on to Pernatty Creek while the other two went back. He never found water and died about 10 March 1858. Many months later Babbage found his mummified remains and hanging in a nearby tree was his empty water-bottle with a final message scratched on it…

I never reached water, I do not know long it is since it is that I left Scott and Brooks but I think it monday bleeding pomp to leive on his blood. I took his black horse to look for water and the last thing I can remember is pulling the saddle off him and letting him go – until now is not good – long it may wether 2 or 3 days I do not known I am not shure – my tung is stking to my mouth – and I see what I have rote and know as this is the last time I may have of expressing feelings Blind? altho feeling exu – for want of water – my eyes – to my tong – I can see no way I get help –

Distance travelled today; 28.5km.
Today Dave is at Barnadown.
After seven days of travel, Burke was at Knowlsey.

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