Day 16 - The Madigan Line to Camp 17
Updated: Aug 19, 2019
Madigan Camp 17 in The Simpson Desert
With that, we headed east down the Madigan Track, leaving the Hay River Track behind us. Immediately it was far more interesting, and far more challenging, there were no other tyre tracks to be seen, just pristine sand, and a vaguely visible path to follow through the dunes and desert flora.
For the first time on this whole trip, we transferred down to low range, having found that 1st gear was too slow in high range 4wd, but 2nd was too fast. Low 4 gave us the middle ground to use 2nd or 3rd, and a much more comfortable rev range, between 1200 -1800, generally, but going up to 3000 going up bigger dunes.
I am still not a hugely experienced driver in general, I only got my licence two years ago, and met Jade about 6 months or so later, and started driving the Ox.
He IS very experienced, and I trust him 100%, but of course, it is still my feel of the truck and the terrain, and my decision making and instinct that had to be relied upon in fast changing terrain where you really can’t fully know what’s ahead until you’re upon it. I think I’ve mentioned that I call Jade Private Fraser (from Dad’s Army) whenever we happen upon a challenge of any kind, as his first reaction is some variant of “WE’RE DOOMED”. He doesn’t shout, and may appear calm to those who don’t know him, but I can see that he gets very worked up quite quickly, and tends to say quite frustrating things like “oh I saw that AGES ago” “I would have thought that would be obvious to you” and “surely you would know that” while also panicking and making out like we will roll any second. (Fun fact from the future- having video footage means I can now show him what he's like and he got very sheepish and apologised…)
So it makes for quite stressful situations, both because we are in a risky environment where small mistakes could literally cost us our lives, or at the least, our truck, and it puts some strain on our relationship. I think we did well though, we both tried to remain calm and patient, and probably more importantly, were forgiving of one another’s mistakes and transgressions, and quick to apologise and take responsibility for our own. The hardest thing was that the track up the dunes was very bumpy, with significant dips and crests that rock the truck, which means you can’t go too fast, but they’re quickly followed by a steep crest that requires considerable power and momentum to summit, making it a catch 22.
There was only one that was really difficult, where I didn’t get quite the power I needed, and had to reverse and go again, made more difficult by it having gotten dark as progress was so slow (we could barely do 10kph). On another, Jade felt I steered too far left and he feared the ox could roll. I must say that I didn’t feel that I could go much further to my right, and it didn’t feel like it was pitching hardly at all, but nonetheless, I live and learn, and endeavour to improve (though it can be easy to think you know better when you’re not driving). One great things about Jade is how he compliments and supports me, telling me how quickly I grow in instinct and competence, and reminding me there would be no way he would even share the driving if he didn’t know I was more than capable. I’m not really good at being not really good at things, but I enjoy the challenge a lot, enjoy knowing when I do tackle things perfectly, and arrived at Camp 17 feeling tired but elated.
I made us pasta with red pesto, mushrooms, capsicum and spinach for dinner. We were excited to have the tiramisu we’d got in Alice for dessert, but either it had turned bad, or was shite to begin with, but it was pretty much inedible. We decided to have a few whisky’s instead, the Hellyer’s is going down a treat, and we ended up having several, and talking late into the night, mostly about our relationship, our worries, hopes, fears, needs, especially for when we’re back in Adelaide, as well as discussing human behaviour, and exchanging stories. I felt we really listened to one another, and came together more than ever, it was really great, these tracks are where we're at our happiest, the shared love of these beautiful wild places. We went to sleep fairly pherschickered, cuddling, and content. Read our next post as we journey further across the dunes towards Madigan Camp 19