Monday, May 15, 2006

The Desert Mums – Update May 15th

Day 11…walking...

What a morale boosting day!! The Mums started walking this morning by torch light at 6.30am. They followed a beautiful flat track along the side of a long salt lake. Such terrain was wonderful after tackling the many hundreds of sand dunes the Simpson is famous for.

The Mums knocked off 13 kilometres very quickly before their rest stop for morning tea, which meant only 8 kilometres in the dunes before lunch.

After plodding a full 31 kilometres today, they came into camp at 4pm having made fantastic mileage. This of course meant two hours of “down time” in daylight – and still being daylight meant they spent a great amount of time employing the good old Aussie salute to the twenty million flies, while trying to enjoy a contraband Merlot. (I will apologize for the girls’ constant reference to the flies - they can’t help but go on about them…….…truly………..words fail me because I am basically a polite person and cannot put to print the utterances that come to mind when having to share a minute with these horrid little pests. They can drive you NUTS! They head for the corners of your eyes, nose and mouth – anywhere to get moisture – and they stick there like they were glued with honey). Yuk.

The Mums had an emotional interlude today. During the planning stages of this journey, an idea was born to name one of the many salt lakes (that bear no name on charted maps of the area), in honour of all the women who have lost their lives to breast cancer. Denis was going to choose the lake, as there are several unnamed on the current maps ….. and its name was to be Lake Courage. However, the day Denis left home for Birdsville, we received an email from the South Australian Government’s department of Environment and Heritage advising that the only people who can name a geographic feature are the Geographic Names Board – and that Traditional Owners would probably object to a salt lake being named because they would argue it already had an aboriginal name. This was of course extremely disappointing, but certainly understandable.

With respect to the traditional owners of this area, and in no way diminishing the feeling and sincerity on this occasion, the Desert Mums and support crew held a symbolic ceremony – Lake Courage has been named (symbolically) for the 375,000 people who die each year around the world from breast cancer. This emotional ceremony was recorded by Kathy on film and was a great moment for the Mums.

They were all very excited, when heading north during the day, they finally turned east for the last time (turning is exciting). They were now on an easterly course towards Birdsville with no more changes of direction necessary. They are now roughly 36km east of Peoppel Corner and the Birdsville Pub is at the end of the road – 128 kms at the end of the road – but the end of the road nonetheless!!

And finally on Day 11…the Mums saw fresh camel “poo”. Yep…. FRESH!! The myth of no camels in the Simpson is destroyed! Den and Kathy went off at a screaming pace in the Land Cruiser for several kilometres to search them out, and naturally our “Great White Hunter” found four LIVE camels meandering about the countryside as if this was no big news! Kathy caught it all on film, while the poor Desert Mums are left plodding on, still waiting to see real, live camels!

Did you know, this year 2006, is officially “The Year of the Outback”? – what perfect timing for the Desert Mums to undertake this gargantuan task in the middle of Australia. They have another 31km on the agenda again tomorrow – stay tuned.

Lastly, and once again, the Mums have asked me to send a special thank you for all the emails– they all stand around the car each night and listen to them being read out over a sometimes patchy (but wonderful just the same) satellite phone connection. Put simply, your messages mean a lot!

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