November 20, 2010
It’s overcast when I peak out the canvas window next to our bed at dawn. That’s good; we want to take a walk down into the valley for a better look at the breakaway and the clouds will make a good buffer against the intensity of the sun. Not many people travel the
Outback Way after October as the heat can be paralyzing. Most days so far have peaked around 35˚ C, which is bearable sitting in an air-conditioned car. The nights are balmy and deliciously warm.
We head out after a Saturday pancake breakfast, aiming for an escarpment of rocks we think is about 2kms away. Our GPS tells us it’s only 1.5kms when we get there, but that’s as the crow flies. The clouds break up on our way back and the heat becomes unbearable. Johan nurses back pain and my mood turns cranky. We find a cool reprieve in a massive cave, littered with kangaroo bones and scat. A shiny black substance, like coagulated oil, lines parts of the walls and when Johan breaks off a piece it smells of wild animal and rich compost. I think it’s bat scat; Johan suspects it’s something oozing out of the rocks. He pockets the souvenir.
A walk through the breakaway and exploring some caves.
Earlier we’d talked about spending a second night at this beautiful spot, but when we return to the tent, the sun is high and the heat heavy with no shade. We eat a light lunch, pack up the trailer and head off down the road. The clouds range from frivolous white ribbons to dark cotton wool that threatens rain. Johan calls it a Fun Sky.
The road is deserted, except for one dust-raising 4WD travelling at high speed in the opposite direction. We sit on a feeling of utter aloneness. The heat shimmers mirages on the long straight road that make us wonder if it’s rained up ahead. Up in the distance three tall dark figures emerge. “What’s this?” Johan murmurs and images of marauding black men ready for a heist on unsuspecting tourists drift through my thoughts. We’re only a hundred metres away and one of the figures turns sideways. It’s a horse, three of them, scraggly with ribs sticking out their flanks. “Must be wild,” I muse, relieved.
A Southern Cross watermill provides some welcome relief from the heat.