Thursday 18 March 1982
Another early rise to catch up on lost time. For the same reason only four boats were placed on the water.
The never-ending problems with the bus were causing great concern. The solenoid on the starter motor was inoperable. It was decided to tow start the bus or, alternatively, tow it into Brewarrina.
The 4WDs were unable to move it so Bob commandeered a disused grader lying idle near the shearers’ quarters and with great skill and ingenuity he was able to get it started and the tow the bus onto the Brewarrina road. Once there Bob and Richard were able to start the motor by shorting screwdrivers across the starter motor. Through the remainder of the Expedition, two full sets of screwdrivers were burnt out in this drastic but necessary procedure. Bob, Richard, Ivan, Ted, Cam and I travelled in the bus into Brewarrina. For the first time there were more members of the Expedition off the water than on it.
Tony and Mario had driven into Brewarrina in Rover to contact Leyland in Sydney to attempt to secure a starter motor. Within 90 minutes they had located a starter motor in Wollongong. A bank transfer of $200 was arranged and Hills Bus Company (from whom the starter was purchased) arranged for its despatch to Bourke.
Brewarrina Weir was the first since Goondiwindi that was not covered by floodwaters. Upriver weirs were only noticed by warning signs on the banks (providing the signs were not underwater). A bed of large rocks in shallow water below Brewarrina Weir forced the team to portage.
Mark and Andy in Escort refuelled the boats at this point. Mario then swapped places with Andy and the new crew in Escort moved on to meet the boats at Bunnawanna Station, the next planned fuel stop.
The water level, though ample, was falling all day. As the water level fell more features such as rock shelves and sandbanks became visible but buildings and other structures on the riverbanks became less so. The Barwon River narrowed at the confluence of the Culgoa and Bogan Rivers. From this point the river is termed the Darling.
At Bunnawanna Station the crew in Escort arrived before the boats and, believing they had missed them, proceeded downriver. All the support vehicles met outside the Bourke Shire boundary and I sent the crew in Escort back to the fuel stop. On arrival at Bunnawanna it was discovered that the boats had overshot the fuel stop. On realising this, Roly sent one boat back to pick up the fuel. The Expedition finally got underway again but not before the loss of three hours.
The river passed through lightly timbered country right up to Bourke.
As the bus passed through Bourke the Shire Clerk hailed it down. He requested that members of the Expedition not attempt to jump the Bourke Weir as one member of a canoeing expedition had been drowned attempting the feat the previous year. Without excluding a jump, he was assured that nothing foolish would be attempted.
Camp was established above the Bourke Weir, just downstream from the town. There was time for a swim and a spot of fishing. Roly caught the only fish of the entire Expedition. George, once again, worked on motors throughout the night.
DAY 6 – SUMMARY OF PROGRESS
|Brewarrina Weir (fuel, portage)||0813|
|Depart Brewarrina Weir||0827|
|Bunnawanna Station (fuel)||1117|
|Departed Bunnawanna Stn||1418|
|Bogan River Junction||1521|
|Culgoa River Junction||1533|
|Departed Miralwyn Station||1551|
|Bourke Weir (overnight)||1810|
|Running Time||8 hours 24 mins||33 hours 42 mins||42 hours 06 mins|
|Refuelling||38 mins||2 hours 46 mins||3 hours 24 mins|
|Delays||3 hours 00 mins||6 hours 27 mins||9 hours 27 mins|
|TOTAL TIME||12 hours 02 mins||42 hours 55 mins||54 hours 57 mins|
|Distance||265 kilometres||953 kilometres||1218 kilometres|
|Average Speed||31.5 kmh||28.3 kmh||36.1 kmh|
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