Sunday 21 March 1982
From Wilga the water level remained fairly low. Snags everywhere but nothing that caused any problem to the dinghies. The river was like a big drain with banks up to five metres high.
The bus batteries again required about an hour’s charging before they would kick over the engine. The support crew restocked on food and fuel at Wilcannia.
Cam’s weight was a problem and he had to be swapped around three times before we found a satisfactory arrangement of weight vs boat speed.
Some of the narrow channels near Mount Murchison Station used to cause problems for paddle steamers in the early years. They were forced to tow their wool barges through one at a time instead of lashing them alongside.
On the river, boredom was a hazardous. Andy, driving the Nav Boat, fell asleep on a sharp corner and drove the boat two metres up a steep muddy bank.
The most common action on the Expedition, apart from eating and sleeping, was refuelling. Most days’ run required three refuels. On each of these occasions the boat fuel tanks were swapped over. There was a constant concern that fuel without oil would be poured into a boat fuel tank. It was Richard’s responsibility to prepare the fuel mixture each night. If jerry cans were empty he would place the required amount of oil in each and arrange for it to be filled at the next resupply point. It was simple in theory but in practice there were many opportunities for mistakes to occur. It was testimony to the good planning and management that the fuel mixture supplied was always correct. Unmixed fuel would have been the death knell for the Expedition. If present at refuels Richard would check on which jerry cans contained unmixed petrol, which contained standard grade petrol (for the generator), which had outboard oil but no petrol, which had super grade petrol only (for the vehicles) and which were completely empty.
Around Bakara Station the river was becoming noticeably more full – due to the back up from the Menindee Lakes system.
The expedition arrived at Viewmont Station shearing shed, the overnight stop, after dark. I attempted to contact the owners at the homestead but to no avail. About 8.00 p.m. they arrived at the shearing shed, after having seen the campfire. After initial wariness and after it was explained that attempts had been made to contact them, they put aside their displeasure at our failure to ask permission to camp on their property and welcomed us warmly.
The team spirit was much improved after a good day’s run. The weather was still sticky but perfect for sleeping under the stars.
DAY 9 – SUMMARY OF PROGRESS
|Departed Wilga Station||0702|
|Bilbilla Station (fuel)||1448|
|Departed Bilbilla Station||1515|
|Viewmont Station (Overnight)||1918|
|Running Time||10 hours 29 mins||57 hours 49 mins||68 hours 18 mins|
|Refuelling||27 mins||5 hours 11 mins||5 hours 38 mins|
|Delays||1 hour 20 mins||13 hours 02 mins||14 hours 22 mins|
|TOTAL TIME||12 hours 16 mins||76 hours 02 mins||88 hours 18 mins|
|Distance||327 kilometres||1675 kilometres||2002 kilometres|
|Average Speed||31.2 kmh||29 kmh||29.3 kmh|
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