Day 8 – Bellsgrove Station to Wilga Station

 Saturday 20 March 1982

 The weir at Tilpa looked like an exciting prospect to shoot.

The Tilpa Weir was a two metre drop.  The rocks below it were just sufficiently covered by water to allow attempts at shooting it.  The Nav Boat was the unlucky one.  Mario did a good job of protecting the motor but was unable to to prevent Roly being catapulted out the front.  He suffered a cut to the forehead and the boat received a large dent in the bottom.

As the expedition was now in front of the floods the water level in the Darling was lower with more and more snags appearing but it was still easily navigable for power dinghies.

More trouble with one of the boats caused a thirty minute delay shortly after the start of the day’s run.

Shane and I had to fill all boat tanks and jerry cans at Tilpa.  There was no bowser and the petrol had to be pumped out of 200 litre drums using a rotary hand pump. With the town being so isolated and fuel resupply being irregular, the fuel agent was not all that keen to sell the fuel, however, after lengthy negotiations,  we obtained enough.  Considering that many of the problems that occurred later in the expedition emanated from the fuel obtained at Tilpa, it would have been better if he had refused to sell the fuel. 

After we completed filming at Tilpa Weir the support crew headed off downriver – except for the bus crew.  The bus wouldn’t start again.  It appeared as if they could be stranded for several days but the generator was used to charge the batteries and by mid-afternoon they were on their way.  The dust problems caused by an ill-fitting seal on the rear door were overcome by sealing it with masking tape.

Meanwhile the boat crews continued on their marathon journey.  The river passed through light timber and scrub country.  There was an abundance of wildlife, mainly kangaroos (one mob of thirty was sighted), emus, wild pigs, goats and a huge variety of birds. Relics of the past provided plenty of interest.

At Budda Station Escort went to the woolshed to refuel the boats.  The boats were waiting at the homestead.  This caused a  two and half hour delay.  The remains of the fuel from all boats was poured into the Nav Boat’s tank and the crew went downriver towards Wilga Station to try to find the refuelling vehicle.

The strain of the long hours, the hot and humid weather, the dusty conditions, the annoying delays, the poor maps and the serious problems with the bus were beginning to tell on all crews.  The comfortable conditions at Wilga (showers, shearers’ quarters, dining room, etc) helped to relieve the tension.

During the afternoon, while bashing through the lignum trying to get to the river to find the boats, Shane and I in Escort came across three wild pigs.  After a frenzied chase through the scrub I shot one of the piglets.  That evening Roly dressed it for the pot.


Departed Bellsgrove 0725    
Tilpa Weir  (fuel) 0915    
Depart Tilpa Weir 1021    
Budda Station 1305    
Departed Budda Station 1346    
Wilga Station (Nav Boat) 1528    
Wilga Station (Others) 1730    
Running Time 6 hours 16 mins 51 hours 33 mins 57 hours 49 mins
Refuelling 1 hour 17 mins 3 hours 54 mins 5 hours 11 mins
Delays 30 mins 12 hours 32 mins 13 hours 02 mins
TOTAL TIME 8 hours 03 mins 67 hours 59 mins 76 hours 02 mins
Distance 192 kilometres 1483 kilometres 1675 kilometres
Average Speed 30.6 kmh 28.8 kmh 29 kmh

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