24-Dec-2001 -- Haystack Mountain, NSW
Continued from 31ºS 149ºE.
Coming from Baradine, we decided to try our luck with a 40 kilometre fire service track through the Pillaga Nature Reserve rather than taking a sealed road down to Coonabarabran, so as to cut about 50 kilometres off the distance to Narrabri. This worked out quite well as the fire service track was in excellent condition and we could comfortably do about 80 kph.
We stopped in Narrabri for some fuel and lunch. Narrabri was the first town since Echuca in Victoria that sold premium unleaded fuel. I had been forced to refuel a couple of times with standard unleaded (91 octane) as that is all that is sold in most country towns. I drive a European car which is designed to use at least 96 octane fuel and pings a bit and struggles up hills when lower octane fuel is used. I had planned out my fuel stops in advance by checking an online service station locator at the Shell website and from this point onwards I will be able to refuel with premium unleaded.
We took a fairly well maintained dirt road up towards Haystack Mountain and got within about 2 kilometres of the confluence on that road. We tried a couple of tracks apparently leading to the confluence, but couldn’t get any closer.
Initially it looked like the confluence was in a sunflower field that was going to be impossible to walk through as most of the plants were taller than me. I climbed a tree to get a better look and it turned out that the sunflowers were only growing at the edge of the field which actually had a corn crop.
Before the trip, I had decided that I was going to treat as attempts only any confluences for which I couldn’t get the car within a kilometre. Accordingly, I took some photos from the tree overlooking the field that needed to be crossed (picture #6) and noted that I had got within 1.84 kilometres of the confluence.
Back in the car, Ada talked me into to doing the 4 kilometre round trip walk, as we were running about 30 minutes ahead of schedule and had the car parked in a nice shady spot near a dry creek bed.
I followed the dry creek bed into the corn field, thereby avoiding the sunflowers and some other tall grass. The corn plants were about knee height and spaced about a metre apart, so the plants were small enough to see over and walk around, but big enough so as to not inadvertently step on any plants and damage the crop.
I initially thought the confluence would be in the corn field, but two kilometres is quite a long distance (particularly mid-afternoon in 35ºC heat) and the confluence turned out to be on the other side of the field near a deep dry river bed.
I stupidly didn’t take any water with me for the walk to the confluence, so the walk back was very difficult and I had to stop to rest several times. I had been gone for just on an hour, but still had about 800 metres to walk. Ada and the kids were beginning to get worried about me and had ventured into the corn field to try to spot me. I made visual contact with about 400 metres to go and was able to signal Ada to get some water ready for me as I was extremely thirsty.
I drank about two litres of water and sat in the car with the air-conditioning on max for about 10 minutes before I felt fit enough to drive on. I certainly won’t make the mistake of not taking water with me on any walks more than 500 metres from now on.
Continued at 29ºS 150ºE.