Murphey’s track was dry and relatively smooth, but considering we hadn’t seen a decent drop of rain in the area for months it wasn’t surprising. I was fairly certain the road conditions would change well before I reached the place were I would be meeting Nick.
Do I need to recap? Need to remind you that Nick had called me to come out and assist him? I guess I don’t, which is probably a good thing because I didn’t have much more information than that. Had it been anyone else I’d have asked for a lot more information than that before I even climbed into the Beast. As you can appreciate I do my best not to go out unprepared, but when Nick told me he needed my help and didn’t tell me the rescue needed anything special I trusted him.
It didn’t happen that often but it was not unusual for Nick to be out on duty somewhere and come across a stuck car or something else that needs me to retrieve it. Most of Nick’s regular patrols were on the main roads and tracks used by holiday makers but that didn’t mean he didn’t get off the beaten tracks at times. Murphey’s track wasn’t one of his normal tracks but that didn’t mean he never went along there. Honestly for all I knew he could have been called out there and it wasn’t until he got on site he worked out a tow truck was needed and not just police assistance.
Actually as a point in question you would not believe how many times I’ve been called, both by Nick or a traveller to drag an abandoned car out of the way. It could be in a creek, blocking a track or anywhere really but the number of cars abandon in the Aussie outback without a trace of who they belong to it quite stunning. In some cases Nick will check ID numbers or whatever else he can but there is so many times an abandoned car turns out to have nothing identifying about it might surprise you. Where the drivers who dumped some of these cars get to is anyone’s guess but with such distances it’s hard to think someone deliberately drove this far just to dump a car hoping no one would see it.
Anyway that’s what we were up against out here which is why Nick’s call wasn’t surprising and I wasn’t overly worried about details. Another reason I didn’t bother asking for more information was because Nick said he was staying on site. If he’d needed to leave I’d have wanted the full details just like any other rescue.
Like I said the road conditions of Murphey’s Track changed and changed quickly, within about three kilometres of the highway to be exact. The track was still well defined and despite it not seeing a great deal of traffic there was no scrub over growing it. Quickly the dry smooth surface changed to a sandy, dusty track, the dust that came out from under my rolling tyres would not hamper my vision, unless I stopped and it caught up with me, but it still posed a bit of a threat too me. Every heard of bulldust?
To many people bulldust was a less than crass term for telling some one they were talking garbage, these days it’s often replaced with the word bullshit, but to someone in the Aussie outback it’s always been something a lot more serious. Bulldust is the stuff that pours out from behind moving vehicles on the sandy, dirt tracks, the stuff that gets into air cleaners and chokes engines, the stuff that covers everything in the outback. But a far bigger threat posed by bulldust is that it lays on the ground.
Why is that a threat? Because it can hide things, I’m not talking about hiding trees or cars, I’m talking about hiding rocks, or worse pot holes. Many a car has come unstuck in the outback, dropped a differential, snapped an axle, or broken a wheel because they’d been travelling too fast down a dirt track and slammed into a large pothole that didn’t appear to be there because it was covered in the bulldust. Until you’ve seen it you can’t believe just how much bulldust can actually hide, even seeing a road train barrelling along a dirt track with a plume of dust that stretches for more than a hundred metres doesn’t truly indicate just how much of the coarse dust there is out here and how far it can travel.
So it was slow moving along Murphey’s track, I was down to about forty kilometres per hour, you know the kind of speeds we hear those whinging city dwellers complain is too slow when they are driving around amongst their concrete canyons with pedestrians and bike riders all around them. I probably could have gone faster, even from the factory the Beast was made for rougher terrain than Murphey’s track, but I do live by the mantra that it’s better to be safe than sorry and since Nick made no mention of this being an emergency safety was my main concern not speed.
While I knew roughly where I was headed even someone like myself looked for landmarks to tell them where they were and I was looking for a bunch of trees that weren’t there. In case you don’t remember Nick’s words to me on the phone (I can recite them for you!), “where the ‘04 fires took out that row of trees on Murphey’s track” was what he’d said. That’s right I was looking for a row of trees that was not there, hell of a landmark isn’t it?
While such a description would not have helped most people I’m not most people, I’m Dean! Ok I’ll stop stroking my ego, the truth was most locals knew exactly where those trees where before they burnt down. It was the only large group of trees along the entire length of Murphey’s Track, anywhere else there was tress they were sporadically spaced with anything up to a hundred metres between them.
Where Nick was there once stood a row of about thirty trees, then the 2004 fires came through and left nothing but charred black stumps and dead skeletal like trees sticking up from the ground kind of like eerie fingers from the earth. It wasn’t that the trees were hard to find it was the fact that they were off the track about a hundred metres that made them the type of landmark no one but a local could find.
I’d been following Nick’s tracks in the bulldust, I doubted anyone has been down the track since him, for nearly ten kilometres when I finally slowed down and began looking for the point those same tracks deviated off to the right. Soon enough I found them and was off the formed track and travelling the path Nick had made. A few minutes later I came over the slight rise and could see the skeletal trees I’d been seeking. I could also see Nick waiting patiently having heard me coming before I could see him.
Previous Desert Rescue story here.