It's been a while since I blogged. Things have been going fairly well, Alex is coping by singing non stop about anything that comes to mind, drawing in his books, eating what ever he can get his hands on (Banana bread is the new favorite) and demands strawberries everytime we go to a supermarket!!! To him,the perfect campsite has sand were we can build a garage and roads etc for his dump truck. He's also pretty good at undoing his seat belt, climbing in the back and lying down on the couch the second the truck comes to a stop anywhere. You can tell when he's had enough of sitting in his seat as either the volume of his singing increases, the lyrics get obnoxious, or he starts roaring like a dinosaur.
My observations from the road are that for a country that is known as being dry and barren, it is absolutely teaming with wild life. It's hard to describe, there are so many birds everywhere, from flocks of parrots, to crows, pelicans, to eagles with a 2.5m wing span. Not just the odd eagle or hawk either. The other day at Karumba, I counted 47 eagles soaring above an area, just circling. We past a five of these giant eagles today busily shredding a recently deceased Roo on the side of the road. The ground is alive with insects, termites, ants, crickets and yes, flys. It's been a real surprise to me the shear numbers of native animals just doing there thing everywhere!!!
The drama with the suspension lives on. We did a huge section on good sealed roads from Karumba to Mt Isa. On leaving Mt Isa to head to Birdsville the sealed road turned into a single lane of sealed road down the middle with a gravel run off strip on either side. The seal deteriorated the further we got from town, and at 90km/h on this surface it started to show up some issues I hadn't expected. The dreaded wheel shimmy. We stopped for lunch at Dujarra, and I got under the front with the pry bar and torch, and got Sarah to shake the truck from side to side as hard as she could. There was some movement on the panhard bushes, they hadn't failed, but you could see the rubber was deformed and hanging out the side of the bush. The same scenario for the radius arm bushes, the rubber was all deformed away from the center of the bush, and the left rear bush had spat some of the rubber out the side. Yay.
If only I had noticed it the night before, I could have dropped it at a shop in MT Isa and said "fix please", but now we were 150ks from town and I had some decisions to make. We were parked in a camp site sort of area in Dujarra, there was shade, a toilet, water and safe for Alex. I decided to fit the spare radius arm bushes which were a two piece bush, so no special tools required. The catch was the Panhard rod bushes, the ones I had as spare required a press to fit. Rather than disturbing the panhard rod, as the vehicle was still drive able, we decided the next day we would take it back to Mt Isa and get the spare bushes fitted. So now we have no spare bushes left.
I rang around in Alice, and have ordered a set of two piece poly bushes for the panhard from Pedders Suspension. I have also sorted out genuine Land Rover radius arm bushes and panhard rod bushes from the Land rover agent in Alice. The plan is once we get there, I will get the genuine bushes fitted to everything, and retain the two piece bushes as spare, and also have the two piece panhard rod bushes aswell, so I can fit them on the side of the road. I'm kicking myself I didn't have them with me, but at least with having the press in bushes, I saved my self a long wait if I had had to get them ordered in to Mt Isa.
In order to get to Alice, we have to cross the Simpson desert first. Let's hope it all hangs together, I will be looking after Betsie more than ever now!!!!