Camped   near   the   northern   shoreline   of   the   Mount   Elvire   Peninsular,   I   pondered   about   the   task   I   had   in   front   of   me.      Looking   at   the   map   on my   desk   at   home   I   had   at   first   thought   that   I   would   ride   my   new   Arctic   Cat   700   Diesel   quad   bike   around   the   perimeter   of   Lake   Barlee.      Before long   though,   as   I   measured   the   distance,   I   realised   that   this   was   a   huge   undertaking,   and   not   possible   in   the   few   days   I   had   allocated.      It   was over 800 kilometres around!!!! I    therefore    revised    my    plans    to    something    more    achievable,    and decided    to    do    some    simple    exploration    of    nearby    sections    of    the shoreline,   and   visit   some   of   the   islands,   that   abound   in   the   confines   of the   lake.      Of   particular   interest   was   Auriferous   Island,   which   had   some interesting   looking   ridges   on   it.      If   possible   I   would   also   try   and   visit Retreat   Rock   and   Yeedie   and   Bulgar   Hills   which   were   on   the   other   side of the lake, and on different sides. The   shoreline   was   about   300   metres   from   where   I   was   camped,   with   a huge   red   sandridge   in   between   –   I   had   taken   the   quad   for   a   few   runs   to the   lake   and   back   already.      The   lake   nearby   was   rideable,   though   the wet   and   soggy   mud   was   not   very   far   from   the   surface.      I   took   the opportunity   to   get   the   dog,   Massie,   used   to   the   bike   and   to   train   her   to jump   up   on   the   back   behind   me   upon   command.      It   took   a   while   –   I placed   some   food   on   the   back   to   start   the   process,   within   an   hour   she was happy enough to jump up when required, perhaps she thought it was easier than having to run along beside. The   quad   was   not   run   in   yet.      I   had   only   taken   it   a   couple   of   times   to Gnangara    Pine    Plantation    in    Perth    since    new,    so    this    will    be    an opportunity to give it a good test run for future trips. It   was   an   overcast   day,   and   there   was   light   drizzle   most   of   the   day.      The previous   night   it   rained   considerably,   remnants   of   Tropical   Cyclone Rusty.      I   hoped   this   would   not   affect   the   conditions   too   much   on   the lake.      Almost   a   full   can   of   WD-40   was   used   on   the   underside   of   the quad   to   help   prevent   damage   from   salt.   I   chose   an   island   directly adjacent   to   the   shoreline   to   where   I   was   camped   for   an   initial   test   run.     It   was   only   about   200   metres   from   shore   and   I   made   it   across   the   lake with   no   problems   –   it   was   slightly   boggier   than   on   the   shore.      I   hugged the   island   shoreline   and   drove   almost   right   around   the   island   to   a point   adjacent   to   my   camp   and   crossed   the   lake   again   to   camp.      This stage   took   about   30   minutes   over   a   distance   of   about   9   kilometres.      It was better than expected; I had thought the lake surface would be in worse condition. After    a    40    minute    rest    at    camp    I    decided    to    attempt    to    reach Auriferous   Island,   the   southern   cape,   which   was   over   6   kilometres   of salt   lake   away.      All   I   carried   was   a   shovel,   water,   GPS,   camera   and   of course   Massie   on   the   back.      I   could   just   make   out   what   I   thought   was the   cape   in   the   distance   –   so   after   a   few   hundred   metres   of   shoreline delaying   myself,   procrastinating   due   to   the   fear   of   getting   stuck   and perhaps   potential   loss   of   vehicle   –   I   left   the   shoreline   and   headed   out north east on the lake. The   first   few   kilometres   were   quite   easy   going,   and   I   marveled   at   all the   mirages   that   surrounded   me.      I   was   well   and   truly   on   my   own   out there   –   not   a   sign   of   life   on   the   lake   at   all.      Suddenly   the   bike   slowed and   I   quickly   lost   momentum.      The   lake   became   soft,   and   the   bike   was tracking   a   couple   of   more   inches   down.      No   problems,   a   bit   more throttle   and   let   the   torque   of   the   diesel   carry   me   through.      This   it   did, though   now   I   had   a   slightly   different   frame   of   mind   than   I   had   just before.      If   I   stopped   I   would   have   had   great   difficulty   in   regaining   any sort   of   momentum,   yet   if   I   continued   I   could   not   know   for   certain   if   I was   to   travel   further   into   a   yet   greater   slosh   of   mud.      The   choice   was easy and made in a split second – Forward I must go!!! The   diesel   powered   its   way   through   this   and   a   couple   more   softer spots.      At   these   spots   the   mud   was   flicked   high   out   of   the   rear   tyres, making   a   terrible   sloshing   sound.      When   I   neared   the   cape   I   deviated slightly   to   avoid   what   looked   like   a   sheet   of   water   and   made   it   to   the shoreline right at the cape. I   climbed   the   short   distance   to   the   summit   and   admired   the   view   of the   lake   –   I   could   only   just   make   out   on   the   horizon   where   I   had   come from.      I   didn’t   spend   much   time   there   at   all,   as   I   know   I   was   only   half home.      I   decided   to   go   home   on   a   route   slightly   north   of   my   incoming route   to   see   if   I   could   have   a   better   run   home.      I   flanked   a   small   island   directly   west   adjacent   to   the   main   island   and   headed   out   on   the   lake again.  Again, there was one soft spot, and I held the throttle down with as much strength as my sore thumb could muster. Soon   I   came   to   a   small   island   not   visible   to   me   previously.      This   I decided   would   be   my   preferred   way   of   travelling   on   the   lake   –   Island hopping.      This   should   decrease   my   chances   of   bogging   even   to   just   a small   extent.      I   rode   around   the   island   and   back   out   on   the   lake   again.     In   the   distance   I   could   just   make   out   the   island   close   to   camp   and   to this    I    headed.        Once    this    island    was    reached    I    could    breathe    an enormous   sigh   of   relief   as   I   had   been   here   before   and   had   made   it back to camp safety. I   reached   camp   not   long   after   and   rested,   time   seems   to   stand   still when   travelling   the   lake   –   This   stage   seem   to   take   ages   but   was   over   in 70   minutes   after   19   kilometres   all   up.      I   had   a   least   achieved   one   of   my goals which was to reach the big island. The   next   morning   I   decided   to   just   go   for   a   gentle   cruise   down   the eastern   side   of   the   peninsular,   to   see   what   was   there.      The   shoreline   is not   straight   by   any   means   –   there   are   always   coves   and   capes   to   view.     It   was   fairly   time   consuming   though,   around   some   of   the   capes   the   lake looked   very   uninviting,   so   I   travelled   above   the   capes   to   get   around. Here   I   saw   my   first   signs   of   others   (on   the   lake),   an   old   quad   bike   track near   the   shoreline   which   had   almost   blended   back   into   the   lake.      I found   a   rockhole   with   water   –   Lat:29   13.554S,   Long:119   39.306E.      I travelled    just    past    the    latitude    of    Mount    Elvire    and    made    my    way towards    it.        I    followed    an    old    track    which    took    me    in    the    wrong direction   so   had   to   back-track   a   bit.      A   shotline   went   right   up   to   near the peak of the mount so I rode it until the end. From   here   I   slowly   made   my   way   back   to   camp,   north   on   the   existing track   which   I   took   to   get   me   to   my   camp   in   the   first   place   and   once again    rested,    but    not    for    long.        This    stage    almost    3    hours    and    47 kilometres. There   was   a   decent   sized   island   to   the   north   west,   probably   the   second largest   island   on   the   lake.      My   plan   was   to   reach   this   island   –   then travel    again    to    Auriferous    Island,    the    northern    part    of    it    before returning   to   camp.      A   big   stage   bound   to   be   fraught   with   danger   and stress.      After   lunch   I   again   headed   out,   first   heading   to   the   island   close to   the   shoreline   again   –   and   then   another   smaller   island   just   north   of   it –   I   crossed   this   island,   a   white   sandy   island   with   salt   bush   covering   it.     From   here   I   went   to   another   island   about   500   metres   away.      The   lake was harder here than to the east and I was much relieved. I   thought   I   could   see   the   island   to   where   I   was   headed   in   the   distance, this   was   true   as   I   found   out   –   however   the   appearance   of   features seem   so   distorted   when   combined   with   mirages   it   is   extremely   hard   to judge   distances   properly   –   I   thought   I   may   have   been   viewing   the landscape on the far side of the lake. It   was   about   6   kilometres   to   the   island   and   once   again   I   just   felt   a   bit   “swallowed   up”   by   the   vastness   of   nothing   around   me.      The   firmness   of the   surface   was   maintained   all   the   way   to   the   island;   I   passed   over   the   northern   end   of   another   smaller   low   sandy   island   on   the   way.      I   rode over   the   larger,   unnamed   island,   which   mostly   was   made   up   of   the   usual red    sandy    country    one    would    find    on    the    mainland;    this    terrain however   let   me   test   the   Arctic   Cat   out   under   different   circumstances, and it handled it very well indeed. Now   to   the   leg   of   the   journey   I   was   dreading.      Auriferous   Island   was about   9   kilometres   away,   and   I   could   only   guess   as   to   which   feature   it may   be   in   the   distance.      There   were   some   islands   in   the   distance   on   the way,   however   even   the   closest   was   just   a   small   “blip”   on   the   horizon.     So   I   headed   out   east   towards   the   first   island,   getting   there   without drama.   And   the   second   island   which   I   stopped   at   for   a   few   minutes   for a break and to take some photos. The   further   I   got   east   the   softer   the   lake   became;   it   was   just   as   bad   as yesterday   –   with   huge   muddy   patches.      Whenever   I   struck   one   of   these patches   my   heart   just   sank,   and   I   am   sure   my   face   went   a   white   colour.     The   emotion   that   I   got   was   very   hard   to   describe,   perhaps   one   of   fear, terror   or   maybe   even   despair.      I   relied   totally   on   the   vehicle   to   get   me   through   –   it   didn’t   let   me   down   once,   though   I   can   tell   you   honestly,   I had   my   doubts   about   it.      Another   two   small   islands   were   passed   and   the   worst   muddy   patch   I   encounted   on   the   whole   traverse   was   only about   200   metres   from   the   main   island.      The   bike   slowed   down   abruptly,   and   went   deeper   into   the   mud   than   ever   before   and   the   pressure my thumb had on the throttle didn’t hurt as I was well passed the pain stage. What a nice island!! I   wondered   how   many   people   had   been   here.      Probably   a   few   with   a   name   like   Auriferous   Island.      I   arrived   on   the   western   side   one   quarter of   its   length   down   from   the   north.      I   wanted   to   get   a   close   look   at   the   big   rocky   ridges   on   the   north   eastern   side.      It   was   red   sandy   country again   firstly,   just   like   the   previous   island.      I   travelled   across   this   until   the   vegetation   got   to   thick   to   get   any   closer   to   the   ridges,   so   I   headed north   to   the   shoreline.      I   followed   the   shoreline   to   the   east   and   around to   the   south.      Here   I   spotted   another   set   of   old   quad   bike   tracks.      I crossed   a   cove   and   a   small   section   of   island   that   was   poking   out   to   the east before coming back to the shoreline. Here   the   ridges   were   in   full   view;   the   quartz   fragments   lying   around   in the   sand   made   me   realize   why   the   island   was   named   the   way   it   was.      I passed   the   southern   section   of   one   ridge   on   the   lake.      The   next   ridge extended   right   to   the   lakes   edge   forming   a   cape,   one   of   the   ones   I mentioned   previously   that   looked   a   bit   doubtful.      I   made   two   attempts to   cross   over   the   peak   of   the   ridge   unsuccessfully.      The   peak   was   made of   sharp   upright   stone   which   extended   for   quite   a   way,   so   I   had   to   ride around   it   to   the   north   through   a   low   point,   before   I   once   again   came onto the red sand. I   followed   my   incoming   track   on   the   sand   for   a   while   before   I   decided to   choose   a   route   back   to   camp   to   the   south   of   where   I   came   in,   though   I   doubted   I   would   have   an   easy   traverse,   as   history   dictated.   Leaving the   island   I   passed   two   smaller   islands   and   headed   to   another,   in   the   distance.      This   run   wasn’t   too   bad,   and   I   reached   the   island   and   rode   its shoreline   on   its   eastern   side.      Another   island   was   seen   to   the   west   so   I   headed   this   way   –   the   lakebed   was   muddy   in   parts   as   before,   though not   as   bad   as   my   previous   run.      After   this   island   was   reached   I   was   on   the   homeward   stretch.      I   headed   towards   some   land   in   the   distance which   as   I   got   closer   formed   into   two   separate   islands   –   the   eastern   one   I   then   head   to.      This   was   the   small   island   I   had   visited   earlier   today on my way to the north western island.  One island to go!!! The   next   island   was   the   big   island   not   far   from   the   mainland,   and   I   followed   my   previous   tracks   around   it,   crossed   the   last   section   of   lake   and rode into camp.  This stage almost 3 hours and 55 kilometres. I   was   so   relieved   to   reach   camp,   so   relieved.      Things   could   have   been so different. There   was   a   bit   of   daylight   left   so   after   about   an   hour   decided   to   do another   easy   run.      This   time   I   would   travel   for   a   while   on   the   old   track that   goes   west   of   my   camp   and   apparently   goes   down   the   western   side of   the   peninsular.      Then   I   would   cut   across   to   the   shoreline   and   head back   east   to   camp.      This   actually   turned   out   to   be   an   easy   run   as   I   had hoped   so   does   not   need   much   narration.      I   cut   across   to   the   shoreline and   had   a   nice   pleasant   ride   back   to   camp   with   no   dramas   in   just   over an hour and 13 kilometres. At   camp   that   night   I   made   a   decision.      I   had   another   day   allocated   to explore   the   area,   and   I   still   yet   had   to   visit   the   features   on   the   other side   of   the   lake   that   I   had   planned.      However   I   decided   to   pack   it   in   and go   home   in   the   morning.      I   had   taken   risks   I   shouldn’t   have;   made   it   back   to   camp   each   time   perhaps   by   way   of   luck   and   not   good   planning.     One wrong hesitation or very bad patch of lake and I could have been in serious trouble.  I decided to quit whilst I was still ahead!! Whilst at my home again, pondering what may have been, I think I made the right decision.
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