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.