Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Desert Mums – Update May 16th

Day 12...walking... The Desert Mums all felt so good after their early start and finish yesterday that they thought they’d do it again today. Re-cap… word is, they are NOT doing it again tomorrow! It was very, very, very cold this morning and horrendously hot this afternoon. (Such are the extremes of the desert temperatures). I do not have the readings, although I asked, but I don’t think anyone has a thermometer with them. Suffice to say, it can be pretty uncomfortable at certain times of the day in the middle of the Aussie outback.

They learned last night that the smell that had been assaulting their nostrils is not from a camel carcass……..or from each other – it’s the trees. They are called “Stinkin Gidgee”. Sounds wonderful……..…not!

Janice and Ed (from Toowoomba and friends of Denis & Jeanne) met the Mums for lunch and brought them some fresh fruit – such a treat and very thoughtful. Ed and Janice had planned from early days to meet Den and the Mums on the track close to the balloon launch date at Big Red. This is to occur in 5 days time on May 21st at approximately 10.00am. Janice and Ed will assist with the inflation of all 2500 pink balloons and I am sure that the extra hands will be really appreciated. The crew will be hand tying all the balloons so as not to leave any clips or ties to litter the environment. Of course, the balloons are 100% biodegradable latex and the tiny pieces that are left after they burst in the high, cold air decompose at about the same rate as that of a leaf which falls from a tree. The hand tying, however, is drying and painful for the fingers and hands, exacerbated no doubt by the very dry atmosphere experienced in the Simpson.

After completing yet another 31km today and after 8 or 9 hours walking for the twelfth time, the Mums lurched and shambled into camp along with the unmentionable little flying creatures that had been following them all afternoon. They rewarded themselves with a rest under what little shade a tarp strung between the two vehicles can provide, and nibbled some of the stashed “feel good” yummies that were smuggled in, extra to their standard daily rations. It was too early for dinner, so chief cook and bottle washer, Denis, snoozed under the meagre shade of a Stinkin Gidgee. Oh joy.

The Desert Mums are currently 62km west of Big Red sand dune. They have a small window of opportunity here to take the next couple of days a bit easier if they need to – provided they are allowed I guess - Denis had planned two days rest at Big Red before the balloon launch. He has to drive into Birdsville after arriving at Big Red to hook up the trailer, which is loaded with the helium gas bottles for the balloons, and get them back for the launch on Sunday. This should be a magnificent sight, one I would love to see………but not to be for me, nor sadly for all of you receiving this email tonight, however, Kathy will have the whole exciting event on film.

I received very little gossip from the Mums tonight as the phone line was really poor, and I had the feeling that they were pretty tired. I have tried calling again, but maybe the satellite is off doing its thing somewhere else – hhrmph, no consideration! It was impossible under these conditions to relay all of today’s email messages to them, so they’ll get a double whammy tomorrow evening. During the morning tomorrow, I intend to phone Den (if I can get through) and give a few instructions: I think we would all like to hear personal thoughts from each and every Desert Mum – that will give them something to think about while they push through the pain barrier while knocking off the last few days of their incredible journey.

Lastly, if anyone is trying to phone from Canada or the US, please phone 0414 291 851 as this number seems to be able to receive calls from these countries. It’s a complicated issue to do with Telstra in Australia, our telecommunications giant. Their industry rival, Optus, has provided the wonderful (and necessary) satellite communication for the Desert Mums. Telstra appears not to be open to assisting Optus, despite the unselfish contribution the Mums are making to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Research.

Two more days of walking (or a little bit more if they decide to stretch it out) before a rest at Big Red – they’re on the home stretch now! They WILL make it for sure!!

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