By Paul Flemons, Australian Museum
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Friday 8 July was our final trek day. On Saturday (9th July) we parted ways with the rest of the group and headed home. Until we got home this morning (July 12th) we have been busy driving with no time for blogging. Now that Beth and I are back home we thought we would make one last blog post to bring the trek blog to a close.
Friday (Day 7) proved to be a hard walking day as we slogged through spinifex to reach our final destination where we would ultimately leave the camels the next day and start the journey home. During the afternoon march, Beth, Charlie and Paul left the rest of the group to look for birds and insects but with limited time and a lot of walking to do we had mixed results. In all Beth and I walked almost 60km over the 8 days of the trek. This averaged out at almost 10km a day as we didn’t walk on days 1 and 8 of the trek. We also participated in loading and unloading the camels every morning and afternoon. The remaining time we tried to squeeze in as much sampling as we could as well as pinning dry specimens and preparing the blog text and images. So we were very busy and quite tired by the final night of the trek on the 7th.
After farewelling the crew and “cobs” (the other expeditioners) on Saturday morning we had an exciting surprise – as we left Ethabuka a very excited Beth spied a pair of rare Grey Falcons in a tree. Cracking views of one of the birds perched on a branch, and then prolonged views of both raptors swooping and gliding overhead provided an unbelievable sighting of this rarely observed species and what appeared to be their nest. Not too long afterwards we came across a flock of emus on the road and after stopping the car and waiting quietly, found ourselves the subjects of curious scrutiny.
The drive back home was as expected – lots of hamburgers, lamingtons and cups of coffee. That was until Paul spotted what he thought was a couple of Mallee fowl leaving the edge of the road just out of Nymagee, south of Cobar. We stopped to see if we could verify the sighting and managed to find one of the pair and got sufficient photo evidence to clarify the sighting – a very rare bird indeed!!! A fitting finale to what has been a wonderful experience for both of us; demonstrating the capacity for virtual real time identification of fauna and flora from even the most remote locations.
We hope blog readers have gained some feeling for what it was like to be out in the Simpson Desert on a camel trek, and have managed to experience some vicarious enjoyment from our virtual meanderings. Signing off from Paul and Beth.