Young talented French girl Elise Buisson gives us "extracts from her diary" Raid 1996 in English.
Elise co-raided with Aussie Paul Young in his Dyane. Including pre and post Raid they covered 18,000 kms.
Friday 26th July
Uluru: We get up at 6.15 to go and see the sunrise. At 11 o’clock I go and climb it with Paul (Smith) and Nan. About 3 hours later we are down again. The view from the top is unbelievable even if the horizon is cloudy. Then Paul, the Dyane and I drive to the Olgas for two short walks through the Valley of Winds and through canyon. We are back in the campground at 5 p.m. for lunch !
At 9.30 is the first meeting of the raid, where stickers, car numbers and pamphlets are distributed.
Saturday 27th July
‘Til 9.30, we pack our stuffs and clean the car before the start of the Raid. At 9.30 is a meeting where we set up all the groups. Our group is the Emus one :
Bob and Nan Canberra
Howard and Hannu Sydney and Finland
Alf and Ailsa Sydney
Dagmar and Jürgen Germany
Derek and Jenny New Zealand
We are the first group to leave at 10.30 to Mt. Conner. The track to the main camp site near a pond is fine but the one keeping on to the bottom of the mount is muddy. After a car got stuck in the middle of the mud, we drive on the side of the track, through the bush where the soil is dry.
At 3 o’clock, we (Paul, Chris and I) start climbing Mt. Conner. It’s a shame we started so late ‘cos we didn’t have time to walk around. We just walk ¼ of its perimeter, maybe less ! Its sides (down the cliffs to the bottom) are invaded by spinifex which slows down our walk. Whereas the view from the top of the Ayers Rock was a little bit misty on the horizon, today we can see quite far. The view from there is just stunning. On the other side, we hear nothing but birds. We don’t walk back along the cliffs but at the bottom of the mount where we see kangaroos tracks. This walk was very pleasant ‘cos contrary to the Ayers Rock or the Olgas, we were alone and it was peaceful.
The sun is going down when we decide to drive to the homestead. The track is narrow and red and the sunset beautiful. Where is the farm ? We still don't know ‘cos we’ve never reached it. As it’s getting late, we just go back to camp and cook potatoes in embers and jaffles for dinner.
Sunday 28th July
As we are a little bit far from the main camp site, we get up at 5.15 (with Steve’s DS’siren, that everyone knows well now !).
We arrive there at 7.30 when the meeting should be on. As noone is ready, we just keep on driving to go back to the main road to Kings Canyon. At this camp, all the tents are wet. The night has been humid here whereas at the bottom of the mount it was warmer and dry.
At 11.30, we arrive in the Canyon and start a 3 hours and 6 km up and down walk (white bark eucalyptus trees growing on red cliffs, the top of the domes made by erosion look a little bit like the Bungle Bungles, colorful stratums in the rock, Garden of Eden is a waterhole with gum trees and palm trees in a valley perpendicular to Kings Canyon).
We drive to KC’s resort to settle camp and then I go back there with Steve and James for the sunset.
We have a barbecue before the meeting at 9.30.
Monday 29th July
We leave the resort at 8.30 and go on a difficult ‘cos corrugated track (especially at the end). Stop at a lookout just after a short bitchement part which goes up a range of hills. Then, we drive along it, with the hills on our right. They’re waved, red and covered with spinifex.
We reach Gosse Bluff for lunch. The central crater (made by a comet 140 million years ago) is orange/red whereas the big one is made of smooth pale green hills.
Stop at Redbanks Gorge. Beautiful smooth and colorful stones (purple, red orange, yellow). Rock wallaby.
Glen Helen, where we hear dingos howling the evening !
Tuesday 30th July
Bitchement from Glen Helen to Alice Springs.
First stop: Ormison Gorge. Place of our first ‘break down’ : the motor doesn’t receive the petrol properly ‘cos the small piece of rubber tube coming out from the tank is old and crackled.
Second stop: Serpentine Gorge, dry but the nicest, white bark gum trees, palm trees...
Third stop: Stanley Chasm (entry fees)
Forth stop: Simpson Gap, where we see a group of about 6 rock wallabies.
At 4.30, we’re in Alice Springs and we drive around to have a look at the town.
Dinner in a tavern next to the campground. Meeting at 9.
Wednesday 31st July
Alice Springs: Spend the morning cleaning, washing, doing maintenance. At 11 o’clock, a big part of the cars form a convoy to Rainbow Rd to be recorded for ABS TV. I go for this drive with Claude and Edith (Switzerland).
Spend this afternoon in a garage, to change the oil of the DS and then doing food shopping for 5 days.
Thursday 1st August
Although we were supposed to leave Alice Springs at 7.15, we are one of the last team to leave at 8.30.
Never mind..., we drive to the start of the Tanami Road. The fist hundred kilometers are bitumen and then it’s a large gravel track. We catch up a few other groups at the first petrol station. Stop further at Yuendumu. Further ahead, the landscape is made up of fields of termite nests !!! Turn off on the left to Chilla Well, a dead town where the only thing which still works is a tap ! Everyone collects wood for the bush camp as the evening arrives.
Bush camp in the middle of spinifex, and for dinner pasta but what a revolution, not with tomato sauce but carbonara !! None can stop progress !
Beautiful and unique moonrise which could be seen far from the lights of camp fires.
Friday 2nd August
Today is a spinifex day ! We get up in the middle of spinifex, drive between fields of spinifex...Well, there were a few trees, wattles and flowers (less than yesterday) too and still those termites nests.
Rabbit Flat, long, long queue for petrol, but a place with a tap, benches and shade that everyone seems to have liked judging from the time we all spend there (even after filling up).
At about 2 p.m., we pass Mt. Tanami and then the Western Australia border (2h jet lags compare to Sydney).
hat evening, we kept on driving, and driving, and driving ‘til we realized, a little bit too late, that we had missed the turn off to the bush camp. So, we had to drive back. No worries, it wasn’t that far back ! Just before driving off the road, we meet Steve and James who are supposed to be ahead of us (indeed they overtook us during the afternoon and we didn’t overtake them. We couldn’t have done that with the Dyane anyway, could we have ? Actually, we made it ! They had stopped to have a sleep somewhere out of road !
Anyway, this bush camp is great. Next to a hill, we can admire the sunset and the desert from the top. Still for those who have a look at the sky far from any lights, plenty of shooting stars and the bright Milky Way.
Saturday 3rd August
Late start (9.30) after fixing the left rear arm which was bent. The emu team is spread everywhere.
Drive to Wolf Creek Crater, that we climb and where we walk to the center (different flora). Today, we drive by ourselves, none in front of us or behind us for kilometer and kilometers. Where is everyone ? Anyway...we arrived in Halls Creek just in time for a swim in the swimming pool of the campground, before it was in the shade. The first shower since Alice Springs ! Dinner at the Roadhouse.
Sunday 4th August
Halls Creek: Maintenance day. Enjoy the swimming pool.
At the end of the afternoon, we finally drive to Palm Springs where I snorkel. Nice spot surrounded by trees like an oasis. Climb up the trees to pick up bananas. Beautiful sunset as we drive back to Halls Creek.
Monday 5th August
Paul and Steve drive on a track with the DS and James and I go on the Duncan Highway to Kununurra and Lake Argyle. Pass along the Bungle Bungles on the way, mountains on the left side of the road, boabs and trees without any leaves but with beautiful yellow flowers. Before arriving in Lake Argyle Village, amazing view on the dark blue water between red cliffs, a brilliant green gum tree and dry hills in the back ground. We have a swim in the swimming pool (too late to have it in the lake) and then cook cat fish for dinner (who said we were only eating pasta ?). Spend the evening chatting with Glen and Bruce around a bottle of port wine.
Tuesday 6th August
Lake Argyle: We drive to Kununurra for breakfast (140 km return). We swim in the lake today after hesitating for half an hour because of freshies.
Wednesday 7th August
We drive to Kununurra to get the Dyane fixed and hopefully to get the DS’broken key out from its hole ! We do some food shopping for the next bush camps on Gibb River Road. We keep moving at 1 p.m.
Right at the beginning of the dirt road, a chassis is broken. We keep on after half an hour stop watching it getting fixed. We stop at Emma Gorge, the nicest we’ve seen so far. 4 km return to reach it on a steep path.
It’s a large and circle pool with a high fall only dropping water. We spend so much time there waiting for Paul (who actually was in front of us) that we have to drive west while the sun comes down and then in the dark (120 km). Gorgeous sunset on the Kimberleys. It’s too late to put up our tents. Doesn’t matter, we’re gonna defy all the bugs and sleep under the stars.
Thursday 8th August
The track is much narrower than the Tanami road and rougher. Holes covered with sand, dip with water...
We try to find Mt. Barnett Gorge (turn off on the right of the track) but we get mixed up between all the small tracks going around in circle and we finally give up after 30 min. Mt. Barnett camp site is quite nice and as we arrive early, we get plenty of time to enjoy the pound whose water is clear and not too cold, the small island in the middle and the sunset from the cliffs. Later, Paul has to saw the bullbar ‘cos it is too heavy and to weld a part of the body at the front of the car.
Friday 9th August
We leave camp only at 9 o’clock ‘cos we, I mean, Paul finishes to fix the car. We drive to Adcock Gorge we have a walk and are surrounded by flies. Then we drive to the next gorge : Lennard Gorge, where we have lunch after a swim. The road is very different from Tanami track. It winds between the cliffs and hills of Leopold Ranges, and the valley is quite green. (remember a long black snake crossing the track). Then, we keep on going to the next and last gorge for today : Winjana Gorge. We don’t even put a toe into the muddy water of that one, full of freshies.
Saturday 10th August.
Today Steve travels with Caroline (car number 16, a red 2CV), Marisse with James in the DS.
Walk (or swim) through Tunnel Creek.
After a quick lunch in one of Fitzroy Crossing’s petrol station, we go to Geikie Gorge where we, once again, have a swim, and where (we have been told, but only after), a boat had been attacked by a salty ! Scary, even if it was ages ago !
We cook hot pasta for dinner but (sorry Steve, I didn’t mean it) I poured the whole packet of chili spice into the pan ! It was a little bit too hot for everyone I reckon !!!
Sunday 11th August
On the way to Broome, we decide to have a look at Derby (100 km return out of the way). We arrive there at 11 o’clock, have a look at the prison tree (boab) and visit a small museum (aviation, telecommunication, aboriginal history in the area) with Alf and Eilsa. Then we go and see the jetty (built in 1885) where we have lunch but from where none would like to dive (because of the muddy color of the sea and who knows what’s in it !).
We reach Broome at 3.30 and directly go to Cable Beach : 22 km of white sand and blue/green water, Indian ocean waves; one couldn’t ask for more ! Even some dolphins are swimming 50 meters off the shore ! Well, what a swim !
Have dinner in China Town.
Monday 12th August
Broome: Everyone on the beach at 8 o’clock (before the high tide) for a group photo. Spend the day looking for tires for the DS, changing the oil and the steering tire right arm, going from garage to garage.
At 4 p.m., we’re finally able to enjoy the beach.
Evening in an old open air cinema where The Cable Guy is on.
Tuesday 13th August
The green Dyane is really wet this morning and doesn’t wanna start. efore leaving Broome, we visit the Japanese cemetery (beautiful graves) and we go to the jetty that we can’t see ’cos it’s in a thick fog ! Quite weird, ‘cos it’s the only spot of the town to have such a crappy weather. Everywhere else is sunny.
Eighty Miles Beach at low tide is an hour’s walk to reach the water.
Sunset from dunes.
Wednesday 14th August
Free and lazy day at 80 Miles Beach.
Sandrine has seen two sea snakes on the beach this morning, so as we are not gonna have a swim, we walk along the beach (5 hours’walk at least today at low and high tides). I also write postcards (perfect time for that) and we collect shells.
A few sharks get caught at high tide.
Barbecue organized by Sue and cooked by Ben (un véritable chef !).
Thursday 15th August
The first part of the road is bitchement ‘til the turn off to Marble Bar before Port Hedland. The shock absorbers of the Dyane are wrong ‘cos she keeps on going like a kangaroo. We go though a range of small red hills covered with pale green spinifex and a few white bark and brilliant green leaves gum trees. We arrive in Marble Bar by lunch time and go (near a pool) and see the false, but still gorgeous marble. We keep on driving, passing near an Aboriginal Community where about twenty cute kids make us signs from the top of a dead car. We arrive at the bush camp next to the highway just before the sunset. We settle camp and cook pasta with tomato sauce as usual !
Meeting around the fire from 8h30 to early the next morning. Guitar (Mozart), flute (Sandrine), dijiridoo (JD) and sauce pan are used to make a great concert while Marisse sings. A great time !
Friday 16th August
A long day through Karijini National Park, so early start, the green machine is the first on the road. 30 min. on the bitchement, stop at the roadhouse just before the turn off on the right to Wittenoon. Waiting for the first group to arrive, we take advantage of the last small shop of the day to buy what is necessary for James’b’day tonight. hen we drive back to the turn off to Karijini National Park.
he first place of interest is Fig Tree Oak. We walk off the road for half an hour, give up and finally discover just before getting back to the car that the fig tree and the small spring are just next to the road !
We drive to Dales Gorge through Yampire Gorge (narrow winding and red track, I drive a little bit too quickly in a big puddle of mud and the car get splashed up to the roof ! ) There, we have lunch and have a quick look at Circular pool ‘cos we’ve been told Fortescue Falls are nicer. It is definitely right ! This place is very muchlike paradise ! The first fall goes down slippery steps made in the rock, the second one, smaller, is warm and arrives into a pool surrounded with aquatic plants where the fish are.
Driving to Kalamina Gorge we see a goanna and a kangaroo.
he bush camp is in the middle of spinifex where it’s always such fun to find a spot without those spiky things to settle camp ! As usual we cook pasta (I wonder why I keep on writing this every night ! I should write only when we have original dinner !). Then we celebrate James’b’day with Bruce’s team. Nearly everyone in the raid has supplied a part of what is necessary for it : candles bought in Broome, chocolate in a roadhouse (which hasn’t melted thanks to Benoit and Olivier (car number 14) who provided the fridge, balloons from Sue and Ben (car number 50) probably bought in Port Hedland and a Ailsa and Alf (car number 69) ‘s fruit cake without which the candles would have been ridiculous ! Thanks everyone !
After the meeting Bernie plays the guitar : a few famous and good rock n’roll.
About 300 kilometers (well, that one is a guess !).
Saturday 17th August
A wolf spider has been found in Benoit and Olivier’s car this morning. It’s one of the most dangerous one in Australia ! ‘Charmant’ !
We go and jog to Joffre Gorge’s lookout to warm and wake us up before driving to Hamersley Gorge on a very good red gravel road. As we are there early, we walk to the lookout first and then down to the water. Lots of pools linked by small falls. Beautiful cliff bent like a wave and stratified with different colors. An hour and a half later, Jo, Helen, Paul and I meet two Americans from San Diego who tell us there are fruit bats in the trees 15 min. walk further along the river. So we go there ! I thought that bats were sleeping during the day. It’s probably a stupid legend ‘cos those ones are screaming and fighting.
After lunch we drive to Tom Price on a good track (see two roos). We visit the town, the information center and get bored so decide to climb the mount Nameless (the highest of WA : 1128m). We don’t reach the top, we started too late !
Meeting around a fire made with logs coming from the railway and whose smoke stinks diesel.
We’re woken up in the middle of the night by a few drops but it is not enough to make us sleep under cover.
About 250 kilometers.
Sunday 18th August
From 8 to 9.30 visit of Tom Price iron mine.
Two ways to go to Mt. Stuart bush camp : way back to the turn off to Tom Price then bitchement or all the way on bitchement through Paraburdoo where there is a fair. And what a fair ! It was worth driving 100 more km ! Well...At least we can see what a country town is. Thousands of grasshoppers this afternoon.
We arrive, as nearly everyone, quite early at the camp site. That’s nice to have time to relax. We can chat and take time to make a sangria ! Yummy
Monday 19th August
We get up before the sunrise, go near the waterhole and wait for animals to come. But it’s too close of the tents, they are not gonna drink here. So we walk further, up a hill from where we can see kangaroos jumping across the plain. Today is cloudy and as we have an early start we have to be very careful with wild life : emus and roos cross the road. Even cows decide that the middle of the road is a good place where to be ! Turn off to Bucket Road (through Marilla and Bullara), dirt road with muddy part because of the rain. We also get the second shower of the raid.
At 12 o’clock we’re back on the bitchement to Exmouth. We go and see a lighthouse 17 km out of town and a fishery.
We arrive in Coral Bay at 4 o’clock.
Tuesday 20th August
Coral Bay: scuba dive (organized by Annu (car number 84)) (blue spots rays, striped catfish, trumpet fish, ember parrot fish and all kinds of parrot fish, lion fish, lizard fish, spangled emperor, blue angel fish, a weird kind of prawns, Xmas trees.... Then I spend the rest of the day hanging around on the beach or in the campground.
We cook sweet chili noodles for dinner and then go to the pub where we chat and play pool.
Meeting and a 3 b’days party.
Wednesday 21st August
Last night, we decided not to stay another night in Coral Bay ‘cos the day after we would have to drive 600 km and still visit Carnavon, Shell Beach and Monkey Mia.
Before hiting the road at 12, we go snorkeling. (like yesterday angel and parrot fish, clams ... and a weird white sand fish with wings maybe an oriental scarofish).
Drive along the coast between wide stretch of wild and colorful (purple, yellow or white) flowers. ‘C’est magnifique !’
e pass the Capricorn tropic before arriving in Carnavon (3h30) where we go to a few plantations and where we buy bananas, sweet corn and green beans. When we see the bush camp site 70 km out of town, we decide to keep on to Hamelin Telegraph Station even if it means driving by night. We arrive there at 8 o’clock and the DS, Steve and James are not there. That also means we’ve got nothing to eat (‘cos the food is in the DS). So we just have a cup of tea, chatting with Alf and Ailsa.
Thursday 22nd August
Just after breakfast we walk to Hamelin Pool where the stromolites are. That’s very interesting to finally see them after studying them. Then we drive to Shell Beach and Eagle Bluff (nice view on the shallow water and an island inhabited by big seabirds). We stop in Denham for lunch and arrive just on time to see the dolphins in Monkey Mia.
Then we go to Péron Homestead where is a thermal spring. The Dyane turns into a 4WD track of François Péron National Park to the big lagoon. It’s one of the best tracks of the raid. Red, narrow, up and down and soft between dark green bush and flowers. Great !
Friday 23rd August
Paul works on the car ‘til 10h30, there are only 300 km to go today so there is no need to rush.
Visit Kalbarri and go to Redbluff and a lookout on the left of the main beach from 3 to 5 p.m.
Go to the pizzeria for dinner.
Saturday 24th August
Kalbarri: A little bit sad morning ‘cos it’s the last day of the raid and the sun is not always here to cheer us up. After a walk near the river I go the Rainbow Jungle with Benoit, Olivier, Samuel and Shogun (cars number 13 and 14). On the one hand it’s a little bit a shame to see parrots and birds in those conditions but on the other hand it’s a good way to learn a few things about them and their lives in the wild. They aren’t too bad here anyway, cages are large and they have fresh fruit everyday. Back at 3 o’clock in Anchorage campground where is a spare parts market.
Last evening of the raid spent in Finlay’s fresh fish BBQ, fish and chips followed by the Awards and songs...’til 2 o’clock.