Tag Archives: desert

Odd Shot; Puddles

I have been saying that the Wet is late this year. The desert is dryer than I ever remember it.

In fact on Friday I posted a picture of rain which was avoiding me.

Yesterday (Sunday) I had to travel to the Telfer mine site to pick up some supplies.

Guess where that rain was falling – yep – on the road to Telfer.

What was odd was that I had to drive through the puddles left behind by the clouds I photographed on Thursday evening..


Saturday Extra

Here I am, in the middle of the desert.

Top temperature this week was 47.4C. The lowest Maximum was 42.7C

I am longing for some cool. Some cold rain, even some snow.

Then last night I had a nightmare that I was in Panama during a snowstorm.

I was dreaming of a white isthmus.

Friday’s Feathers; Spinifex Pigeon

One of the crested pigeons, the Spinifex pigeon has adapted to the general red colour of the desert and so makes it that little bit harder for the hawks and falcons.

They are very nervous birds and they do a lot of running along the ground. When they fly, it is for short, up to 100 metres, distances. They flap noisily to take off and then glide with stiff wings outstretched. These flights are fast and low.

That red eye patch makes them look quite fierce.



Sky Watch Friday

Here in the desert, heat is a way of life.

We are always aware of the temperature. Yesterday was a little cooler, it maxed out at about 41C.

Yet around midday our very dry lake looked to be full of water.

In fact it was full of sky. The biggest mirage I have ever seen on the lake.

The shimmer from the heat haze has blurred everything in the distance.


Camera Critters #8; Thorny Devil

He sure looks scary. All those spikes and thorns.

Although they are quite sharp to touch, the base of the spikes just push into his skin and the pointy ends don’t go into yours.

They sit in the middle of open spaces such as gravel roads to gather warmth and get quite defensive if their space is invaded – even if it is a large 4×4 which does the invading.

Approaching them on foot will cause them to rear up in mock attack and they only run, at the last moment, for just a couple of yards. Then you can scoop them up and show them off.

The colours seem to vary with the area, or maybe they change colours a little. I have never seen two which look exactly alike.

It is very nice if you return this scary critter to a safe place when you have finished admiring him.


A Scout Master was teaching his boy scouts about survival in the desert. “What are the three most important things you should bring with you in case you get lost in the desert?” he asked.

Several hands went up, and many important things were suggested such as food, matches, etc. Then one little boy in the back eagerly raised his hand. “Yes Davey, what are the three most important things you would bring with you?” asked the Scout Master.

Davey replied, “A compass, a canteen of water, and a deck of cards.”

“Why is that Davey?” asked the Scout Master.

“Well,” answered Davey, ” the compass is to find the right direction, and the water is to prevent dehydration.”

“And what about the deck of cards?” asked the Scout Master impatiently.

Davey replied, “Well, Sir, as soon as you start playing Solitaire, someone is bound to come up behind you and say, ‘Put that red nine on top of that black ten’.”

Sky Watch Friday #4

Sometimes there is almost nothing to see in the sky. It becomes a blank ceiling, covering everything.

In my days in the desert, I could go for days only ever seeing a few birds in the deepest of blue skies.

At times like this one looks to the leaves and branches of trees to break the overhead monotony.

Then suddenly the whirling circles which create our weather and tides and ever-changing night skies relent and allow something extra. Apparently painted on the inside of that great roof over our heads.

Set against the acacia leaves of a desert wattle, a gibbous moon prepares for the approaching night when she will rule over the nocturnal life which will come out to hunt and to feed in the near dark of this dry land.

Photo Hunt #111; Shoes

Being a male I don’t do shoes. Not as a fashion accessory.

I wear them when I have to. Like on a bush track where I may need to stomp on a reptilian head before it injects me with the venom de jour. Even then I like the ability to remove them quickly and often.

Looking through my photograph collection (all 30 Gb of it), I have found I do not even record images of them. Not deliberately, anyway.

However, I was able to find one image which had a number of shoes and boots. In the desert, when a vehicle breaks down, it is all hands to the wheel until it is fixed.

This time it was the brake shoes on the vehicle’s feet and it took a while to fix them,

Sky Watch Friday #3

I am still learning how to use my new Sigma 15mm F2.8 Fish-Eye lens. This rainbow gives me a good idea of the possibilities. Although perhaps it isn’t really suitable for a 470 pixel-width blog format.

The sky has turned out greyer and much more bland than I had hoped.

With winter coming on I can hope for more rainbows, better rainbows.

So, for a little bit of dramatic interest, here is another of those tropical, desert sunsets across Lake Dora.

Skywatch Friday is hosted by Tom Wigley. Drop in and have a look at some other Sky Watches.

Piggyback Beetles

How hot are the desert sands?

As you can see here, even the beetles of the Great Sandy Desert have developed adaptations to help them through a long hot day’s travel.

I was told by some of the locals that they hitch lifts from other beetles. That way they can rest their poor blistered feet for a while.

And it is all true – Honest, I was told this by the locals!


Desert Companions #3

While I wouldn’t like to cuddle up to this guy, he is quite friendly.

The Thorny Devil spends each morning standing in the sun, collecting heat.

The best places to find the sun are on top of rocks or in the middle of roads. The Thorny Devil is a plucky little fellow and challenges any intruders.

When on top of a rock, standing up and looking danger in the eye, those spikes deter many passing hawks.

On the road, the same attitude is not much use against marauding Toyotas!


But they are so cute!


Some Desert Companions #2

Every part of the Community has a collection of dogs. Nameless and sometimes annoying, they do provide protection from any stray “wrigglies” which may slither too close. None of the dogs have names. They just get fed a little each night, yelled at when they get in the way and are totally loyal.
This is my pack at feeding time. Soon I will leave, but if I return in six months, they will all crowd around again. They will not have forgotten me.

Some Desert Companions #1


Grasshoppers are common in the desert. Our major vegetation is the needle pointed spinifex grass. This one was outside a grubby glass door and I was quite pleased with the focus.

So Not Back in Civilisation Tonight

Yesterday I posted a short video of my house being struck by lightning. I found it amusing and laughed about it. The rain stopped, the storm went on its way and I thought only a little about the fact that it was moving along the road I was due to travel on this afternoon.

The nearest  good airstrip with planes flying to Perth is at a big mine site just over 100 Km away, along a fairly rough bush track. I was booked to fly out this afternoon at 5pm. Knowing I had a hard drive ahead of me, I went to bed early-ish. Around 11pm. The plan was to leave around noon and allow about four hours for the trip. Just in case.

About half past midnight I was jolted into full and complete wakefulness by a huge crash of thunder. Rain was falling. A full cloudburst. Lightning was splitting the desert darkness in an almost continual show. I reached under my pillow and confirmed that my torch was to hand. The sudden quiet as the air conditioners died confirmed that the power station had been hit and the power was off.

I opened the curtains and watched the display. After counting over thirty flashes in one minute I ran out of count. The rain became heavier and the time between lightning and thunder became shorter. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep because of the combined noise of thunder and rain.

As the rain continued I began worrying about the track I had to drive along. Once I travelled that road and there was a ten kilometre lake along it. Luckily it was only a little more than axle deep but at 3am (Is THAT the Time? I MUST get some sleep!) one worries about finding the road beneath the water. Eventually the rain eased after a torrential 100-200 mm and the thunder moved away.

I woke late, at around 7.30. I knew the mail plane was due just after 8am so I skipped breakfast and settled for a quick coffee. I had drunk about half of it when the plane flew overhead. Peter, one of the teachers was first on the road and led the way. I was in second place and the nurse, with lab samples to send off for testing was in third place. We passed through several quite large puddles and then reached the “causeway”.

A small explanation. There is a river which runs between the Community and the road out to civilisation and the road to the airstrip. There are three large pipes beneath the road to carry away the water.

We reached where we knew the causeway lay but it was invisible beneath a couple of feet of rapidly flowing muddy water. Peter stopped to drop into 4wheel drive, I did the same. The nurse had to get out to turn her hubs to get into 4 wheel drive. I failed to realise that she hadn’t been able to turn those hubs. I followed where Peter had driven, partly through the broken water on the downstream side because I felt the road, while rough, may have been a little more solid than on the upstream side. I got through and looked in my rear view mirror and saw the nurse’s car at a 45 degree angle. She had fallen off the road on the upstream side.

Turning around, I went back and she was able to throw her postal packages across into my car and then she was able to step from her passenger’s side door onto my running board and then into the car. Understandably, she was a little shaken. Had her car tipped just a little more it would have gone right over on the driver’s side and she could easily have drowned!

We did the mail plane thing and then went back to look at the damage.


About this time I began to consider my own trip in the afternoon. This was deeper water than I had ever seen on the causeway and that began to seem a bad omen for what may lie out on the road. Especially since I would be travelling alone. I decided that the Red-Back beer I was looking forward to was not all that important. So I phoned the relevant person and cancelled my flight! When the boss returns on Monday we can sort out how I get out of the desert. He is driving back in. I may fly out on Tuesday’s mail plane. Providing he gets here.

After several hours and the use of a front end loader we got the Toyota out of its predicament. Then we headed off to the School Principal’s home which had caught fire after being struck by lightning. But that is another story.

Unusually, the skies were clear this afternoon. We have had both afternoon and night storms for the past three days. Which bodes well for the state of the roads after the weekend. A couple of dry days and the roads will be quite usable. The boss will have it easy.

Except, that at sunset tonight, I noticed a gathering of clouds all around the horizon with some rising thunderheads and falling showers of rain.

It is now an hour after sunset and I can hear the distant growls of thunder moving closer. The TV reception has died and I think I hear the rain beginning to ping on my roof.


More of the Desert

In my first video from the Great Sandy Desert, I showed all the water which can accumulate on the ground.

Of course, this water must come from somewhere and so I thought I would video some rain. In the interests of total honesty and complete disclosure.

Water on the ground was water in the sky.

Presented for your edification and edjumcalation are some moving pictures of some rain. Trust me, there is rain there.

Oh, alright, I admit it. This has to be the boringest You Tube video ever. Except for the dog running away but changing its mind.  Lucky dog! Oh, and the bird which flies across the shot.

That is my house in screen.

Thank goodness it is only 18 seconds long.