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After our arrival on the night of 20th Sep we all went to bed quite soon after having a little bit to eat as we were all very tired.  Erika and I shared one tent, Kath had her own and Alex and Geoff were in swags - Geoff was under the Monster Truck and Alex slept on the tray at the back of the truck.

 

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This is us having some coffee the first morning after our arrival.  Alex's swag is on the back of the truck.  Note also the distinct lack of sunhine - it was greay and overcast like this for most of the time we were out there.  We also parked the truck and Prado in the shape of an 'L' to help block the strong winds which were mostly coming from the SE, hence why it was freezing cold for most of the time we were there too!! They don't tell you that in the brochure

 

Kath and I had been awoken in the night by strange noises from outside the tents.  After quizzing Alex and Geoff we decided that it wasn't them but there was certainly animalistic 'sniffing' in the early hours of the morning!  Erika hadn't heard those noises but she had heard dingos howling in the night - we wondered if these noises were connected.........

 

We spent most of the morning setting up the camp in a more detailed and organised way and also we moved Kath's tent away from the truck and put a tent up for me.  It was very difficult putting up the tents so that they were well-secured. The ground is mostly solid limestone with just a few inches of fine soil covering it and amongst this soil are many large pebbles so it was very difficult to get the tent pegs in - especially some of the ones that had come with the tents - I've seen more robust paperclips!  Luckily Geoff had bought some extra beefy pegs so we used those, good job too given the weather we were to encounter later in the stay.........

 

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We had finished putting up the tents and Geoff had disappeared for some individual 'quality time' and when he re-appeared he was holding a 'Nullarbor Chicken' aka a dead, skinned rabbit!!  Now before anyone starts going on about animal cruelty rabbits are NOT INDIGENOUS to Australia and are in fact a massive pest, hence why in the early 20th century the Australian authorities spent a great deal of time, money and effort to erect rabbit-proof fences to stop the rabbits spreading across the country and other eradication methods.  Now what would have been a waste and cruel would have been if the rabbit was killed and we had done nothing with it, as it was in the pot it went for a delicious rabbit stew that night and it was certainly needed as we had a very tiring day ahead of us.  Of course I should say that Alex also went solo for a bit in the morning and came back with a meteorite!!  We were very impressed and took this is a positive sign of things to come.

 

We headed off to the search site at about 11 am, now for those of you who think this indicates we were being slack and only starting work at this time remember that we had been up since 6am and we had been on the go non-stop since then!  We walked from our camp in a line about 20 m apart, constantly searching the ground for any rocks that looked out of place.  Often people ask me how we go about looking for meteorites in the Nullarbor and it is really as simple as that, you walk slowly whilst constantly looking at the ground.

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Of course you do have to keep looking up to make sure you are not about to walk into a bush or fall down a cave and sometimes you see a little friend in the distance, here's Skippy having a check on what we were up to!  You might also notice that there is a lot of vegetation, as I said in the previous post there were far more bushes and grass tufts than I was expecting, this really did make hunting quite difficult and very tiring.

 

About 2kms from the camp Geoff exclaimed 'you don't belong here'! - He had a found another meteorite, the second one of the day.  I really thought at this point that the meteorite gods were shining on us............

 

After about an 1.5 hours of walking we made it to the site where we were to start our search.  We had been given the task of looking for a specific meteorite that had come from a fireball detected by the Desert Fireball Network.  I won't go into all the details/background but you can find out more details here about this exciting project  http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/desertfireballnetwork

 

We went to the first site where the meteorite (or fragments of meteorite) was predicted to have fallen.  This area has been searched before by one of our collaborating teams but they did not have a long time onsite and so were only able to carry out a quick search campaign.  This was the main reason for us to go out a second time to the same area - to have a systematic and detailed hunt for the meteorites from the observed fireball.  We scouted around a bit and we got our bearings as to the places we were due to search over the next 10 or so days.  We didn't find any meteorites but Geoff and Alex found tektites, Geoff also found a blue tongue lizard and Erika and Kath found a snake (!) which is very unusual for this time of year.  It got very windy, we were pretty tired and we saw some ominous looking clouds coming towards us so we decided to head back to camp.

 

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Geoff finished preparing the rabbit stew and we helped by preparing vegetables and getting beers for everyone, Alex was in charge of rice and did an excellent job - cooked to perfection -  I was particularly impressed as I have never mastered rice.  The stew  was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS and we had a fun night sitting around the camp fire telling jokes and stories.  The wind was very cold and we decided to head off to the snug of our respective tents/swags at about 9.30pm.

Caroline Smith

Caroline Smith

Member since: Apr 9, 2010

This blog describes the adventures of NHM staff searching for meteorites in the Nullarbor Desert, Western Australia. Check out the blog to find out what they are up to and to see if they find any meteorites!

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