4x4ing

Looking Back Day 9 Crossing a Swale

Our route from Canegrass Dam to Red Lake had us crossing this swale between the dunes. This image certainly gives you a sense of the expansiveness of the Outback. This place is ruled by the Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol and Mitsubishi Pajero. Three incredibly awesome machines for the rough-as-guts world of Australian off-roading.

Interestingly, these are pretty much unavailable in North America. You do see one every now and then, and the Land Cruisers are all gussied up and sold under the Lexus brand so I’m not sure anyone would really take it out and beat the snot out of it. But if you did, you could be well assured that it would just keep on ticking. 

It’s funny posting this photo today, in a way. The following vehicle in this image is a Mitsubishi Pajero. We haven’t seen one of these seen we moved back to Canada almost 2 years ago. Then today, driving down highway 11, what passes by us? A right-hand-drive Pajero. “Hey, he’s on the wrong side of the car. Hey! that’s a Pajero!” shouts Jen. LOL.

Looking Back Day 10 - Red Lake

Here we are. Red Lake, just north of Roxby Downs, South Australia. The previous two Looking Back photos were taken along our route to this dried up lake bed. This is the normal, steady state condition of Red Lake. Not a lot of water to be seen here. On first look at this photograph, you might think you are seeing water, but that would be a mirage. 

Funny thing, mirages. Until I saw them for myself out in the Outback, I always sort of shook my head a bit reading stories about people lost in the desert going crazy chasing after mirages thinking they had finally found some water. It looks so real and even reflects just like a lake would. Really neat. So, yeah, that’s a mirage in this photograph. And if you think I’m just joshing around, the ute driving through the middle of it with a big ol’ dust cloud behind it? Sort of gives it away.

When I was reviewing these images I was pretty sure I must have taken this with a wide angle. Nope, 82mm on a crop sensor. Full on telephoto folks. This image, even more so than yesterday’s gives you a feel for the expansiveness of the Outback and just how forbidding it can be. I have a couple more photographs in mind for the future that carry this theme even further.

So, why is this a “lake” then? Well, it’s a lake when it rains. And when it rains in the Outback, holy moly does it rain. Doesn’t happen very often to be sure, but wooooo, does it. And then these low-lying clay pans fill with water and all kinds of life spring up. Pre-historic creatures that have adapted themselves to survive for decades either dormant or as eggs, just waiting for a flood so they can burst forth, procreate, die and their eggs or offspring wait for the next deluge.

Some of the lakes can become quite deep and hold their water for several years. Others will drain away after just a few days, weeks or months. In Roxby, we were fortunate to have a long lasting lake about 20minutes drive from town. In 2007 when the big rain came, we were skiing in Lake Mary for 2 years, but it had been at least 15 years since it was possible to do that.

Pretty cool things happen in the Outback, must say.