Cashbook and Claypan
Birdsville or Bust
East From Oodna
Alive in the Dead Heart
B-line for Birdsville
Mobile Homes of the Simpson
Caravanning in the Desert
Bring Your Own Accommodation
The adjustable jacks have been unloaded from a supply truck and will shortly be used to support the flooring of the demountable caravans in which the field workers are accommodated. Above, one of the five Chev Blitzes that Oilfield Caterers supplied has been positioned and the flooring can be seen firmly locked in against the trailer.
Manoevering the Flooring Onto its Jacks
Sides, ends and roof slabs were fashioned from light-gauge aluminium panelling, which bore rubber flaps at the edges so that the joins might overlap and provide some seasonal protection from the alternate blasts of heat, cold and dust due to be directed at the inhabitants throughout their time in the desert. Temperature variations ranged from near-freezing some winter nights to 50°C in the summer-time heat.
Now to Lift up the Roof
There was a single supply tent that the kitchen staff slept in to be near the beer. These four caravans and a tent thus formed the 'desert village' of the main CGG camp. The dozer drivers and their mechanics lived in "Siberia", the remote fly camp, as did the surveyors. The men shared a cook or twenty in their periods away from the main camp - being very brutal on any camp cook who dared clean up the last of the beer while the wild and thirsty dozer drivers were out on their twelve-hour shifts, pushing through the 'Line.
Joining up the Side to Meet the Roof
While the desert heat is dry when things warm up and the humidity experienced is mostly negligible, it is easy to sustain oneself comfortably out in the open in the summer so long as there is a zephyr of a breeze and a waterbag at hand. Yet used indoors later in the campaign (or mission, as the French insisted on calling each tour of duty), the coolers turned the caravan living space into private sauna rooms, when CGG worked the Channel Country on the edge of the Simpson from the Spring of 1963. The evaporative units hurriedly brought in at employee-demand weren't popular and were soon dumped when the men realised their mistake.
Only the Ends to go!
Understandably, a menu including fresh fruit or vegetables was out of the question. The camp diet for each ten day supply-cycle rotated around a staple body of beef that managed to make a 200 mile round trip swathed in coolibah leaves, occasionally some bacon and some tinned chicken, packaged bread and dripping and dried herbage with powdered milk, canned vegies and fruit conserve, with plenty of tea, Golden Circle tinned juice and ersatz coffee thrown in.
Voila! Ready to Move in
Waste Not, Want Not
The old Blitzes got to rest for a fortnight before they were called on to haul their heavy loads over the dunes once more to another campsite, 25km further along the French Line. Fresh air, when it was needed, was coaxed into the caravans by raising the aluminium flaps on the side. These 'windows' had quite efficient gauze screens, protecting the occupants from incessant flies and moths. However, serious other bugs and scorpions managed to negotiate the rubber seals at the caravan edges to get at the inhabitants inside.
||Try the "with Malice a'Forecourt?" link and read what they did|
|Alive in the
||Thommo's Desert Report||The BeeGees Page|
|Coles Express Picks On a Pensioner||The Kid From Towra Point|
|Bulldozing a Desert||Trans National Causeway|
|Signwriter for the Simpson||The Long Haul|
|Simpson Desert Birdlife||French Line Circa 1979|
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