SATURDAY 13 APRIL LEOPARDWOOD
I got up about 7am. John slept until after 8. I sat outside with my mug of coffee and watched the bird life, of which there was quite a bit about. There were also quite a few flies!
Leopardwood is presumably named for the tree of the same name that is found around these parts, that has a mottled bark pattern.
It was about 10.15 before John was breakfasted and ready to embark on the day.
We went up to Mike’s place. He was busy doing something but, after a short delay, we followed him out to the diggings, not far beyond his house and the camp.
We learned that his pit digging machine had broken down. That meant that we could not do what had been talked of when we met him, last year. That would have involved him digging a pit, us paying $300 and doing the fossicking in the new pit, and then sharing finds with him.
Instead, we could pay $10 a day, and fossick on the surface, or in existing pits. Technically, Mike was not allowed to charge fees for camping on his place, because he does not meet the standards for camping, but he could allow free camping. So the $10 a day for fossicking rights was really a camping fee! Fair enough.
I was really disappointed by there being no proper dig, but John seemed to take it in his stride, which quite surprised me.
After a rather cursory sweep around the diggings, and a brief explanation of what we could do, Mike left us to it.
John did some surface scratching around, then we both gouged about in a cut, in the walls at its base. It was hard to tell if we were really doing it right, but we both found some opal “shows”. Nothing really jumped out at us as being worth cutting, though.
We had no idea whether the cut we’d chosen to work in had been left after one of Mike’s $300 deals, when the people had moved on, or if it was one that Mike had abandoned as being no good. In other words, whether we were wasting our time!
It got very hot down in the cut, and by 1pm I was feeling a bit ill, after working in the heat and the full sun. The kneeling/crouching was also very hard on the knees.
We went back to camp for a late lunch.
Then, I sat outside, in what shade I could find, sewing – amid what felt like millions of flies. John had a sleep, inside the fly-proof van.
In the late afternoon, we walked up to Mike’s place, about 300 metres from our camp. We had intended to go for a walk in the bush, the other way, but got waylaid by Hannibal, who was a bit aggressive, so we went where Mike might distract him.
Mike said he was not feeling well – he certainly did not look good.
Back at camp, I went for a shower in the rather ad hoc set up. The daddy long legs spiders inhabiting the dim area were a bit close for comfort. A frog under my foot startled me when it jumped away. Just too many critters! Because the water comes from the bore in a black plastic pipe, it was rather too hot to begin with. It was not a long shower.
Unbelievably, our power set up was causing concern. The fridge seemed to be running rather too frequently – was it the heat or was it malfunctioning? The battery power reading was dropping steadily under 12.
John fiddled about with running Truck and checking connections, and seemed to get some power going into the system. But as soon as Truck was disconnected, the power readout dropped fast, again. This was NOT the remote area, self sufficient system J had promised us. It actually seemed worse than when we were at Opalton, back in 2000, and we had only one panel and battery, then.
We had only been here 24 hours, and there had been steady sunshine. Not good at all.
It had been a hot and sweaty day. We seemed to attract millions of flies.
Tea was scotch fillet and mushrooms.
After tea, John briefly turned on his laptop and plugged it into the inverter, despite the low power reading, but he soon turned it off again.
It was a hot night.