Day 1 - Dragons in the desert

The Qantas flight departed Melbourne at 4.40 pm on Sunday, and after arriving in Adelaide we had our rendezvous at the Mercure Grosvenor Hotel on North Terrace. After meeting Andrea, our Earthwatch team leader in Melbourne I soon caught up with Judith on the plane. Susan and Monica  met up with us at the Hotel and we arranged to have dinner together in the hotel dining room. This meeting was most rewarding as we shared stories about our personal experiences and interests.

Day 1 of the BushBlitz-TeachLive-Simpson Desert Expedition: 18 July 2016

The day started with a very early start (5.00 am) in order to catch a 7.00 am Alliance flight to Olympic Dam. This flight was filled with mine workers who were starting their working week at the Olympic Dam mine site.  After arriving at Olympic Dam, we were transferred to a smaller ‘Wright Air’ plane for the next leg, on to William’s Creek. Emily, our female pilot was most informative about outback South Australia.

Meeting the pilots 587x440

                                                                                                                                                       Meeting the pilots

From here, we boarded a smaller plane, and after a change of pilot we continued on to Poeppel’s Corner. This flight (2 hour) was spectacular and gave us superb views of the Lake Eyre basin and the Warburton River which was filled with water. Lake Eyre North appeared to be 1/3 full!! The desert looks lush and green and filled with colour. Many water birds could be seen from the air wading around Lake Eyre.

The airstrip at Poeppel’s Corner was very soft and sandy but the plane landed safely. We were met by Andrew and Harry in their 4 wheel drives and taken on a drive over the sand dunes and clay pans to the campsite. After meeting the scientists and other members of the team we had a debriefing and were soon setting up our swags. We had time to check the pit traps with Boyd and were very fortunate to have captured a Painted Dragon (Ctenora pictus). This beautiful reptile was really photogenic and colourful.

Taking animal from pitfall trap 587x440

Measuring lizard

 

We also observed some pretty desert plants like the gidgee tree (Acacia georginai), the poached egg plant (Polycalymma stuartii), annual yellowtop/groundsel (Scenecio gregorii), native stocks (Blennodia pterosperma and B. canescens) and the delicate pink and yellow Swan River daisy (Brachycome iberidifolia).

We were fortunate to see a palisade spider hole. This ground spider builds a palisade of leaves and sticks around the entrance to its hole. The day finished with a map reading talk with Andrew who gave us much information about the history of Australian Desert Expeditions. He also told us about the expedition route for the week. We had a spectacular campfire prepared meal to finish off the day.