Heat, dust and flies

  The driest place on earth is the Atacama Desert in Chile and the hottest the Sahara in Africa but the Australian deserts and semi deserts are not far behind.  Lack of humidity often lulls people into a false sense of security in that they do not believe it is as hot as it it is.  The heat radiates off the red and brown surfaces and you feel quite comfortable and you've finally left that southern winter behind.  God is in heaven, the fourby is running well and you are felling really good about yourself and the trip.

OZ  is very arid and in the middle bits where people are extremely thin on the ground the lack of water is  the first thing that really grabs you, it's red, dusty, bloody hot and dry.  The lack of humidity combined with the heat means you don't realise how much water is leaving your body because sweat dries instantly.  It is easy to sit in your air conditioned vehicle which also dries you body and on leaving the vehicle you need to maintain body fluids.  I drink between 8 and 10 litres of water per day in the desert and heath lands. 

The Bamaga Road where the Batavia Downs track joins.  Straight on to tip and the outside temperature 36 Celsius at 11.00 am.

These are maintained roads and if some disaster should strike you will usually be able to raise someone on you UHF CB and if not wait in the shade at your vehicle and someone will by within a couple of hours.  It is amazing how time flies when everything is going well but it can really drag when you are stuck or broken down so why not sit in the shade, have a drink, read a book or tell mum how good she looks and before you know it somebody is asking if you are all right.

  Believe it or not some idiots believe that up / out there you can't drink water or you will contract any number of ailments so they use beer as a substitute.  These idiots believe that the hot weather eliminates the alcohol so they are labouring under the misapprehension that they are safe to drive.  These idiots are lethal weapons and endanger everybody including the local flora and fauna.  They may seem hilarious staggering into trees, falling over in creeks and all sorts of comic antics but just imagine them behind the wheel. There will be more on the stupidity of our fellow man as we progress. 

Dust is everywhere and permeates everything and I mean everything.  Every crease, crack and crevice will collect red dust.  There is no way to eliminate it but there are ways to minimise it.  If you drive with you windows down enjoying the feel of the wind over you arm  you will notice after a short time the back seat is changing to a sort of off bauxite red colour and believe me it's the hardest thing to shift, it stains everything.  Travel with your windows up with the air conditioning on and the influx is minimised as the air is being drawn from a cleaner source and you don't seem to suck as much in.  Red dust also attacks at the oddest of times like the time when we were at Loyalty Beach (great place to stay)  and after showering, shaving applying insect repellent and sun screen I walked out of the shower block and through a willy-willy and to say I was "tanned" was an understatement.  It would have been far better noticing at the time rather than frightening the locals on Horn Island and literally before  their eyes performing a complete colour change in the pool.  There's nothing you can do about the dust except try to live with it.

Flies are not really a problem on the Cape as on the eastern side there is plenty of wind to keep them away and on the western side it's too dry.  Mosquitoes are much the same but they are there and they use the same waterholes as we do and they carry all sorts of diseases (allegedly) but if you use a good repellent with an active DEET constituent they don't come anywhere near you.  I have found the best to be Bushman. but keep it away from the plastic, they don't get on which really makes one wonder what exactly DEET is?  In fact I haven't had a bite in the last two years.

Sand flies and/or midges are an absolute bastard because they bite,  you itch, you scratch and then you bleed.  They are the curse of any tropical or subtropical beach and 2002 was there big year but I have learnt a lot and Bushman will repel them but it must be used liberally and often in either spray can or cream in the tube.  We found some wonderful remedies which may work for you and these are some of the ones that worked for us:

Clear Nail Polish - if you have applied it and you still itch check the site thoroughly and chances are there will be another bite there.


Pinetarsol - Just follow the instructions


SOOV - available at local chemist and it works quite well

If none of the above mentioned fail to work seek advice from local chemists or health centres there is always a local cure that may or may not work but if you have been bitten you will know the efforts that you will go to to relieve the constant itching.


If you wish to contact us: email Information@4x4arts.com

2003, 4x4 Assessment, Recreational Training Services Pty. Ltd