It feels like we’ve been plagued by last minute repairs, shopping, grant writing, acquittals, flight changes, crew re-organisations, plan changes. The normal stuff before a big adventure.

I found a severe crack in a mudguard and had to get it welded at the last minute by this local fellow, Dan who runs CSM Fabrication & Welding, who did it super-cheap, last minute and brought his gear to me! Legend!

Then found one of the inner rear tyres had a big chunk taken out – not safe. Went to buy a new one – ssooooooo expensive! Turns out the truck has an uncommon size tyre. Cheaper to replace the whole set of 8 tyres with a second-hand set of a more common size of than to get two new ones of the original size! I wouldn’t have known that if the guys at Tyreright in Armadale didn’t tell me about it. They did us a mad deal – $500 to replace 8 truck tyres – WOW!! I had to double-check that it was all OK, legal and safe…and yep, it is! What a revelation. One new tyre of the original size was $500. We got 8 tyres, good for another couple of years, for the same price. Unreal. And to boot…the tyres were so hard to remove, they needed to use their special gear. There is no way that we would have been able to do it manually. So I reckon we’ll just go back to these guys once per year and get them to re-shoe the truck annually.

The truck wheel was a stuck wheel. Not any more.

Times are tough – but these people supported us when we needed it. So great to know that folks believe in the Desert Feet mission like we do, and are prepared to help in any way they can.

But we are finally underway! Desert Feet Tour June 2017 is a G-O- GO!

We left Perth on Saturday morning…a tight drive to get to Newman, set up, refresh and hit the ground running tomorrow when we start our program of music and language workshops with Newman and South Newman Primary Schools, and the Youth Centre. It would have been nice to leave a day earlier, but Angus had a gig on Friday night so Saturday it was that we left, bright and early, 6 am! Ugh.

It’s about 1200km to Newman from Perth. Many folks drive it straight, 12 hours – bam. But we take it easy, take plenty of breaks and usually camp at The Granites, just outside of Mt Magnet. It’s a lovely spot to make a fire, overseen by ancient breakaways and twisted mulga trees. There’s art in them there hills too, but we’ve not found any yet. Feels like we should ask permission first, but we haven’t done any work in Mt Magnet yet, so I wouldn’t know who to ask…

Richard Watson our amazing media/electrical engineer/Tour Coordinator/musician dude rigged up a whole bunch of really useful, super-efficient lighting around the truck, making camping a breeze. He also rigged up a quality invertor, converting the truck battery to 240V power supply. So we set up a couple of brand new, top-of-the-line speakers we just bought from our buddies at Soundtown, and played some chilled out Brian Eno music under a mid-west sky. Sooo great. Until I cracked my head on the underside of the truck door…soooo much blood!

Blood skull.

You always meet interesting folks on the trip. This time we’ve got Desert Feet caps and shirts on – so folks always ask – “What is Desert Feet Tour?” when they see the truck…it’s a pretty unique machine! We got to talking with this fellow Rob Jackson from Aquadream – this guy is doing AMAZING stuff with old disused plastic. He’s developing the pyrolysis method of turning it into diesel.

Rob is cleaning up the Pilbara single-handedly, turning waste plastic into diesel.


He takes it, chips it up and turns it into diesel and paraffin. That’s it. Just diesel and paraffin, no other byproducts. So he collects it from mine sites and other industrial waste dumps and squeezes one last use out of it, saving it from polluting the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. I guess it still emits CO2, which is not what we want of our fossil fuels…but it’s too late and I’ve been driving for two days so I’m not properly able to ponder the weighing of the scales. Anyway such a nice fella – he offered us some free fuel, just like that!

And now we’re in Newman, tonight we’re staying with a friend of Pip, the Community Services Manager at the Shire of East Pilbara who contracted us to run this project. Her name is Jackie Bickendorf and she runs kids and youth programs in Newman, through the YMCA and Early Learning Centre. And she is a legend. Rooms, towels, offers of dinner, tea and crumpets. Welcomed like family. Thanks Jackie!

 

Jackie – our brilliant host for the night!

Tomorrow we’ll post the schedule of this Tour – it’s going to be hectic, but heaps of fun. Folks are waving at us driving down the highway, at the service station, down the street…there’s a Desert Feet buzz in the air!