Luke Crosses the Nullarbor, Day 6

Meteorite Hunters

Luke Crosses the Nullarbor, Day 6

Luke’s Wolfe Creek blog in August was so entertaining that we asked him to put pen to paper again on his next journey. Turns out, we didn’t have to wait long. Luke’s journal continues … (the story started with On the Road Again)

Luke Crosses the Nullarbor, Day 6

We packed up and ploughed on to Wilgena Station.

We thought someone would have rung ahead to warn the homestead we were coming. Turns out someone should have been us. We were greeted by a very confused couple who eyed us critically. We told our story about how we run cameras across the Australian deserts taking pictures of the night sky, looking for fireballs and triangulating the fall position. AND it just so happens that one of them probably landed on your property and could we please go check the area out?

They very generously let us drive down to the fall line. Most of the 50,000 or so meteorites in collections around the world have been recovered by luck. The fall line is an area which our calculations tell us is the mostly likely resting place of our meteorites. Depending on how big and dense the rock is when it reaches the Earth’s surface (this is extremely hard to tell from a fireball photo), it will land somewhere along the line: a big heavy chunk at one end, or a spray or smaller fragmented bits at the other. The objective is then to start at the big heavy chunk end, and walk towards the small bits end and spreading the search a few hundred metres either side.

We quickly realised that sand dunes make both great and at the same time terrible searching conditions. There were no rocks at all except a bit of quartz, so any rock we did find would undoubtedly be the meteorite. Unfortunately there were any number of trees and shrubs it could have fell under or got caught by.

At the heavy object part of the fall line we were expecting about a kilogram of meteorite (which is quite substantial) and the terrain was awesome! You could see about 100 m in all directions and so if a kg of black rock was hiding here, well it wouldn’t really be hiding. Sadly though, we didn’t find anything. It wasn’t going to be that easy. We returned to the car, topped up our water supplies and sun cream and set off searching again. And again returned empty handed.

We drove back to the station, said our thank yous and goodbyes and told them we’d be back, and in greater numbers – which seemed to unnerve them a bit (from a health and safety point of view rather than the Star Wars reference I hope!)

Meteorite Hunters

Once we explained that we would let them know in advance this time, they were much happier.

The other searching team had landed in Adelaide and made it to Port Augusta already. We had to get a wriggle on to be able to meet them in Coober Pedy tomorrow.

In a series of messages, they tried to show off their running water, electricity and beds but it didn’t really have the effect I think they were after. We just replied with our amazing campfire and reminded them that soon they’d be as grubby as us.

Delicious blue cheese pasta by Martin

Delicious blue cheese pasta by Martin

Luke’s blog continues in Luke Crosses the Nullarbor, Day 7

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