The day when the project has started, but hasn't really begun.

Morning on Mirning Manda.
Manda means ‘land’, or ‘country’, in a lot of Aboriginal languages in this region, and the Mirning, along with the Kokatha & the Wirangu, are the mob with the links to Fowler’s Bay.

After a sleep which reminded me that I need a better swag mattress, I awoke nice and early to an overcast sky. With the Bush Blitz not officially starting till after lunch I had more time up my sleeve to explore. Back to the beach I went, but once again the winds were wrong. My scientific mind wants to know how it can be an East South Easterly on one side of Point Fowler, but an almost dead straight Westerly on the other?

Strange. What I missed out on in waves, I made up for in Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos though, with a flock of over 30 hanging out where I least expected them, on a low sea cliff withing 20 metres of the high tide mark. I also made prolonged eye contact with a Brown Falcon who came down to check me out as I drove inland away from the coast. The podcast I was listening to on the drive up pointed out that “Bird Brain” isn’t a very good payout seeing as how most birds are actually pretty intelligent, so who knows what the Falcon was thinking as I drove past his or her perch.

After a quick trip to Nundroo to buy batteries for my head torch (I knew I’d forget something!) and duct tape to fix a rip in my tent fly before the forecast wet weather on Tuesday, it was time to head back to the Caravan Park for a rest before the other members of the team arrived and the whole project began. Last time I camped here, I followed a fresh snake trail in the nearby dunes and found a Bardick – an uncommonly encountered snake with amazing looking eyes (look it up if you don’t believe me). I didn’t have my camera then, and of course this time, camera in hand, there were no snakes or even snake trails to be seen.

After lunch, scientists started arriving, and at 3 o’clock we had the team debriefing. With 27 people here, and more to come over the next two weeks, it has required some full on logistical skills on the part of the organisers. We covered Oc Health & Safety protocols – everything from getting bogged to snakebites – and checked out what was in the medical kits. Then the Yalata Anangu ranger team filled us in on some info about current road conditions, and if anywhere was going to be out of bounds for cultural reasons. The forecast for tomorrow is for up to another inch of rain, and possible thunderstorms, so some roads on the Nullarbor might be closed.

The scientists got to work planning, and when us teachers checked in later, I found out I would be spending the day with Juergen & Tim; two botanists (plant scientists) from the state herbarium. We are heading up the bitumen road towards the Iluka mine, to check out basically any and every plant, lichen and algae they can find and take samples. Last time I drove up that road I saw over a dozen camels and a few dingoes, so I reckon I should be in for an interesting day. They want to be ready to go by 7am if possible, so with that in mind, I reckon it’s just about time to call it a night.