SUNDAY 4 NOVEMBER 2001, 19.20 hours

Location: Innamincka
Written by: Jennifer Laing

Stop at a local roadhouse while the first sampling work begins. Small group goes off to do it, while the rest take advantage of phones to call home and find out what coverage we have received. Sunday Age article is apparently excellent and good publicity for us.

We take samples from three bores today, which is tricky work. Everything has to be kept sterile, and the water is incredibly hot, so could be dangerous if not done carefully. Michael and James L are our designated samplers and handle the job with aplomb (love those pink gloves). The refrigerators are emptied of their stocks of drinks and piled up with sample jars.

Amazing temperatures today - one site is 46 degrees C in the shade, and temperatures go over 50 degrees in the sun. Searing heat such as I remember from a trip to Cairo, and the brightest light I have ever encountered. Sunglasses are a must.

Guy and Jen meet an Aboriginal leader in Marree, who is very supportive of our efforts and pleased we have made contact. The rest relax over an ice-cream after a long day in the field.

Sturt Stony Desert is an amazing sight - Reminded of lines from the classic poem I love a sunburnt country

A land of sweeping plains, I love her far horizons, her beauty and her terror, the wide brown land for me!

Must have been inspired by Jon's rendition of Clancy of the Overflow in the vehicle I was travelling in. Either that or I'm anticipating tonight's movie-like outback moment (read on).

Our campsite at Innamincka has a showerblock (yay) and a pub across the road - very civilised. We have some good pub grub and enjoy shooting some pool, when the most surreal moment of the trip occurs. A huge razorback pig (about the size of a small pony) saunters lazily through the door and disappears behind the bar. Apparently his name is Greg. No-one seems to bat an eyelid. For a moment, wonder if my drink has been spiked.

Bumped into Allan Paull of the Scramjet project who is on his way back to the University of Queensland. Of all the pubs in town, you had to walk into this one. Play it again Greg.

Slept under the stars - last chance of the trip. Ah, the romance of the Outback.