From the journal 11th April, 2006
Once on the road at 10.30, it was out to the memorials again and then north along the track towards Mount Finke. It only took two kilometres of northward track for me to realise that today was going to be an entirely different set of driving circumstances to yesterday. The sand hills became bigger, the track narrower and sandier and the flora hemming in both sides of the road. There would be no idling along in two wheel drive today.
For a time the hills came in sets of three namely big, bigger, and biggest. The crests were always soft sand and with blowouts of some depth on their northern sides. It’s amazing how those fleeting moments of weightlessness as the front of your vehicle drops into the unknown can really drive fear into the heart! Plenty of corrugations and deep pitting on the lead up and higher approaches to the crests also making it interesting at all times. It was amazing to see the trailer follow you over and snake crazily along through the blow-outs behind the ute.
There were two schools of thought in my mind as to tackling these monsters. The first was under full power in second gear maintaining the revs at near 4500 or just under red line and powering your way up the hill. It’s a slower speed and being under power vat all times makes the going over corrugations and in the sand ruts hard going on both driver and vehicle (and other contents). Risks are that you lose some front end control due to self steerage of the front wheels under drive I(always wanting to go straight or if off direction, it was often a wing and a prayer to get them back on). Also, you run the risk of running out of puff before the top of the hill and find yourself risking a down change in deep sand. The other method was to go in fast and hard in third meaning you approach the dune at 50 to 60 kph and then let the power off at the appropriate moment letting the thick sand slow down your momentum in time to crest the dune at a reasonable 20 to 25 kph.
The faster approach gave you better control over corrugations and the big blow outs of the higher approaches near the crest as by then you were generally “off” power but again, judgement as to when to power off was critical and speed caused a sacrifice in finer control round obstacles or tight bends on lead ups or over the crests. Bit of being between the devil and the deep blue sea really. There were enough situations to use both methods and there was only one monster that caught me knapping…but more on that one later.