Travel: Beam me down

This week's random co-ordinates chosen by the computer are:

29 31' S 133 12' E

FIRST REACTION

Hell may not be far from here.

COUNTRY AND REGION

This is the Great Victoria Desert, situated at the crossroads of Western and South Australia.

NEAREST SETTLEMENT

You have beamed down a few hundred miles north of the rail junction of Tarcoola, in central South Australia, on the Trans-Australian railroad, 260 miles north-west of Port Pirie.

NATURE OF THE TERRAIN

Sand dunes, scrubs and saltbushes. Surprisingly, there are also a few lakes scattered around in the Great Victoria Desert.

ALTITUDE

The Great Victoria Desert is a plateau 500 metres above sea level.

LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS

Heat is the major climatic extreme with daily maximums around 35C from late spring to early autumn (November to May), though exceptional temperatures reaching 50C have also been recorded.

USEFUL LANGUAGES

Obviously, English is the main language, but as you would expect in a country with such a diverse ethnic mix, other languages are spoken. A command of the 50 or so indigenous languages might come in handy.

POSSIBLE HAZARDS

Certain death through thirst and heat exhaustion. Furthermore, the place where you landed up is actually a restricted access area - the Woomera Prohibited Area, site of a missile-testing range used by Australia and its allies and used by the government for nuclear tracking. So it might not be the best place to contemplate the horizon.

TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

Australia has been a federation of six states and two territories since 1 January 1901 when the colonies joined to form the Commonwealth of Australia. The prime minister is John Howard.

REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND

All right you are in the middle of the desert and on top of that in a nuclear missile testing zone. But the Great Victoria Desert Nature Reserve, to the south of here, is worth a walk - great desert scenery and wildlife.

GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE

Walk (for several days) through the desert to Tarcoola and catch the train there to Adelaide from where there are flights to civilisation.

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