Travel: Beam me down
Sunday 07 February 1999
29 31' S 133 12' E
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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