2013 Diary of a Canning Walker

Day 7 - It's Raining on my Banshee

Day 7

A beautiful rainbow near Well 50Day 7, 06 June 2013

Photo's - Solo Walk - Billiluna to Kunawarritji 657km

Rest Day. It is raining so I don't feel bad about not walking. Cosily nestled under a majestic desert oak, I am protected from the wind and rain blowing through the boughs. The familiar moan of the desert oaks I find comforting. My tent is carefully positioned to avoid any old branches spearing me should they break off in the wind and fall. Pine needles carpet the ground offering added sleeping comfort, clean feet and tent. Oh joy!

A convoy of vehicles passes by in the rain. Some get out and take photographs, shaking their heads in amazement when I reply to their question, 'Where is your vehicle?'

The water bladders are filling steadily with the rain water collecting off my little tent, channelling into the 10 litre Sea-To-Summit-Kitchen-Sink and Trangia pan. I miss capturing on camera the perfection of the rainbow that brightens my day, due to incorrect camera settings. I would have loved to share that moment, the beauty of a glorious rainbow just for me. I am at peace.

Desert Oak protectionWell almost. I now have time to nitpick. In the rain my world is my tent and this Vango Banshee tent has a few flaws. Both the head and the feet overhangs are too low, my extremities touching the tent, drawing water in through the fabric, wetting my head and the sleeping bag at my feet. The Vango Banshee is so close in design to the Black Wolfe Mantis 11 and the Coleman Cobra (from about 20? years ago) I have used before, but with design flaws the other two do not have. I also find the tent too wide. I could do with a narrower tent. And it is too heavy at 2.4kg. There are lighter tents on the market.

The benefits of all three designs is that that if the weather changes direction I can close the flysheet entrance on the weather side and open up the leeside flysheet. Having two entrances is also handy for when a zip breaks on one side or for when I want to get baggage in and out without lifting it over the sleeping bag where sand drops on everything. The two earlier tents I have had in the past were better designs and I used both of them for years until they finally lost their waterproofing.

Warm and snug in my Vango tent and Icebreaker sleeping bagThe Vango Banshee tent also has the annoying habit of flapping uncontrollably if not positioned just right into wind. Just right with the Banshee is all wrong in comparison to the Black Wolfe Mantis ll and Coleman Cobra, both of which sat well into wind with the lowest part of the wedge facing the wind. This is good aerodynamics. Not so with the Banshee. It has to be positioned with the large flat surface into wind, otherwise the flysheet flaps noisily all night. Some nights I started out with the tent in its preferred position, only for the wind to switch and the flapping drive me nuts for the rest of the night. In sand dune country I am unable to guy the material firmly into the sand dunes. Why is this tent different to the others? Looking up, the Vango Banshee seems to have its highest point more towards the middle than overhead and I think this position is the main problem with the whole design. A stand-alone tent would be even better, i.e. a tent with a frame, that does not require tent pegs to hold it up. Fifteen centimetre pegs don't hold well in the soft sand, even when digging down and they curl like pigs tails when being pounded into hard, rocky ground. In saying all that, I am grateful for the protection from the rain that the tent is giving me and it keeps the temperature nice and warm inside too.

Post walk note: The tent held up remarkably well throughout the long journey, so not so bad after all. There have also been some improvements to the newer models that take care of the issues I experienced, but introducing new ones, i.e. replacing the mosquito mesh with solid cloth, so no more night skies and now only having one door. The new Vango Banshee

During a break in the rain, the desert oak asks me if I might move the pile of wood that is stacked up high against its trunk. Some thoughtless, thoughtful traveller had left a pile of firewood behind for other travellers to use, not realising that the position they chose to leave it in put the grand old desert oak at risk. The desert oak had kept the ground around it clear of growth with its blanket of pine needles, but if a wild fire came through and quick burned to the pile of wood against the trunk, the pile of wood would become the desert oaks funeral pyre.

Another convoy of vehicles rushes by in the rain, heading north, hoping to get off the Canning before the track is waterlogged. One stops briefly to lament the rain and take a photograph. I engage his services and ask if he might take a photo with my camera. A Prado heads south. The track is unusually busy, travellers trying to get somewhere before the rain stops them. It rains solidly for 24 hours and I rest comfortably for two nights under the boughs of the desert oak, reading Bob Cooper's Outback Survival Guide. I am happy.

Day 7 Desert oak Campsite


CSR Survival Tips

Have ways to collect rain water. Off the tent, a tarp etc


Well 50 is dry and caved in. (Visited in 2010, 2011, and 2015)
Gulvida Soak (visited in 2015) is a rocky gully with a couple of fresh water rain pools, contaminated by animal activity. The amount and condition of the water depends on the rain. Listen for the zebra finches to locate a pool of water as you walk up the gully. 
I did dig around in likely spots for water in the dry sand river bed that 'flows' out from the gully, but did not find any water or dampness in 2015.

Plant Life (2015)

Several rock fig trees in the rocky gully of Gulvida Soak bare edible fruit in summer. The best tasting are burgandy to blue black in colour that have fallen on the ground.
Tuber plants abound in the flat lands either side of the track between Well 50 and Gulvida Soak, but I was unable to find any tubers.

Animal life (2015)

Birds - mostly zebra finch. Reptiles - a thorny devil lizard

Aboriginal Art (spotted 2015)

On the walls of the gully and crevices of Gulvida Soak

Hidden History (spotted 2015)

Whilst hiking in the area of Gulvida Soak, on the nearby sand ridge, are remains of a well trough, which is unexplainable to me. I have not discovered any historical notes regarding a well or trough being built nearish the parking area to Gulvida Soak. But there it lies, partially hidden in the low sand ridge.



Last Updated on Monday, 05 February 2018 11:27

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