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Day 2: 14 December: Warlock Ponds to Cobb's Creek: (480 km)

This was even hotter than the previous day, and the flight was even more bumpy. Ross had to work hard to keep the machine under control. They turned southeast after leaving the telegraph line at Newcastle Waters.

14.000 Miles has an interesting insight on how the airmen found their way around.  ‘There was nothing on our map to guide us, but the stockmen in Port Darwin told us that if we flew southeast from Newcastle Waters for about 100 miles we would see two large patches of scrub which almost met each other in the form of a V. Then if we went down low, we would see the tracks of a mob of cattle that they had driven over there a few months previously. A few miles further on we would come onto a rough bush road that led on toward Cloncurry’. This ‘rather novel’ form of navigation worked quite well.

However, suddenly a blade of the port propeller split throughout its whole length. Ross shut off both engines and landed near a tent pitched near a track about a mile ahead. (Estimated position is about 18.000°S, 135.121° E).

They feared they would have to walk 30 km to the nearest habitation, Anthony Lagoon, where there was a police station and a petrol depot. But to their delight two motor cars approached, carrying Sydney Peacock, who had been sinking an artesian bore, and the local policeman Sergeant Stretton.

Bearing in mind the sparse settlement of the Territory, this was incredibly good luck. The fliers had little food and no water in the Vimy.

The motorists left the necessary supplies and obtained more from Anthony Lagoon. Sydney Peacock left a sheet of galvanized iron, with which Wally Bennet planned to repair the propeller. For three days the crew worked on this task, with limited tools. Bennett carved pieces of a packing case to repair the propeller, glued them in, and reinforced the joints with screws taken from the aircraft floorboards. He bound the propeller with strips of iron, covered it with fabric and painted it. They did the same to the opposite propeller blade to maintain balance.

Conditions were appalling. A temperature of 125°F, 51°C was so fierce that it damaged the crew’s ‘Triplex’ goggles and the aircraft windscreens. Water, dragged up in a bucket 150 feet from the bore water level, was brackish and dirty, causing stomach upsets, but on the second night a thunderstorm enabled them to collect some fresh water. Despite everything, spirits were high; they were happy to be in Australia and appreciated having ‘no one to worry us and ask the same old innumerable questions about the speed of the machine, its weight, where we sat and so forth; it was the first real rest that we had had’. They were eating tinned meat and biscuits, but Ross records that Keith caused amusement with the old joke ‘if we had some ham, we would have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs’