ASCEND JOURNEY PART 6 – Alice Springs – DAY 3


Today was quite an eventful day. The team was thrilled with excitement as we hit the 1000 km mark. It’s these milestones that keep our spirits high. 

Our first control stop was at BARROW CREEK. We took a moment here to stretch our legs, grab some ice creams, and munch on some snacks. We also used this break to switch up our drivers and get ready for the next leg of our journey. 

As we were cruising along, around the 1245 km mark, we encountered a bushfire. This wasn’t just a physical obstacle, but it affected our solar car’s performance as the smoke from the fires blocked out vital sun rays. The time when we were banking on maximum solar input turned out to be a period of reduced energy input. Nature sure threw a curveball at us. 

Now, talking about keeping spirits alive, Nick did a fabulous job. With Matt at the wheel, Nick entertained us with tracks from the Hamilton Album. A delightful distraction from the day’s surprises. 

We did have to make three emergency stops today. The first was a quick fix – a loose body panel. It was swiftly dealt with. But the subsequent two stops were trickier. A damaged wire disrupted our CAN bus. On the first occasion, we believed it was sorted, but a cattle grid proved us wrong. The next 30 minutes were tense as we tried to rectify the issue, knowing this would consume more energy than planned. But the team pulled together. 

On inquiring about the emergency stops, the team had this to say: “Initially, we noticed some body panels out of place, possibly due to the wind. It had us worried. The second interruption was due to some wire connections getting loose from the vibrations.” In essence, our journey was interrupted by slight misalignments and disconnections, but we overcame them eventually. 

When we asked Tahj, our driver, about handling such stress, he responded, “There’s no formula to handle stress. When things go wrong, they have to be fixed. Sometimes, I just take those stop moments as a chance to stretch or make a quick restroom break. It’s all about taking a step back and then diving back in.” 

The day’s highlight? Despite the challenges, driving through the bushfires south of Barrow Creek was an experience. It was unexpected yet beautiful. And the sight as we entered Alice Springs? Absolutely breathtaking! The transition from flatland to rocky formations was like nature’s canvas coming alive. 

Though today was tougher compared to yesterday, we gave it our best shot. We finally pulled into Alice Springs around 3:50 pm. Tonight, we’re setting up camp by the roadside near the Alice Springs control stop. The journey continues, and so does our determination.