Jarntimarra Diary - Jennifer Laing

THURSDAY 8 NOVEMBER 2001, 18.35 hours

Location: Arkaroola
Written by: Jennifer Laing

Today was D-day or should that be S-day - the day we chose the optimal analogue site for our future activities.

Michael stays behind today to study and do an interview with ABC Port Pyrie. Good experience for him at his stage of career.

Started the day with a tour of some hot springs - algae which live in radioactive waters. Gives food for thought, showing how life can survive in some incredibly tough places. Could this be how life survives or has survived on Mars?

Afternoon is a workshop and we put together a science and engineering plan for the analogue site. Favoured sites have been narrowed down to three - Woomera, the Arkaroola region in the Northern Flinders Ranges and the Arkaringa Hills near Coober Pedy. Lots of discussion and viewpoints put forward - but we seem to have a consensus on the best site, at least for the first few years' work. Keeping that under wraps until we can formally announce it the week after we get back.

Vic chairs a session on science, while Carol and Larry offer constructive comments based on their experience at Devon Island, Canada. Jen talks on public relations, outreach and fundraising. All agree it will take a lot of money to get a habitat set up and ready for the first field season. This will be a challenge but one which we must handle. The media coverage we have received on this trip will help us in this task.

We have a final dinner in the restaurant at Arkaroola - capped by a session in which the guys compete to tell the best one-liners (they really do have hidden talents) and Jen fails to recall a single joke, thereby condemning herself to being one. Luckily Graham saves the day with his pirate impersonation (legendary) and James L aka Jim and James W aka James roll out their best James Bond accents for one last time (goodbye Miss Moneypenny). Resort owner Doug Sprigg joins us for dinner and we present him with an official T-shirt.

It's too stormy and overcast to go to the Observatory, which is a shame.

Try to call our sponsor Starchaser and are reduced to leaving a message on an answering-machine (glad we didn't have TV cameras rolling during this). The best laid plans.