Trip Leader: Martin and Karen Archer
When: 1st – 31st July 2009
Location: Perth to Perth via Alice Springs, CSR and Paynes Find.
Participants: 7 vehicles: Martin & Karen, Guy and Wendy, George and Linda, Rick and ‘Bud”, David and Laura
Peter and Denise, Richard and Helen.
Day 1 Sunday July 5, 2009. Perth to Rowles Lagoon
By Martin and Karen
The foothills were blanketed in fog as we drove up the escarpment through Mundaring to meet everyone at the Lakes Roadhouse by 8:00am. The 7 vehicles assembled in front of the roadhouse in preparation for a 4-week adventure into the red centre and beyond. Martin and Karen were leading the trip in a NS Pajero towing a soft-top camper trailer. The tag-alongs were Guy and Wendy (Triton Dual Cab), George and Linda (Navara Dual Cab), Rick and ‘Bud’ (Nissan Patrol), David and Laura (Pajero), Peter and Denise (Landcruiser towing a Jayco Expanda) and the ever-reliable Richard and Helen (NP Pajero towing a soft top camper) as tail-end-charlie.
With the occasional coffee and comfort stops along the way, the convoy headed for Coolgardie along the Great Eastern Highway. A hot air balloon lifting off near Northam gave testament to the fine weather we were gifted with to commence our journey. Coolgardie was to be our first re-fueling stop, however upon entering Coolgardie, with fuel light glowing, my Pajero ran out of fuel about 200metres short of the service station. The reserve fuel cans came into use a lot earlier than was expected. At least it gave me an excellent indication of the towing economy for the car for future reference.
It was mid-afternoon when we left Coolgardie heading north through the back blocks of Coolgardie on the Coolgardie-North Road to Rowles Lagoon. We had a brief stop to look at the historic ruins of the Premier Hotel at Kunanalling. The sun was settling down towards the horizon by the time we set up camp at Rowles Lagoon. The temperature dropped rapidly as it did so, and despite a healthy camp fire everyone got their first taste of the cold July nights in the outback.
Day 2 Monday 06 July 2009 – Rowles Lagoon to The Pines
By Richard and Helen
The camp stirred at around 6am while it was still dark and the sun finally rose over the Rowles Lagoon at approximately 6.50am. The temperature got down to around 5 degrees so not freezing cold – but cold enough. Everyone packed up, had breakfast, signed all the necessary trip forms and the convoy got under way at 8.15am.
We soon arrived at Ora Banda, about 40kms down the track and did the photography thing. Just as the convoy was getting underway again Richard noticed something leaking from the rear of David’s Pajero – it was diesel fuel. After investigation it turned out that the fuel return hose near the top of the fuel tank had split. The car was jacked up and with Richard & David being the main mechanics, Guy the go-for man, Martin the cameraman and everyone else watching the offending hose was replaced. Then Richard & David cleaned up and the convoy got underway again at about 10.10am.
We stopped at Menzies for a very quick comfort stop then headed off again. We reached Leonora at 12.45pm and everyone fuelled up. Lunch was next to the Information Board on the edge of town.
The convoy headed off again at 1.45pm towards Laverton. After turning onto the Great Central Road we stopped to let some air out of the tyres. George has become chief musterer and now blows the whistle when it’s time to mount up again! If no-one listens then Richard blows his whistle too – now everyone’s is off to buy a whistle so they are not left out!
We made The Pines, our camp site, at 4.45pm and everyone set up their tents & campers. Some of the men went wood gathering and Martin got the fire started for his camp oven. Everyone cooked and ate their tea and then assembled around the camp fire – but not for long! It started to spit with rain, then it started to drizzle, then the drizzle got heavier until two by two the people gave up and went to bed. The light rain continued quite steadily into the night but eventually gave up after thoroughly wetting all the camps.
Day 3 Tuesday 7th July, 2009 The Pines to Yarla Kutjarra
By Guy and Wendy
We camped at a camping area called the Pines. There were a few showers overnight, so we had a wet packup in the morning. We left camp to start our day on the Great Central Road at 6.50am.
Karen and Martins radio had the buzzing return that had popped up occasionally on other trips, so we made a quick stop for an adjustment to their radio.
After the rain the dust had settled and driving was much more pleasant.
A short way down the road Martin realised his aerial had broken off. He thought it was a stick hitting his windscreen and later realised what it was. Fortunately, David was carrying a spare aerial so they were able to fit it at our next stop.
We had a break at White Cross, which was a rocky outcrop where the Beegull waterholes and caves were located. It was also the location of a Geo Cache. Helen had her GPS with her and the co-ordinates and she was able to locate it. We left a note of our visit.
The changes in the landscape were interesting, scrub to rocky outcrops and sheoak trees. The colour of the road changed from red to light soil and back to red.
We made a fuel stop at 10.00am at Tjukayiria Roadhouse and had morning tea. Stopped at Desert Surf Central which was a large rocky area to stretch our legs and looked for bats and wildlife, climb rocks and look at caves. We didn’t see any bats this time.
The road got quite corrugated as we got close to Warburton. We made this our lunch stop and a few ice creams were also consumed. With the availability of water at a tap Guy, Wendy, Martin and Karen took the opportunity to get a bucket of water and wash their hair.
We saw a few kangaroos earlier in the day and about 20km out of Warburton there were about 10 camels on the side of the road.
Camped overnight at Yarla Kutjarra which was a nice camp site maintained by an aboriginal group. It had a toilet and shelter with aboriginal art painted on it. We had a great fire and fellowship around it.
Wendy, Helen and Richard decided about 9.00pm to look for the Geo Cache that was hidden in this location, but it got a bit hard with the rocks that needed to be climbed at night. We will have to find it next time!
The overnight air was dry and the tents, towels etc dried out. It was not a cold night.
Day 4 Wednesday 8th July, Yarla Kutjarra to Yulara
By Peter and Denise
Having camped overnight at Yarla Kutjarra, a bush camp site along the Great Central highway, provided by the Ngaanyatjarra people we arose at 5 am and prepared for the day’s travel. As the dawn broke with a beautiful red sunrise Peter noticed that his caravan had a buckled wheel from the previous day’s drive so he set about changing the wheel. This achieved , breakfast eaten we set off at 6.58 am for Warakurna for fuel. Warakurna is another remote indigenous community with a roadhouse and not much more. We all refuelled and arrived at the nearby Giles weather stations well before the target time of 9am so that we could witness the launching of the day’s weather balloon.
Unfortunately Giles weather station although situated well within Western Australia runs on Central time – which is 90 minutes ahead of WA time – we had missed the day’s balloon launch! But we all had an interesting look around the station, and enjoyed our usual mornos.
Continuing on the Great Central Highway we eventually found the Northern Territory’s border, took the necessary photos and proceeded on into the Northern Territory and before long we drove into and out of the famous Docker River community. Nobody felt the need to remain there for long and so our journey continued on and by midafternoon we arrived at the Olgas where we had lunch and time to view the spectacular rock formations and most of the party completed the Walpa Gorge walk in the valley between two of the Olgas. We left the Olgas at 4.15pm to arrive at the Uluru campsite known as the Ayers Rock Resort at 4.30pm.
We all set up camp as quickly as possible and set off down the road to the viewing point for the sunset which gave spectacular views of Uluru in all its various colours as the sun disappeared at 6.11 pm. On returning to camp we all had our suppers and before retiring for an early night after a long day, made plans to visit the Uluru sunrise viewing area the following morning for 7.31 am .
Total distance for the day 515kms.
Another rewarding and enjoyable day of trip.
Day 5 Thursday 9th July, Yulara to Kings Canyon
By Martin and Karen
After a very good night at Yulara Resort the tents had dried out from the previous days drizzle and condensation. Some of the crew headed out to Ayres Rock before sunrise to capture the changing colours on the rock. The plan was for everyone to do what they wanted as long as they were ready to head off at 11:00am. There was a 330km drive ahead to get to Kings Canyon.
After an early morning photo session at the rock with thousands of other tourists we packed our camp before taking in a quick look around Yulara Resort and shopping centre. Peter and Denise discovered that someone has taken a liking to their torsion bar for the caravan’s stabilizer bar. A kind fellow traveler from the NT lent Peter his bar to get his caravan hitched up.
We headed East for 130km stopping at a Mount Conner lookout for a photo shoot. We then turned north towards Kings Canyon which was a further 160km stopping along the way on a road side picnic spot for lunch. The drive along the bitumen roads was a welcome relief from the previous days gravel travel.
We found Kings Canyon Resort to be almost full. Very nice camp grounds and facilities, but it was a matter of finding your own space to camp amongst all the other travelers. That was until the grounds man noticed that we had a large group and opened up one of the coach areas for us. This area had the best grass, had its own camp kitchen and was close to the amenities block. That provided for a most enjoyable stay despite the lack of a camp fire, but the overhead shelter of the camp kitchen kept the chill out of the evening air.
Day 6 Friday July 10, Kings Canyon to Palm Valley
The early part of the morning was spent exploring Kings Canyon. Everyone was given a meeting time of 12:00am at the resort so that they could do one of the canyon walks in their own time and pace. The Mereenie Loop Road to Palm Valley is notoriously rough, so Peter and Denise had pre-planned to head to Alice Springs instead towing their Jayco Expanda over smoother ground. Permits were purchased from Kings Canyon Resort for the Mereenie Loop Road and with everyone fueled up we left on time.
The road lived up to its reputation with wash-aways and heavy corrugations for most of the distance (250km). The corrugations proved too much for Martin’s camper trailer with one of the leaf springs breaking about an hour into the trip. With the assistance and guidance by Richard, Martin had the spring replaced with his new spare in no time at all. About another half hour down the road, the convoy came across a family from Victoria who had also busted a trailer spring. They had no spare and with a couple of small children getting impatient we thought it advisable to lend a hand. After a few deliberations as to how to get their trailer rolling it was found that Martin’s broken ‘double eye’ spring, from which one eye had broken off, fitted into the position of their broken single eyed ‘slipper’ spring. Only those conversant with leaf springs will understand what I just said.
This second delay meant that we arrived in Palm Valley a little later than planned, but we eventually got there just on sunset and in time to find a vacant campsite. It was in fact the overflow camping area as all the others had been claimed. That evening the Ranger attended the camp area to deliver a ‘camp fire talk’ that was very interesting to listen to. He spoke about the history of Palm Valley and how it is the only central desert remnant of when the continent was covered in jungle vegetation millions of years ago.
After the talk we returned to our camp site for a late dinner. David found that dingoes had ransacked his open tailgate. Fortunately there was not much there for the dingoes to have for their dinner.
Day 7 Saturday July 11 (Palm Valley)
By George and Linda
Hooray – today we don’t have to break camp so we had a leisurely start to the day. Around 10.00 we had a nice 4WD drive to Palm Valley. The drive required concentration and 4WDing skills but was not too difficult. At the valley we had the choice of a 1 or 2 hour walk. All chose the 2 hour walk and enjoyed the trek through the Palms. The ascent of the cliff was a different matter and some enjoyed a much needed rest half way up – the trouble was at the end we had to descend again to the carpark. The only casualty was Linda’s hiking stick. Once back at camp there was a continual trek to the showers –as they were solar powered they had been cold the previous evening so we made the most of the hot water in the afternoon. The evening was spent around a heat bead, camp cooking fire and a few members went off dingo spotting with their torches.
Day 8 Sunday 12 July 2009 – Palm Valley to Alice Springs
By Richard and Helen
The sun rose over the hills at approx 7.45am when everyone was packing up. Cold again this morning but some brave travellers already appeared in shorts.
The convoy headed off towards Hermansburg at 8.45am – early! At Hermansburg we had mornos and a look around the mission settlement while the tyres were being pumped up. The convoy left at 10am bound for Alice Springs, 125km away by wonderful quiet bitumen road – bliss!
We arrived at the Stuart Caravan Park and checked in at 11.30am. Peter & Denise, who had arrived a few days earlier, were waiting for us to arrive. David has decided to make use of the cabin his wife is booked into so he’ll be in a little bit of luxury for a few days.
Everyone set up camp and made themselves comfortable and then the washing machines and showers were put to very good use by most people. After that some people went exploring in Alice Springs, some washed cars, some shopped, some relaxed.
Peter & Denise had already checked out a couple of restaurants so it was decided to go out for tea and everyone found their way to Club Memo at 7pm where the meal was plentiful and delicious. After tea we gathered in the gazebo back at the caravan park until it was time for bed.
Day 9 Monday July 13 Desert Park – Alice Springs
Everyone, except Richard and Helen, took a tour of Alice Springs Desert Park. I’m not keen on these sorts of touristy things, but as trip leader I thought I should make an effort. And I’m very glad I did, because it was one of the best attractions I’ve seen that promotes the Australian bush and its flora and fauna. There were also interesting talks and demonstrations of local aboriginal culture. Every visitor was issued with a headset recording which when selecting the appropriate number gave you Ernie Dingo’s recital of information about where you were and what you should look for. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all that attended.
Day 10 Tuesday July 14 Alice Spings – Rainbow Valley and Owen Springs Reserve
By Martin and Karen
David had his car in for service. David though it prudent to have his ageing fuel lines replaced before another leak occurs similar to the problem encountered on day 2. Rick had to spend the morning dealing with company problems. That left the remaining 5 cars to head south for the planned trips to Rainbow Valley and Owen Springs. Rick’s co-driver Bryan jumped into Peter and Denise’s passenger seat eager not to miss any attractions.
Rainbow Valley turnoff was some 80 km south of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway. The road into Rainbow Valley was quite rutted and managed to shake a few things loose. Peter managed to notice his roof rack hanging on literally by the last threads on the nuts. My new aerial shook loose but was easily tightened up. Rainbow Valley, although very picturesque, was somewhat of a disappointment.
After a morning tea break and a 20 minute walk around the rear of the multi-colored rock outcrop which gives the area its name, we headed back out to Stuart Highway.
The turnoff to Owen Springs is 11 km north of Rainbow Valley. The track indicates that 4WDs only are allowed into the area. The track was a little corrugated to begin with but for most of the way was reasonably good. The track meandered through the Lawrence gorge in the Waterhouse Range running along the riverbed where large river gums provided the opportunity to utilize the shade for lunch. When the track exited the other side of the range, we came across the old homestead which now lies in ruin. A fence protects what is left of the house. The track then continued north past the ranger’s house to meet Laparinta road running into Alice Springs from the West.
Stanley Chasm was the next stop where a $8 entrance fee (per adult) was required to walk into the chasm. This was the only privately owned site along the West MacDonnell Ranges that required an entrance fee. After the half hours walk we relaxed with a coffee from the local tuck-shop. We returned to the caravan park about 5:00pm to prepare for another chilly night.
Day 11 Wednesday 15th July, 2009 – Alice Springs Tour of West MacDonnell Ranges
By Guy and Wendy
It was a windy night and cold morning. We headed off about 8.45am. Richard and Helen had visited the area we were going to before so decided to have a quiet day around town. The trip headed down Namatjira Drive which was a day of bitumen driving which was very pleasant. This road had the West MacDonnell Ranges on the right and other mountains in the distance.
Our stops for the day were:
a) Ellery Creek. Very scenic waterhole with freezing water. No-one wanted to swim.
b) Ormiston Gorge where we had morno’s. The sun was warming up by 10.30am. The wind was still cold. We were up to 13 degrees by then. We had a nice walk and saw a rock wallaby on the edge of the path which amused us all for a while.
c) Red Bank Gorge and lunch. It was a long walk in with lots of rocks to climb over. There was not a lot of water when we reached the end but it was very pretty.
d) Glen Helen Gorge. This was probably the least spectacular of the gorges we had seen for the day. This was also the location of the Glen Helen Resort. It was a nice old building which had a tavern, shop and restaurant. The camping group was disappointing, so we were glad we hadn’t planned to stay there.
At this stage, George and Linda and Rick and Brian headed straight back to Alice Springs and Martin and Karen, Peter and Denise, David, Laura and Susan and Guy and Wendy visited the Ochre Pit. This is the different coloured rock used by the aboriginals to paint themselves for ceremonies.
At 4.00pm we headed back to camp to ready ourselves for a night meal out. We had two venues chosen, one which had some country music playing and the other a pub called the Firkin and Hound. Richard and Helen, Rick and Brian, David, Laura and Susan went to see the country music being played and they were quite disappointed when the rugby took precedence over the music and it stopped early. I think everyone enjoyed their meals wherever they went.
Day 12 Thursday July 16 Alice Springs
By Martin and Karen
This day was designated a ‘Free-for-all day’ to re-stock and prepare for the next stage of the trip.
Day 13 Friday 17 July 2009 – Alice Springs to Ruby Gap Nature Park
By Richard and Helen
Everyone packed up early, we said goodbye to Peter & Denise and headed out of the Stuart Caravan Park at 8.40am on our way to Ruby Gap. After an uneventful trip we arrived at Arltunga historical settlement and looked over the visitors centre during mornos. A couple of Parks & Wildlife people gave a talk about how the settlement originated and about their exploits in the quest for gold – very entertaining and informative.
We then set off for Ruby Gap and arrived at a suitable camp site at approx 3pm. The brochures say it takes 1.5hrs to travel the 50km into Ruby Gap and they were correct – an interesting winding road with lots of creek crossings, rocky patches and ‘speed humps’ to stop the water flowing down the road. Some people set off for a walk to Glen Annie Gorge, which took a good couple of hours, others stayed and set up camp and others walked some of the way and then headed back. By the time the main walkers arrived back at camp there was a campfire going ready for the evening.
Day 14 Saturday July 18, Ruby Gap to Mt Doreen
We were packed up and ready to role before 7:00am. The drive out of Ruby Gap with the sun rising behind us was quite spectacular. The steep faces of the gorge and surrounding hills were lit up in all sorts of different hues by the morning sun. After another hour and a half navigating the tracks out of Ruby Gap we eventually found the bitumen of the Ross Highway again and headed back to Alice Springs to re-fuel. Taking advantage of the fast food outlets we all purchased lunch before heading north to the Tanami Road.
The Tanami Road is bitumen for about 200km north of Alice, so the run was reasonably quick. We re-fueled at Tilmouth, which is at the end of the bitumen. This would see us through to Rabbit Flat with fuel. The gravel was in good condition too. Although somewhat dusty; so I’ve been told. Slowly leaving the mountainous McDonnell Ranges to the south west we headed into open desert country covered in dry scrub and fields of termite mounds the size of cars.
We decided not to enter Yuendumu, which is a few kms off the track, and keep going. However, for some reason the tail-end half of the convoy, having been lost in the distance by dust, thought it was on the schedule and went in for a browse. So when it came time to slow down and start looking for a camping area we had lost communication with them. We found a good flat area to camp at Mt Doreen Homestead ruins, where we waited anxiously for a response to our constant calls on the radio for David, Rick, Richard and Helen. About 3 quarters of an hour later they magically appeared.
Day15 Sunday July 19 (Mt Doreen – Wolfe Crater)
By George and Linda
Another early start, packing in the dark. We checked out the ruins at Mt Doreen – some of the guys were regretful not being able to load up much of the ‘collector’s delights’ around the site. We hit the road at 8.00am and stopped for a couple of photo shoots of termite mounds and camels before stopping for morno’s at Renshaws Bore. Water tanks were refilled and Ric and Dave left for the mine site to pass on a message for a guy who had a shredded tyre. When we reached the mine site we had mobile connection so all stopped to make a few calls before proceeding to Rabbit Flat for fuel stop and lunch. Ric complained that he didn’t have time to eat his lunch before we took off again. The road then deteriorated and George managed to blow out one of his Coopers, a bit further down the track Martin also got a flat. The extra time required for the tyres meant it was getting late by the time we got to Wolfe Crater – the camp area was quite crowded but we managed to get into two separate areas and get set up just before dark. Were we late – No actually we were 24 hours early as Martin had left Ruby Gap a day early. LB
Day 16 Monday 20 July 2009
By Rick I
It was up at the crack of dawn with every one chafing at the bit to get on their way. A few chores though first – Guy repaired George’s puncture and a few bolts tightened on Guys bull bar. The corrugations were still having an effect on the vehicles.
It was then off to Wolfe Creek Crater and a climb to the top. David had this urge to climb into the crater and walk to its centre and back again. We all remained on the craters ridge and gave him the moral support that he deserved for his physical endeavours.
It was then off to Bililuna Community to refuel (at $2.60 a litre), an ice cream, a chat with the community administrator and then the first day on the Canning Stock Route. The corrugations soon claimed another victim. Martin broke a second spring on his camper. Lucky for him he had the foresight to get a spare air freighted in while we were in Alice. Once repaired the intrepid travellers we were off again, fighting the corrugations and the sand hills in search of excitement, challenge, dust and the best of the remote Australian outback.
Camp that night was at Well 50. It was a lovely little spot in the middle of a clay pan surrounded by lovely desert bush and dingoes. Once the sun went down and the fire raged the dingos began to chatter. This resulted in the game of spotlight where a number of members decided to go bush and spot light the dingos, with relatively little success.
After a while the dingos decided it was their turn and it would be a good idea to see what was about the camp and was there anything good to eat. A few were spotted about the camp. This resulted in one traumatic incident where a dingo ran off with Helen’s bra (she wasn’t attached to it at the time). Next morning the garment was found. Extensive scientific examination resulted in the culprit being identified as male cross dressing dingo. Further DNA testing should establish which dingo is the cross dresser at Well 50. The club will be informed of the identity of the dingo so that female members undertaking camping at Well 50 in future can better prepare themselves.
I can only say that the first day on the Canning Stock Route was great and was everything that I expected it to be. It didn’t let me down.
Day 17 Tuesday 21st July, 2009 Canning Stock Route Well 50 to Well 45
Guy and Wendy
After a pretty rough day on Monday with extreme corrugations in the road and Martin breaking the spare spring on his trailer, we all decided to carry on down the Canning Stock Route and not turn back.
We camped at Well 50 which was a very large area for camping with lots of trees and flat ground. Wouldn’t be good in wet weather because it would just turn to mud.
Everyone was ready to head off at 7.45am after a few running repairs to shockies and bull bars that had had the bolts shear off.
Richard and Helen found Helen’s bra not far from camp that the Dingo has stolen the night before.
Well 49 provided some of us with water that needed it. George and Linda had the handle on their bucket break so it is still in the Well. We also met a group of around five vehicles travelling the opposite way with one vehicle in tow that had been broken down at the well for a couple of days.
We diverted off track a little bit for morning tea to Breadon Pool. It was a small water hole with lots of birdlife around it and very beautiful. David took the opportunity to go into the water very quickly. George and Linda and Richard and Helen decided to stay on the track and enjoy the quiet life with the rest of us out of the way.
Lunch was on the track at the intersection of Well 47.
There wasn’t any shade so we moved on fairly quickly.
Well 46 had a metal bucket and made the task of retrieving the water much easier. We met some more interesting people at this Well. Everyone always willing to share their stories of the track.
George had a flat tyre, but we were able to plug it, and then repair when we stopped for the overnight camp at Wolf Creek Crater.
We had a first of hundred of sandhills to go over after lunch. None of them were any trouble to get over. Other travellers had said good luck getting over the sandhills with the trailers!
We set up camped at Well 45. It didn’t have any or much decent fire wood. The fire was not very hot, but luckily it wasn’t a very cold night.
Day 18 Wednesday July 22 CSR Day 3
By Martin and Karen
After spending the night at Well 45 everyone did a mechanical check early in the morning. Guy and Martin’s batteries were found to be missing mounting tie downs. Fencing wire was used as a substitute. There was another day of sand dune driving ahead, so Guy and Wendy were once again nominated as convoy leaders to scout the dunes prior to being tackled by the trailer laden vehicles.
The day was spent visiting the various wells between Well 45 and Well 41.
We met a convoy of 3 vehicles who once again kindly pulled off the track to let us through. It was thought that we were heading towards another group, but it was established that they were on another parallel track to them.
During the day we crossed a total of 150 sand dunes, all without effort. This was due to low tyre pressures and good driving tactics. We couldn’t understand all the hype concerning people taking trailers on the CSR. The climbs would have been more difficult coming from the opposite direction due to the longer grade in climb and uneven tracks caused by vehicles with high tyre pressures. But would not cause a problem if negotiated correctly.
As it was decided not to undertake the Kidson Track, the travelling was more relaxed having a bit more time to cover the CSR. Time was spent driving at a more corrugation and trailer friendly speed having the time to admire the ever-changing landscapes.
We reached Well 41 at about 4:30pm. Time enough to set up camp and gather wood before dark. David spent the evening removing and restoring the bushes on his shock absorbers.
Day 19 Thursday July 23 CSR Day 4
By Martin and Karen
Well 41 to Well 36. Another day spent crossing some 190 sand dunes. This day took us into magnificent Desert She-Oak woodlands. There are many good areas to camp with ample shade provided by the desert oaks particularly around well 36. The well also has good clear water, but you need your own rope and bucket. Other groups we passed commented that they had lost buckets in the wells, as did we at one stage. So I’m sure if you went fishing you would score one or two pales at each well.
Day 20 Friday July 24 CSR Day 5
From Well 35 to Well 33 the track is horrendously corrugated. So as to preserve the shock absorbers in the vehicles and the leaf springs on the trailers our speed was down to about 15kph. After a couple of hours of bone rattling we reached Well 33 where an operational windmill feeds a water tank overflowing with good fresh drinkable water. The community of Kunawarritji, 8 km away, maintains the condition of this tank. After restocking our water supplies we drove off separately to the community for refueling. Diesel was at $3.60/litre, but since we were heading off the CSR at this point, we only needed to fill the vehicles and not the jerry cans. The community manager closes the fuel pumps between 12:00 and 1:00pm regardless of who’s coming in. Our group only just managed to get the last car connected to the bowser before midday.
We headed west along the Wapet Road (Kidson track), which was well maintained although a few rough patches kept the concentration on high. After passing the Punmu turnoff we notice a large convoy of vehicles camped up in a nice little secluded camping area. We decided not to invade their territory and continued on looking for a suitable camp area. We eventually found a clearing on the edge of Lake Auld, which, although dry at this time, is fed by Rudall River. There were lots of camels in the area not too pleased about being moved on by our presence.
The day must have been extremely exhausting, we had not long pulled up at the camp when Rick slid his swag out of the car and immediately fell asleep on it. The sunset that evening was special.
Day 21 Saturday July 25 Lake Auld to Carrawine Gorge
By George and Linda
A beautiful sunrise welcomed us as we packed up to take to the road by 7.30 – we had to make sure we beat that other lot we passed last night. We enjoyed no dust for about 20 mins but then the road trains happened along causing us to stop because of the dust they created. On route we saw more camels and a donkey. We passed the Telfer mine and got to Carrawine Gorge and set up by lunchtime. The day was quite warm so in the afternoon some went looking for a weedless place to swim others braved the weeds and deeper water by our campsite. The Corellas abounded squawking and depositing their droppings everywhere causing us to put up more awnings. Roast dinners were the choice of the day and a pleasant evening spent around the campfire watching the moon set over the water.
Day 22 Sunday July 26 Carrawine Gorge
An easy day was had by all at Carrawine George. Late rise, potter around, a bit of washing, general chit chat and generally doing your own thing. The gorge is magnificent and a walk along it high lighted its beauty and the bird life. Words and photos do not give the area justice. You have to be there to appreciate it.
Our intrepid leader went on the scrounge and found an old inner tube. In he went, into the beautiful clear waters of the gorge, got rid of the Canning Stock Route grime and came out clean and wrinkly. I am sure the waters of the gorge will never be the same.
That evening it was pizza cooked in the pizza oven ‘that Martin built’ from local materials. Great little device. Made absolutely great mini pizzas of which were consumed with glee by the waiting masses. Amazing what you can do with a few rocks.
A great relaxing day was had by all.
Day 23 Monday 27 July 2009 – Day trip Carrawine Gorge to Upper Carrawine Pool
By Richard and Helen
After a sleep-in and a leisurely breakfast everyone mounted up with “tail-end Charlie” in the lead this time, and left camp at 9.30am bound for Upper Carrawine Gorge/Pool. Found the track no problems and the scenery was spectacular on the drive in. Arrived at our destination at a deep river crossing on the Oakover River where we had mornos and Bickerdikes and Archers went for a swim. Arrived back at camp at approx 12.30pm.
Everyone had lunch and then did their own thing for the afternoon – some snoozed, some started packing up, some relaxed and Helen & Richard made their own version of bread for everyone to try at afternoon tea.
After tea everyone sat around the campfire waiting for the moon to set over the gorge before going to bed.
Day 24 Tuesday 28 July 2009 – Carrawine Gorge
By 8:00am we were on the road heading south to the Skull Springs Road turnoff near Woodie Woodie Mine. Skull Springs Road links the various mine sites east of Nullagine, a section at the eastern end is restricted to light vehicles only. Not long after turning onto the track we came to a section of track that crosses the Oakover River. Karen dutifully got out of the car and walked through the 10-meter width of river before we drove across. She found no obstacles Other than a mangled number plate. The turnoff to Eel Pool is unmarked, about 12 kms from the Woodie Woodie Road. Then there is an 8 km drive over very rocky terrain to get to Eel Pool. There is a ‘chicken’ camp prior to reaching the pool. We decided to continue on, navigating the rock outcrops to reach the river where it was a matter of individually finding a clear area to set up camp on the river edge. There was only one other couple camped at this location, and they were just about to pack up and leave.
Eel Pool is literally an oasis in the desert. It’s a deep section of the Oakover River which is also fed by an artesian spring. This artesian water is very warm which makes swimming a pleasure at any time of the year. If we had known the location was as good as it was, we would have planned to stay here a lot longer.
Day 25 Wednesday July 29 – Carrawine Gorge to Eel Pool
We left Eel Pool by 7:00am and headed west along Skull Springs Road for Nullagine. The road is very picturesque with its surrounding hill sides. Although our last visit along this road a few years ago found it a lot greener and more wild flowers. The gravel road is is in reasonably good condition, but you have to be on your toes and watch out for frequent rough patches and wash aways.
When we stopped at a mine site ruins Martin’s tyre was found to be leaking air from a previous tyre plug repair. The wheel was quickly switched for the spare and we were back on the road to reach Nullagine at lunchtime. Everyone refueled at Nullagine and once again took advantage of the roadhouse ice-cream supplies.
The road between Nullagine and Newman, I’m told, is a test area for various types of bitumen road surface. So although the road is predominantly gravel, the motorist is continuously frustrated by sections of bitumen that run for several kilometers then end for no reason. Do we, or don’t we pump our tyres back up? Was the question raised several times. In the mean time, Martin’s last tyre deflated and had to be replaced with one of the spare carcasses he had on the roof. The 18” rim proved to be difficult customer breaking the bead. Richard soon sorted the problem out by driving his car over the stubborn tyre. Then Guy’s tyre changing skills showed how quickly a tyre can be replaced using tyre levers.
We reached Newman by mid-afternoon where everyone re-stocked food at the shopping centre and planned to meet up at Capricorn Roadhouse by 4:00pm. In the mean time, Martin visited the local Bridgestone Tyre dealer who kindly placed Martins last spare tyre onto a the spare wheel without delay. Guy and Wendy decided to stay the night in a motel room, while the rest of us headed just south of Capricorn to a hillside camping area. The sunset that night was spectacular.
Day 26 Thursday July 30 – Newman to North of Paynes Find
By Guy and Wendy
We were all on the road at 7.15am. Guy and Wendy had a night off from unpacking and packing the tent and stayed in Newman for the night. The timing was perfect as we met up on the road as the rest were coming out of their camping area without pre arranging a time.
Breakfast stop was at Kumarina Roadhouse. Lunch at Meekatharra. We were very disappointed to go to our old roadhouse that we ran for 3-4 years to find out that the kitchen had been closed down and we had to get lunch somewhere else in town.
Camp was made at a free camping ground north of Paynes Find. Karen organised a yummy pot luck camp oven dinner with everyone providing whatever they had left in their food supplies. These types of meals are usually to best. Thanks Karen.
A bottle of champagne of consumed for our last night together and to thank Martin and Karen for their hours of time spent organising a great trip.
Day 27 Friday July 31 – Paynes Find to Home
After a casual pack up in the morning we made tracks for home. Stopping in Wubin for a refuel we then headed for home. A latish lunch was had at the Bindoon bakery where everyone bid there farewells.
Thank you to all those that participated in this trip. We could not have traveled with more pleasant company. The skills and knowledge of everyone on this trip made it the huge success that it was. Also a special thank you to Keith, who unfortunately had to pull out of the trip at the last minute, but had provided a great deal of information in its planning.
Martin and Karen