Trip Leader: Martin & Karen
Tail End Charlie: Who ever woke up last
When: August 5th to 19th 2006
DAY 1 Saturday 5th Aug 2006.
Written by Martin A
This 2 week trip comprised of 7 vehicles in total. Martin and Karen were leading the trip and were accompanied by George, Linda, Chris, Jan, Terry and his son Liam.
Roger, Jan, Peter and Denise had travelled a day earlier to Karijini, which proved very worthwhile as
will be explained later.
Richard and Helen were to meet the convoy at a later date for the Rudall River leg of the trip.
So our gathering of 4 vehicles to start with met at Ginger’s Roadhouse at 6:30am and promptly headed
north along the Great Northern Highway. It was a good clear run with little in the way of heavy haulage
delays. The lovely drive through the Chittering and Bindoon hills was met with some very cold pockets
of air in the valleys. We stopped at Wubin to refuel and have a morning tea break.
Our intention was to make Karijini in two days, which all went according to plan with a lunch stop just
past Mt Magnet and then making camp about 50 km north of Meekatharra. Satellite Navigation proved
its worth with Chris finding a track off the highway which took us through a pastoral gate to a secluded
area where we set up camp for the night. Our chief campfire warden Liam had a good healthy fire
burning upon which kettles were soon boiling away.
DAY 2 Sunday 6th Aug.
Written by Martin A
We broke camp and were back on the road at a respectable 8:00am heading for Newman. Petrol prices
rose as we went further north with the cost at around $1.64 in Newman were we refuelled and had lunch at the Football Oval. Terry had to do a quick backtrack 20km to Capricorn Roadhouse because the BP in
Newman had no LPG.
It was mid afternoon as we turned off the highway and approached Karijini. Our chatter over the UHF
was interrupted by Roger and Jan who were already set up in the Karijini camping ground. So we put
our orders in for a cuppa for when we arrive. Upon arrival at the entry post we found a letter attached
to the register from Jan F who wrote they had already paid for our camping fees and were to find the
campsite in Dales Campground.
It turned out that the camping grounds had been full everyday and it was only through a bit of wheeling
and dealing by Roger with the campground host that they secured us an area just big enough to take
the whole party. It was a tight squeeze but we managed to get all the campers and caravans in
So our expanded group with Roger, Jan, Peter and Denise settled down for “happy hour” and
contemplated the good times ahead.
Day 3 (Monday August 7)
Written by Jan S
Terry rose first at 6am and it wasn’t long before everyone appeared for breakfast sitting in the sun on the road (the only sunny spot) at The Dale Gorge Camp site in Karijini.
At 8.30 we all set off armed with water bottles, morno and bathers for a hike to Circular Pool. When we reached Circular Pool half of the group went for a swim and enjoyed the warm waterfalls. We then walked along the very picturesque Dale Gorge to Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool for another swim. The weather by then had started to warm up. We arrived back at camp for lunch and a lazy afternoon recovering. A trip to the visitors centre was about all we had the energy for.
Dinner was arranged for a 6.30 communal barbecue. Each family prepared a salad to share while the men cooked the meat on the gas BBQ. We all enjoyed a very nice meal. Karen organized a quiz night for after dinner and congratulations go to Peter as the winner. After a nightcap, it was to bed early for everyone as the night was getting quite cold.
DAY 4 (Tuesday Aug 8)
Written by Martin A
The local ranger (Peter Morris) had dropped by yesterday say hello and apologise for not being able to accompany us to Rudall River. He was busy organising a CALM seminar being hosted at Karijini over the next week. He offered some good advise on what gorges to visit. This morning his wife visited the camp to distribute census forms and had a pleasant chat, obviously having been told all about our club.
Chris, Jan, Terry and Liam departed our company temporarily for a few days to travel the circular route via Wittenoom (Wittenoom is no longer safe to travel to). The rest of the party headed for a day trip to Tom Price and Hamersley Gorge.
We stopped on the way to Tom Price to view a road side lookout. This turned out to be a memorial ground for people to write remembrances on rocks for departed friends and relatives. We then continued on to Tom Price where we refuelled before heading to Mount Nameless just outside the town. A short detour after missing the turnoff, we were soon navigating the steep climb up the mountain track. The Mountain has the highest location for a building in WA which is a small tin building which looks like it probably houses a weather station. The scenery from the top is magnificent overlooking the Pilbara landscape including Tom Price mine site.
We made our way back to Tom Price where we had lunch under the shade of trees in a sports park before heading for Hamersley Gorge.
We arrived at Hamersley Gorge mid-afternoon and unfortunately too late for a swim as the temperature was falling off with the afternoon sun low in the sky. The Gorge was another wonderful location that would be worth a relaxing day visit on the next trip.
We then headed back to camp which saw us returning to camp just before dark.
Day 5 (Wednesday Aug 9)
Written by Peter B
Everyone had a relatively long lie in until at least 7am and followed this with breakfast in the sunny centre of the camp road!
All were ready by 9am and the group left camp 9.05 Martin and Karen in the lead, followed by George and Linda, Peter and Denise with Rog and Jan as tail end Charlie.
On the way out of camp we dropped off the census forms at the camp host’s hut and then we drove out past the Karijini visitors centre onto the unsurfaced road westwards. Heading towards Weano Gorge we turned right towards Kalamina Gorge and stopped to admire the waterfalls there. (25kms from visitors centre) We found that travelling in convoy on the road covered with very fine Karijini red dust, it was preferable to keep about ½ to 1k apart in order to be able to see and breathe!
Returning to the Weano road we continued on to Joffrey Gorge down another road on the right (31kms from V. C.) At Joffrey Gorge we found a couple of damsels in distress – with a severely leaking fuel pump on their Landrover. George and Martin helped with a temporary bush repair using some sticky goo and gave advice to them on how to proceed to get a full workshop repair as soon as possible. Meanwhile the rest of us had a go at what was supposed to be an easy walk along the gorge but turned back when it appeared too difficult. Mornos was appreciated at the Joffrey Gorge lookout overlooking an impressive chasm and stream.
By 11.50am we were back on the road to Knox Gorge in the Weano Day Use area. Again great views from the lookout. The descent into the gorge was steep and unsuitable for the less adventurous. Martin George Rog and Jan scrambled down and enjoyed a cool swim in the pools at the floor of the gorge whilst Karen Linda Peter and Denise made their way back to camp for a reasonably early lunch and a restful afternoon.
Happy hour and supper was the usual good fun and all retired suitably exhausted at a relatively early hour to be ready for the next days activities.
Day 6 (Thursday Aug 10)
Written by Linda B
Today was to have been a rest day but all decided that a trip to Weano Gorge was a good idea. After breakfast on the road (literally – we sat in the warmth of the early morning sun) we set off for Weano Gorge. The run was uneventful as by now we were used to the “good vibrations” that came with all the roads in Karijini. The parking area was well set up with picnic tables with shaded sail covering so we stopped for the compulsory morno’s before moving on to Oxer lookout.
Here we saw the memorial to Jimmy Reagan – the SES volunteer who was killed in a flash flood whilst trying to save a tourist in 2004. It was a stark reminder how we need to be responsible for our actions so that we do not put others in peril.
After a short stop we then headed back to Weano Gorge. Today we were privileged – the gorge had reasonable steps to the base of the gorge, for which Linda, Karen and Denise were extremely grateful. At the base we headed off to the right where we found that to get through to that part of the gorge we would have to wade through water thigh deep then climb around the rocks. George went through but seeing the challenge it presented the group decided not to go through. George had been told that there was a larger pool 100 metres in the other direction so we decided to head off in search of it. After much clambering over rocks etc for about 500metres the gorge narrowed as did the stream and the forerunners reported that there certainly didn’t appear to be a pool that way. It was decided to head back to the steps for a dip in the pool there.
Martin was the first brave soul to go in – it was freezing so he didn’t stay in for long Linda and George followed him in and managed to stay a bit longer then Karen managed a really quick dip. The others were a satisfied just soaking their feet in a warmer bit of the stream. We then climbed the steps and headed back to camp for lunch. On the return trip some stopped off at the visitors centre while other went to fill water containers. The afternoon was spent either relaxing of packing what we could in preparation for our early departure on Friday morning
Day 7 (Friday Aug 11)
Written by Martin A
Today we packed up early to head for Newman where we intended to meet the rest of the group including Richard and Helen K. However, we had to say goodbye to Peter and Denise who were heading for Coral Bay and Esperance.
So after departing the camp site we stopped briefly at the water tank to refill our containers. Roger had the pleasure of being sent on his way by a semi clad European lady who took advantage of the water from the tank for a quick shower.
We arrived at Newman in good time to be met by all as arranged. Chris had decided to replace all his tyres with big muddies after slicing a side wall while climbing Mount Meharry the day before. He left his remaining tyres with the tyre dealer to collect upon our return journey.
A quick lunch stop and re-supply of fuel and food and we were on our way to Rudall River. However, upon travelling the Marble Bar road, which was smooth graded gravel, the convoy of 6 cars came to a stop with simultaneous punctures to George and Martin’s cars.
Although we were travelling at about 90kmh it was decided too fast for the tyre pressures and vehicle’s fully laden weight. George decided to turn about after replacing the tyre and head back to Newman to replace his remaining aged tyres. Richard and Helen kindly offered to accompany them.
Martin replaced his tyre with a spare after unsuccessfully attempting to plug the puncture. Martin then lead the remaining group towards Rudall River.
The turn off to Rudall River is sign posted with a sign indicating Jigalong Community. We stopped for arvos next to a vacant cattle yard, where a convoy of State Emergency and Police vehicles passed in the opposite direction. After leaving the Jigalong Road we headed north along the Balfour Downs track which took us to the Tallawana Track. All these tracks were in good condition and offered little in the way of hazards.
We decided to stop well before dark in order that George, Linda, Richard and Helen could catch up before the sun went down. With the aid of GPS track information supplied by Keith from his recent tag-along trip in the same area, we found an outcrop of desert oaks sheltered by surrounding dunes. A loan camel stood silhouetted against the sky on top of a sand dune. Unfortunately it didn’t hang around for a photo shoot. It was a very pleasant camp site were we quickly established an overnight camp and waited for the others. They eventually arrived not long after dark.
Day 9 (Sunday 13/8/06)
Written by Helen K
Queen Desert Baths
As usual, Terry and Chris were first out of bed and stoked up the campfire. Most campers then enjoyed a cooked breakfast. The men investigated the possibility of moving to another camp site that had just been vacated and a vote was taken but it was decided it was too hard to shift everyone so we all settled in fully. Except for Terry and Liam who picked up their swags and moved to Camp 2! Washing was hung up to dry and then everyone got organised for the 40 minute (or so) walk/clamber up the gorge. We all reached the end and found another pool surrounded by colourful gorge walls.
Liam walked up and around to see what was further on and then swam back across the pool after much bribing from Roger (I think it was 3 cans of lemonade!). George, Linda and Richard then all enjoyed a refreshing swim while the others watched. Then it was back to camp again with Terry and Liam climbing up to the top of the gorge to see if there was an easier way out – there wasn’t so they ended up climbing back down again. On the way back Chris, Jan and Helen had a swim in the pool close to camp to cool off before lunch. Martin & Karen cooked up some pizza’s for lunch and some campers had an arvo nap. Chris & Jan cooked a cake.
Terry wondered if anyone had picked up his watch which he thought he had left at the pool up the gorge – unfortunately no-one had so after more searching he set off up the gorge again to see if he could find it. Some-time later he re-appeared but a lot hotter but still with no watch.
Jan and Roger took their chairs down to the nearby pool where it was much cooler and did a bit of bird-watching – the feathered variety. Richard took his damaged tyre off the rim and replaced it with a tube and better tyre while Martin looked at repairing his tyre.
By this time it was late afternoon and the camp was busy preparing for the banquet dinner. The fire was stoked up again and lined with camp ovens. Jan had a mishap with the vegies which all fell out the bottom of a plastic bag and ended up in the dirt! She was able to wash most of them and had spares for those that were beyond redemption.
Breaking news from Terry – he found the watch. It was in the bottom of his knapsack all the time!
The delicious banquet consisted of lamb roast, beef roast, Mexican dish, chicken wings, red wine goulash and ham/egg slice followed by cake and apple crumble and cream.
After the cleanup everyone sat around the campfire and played a game called something like “Winking Murder”. Lots of laughter – Terry dies most dramatically, Karen killed the most “victims” and Chris and Linda caused havoc when they couldn’t see on the piece of paper that they were supposed to be the “murderers”!
Everyone then retired to bed.
Day 10 (Monday August 14)
Written by Jan S
Today is a lazy day for everyone. The morning was taken up with some domestic chores followed by a game of scrabble for the girls and a 3 klm walk to the caves for the men. A relaxing afternoon was then had by some around the swimming hole while others repaired tyres and vehicles. Karen cooked camp oven scones for afternoon tea served with jam and cream which we all enjoyed very much.
A progressive dinner was planned for the evening meal with the guys doing the preparing. All dressed up, we set off at 6pm for the outing of the week to the Keesings camp for our 1st course of Stuffed Pumpkin. Every half hour the dinner party progressed to the other camps for 5 more sumptuous courses which included Meat Balls & Risotto, Pasta Bolognaise, Rogan Josh Curry, Mexican Tuna Slice (sort of) and Satay Chicken. Some camps were closer than others, so drinking and driving wasn’t an issue. Between each course Karen organized a progressive quiz. Congratulations go to Terry as the winner. The very enjoyable evening concluded with a game of charades around the camp fire with Karen giving us all a Gold Logie performance of Marilyn Munroe and we won’t mention the pole dancing.
Day 11 ( Tuesday Aug 15)
Written by Jan F
Departed Queen Desert Baths camp at 8:30am and arriving at one of the excellent water pumps for
morning tea. After filling our tanks and containers we continued on a reasonable track to Christmas
Pool. However the pool was a 4 km walk from the car park so as it was 31deg with little shade we
decided to just have lunch and carry on to Carrawine Gorge. We passed through Telfer Mine which
had been organised in advanced, and on their roads towards Marble Bar. We turned off to Carrawine
Gorge which was 13 kms along another quite good road. Arrived at 4:30pm and a couple of vehicles
got bogged in the river bed pebbles. But eventually we all got set-up by the water, under the trees, by
the side of the gorge. Some people went for a swim as the water was warmer than in the rock pools
experienced at Rudall River. The river was a bit muddy on the bottom. Fires were lit for cooking and
an early night followed dinner.
DAY 12 (Wednesday Aug 16)
Written by Liam Keesing
Secret Men’s Business took place at 5:00am I’m not sure what they were doing because I slept in until about 7:45am! But anyway when I got up I saw all the men digging holes in the ground and my Dad rolling rubbish bins across the road. (weird!) Then I found out that they were getting rid of the rubbish and burying it in the ground and hiding the rubbish bins so that people have to take their rubbish home with them when they go there.
I skipped breakfast and helped pack up and at 8:30am we were on the road again. We were driving for about an hour and a half when we stopped at a little clearing next to the track and there we stopped at for morning tea. There is a little pump there that you can get water from if you move the pole up and down.
Roger and Jan broke a spring on their camper trailer so they had to do a little bit of hammering and pulling apart to fix it up. It took about half an hour to finish the job. At about 10:40am we set off again.
We are driving across the Little Sandy Desert. (I think it’s supposed to be a mini version of the Great Sandy Desert.) Soon we passed Island Hill and crossed Rudall River then stopped at a sign post that tells you about the plaque of Rudall River. Dad stood at the top of a hill and took a photo of each vehicle as it made its way up.
Now everyone has had a punctured tyre except Roger and Jan and Liam and Terry. (And Liam and Terry with 1st place because they’re the only ones that haven’t had any problems with the Toyota!)
We are heading towards Tjingkulatjatjarra Pool and you should realise that I only put this bit of info in because that is such a weird name. We are going on quite a rough part of the track now, it has lots of rocks sticking up and some dips. As we were driving along we spotted a trailer hitch hanging from a dead tree, it looked as though someone got caught on the tree.
We found a place where we could have lunch, the sand is really soft there, so soft that Martin got bogged. Dad got out the snatch strap just in case we need it. Martin was backing forward and back trying to get out of the bog. Eventually we decided that we should push the trailer while he drove forward and that got him out!
Then we all got our chairs and tables and had lunch together.
A while later we started heading off again to our next destination.
We found a spot that might be good for camping but no one liked it so we’re off to find a new one. We have been driving for a while now and as we get further down the track we see about five Camels ten metres from the side of the road we took a few pictures then kept going. After about 15 minutes we reached a nice camping spot to stay at for the night. There were some other people there but there was still a spot for us to stay at.
There is a high rock face that I climbed up and had a view of the whole area surrounding us!
DAY 13 (Thursday Aug 17)
Written by Linda B
We were awaken with the wind trying to rip the leaves off the river gums, at least the wind is from the right direction so the First Lady will not have to be move again. Over the howling wind we could hear Terry trying to be quiet collecting his fire wood, but the river bed stones seem to make more nose when trying to be quiet.
He and Chris seem to be up early every morning for important men’s business, around the fire and gaining strength from watching the sun to rise to start a new day. The Log off strength was used as the main fuel for the fire. (The losers from the golf day had to carry it back to camp, about 500 m in all Terry and George did a very fine job) Most of the other golfers were holding back so if the boys faltered they could not be asked to help. Martin could be seen darting around trailer & car doing the dishes from the night before .( his excuse “could not find them in the dark”… good enough).
After breakfast some of the group went for a walk along the river to view the wild flowers, Chris & Terry went to try out their 4×4 on the river bank, again Terry came to the rescue of Chris due to a bottom out of the 250 ,a few good photos was taken. Liam was having fun in his swag making out it was whatever he wanted it to be spaceship etc.
He was a bit upset when he got up and found his cubby in two, but he accepted his father’s explanation that the drums were need to tie the swags to so they would not blow away. The flower walkers returned and morning tea was had with chocolate biscuit and ginger nuts. Terry was cleaning out his car… off mouldy bread, and trying to give away a box of Weet bix to hide the evidence that Liam was having a man breakfast while away and not a good mother’s breakfast as was planned.
But instead of missing mum, he had 4 adopted Mums on the trip so a good eye was kept on him for all his needs.
We had to put the log of strength out to save on wood although Richard brought back a tree after his daily walk. Chris could not be found around the camp… eventually we found him asleep, in bed!The men’s business must have worn him out, afternoon nap at 11 o’clock?
Terry made damper for lunch Liam made a cake for afternoon tea which very nice. Then the wheeling and dealing got going ,Terry weet-bix Jan the excess milk , Chris a few litres of petrol which George accepted due to being a little short to make Marble Bar. Terry & Martin assisted in this matter as well 30lt. all told. When George was putting the fuel in he could not work out why the petrol was not coming through the funnel then he realised he forgot to remove the bung from the revise funnel.
He quietly removed the bung before he was caught out.
A very quiet afternoon was had by all, before we start the long trip home tomorrow.
Around the camp fire we sit listening to the rumbling tummy’s. We had a surprise when Helen & Richard produced apple crumble & cream, every one scattered for the sweet plates very enjoyable indeed. Over the camp fire looking for shooting stars and satellites our thanks were expressed to our leaders Karen our first lady who assisted Martin all the way, and Martin for a very well planned trip which all have enjoyed. Well good night God Bless.
Day 14 (Friday Aug 14)
Written by Martin A
Today we departed Carrawine Gorge and in doing so said goodbye to Roger, Jan, George and Linda who were heading in the opposite direction to extend their holidays in Broome and Port Headland.
After leaving the bituminised Woody Woody Mine Road we headed west along a track to Nullagine. Sign posted to restrict vehicles over 40 tonnes the track soon began meandering through some very picturesque country side with wooded river beds and undulating hill sides. One river crossing was detoured due to water depths. There were Camels, Emus and Kangaroos to be seen, and little of other traffic.
Karen and Martin took a detour to check out Eel Pool which was located a few kilometres along a very rough side track. It was found to be hidden in a valley thickly covered by trees and almost tropical vegetation. The ground was moist with a few water crossings. It would be a very good camping area for future explorations.
After checking out an abandoned gold mine we had lunch in a dry river bed beneath some impressive white gums.
Nullagine fuel prices were bearable. Well they had to be because we had no choice. After a quick re-fuel and ice-cream break we headed for Newman. Not long into this leg on the notorious Marble Bar Road, Martin completely shredded another tyre (now only one spare left).
Getting closer to Newman, we were running out of time for Chris to collect his tyres from the Tyre Dealer before close of business. So he left the rest of us in his dust while we ambled cautiously along at about 80kmh. As it turned out, this was fortunate because he was informed that the company was closed the next day due to a festival in town.
We refuelled at Capricorn Roadhouse before heading for a location south of Newman where Chris had discovered a good overnight spot from a previous trip. Camp was quickly set up for the last time. Liam quickly established a healthy fire for us to spend the evening around.
Day 15 (Saturday 19/8/06)
Written by Helen K
Vehicles – Karen & Martin
Chris & Jan
Terry & Liam
Richard & Helen
All awoke around 5.30-6.00am, had breakfast and packed up. Richard noticed a rather deflated tyre on his car so quickly changed it. We left camp at 7.10am and headed for home.
Around 9.15am Martin’s trailer tyre decided to shed rubber and went flat rather quickly. He borrowed Richard’s spare trailer tyre so both Martin and Richard are now “spare-less” until Meekatharra. Morning tea was also enjoyed during this enforced break.
Underway again and everyone joined in ‘guess that song/artist’ by Chris and Karen. We refuelled at Meekatharra where Martin picked up another cheap spare tyre, and everyone had lunch. Terry couldn’t get the gas bowser to work so he took off to Cue to refuel and wait for us.
We cruised along again and picked up Terry at Cue. Next quick comfort/cuppa stop was at Payne’s Find. Karen then kept everyone on their toes and conducted the quiz out of the West Australian.
Then we hit the rain……………
5:15pm – a quick stop at Wubin for fuel and coffee and we’re off again. It rained consistently all the way back to Perth so we said our goodbyes to each other and thank you’s to Martin & Karen over the radio and went our separate ways.
The end of another successful and enjoyable trip.