Western Desert Meanderings 2007

Sunday, Jun 10, 2007 at 22:00

equinox

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The mining town of Newman was my departure point for my planned trip into the Gibson Desert. I had arrived there in the morning and spent a few hours looking around some of the local sights including Radio Hill. It was 11 June 2007 and I headed up the Marble Bar Road and Balfour Downs/ Jigalong Road to take me to the start of the Talawana Track.

Newman to Wiluna via Nipper Pinnacle.

This would be my first big trip in the Ute, a Landcruiser trayback which was about a year old now. My plan was to head alone, east along the Talawana, via Rudall River National Park before getting to Windy Corner. I would then look for Carnegie's Patience Well before attempting to visit Nipper Pinnacle and the Alfred and Marie Range to the south before coming out on the Gary Highway somewhere near the Young Range. Then I would pick my brother up from Wiluna to take his place in the passenger seat and explore some of the area in the vicinity of Prenti Downs Station before heading home. That was the plan!!!!

The roads were in good condition, as expected and I soon reached the terminus of the Talawana Track just short of Balfour Downs Station. From the junction there were sandy patches frequently. Just beyond the Talawana Creek I stopped to have a look at Len Beadell’s plaque not far south of the track. Heading east again the track was fairly corrugated however the pleasant views of the surrounding sand sandridges made up for it.

There is a short cut track to Rudall River so took this 28 kilometre option. It was a rough, rocky, and rarely used track – though I saw there was some fresh vehicle track marks. The track went down an embankment and nice views of the countryside were afforded. Nearer to the river many detached breakaways, conical hills were to be seen, and the track lay on a flat plain making the hills quite striking. I made camp near Tjingkulatjatjarra Pool after crossing the dry river though darkness soon overtook the camp so a visit to the pool would have to wait until morning.

I watched, from the inside of the tent to determine just how long I had to wait until sunrise and then arose and took a walk down to the pool. I came across a small pool in the mainly dry river which had melons growing adjacent. After walking about 100 metres I came to the much larger main pool. The northern bank and the surrounding granite slope presented a nice view and the mood for the day was set.

After packing up camp I recrossed the river and headed along the track that runs parallel to the river, to the east. The entire length of the 30 kilometres or so of track that runs by the river was scenic, with rugged breakaways and hills. Many dry tributaries of the river were crossed though I saw at least two pools that would have contained many millions of litres. I passed a sign stating that I was entering a Aboriginal Living Area which I had anticipated, though it didn’t worry me as I had checked with them prior to the trip and they had confirmed it was ok to come through.

From the sign the track deteriorated somewhat and the seeds of spinifex easily penetrated the three layers of flywire I had earlier today attached to the front of the vehicle. I swung to the south and passed Mount Eva before arriving at Cotton Creek just after midday. I was told that already two parties had been through to pick up fuel today and I did the same the price being $2.65 per litre.



The main access road headed southerly and I made progress down it until I reached the Talawana Track again and headed east. Shortly, I noticed quite a few smokes of fires – probably the locals going hunting. One fire was seen a great distance to the east. The track now was very much corrugated and I pitied the traveler who had a poor choice of suspension as harm would surely result going down this track. Georgia Bore was reached; this was at the junction of the Talawana Track and the Canning Stock Route which will continue merged for a while. There was three vehicles here, organising their camping requirements for the night. After a quick chat I headed off again to make camp at Curara Soak (Well 24), not far east of here, which I reached before dark. I was happy that I had no tyre problems so far, the new set of tyres I had bought were doing their job. There was nobody else here.

Peace was shattered in the morning and my “sleep in” was cancelled when a pack of dingoes started howling from what seemed a position not far from the tent. When I got out of the tent not long after, they were gone. Looking at the well it was full, though I didn’t need any water at the moment.

I continued on my journey eastward and before too long came to the junction where the Canning Stock Route heads north and the Talawana Track veers east to Windy Corner. Here I continued to follow the Talawana Track. If the track was not deteriorated before it certainly was now with the track overgrown in spots and spinifex lining the way forward. Fire had been through the area in the recent past and vast areas of the landscape were clearly visible as a result.

Stopping to clear some of the spinifex debris from the underside of the vehicle I thought to myself just how remote an area I was actually in. I pondered this thought as I was driving along alone and wondered what it would be like when I reached the seriously isolated and remote country to the east which I had planned to soon traverse. What if I broke down, or had a medical emergency? Help would be many days away and would be a serious embarrassment if I had to call on it. After much soul searching I decided to cancel my planned traverse from Nipper Pinnacle to the Alfred and Marie Range, and visit the pinnacle only now, and perhaps visit the range after I had picked up my brother at Wiluna in twelve days time.

That decision made, I was much happier and confident and went along the track until the turnoff the Connolly Basin, an ancient weathered meteorite crater. The centre of the crater was only a few kilometers south down the track – There was a wooden pole supported by rocks to mark the centre – the crater rim was hard to discern due to the sheer size and age of the crater.

Windy Corner at the junction of the Gary Highway was soon reached and I stopped for a look at the plaque there. In this area I would have to keep an eye out for some “Stoney Banks” that explorer David Carnegie mentioned before he went on to find Patience Well. If I could find these banks then the search for the well should be made easier. North from the corner I stopped to have a look at a survey mark off to the west of the track before camping in a rare clearing, free of spinifex, about twenty kilometers north.

After an early night and my desired “sleep in”, I once again started my day’s journey, north along the Gary Highway until shortly coming to a track heading roughly south east. On my map there was some rocky outcrops marked and I headed down this track for a few kilometers until I reached them. I briefly had a look around, certainly they were not the “Stoney Banks” that Carnegie mentions, as they didn’t fit the description, were too far north, and there was no “view” to the east.

Back to the Gary Highway I went, and then drove north until quite a good track which terminates at Patience No. 2 Oil Well. Travelling along this track I stopped for a deviation. Carnegie in this area found two dry wells and I had calculated that some breakaways just 1500 metres north of this track were where they were located – Time to head off the track for the first time – The Landcruiser and tyres performed faultlessly, and my confidence grew in them, in this short test of travelling through virgin bush. Upon reaching the breakaways I had some lunch. The breakaways are comprised of two it seems, at an angle of about 60° to each other. I drove along the lower section of each breakaway looking for any signs of the no doubt, long unvisited wells. I found nothing, however it was a good experience to visit somewhere that had no signs of visitation of modern man and more likely than not, was visited by Carnegie.






Driving through the bush back onto the main track to the Oil Well and reached the well in less than an hour later. This well was decommissioned now and the whole site was abandoned, yet the discarded items around more than told of a history of a once busy and active camp. From here I would go south – away from any tracks for a long while; this next section would be a good test for both the vehicle and for me, I hopefully will be able to maintain a good presence of mind and composure when by myself, so very far from any others or help.

South from here somewhere is Patience Well, visited by David Carnegie in 1896 and hasn’t been seen since by civilized man. I had had a look for it in 2003 on my quad bike, with back up 4WD support and was unable to find it. I will give it another go though. Dr William Peasley had given me his best predicated position for it, which was about fifteen kilometers south west of here – so to that location I first travelled towards, deviating and stopping at a small dry creek to have a look around before reaching his position. The country was spinifex ridden and the travel was slow going. There was nothing around that looked like a well here so then made for the popular “approximate position” of Patience Well, which was nothing more than a small sinkhole in the ground and in no way fitted Carnegie’s description.

There was a jar attached to a tree here, with names of others who had made it out this far. I added my name to the list – and then proceed to the north west. I had seen a prominent white mark nearby on aerial pictures of the area and thought it was worth investigating. Reaching the place of the white mark I found it to be a small patch of conglomerate; brittle white marble like rock measuring fifteen by fifteen metres; I have collected some samples. There were no signs of anyone else being there, and I camped there, between two belts of Mulga in a cleared area.

Now, in the morning I set out to see if I could find the well again – I tried to cover as much ground as possible in the vicinity, covering an area of about fifteen kilometres by ten kilometres. I wasn’t checking on possible points from aerial pictures; as I traversed the land I would stop and have a look at any locations where the vegetation seemed different and there may have been a possibility of a well.

There were plenty of birds around and I saw a couple of kangaroos. I got my first puncture today and spent some time trying to find it and repair it, as I was unpracticed. Towards the end of the day I started to position myself for a south easterly run in the morning, the well remaining unfound. I drove 66 kilometres today, all offroad, at a speed of just over ten kilometers per hour.

As the nemesis of spinifex had once again shown its face I spent time in the morning clearing most of it out under the ute. From here I would try to reach Nipper Pinnacle, a feature I have been eyeing off on the maps for some years now, and just before that the confluence of 24° Latitude and 126° Longitude. The confluence was about 71 kilometres from where I was camped. I started to head SSE towards it. The country was fairly open, gravelly, featureless and covered in spinifex. Vast, slightly undulating plains lay before me and I could see for great distances when I crossed over the apexes of the rises. Most of my travelling was done in second gear, in high range.



Occasionally there were small anthills to avoid and importantly large dry creeks in which extremely thick vegetation grew in the low points. These patches of vegetation could be seen from many kilometers away so I had plenty of time and distance to divert my course around them. Eight kilometers from the confluence a nice breakaway presented itself to the immediate west. Arriving at the confluence I wasted no time in taking a few photographs before I headed west to reach the Pinnacle, less than ten kilometres away.



Reaching the pinnacle I noticed that it was a three tiered monument, and made of sandstone. I climbed the short distance to the top; McPhersons Pillar was the only feature I could identify over to the south west, however there are not that many features in this area anyway. There were some small caves on the pinnacle and in the adjacent breakaways, and I shortly made camp 40 metres east of the feature. This was a fairly isolated spot in the Gibson Desert, the Gary Highway now 70 kilometres due west – Hopefully I don’t get bitten by a snake or a scorpion. The days travel was 81 kilometres distant averaging ten kilometres per hour again, slow going across the desert.



Awaking to find the front left tyre flat I started the day repairing the puncture. I hauled some stones from the base of the pinnacle and made them into a small cairn at the summit. I left a note in a container within the stones saying that I had passed by. Now I started to drive around to the breakaways on the eastern side, the side of the cliff faces. There were a considerable amount of animal tracks around the rocky terrain. I looked in a few caves; I found no water anywhere. As the breakaways merged with the northern rise I drove a long anticlockwise arc to take me around to the top side. There were similar animal tracks on top and I drove more or less parallel to the edge of the breakaways until I reached the pinnacle again.

Now it was back to the Gary Highway, and I would try and get there before dark. I will aim for McDougall Knoll, a small rise next to the highway about 70 kilometres distant. The route was almost directly west so I head off again. An hour and a half later I arrived at an unnamed group of hills, marked on my map as a cliff or breakaway. The terrain here was tough due to the vegetation and it was slow going. I passed a creek presenting a dangerous two metre drop off and I thought how lucky I was to be paying attention.

Only 500 metres from the hills and I got the vehicle stuck on a sandridge, or should I say part of an extended sequence of ill-defined sandridges. The vehicle was “coat-hangered” and I was unable to get traction. Luckily I had three planks of wood with me and I had to jack up the three wheels with no traction twice, before I then freed myself and made my way onward some 45 minutes later. Time was against me now with still over 29 kilometres to go and the sun was getting lower on the horizon. There was a very thick section of bush a few kilometres from the knoll and this was fairly annoying as it was dusk – I arrived at McDougall Knoll fifteen minutes after sunset.

I spent some time working out my plans for the rest of the trip that night and had hoped I could get a bed at Wiluna in a few days time. The days were long and hard, and I slept in the cab that night, not having the energy to set up the tent.

The Stoney Banks I were seeking a few days ago should be 30 kilometres or so to the north. I thought it would be good to “give it another crack” whilst I was in the vicinity, as I do not know when I will be back in the area. So I travelled up the Gary Highway until my search area was to the east. This was about ten kilometres south of Windy Corner. I cleared all the spinifex out again before I left the track. I veered east and drove for a while the plan being to head north after a few kilometres. When I reached my planned location to head north there was a huge area of thick vegetation in the way so I decided to keep going east, to the south of the vegetation. On the other side I noticed a very wide and distant view to the east, meaning I was in an elevated position even though the country was relatively flat. Carnegie said there was a good view to the east from the banks. To the north I could just make out what appeared to be a low rise of stone, though it was hard to tell – I drove there immediately to have a look and the stoney rise could be described as a Stoney Bank, and the view to the east was magnificent. The area conformed to how Carnegie described his camp of 5th September 1896. Interestingly, there were some reasonably new wheel tracks passing the banks and actually crossed over the bank as well – Perhaps I am not the only one interested in the banks!!

I departed the area and continued on a bearing of NNE for a while before deviating to cut the Gary Highway, which I did, right at Windy Corner. The discovery of these banks should make it easier to locate Patience Well, as Carnegie gave directions to the well from them; however I had decided to leave the area, so any further attempt to find the well would have to be at another time.

Now though I made my way south along the Gary Highway. My plan was to now visit Ngarinarri Claypan and Karrarinarri Rockhole, or soak. My brother was to fly in to meet me at Wiluna in seven days time. I camped near the junction of the highway and the eastern most section of the Eagle Highway. I would endeavor to travel this track to the soak in the morning.

This section of the Eagle Highway is very rarely used. It ran westerly in a straight line for 66 kilometres. There were many bushes growing in the middle of the track, so sometimes I would deviate off the track a bit. I saw five bush turkeys together in this section. These birds mate for life so I did wonder who was the unlucky one as they all flew off. It took me 2 hours and 10 minutes to get to the turnoff, where the Eagle Highway continues southward towards the Gunbarrel Highway and another track continues north to the Talawana Track running past the Traeger Hills, and through Connolly Basin.

Once again I needed to clear the underside of vehicle, before I turned to the south, then south west to visit the Warri Site and Ngarinarri Claypan. The track went across part of the claypan to the soak. Some of the last nomadic people, Warri and Yatungka were brought from here to Wiluna in 1977. There was a plaque here commemorating the event. No soak was visible however the plaque stated there was water at twelve feet.

Leaving the claypan I rejoined the Eagle Highway, my plan to head south to cut the Gunbarrel Highway. This stretch of the Eagle Highway was good as I would imagine most visitors would either come from the Gunbarrel Highway and then return along the same path, or use the northern track as an alternative entry or exit from the Talawana Track. I saw two cats in different locations on this track, and an Emu and Camels as well.

I deviated to have a look at Mungilli Claypan and then arrived at the Gunbarrel Highway at about 4:30pm. Camp was just off the track about five kilometres west. It has now been a full week since I have seen another human being – Tomorrow I should arrive in Wiluna.

It was Wednesday 20th June and I arose at daybreak and set off to the west. I passed two groups of people before I got to Carnegie Station where I stopped to make a phone call. Although Wiluna was my goal for today - and a nice hot shower, I decided that as I had already driven the Wongawol Road (Wiluna to Carnegie Road) ten years previously, I would take the Carnegie Glenayle Road and Sydney Heads Road for something different.

The Carnegie Glenayle Road was in excellent condition and passed Mount Moore and Kalijahr Pinnacle. At the turnoff there was a sign stating that access to the Canning Stock Route was available for a fee. The Sydney Head and the Wiluna Granite Peak Roads were in good condition. I stopped at the lookout at Sydney Heads Pass before arriving at Wiluna about 1:30pm.

Accommodation was found just out of town at Gunbarrel Laarger, however I opted for roast pork and vegetables at the Tavern for dinner. I will stay in Wiluna for two nights, tomorrow doing repairs and a bit of sightseeing around town. I had now then planned for two nights away in the bush again, heading up the Canning Stock Route for access to the Carnarvon Range before picking my brother Gary from the Wiluna airport on Monday morning.


Carnarvon Range.

Friday 22nd June I repacked the vehicle, a necessary task as many of my goods had had a good shakedown over two weeks, and needed to be put back into their correct places. Then I went into town and had one of my tyres looked at, which had not been properly repaired the day before heading out of town on the north road.

Half an hour later I reached the turnoff for the Canning Stock Route – I actually missed the sign and passed the turnoff before quickly realising and turned around. It seemed like a fairly ordinary track, not fitting of a famous iconic track that eventually reaches Bililuna.

Soon, reaching Well 2 I found that there was another vehicle parked nearby. The couple from the vehicle were planning to travel up to Well 23 however now that plan was cancelled as the woman was suffering from panic attacks. The windmill of the well was operational and the tank was full and overflowing onto the surrounding bushland. I didn’t stay too long and bid the couple goodbye as I headed up the track.

The track ran in a northern direction and I followed it past Wells 2A and 3. I passed Lake Nabberu which is compromised of a few lakes, some with quite a lot of water in them and much birdlife. The track then ran parallel to the Frere Range before heading north easterly and I arrived at Windich Spring on the Kennedy Creek about 3:30pm.

There were two men camped by the spring and it looked like the camp was well set-up. The guys, one of which I had met two days ago in Wiluna were waiting for some new springs to arrive. Their friends who I had talked to in town this morning had had the wrong springs shipped and were waiting for the right ones. It was quite a pleasant place to be stuck in really.

I camped further up the track about ten kilometres at Well 4B. The well had water in it however it was abandoned and unused. After dinner I settled down to listen to the AFL Football game on the radio between Melbourne and Richmond. A calling sound of an animal was heard in the distance. I didn’t think much of it however heard it again, and then again.

It was a donkey, or donkeys, as I could now clearly hear the “EE-ORE”. I grabbed the torch and walked toward the sounds, about 10 metres from the vehicle and could see in the distance three pairs of eyes reflecting in the torchlight. I stopped to ponder the sight for about twenty seconds when I heard a slight rumbling sound. Very quickly the rumbling sound increased in intensity and the ground started to vibrate. It was a stampede. A DONKEY STAMPEDE !!!!!!

I ran quickly to the ute to use it for cover in case they were headed in my direction. I had visions of donkeys jumping over the ute and running through the tent and fire. This did not happen. They were moving across from the camp at a tangent. They probably did not get closer than 50 metres though there must have been quite a few of them to make so much noise and vibration.

I awoke earlier than I would have liked. Today is the halfway mark, in terms of days away from home, of the trip and I had hoped the second half would be as eventful as the first. I left the well just after 9:00am and headed up the stock route. My first stop was at Well 5 which has been fully restored. Then on to Well 6, or Pierre Spring. On the way I got good views of Mount Salvador and also Mount Davis. These hills, and the spring were named by John Forrest on his 1874 expedition.

Well 6 was a popular place with two parties having camped overnight and another two stopping for a look when I was there. I now backtracked about fifteen kilometres to a turn off which should take me west to the Carnarvon Range incidentally also being named by Forrest, but not visited by him. This western track, although it would seem not frequently used, was good, and the first portion of it granted nice views as it ran along the summit of a high stony ridge.

As I approached the range I noticed there were a number of side tracks heading inward. I drove on some of these. One, leading towards a gorge had an old and rusty sign adjacent to the end of the track which said there were significant aboriginal sites in the area. This gorge, which I did not explore had pools of water lying in its creek. Another was a reasonably new track which led to another gorge which I also did not explore.

The range is very beautiful. There does not seem to be many signs of activity in the area. Another track went into the range to Goodcamp Rockhole. I had a look and found the rockhole with its water coming from the cracks of rock in the mountain. A very scenic area, with the redness of the many faces of the range contrasting with the ghost gums that inhabit the creeks.

The range is split into southern and northern sections. I now headed towards the northern part and the first section just after the hills was very rocky and careful driving techniques were required. I saw a dingo however it ran away before I could take a photograph. Talbot Rockhole was located at the south western portion of the upcoming range and I followed the track in until it terminated near the rockhole. What a great rockhole this was; about 10x8 metres wide, large, and of reasonable depth. Talbot’s mark from 1908 was etched into the adjacent walls.



The water appeared clear and the rockhole was full, though the was no flowing water that I could see running into it. I walked above the rockhole and a bit beyond, before once again hitting the trail to reach Virgin Springs, on the other side of the range.

There were many large ghost gums and the faces of the rock above the oasis were dark red in colour. The oasis itself was a pool of water at the base of the range, with crystal clear water draining from the mountain into it. I made my way up the adjacent crack in the mountain. There were areas on the way up where water would ooze from the cracks in the rock and flow downwards towards the springs. This water tasted quite fresh. Pools and small rockholes were abundant most of the way up the mountain. The highest pool of water I found was stagnant and green with algae.

As I was more than halfway up the mountain I thought I might as well go all the way to the peak of this section of the range. At the summit I was provided with great views of the nearby Mount Methwin and Lake Kerrylyn, and I could even see Mount Salvador. This area around the Virgin Springs are an oasis in the desert and am happy and pleased that I have had the opportunity to visit them.

As it was getting late in the day I went back to my vehicle and drove for around four kilometres south east of Mount Methwin and camped.

In the morning I knew had to get back to Wiluna today as my brother would be flying in tomorrow morning. It was Sunday 24th June 2007. I left camp and went back to the southern section of the range and found the track to the west. The track was very good, and eventually the station country of Neds Creek Station was reached. The station tracks would be quite hazardous in the wet however I made it through with no dramas. There were a couple of minor creek crossings holding water – these were easily traversed.

Near Neds Creek Station I climbed Johnson Cairn, an early navigation marker before visiting the homestead to have a chat with the Station Owner. The homestead was only a few kilometres from the Wiluna North Road which was reached before an easy drive along the frequently graded road back into Wiluna. I camped back at Gunbarrel Laarger, and was quite tired and got a restful nights sleep ready for another big day tomorrow where I will pick up my brother from Wiluna Airport and then head out to the start of the Gunbarrel Highway at Carnegie Station, and attempt to make our way to the Alfred and Marie Range.

Wiluna to Everard Junction via Alfred and Marie Range

On Monday morning I cleaned out the cab of the ute some, as up until now I had used it for storage. I picked up my brother at the Airport and headed east along Wongawal Road. We stopped at Harry Johnston Water and followed the creek for about 400 metres. There was water the whole way and even further. We camped at Carnegie Station in the campground there. The next day we arrived at Everard Junction and headed up the Gary Highway. Passing Carnegie’s Young Range on our right we camped about 15kms north near a big tree. This tree was the only one of significant size in the area that we saw and we cleared a section of spinifex so we could lay out our camping gear.

McPhersons Pillar was our next goal. From there we would try and attempt to get to the Alfred and Marie Range perhaps via Lake Blair. At the junction of the turnoff and the Gary Highway I noticed that the official sign to the pillar was missing. It was there in 2003 and perhaps now is on someone’s mantelpiece. Mulgan Rockhole, named by William Peasley, was visited by Carnegie in 1896 and was our first destination. We arrived there, scaring hundreds of small birds away that were drinking from it. McPhersons Pillar was then reached and we both scrambled to the summit. The view was grand and we could just make out the Alfred and Marie Range in the distance. We added our names to a bottle that was hanging from a nearby tree.

We departed and head for a larger unnamed and wider pillar a couple of kilometres away to the east which we climbed. After that we made our way towards the range; however we would try to do so via Lake Blair. Our route took us in a large south easterly arc around the headwaters of the creeks that fed into the lake, as the creeks had much thick vegetation surrounding them. That said the scrub along our path was still quite thick for the first couple of hours anyway. Nearing the lake the country opened up a bit, though the occasional termite mound meant that it was too risky to drive in high range fourth gear, as we didn’t want to collide with one. To the east were two high points of a small range and it looked like there was a pass between the points. A bit later though I determined there was no pass as it was an error of parallax as the southern point was substantially west of the northern. The Alfred and Marie Range was clearly visible and rather than rugged and random seemed like a fairly uniform slope. We arrived at Lake Blair to find that it had water in it but was very far from full. We camped in a small clearing just east of the lake.

From Lake Blair we headed east to investigate some outcrops in the distance. The terrain was quick thick and it was slow going. The outcrops were not that spectacular so we continued further east. We cut a very old track that would not have been used in a long time. We followed it to the xxxxx xxxxx xxxx for a few kilometres. No sooner than I mentioned to Gary that I had lost the track and that we would have to drive straight through the bush again when we came across a rockhole.



The rockhole was about 3 foot deep and perhaps one third full. There were again many birds nearby sitting on the branches of nearby trees. It was situated on the slope of a stony rise in conglomerate. In the distance about eighty metres away I saw what looked like a white anthill so I went to investigate. It turned out to be a white stone, a monolith that bear no resemblance to any of the small rocks and stones that were in the vicinity. It was about 2 feet high. Around the base of the stone were 4 or 5 aboriginal rain making boards covered by small clippings of mulga. I have read that these boards are one of the most precious items that aboriginal people can posses. They were meticulously carved and appeared to be quite antique. I had never come across anything like this in my life. Adjacent to the stone about 10 metres of the surface had been scraped away to depict something like an aerial view of the stone, and had a small dry mulga branch placed at the end of the scraping. I have no doubt that this was a sign for the gods asking for rain to fall and replenish the nearby rockhole. In the vicinity of the rockhole we also found a ceremonial stick and some sort of stick weapon or tool.



We left the area of the rockhole and followed another little used track to the xxxxx xxxx. We were quite surprised to cut quite a good graded track (Later I found out this track joins the community of Patjarr and Beadell’s Tree on the Gunbarrel Highway). Now however we continued to followed the old track we were on until it terminated at a soak. This soak was quite well defined and had reeds growing to one side. I am quite sure that if we were to dig it down, we would be rewarded with a quantity of water. However we left soon after as we would like to reach and camp at the range tonight.

We went back to the graded track we had found and followed it a few kilometres to the xxxx. Then we cut south and aimed for the eastern side of the range. Not long after we came across some faint old wheel tracks which we followed for only about 100 metres when we came across yet another rockhole. This rockhole had a fairly narrow opening and was quite dark within the confines of its neck. Neither of us was quite game enough to put an arm down the hole to see if there was water. This rockhole had 5 rocks placed around it, seemingly to make it easier to find to the locals.

Continuing on towards the range the bush was quite thick and the going was very slow. The range itself was very small, comprising small hills and a low continuous meandering rise to the south. We kept a fair way to the east of the range to avoid the thick vegetation however came in and camped in a beautiful valley on a dry creek near the highest point. Nice views were available to the west, north and east from the highest point – to the east was where Ernest Giles had to walk back to the Rawlinson Ranges not making it to the range we were on, and poor old Alfred Gibson was lost; the view was most desolate.

We explored the ridges and caves in the vicinity of the camp in the valley that afternoon and the next morning. We found no signs of water or any aboriginal artefacts or art in the area. Leaving camp about 10am we followed the south east section of the range around to the other side to the west. Our goal was to reach Mount Cox, about 40 kilometres away. We got entangled in the creek systems of the range and it was extremely thick and slow going. We reached the Patjarr track again and made a decision change the plan and follow the track to the south to see if it would lead us to the Gunbarrel Highway (Not knowing where it would lead at the time). If we could follow tracks to our ultimate goal being the Young Range and searching for Carnegie’s Warri Well; it would save considerable time.

The track heading south was in very good condition. We travelled about 50 kilometres along it before we came to an unnamed lake about 20 kilometres east of Lake Gruszka. Just north of this lake was a solar powered water tank and pump, which worked. We still had a good supply of water so did not use or need it. The area surrounding the lake, which we did not sight, was quite scenic, with white ghost gums and numerous emu’s and kangaroos. We followed the track around the lake on the eastern side and we lost it and could not find any way south. So we retraced the track about a kilometre and found another track leading off to the east. This we followed. We hoped it would veer south, or that we would find another track leading south so we could get to the Gunbarrel Highway. After about 15 kilometres, passing a bore with broken hand pump we stopped to camp on the track; we thought this track could be an extension of the shotline that on our map terminated west of the lake we had passed. It could possibly continue to the abandoned section of the Gunbarrel Highway north of Jackie Junction, still some eighty kilometres away. Our camp was actually further east than our camp at the Alfred and Marie Range that we had left this morning.

Saturday 30th June and we left our camp and headed back west along the track to the unnamed lake we passed yesterday. It was the best of limited poor options. We tried again to find a track to the south from the lake but were unsuccessful. So we headed off into the bush again, heading west pass the lake with the intention of trying to intersect the old shotline on our map about 5 kilometres distant. We passed where we should have picked up the shotline, and we crisscrossed back and forth until we eventually found it.

The track was actually in worse condition than the one we had just left, rough and overgrown and many sections that had been washed away, leaving huge gashes in the track that were hard to drive upon. We briefly lost the track as it passed through an arm of Lake Gruszka. Soon after the lake the track forked, the easiest line veering left to the south west so this is the way we went. This track went in a straight line of 25 kilometres to the Gunbarrel Highway just west of Mount Beadell. It was in reasonable condition though it was overgrown with vegetation. We left the boundary of the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve 16 kilometres from the highway, and we passed a sign facing the other way indicating the boundary; no doubt a rarely seen sign. We arrived at the Gunbarrel Highway, and as it was close to lunchtime had lunch on top of Mount Beadell.

We had a chat with a couple who had arrived at the mount with a couple of kids before heading north west along the highway. Passing Everard Junction again, we went north along the Gary Highway and camped about a kilometre north of the Charlie’s Knob on the map. Tomorrow we would try and search for Warri Well, which has not been relocated and mapped since Carnegie found it in 1896.

Carnegie gave some clues to the whereabouts of the well. A bare patch of Mount Colin, a hill at the north eastern end of the Young Range bears 138 degrees 3 miles from the well and a creek that flows from the range ends and remakes in the vicinity of the well, which is in the lowest level of a flat. We travelled along the Gary Highway about 10 kilometres before veering off to the north east where there was a huge clearing of mainly spinifex making for easy travel for a while. We crossed a few creeks over the next 10 or so kilometres as we headed for the position of the well marked on the map. We came across one dry creek soon after which we followed downstream for a couple of kilometres, as this creek would have been in the vicinity of the well however no signs of the well or the flat in which it lies was sighted.

The well marked on the map was about 5 kilometres away, and as we headed towards it we did cross a low flat of significance, however continued to the location. We found no signs of a well or any flat in the vicinity of the marked well, which was expected, so we made our way to Mount Colin so we could view the area looking down from the mount. The terrain started to get quite difficult nearing the range and the mount, indicative of what we have already experienced nearby at the Alfred and Marie Range. From Mount Colin we looked down upon the area where the well was supposed to lie, taking a bearing of 318 degrees (with an approximate 4 degree magnetic variance) and found that the flat that we has crossed earlier in the day was in fact in the correct position. We sighted Mount Cox from here also. So then we headed towards the flat.

On reaching the flat we made a few passes in a north eastern grid pattern however did not find any signs of the well. After so many years of non use it would only likely be a small depression a few metres across if that. The area of the flat was approximately 2x2 kilometres wide. So we camped on the flat and decided that we would have another look in the morning. In the morning we made one final pass of the area before heading west in a beeline to the Gary Highway.

We only did a minor search of the flat really and admittedly could have conducted a more thorough search if we had more time. Perhaps I may go another time if somebody else doesn’t find the well in the meantime.

Driving down the Gary Highway we passed Everard Junction again for the third time in 6 days, and made our way west along the Gunbarrel Highway towards Perth and home, this adventure now complete!!!

Regards
Alan McCall
Perth.

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