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Rudall River - The search for Hanging Rock Native Well and then on to Desert Queen Baths
Sunday, Jul 05, 2009 at 00:00
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Sunday 5th July, 2009
Desert Queen baths,
Rudall River National Park
Hanging Rock viewed from the thick scrub to the east
I don’t know why but Desert Queen Baths just draws me back every time. I found myself once again sitting beside the still waters of 3 Goannas Pool at 4.00 p.m. scotch in hand enjoying the warmth and changing hues of the red rocky walls.
Outback Al surveying the countryside from a sand dune
The tranquillity was enhanced by being the only people here, a pleasant surprise after last year. It’s a warm night as I sit here at 7.30, the inclemency of past days weather a distant memory.
I had a lousy nights sleep, the exertions of the day taking their toll on the old war wounds. Not often I have to down a tablet with breakfast but even they barely took the edge off it this morning. Sunrise bought a
Rocky Ramparts emerging from the sand.
spectacular tinge of pink to the few clouds remaining in the north eastern sky. Breakfast was a simple affair of yoghurt, fruit and tea. We packed away at a leisurely pace and then started the hike east in search of the native well. I used the co-ordinates from the Natmap 250K maps which gave a position some 770m metres top our east. Our walk took us straight into thickets of acacia and spinifex which fortunately gave way to more open country of gums and wattle. The land sloped downwards to the east and the bordering hills and exhibited a firm surface that showed obvious pooling of water at various stages. We could find nothing resembling the well or soak so began a search pattern outwards eventually reaching the large dune that ran east and climbed the face of the surrounding range. It was from this monstrous
On top of the mighty dune to the east of HR
sand that the range seemed to emerge like the ramparts of a
. The climb to the top in the soft sand had the calves burning but the views were spectacular. From the top, the view across the dune country to the north and east was amazing to say the least. The colours were incredible. Reds, greens and then the blue and purples blended in as you peered into the distance. I could make out the outline of
the Three Sisters
far to the north east. To the west and south, the ragged edge of the range ran in a semi circle to the south and then curved around to the south west.
sat in the middle of this large bowl. We were able to clearly identify the various bands and patches of flora but nothing seemed to indicate a spring or soak.
The dune country to the east and the "Three Sisters" Hills
Reluctantly we climbed down to the floor of the valley again, following the myriad tracks of wandering animals,
Magnificent Colours of the desert country
the camels and dingo’s being the most prevalent. Our search continued more to the south and as luck would have it, we located a depression in the ground that appeared to have held water. It was certainly a meter of so lower than the surrounding countryside and was presided over by the skeletal remains of a long dead gum. Kicking away some of the top soil down to a depth of 15 cm or so revealed dark, dampish earth and I have no doubt that had we bought the shovel, a good dig would have yielded results. The site is about 250 metres south of the approximate position given on the map so it is well within the bounds of possibility. We’ll chalk that one up as “found”.
Hanging Rock Native Well?
On return to the rock about 9.00 a.m., we took a few more photos, the reds of the rock a
Hanging Rock (the far right face is that which we climbed)
lot brighter now the skies were clear. Then it was all aboard and off towards our double river crossing and
Curran Curran water hole
. The track was well used and sandy as we did the double sandy crossing. The tracks left by my ill-fated attempt to drive along the sandy course some two years ago were just visible still. Into the crazy, jumbled dunes we headed, great driving and Al’s first real experience of tight packed dunes and sandy driving. The 20 kilometres sped by and we were soon onto the open plains heading towards
the three sisters
before veering south east and striking the range and cleft that holds Curran Curran. The whole area is still recovering slowly from the bushfires of the past years. The lack of rain is not helping. Many of the newly burnt shrubs and trees that were such a nuisance two years previously are now falling over and we stopped several times to clear the track rather than drive around them.
The Eco-Billy puffing away for morning tea at Curran Curran.
At Curran Curran we stopped for morning tea in the shade of the large gum near the gorge mouth.
Roo and Dingo prints all to clearly pointing the direction to water.
The well worn path into the gorge left by dingoes and roos made it obvious that water was still present and on climbing the short distance along the gorge, we found a small scummy pool of green water in the bottom corner of the
. It’ll be all gone soon if rains don’t arrive. Cuppa and biscuits taken, we were
on the road
again near 11 a.m. and made our way through the rocky ranges towards Tjarra Pool. I’d forgotten just how nice this drive is as you parallel the ranges east. They are only small but rugged and impressive in their own right. It’s always such an interesting mix of rocky ranges and sand dunes intermingling, the sand swallowing the rocks only to relinquish their hold in other
. I took the flick turn at the three summited razor back ridge and soon stopped atop one of the quartz rise there to take in the view and a few photos when I heard my name being called across the UHF. Peter and Sandy were sitting atop a similar quartz mound about 10 km away so we arranged to meet at Tjarra Pool.
Curran Curran Rockhole
Taking the rocky quartz laden track in our stride and frightening a mob of camels on the way, we arriving at Tjarra Pool to find it stunningly empty. I was dumbstruck! Our beautiful pool where I had camped the past three years was bone dry! The rocks I had stood on to collect water only this time last year were now over a metre above a sandy floor. bleep it’s dry.
The scummy remnants of good times past
Peter and sandy arrived in due course and we sat around having a bite to eat and catching up on the past week. It seems they endured the worst of the weather at DQB where it blew a gale for the past three days. They are heading south west to
. We on the other hand headed from
A true survivor!
Tjarra to the main road north and then in to DQB. We saw two mobs of camels on the way in which is about right. The land seems to be making a slow recovery with a lot of the gums shooting again and the spinifex making it’s way back. The area within 5 km of DQB is still devastated though. It’s barren and rocky with only the bush tomato’s appearing to be getting a hold in the gullies. The gums at the DQB camp area have sprouted and are providing welcome shade.
The quartz and ironstone country south of Tjarra.
We were thrilled to find ourselves the only vehicle here on our arrival at 3:00 p.m. and crossed our fingers that it would remain that way. A quick scavenge of firewood and then it was down to enjoy the dying light of the day at the Goanna Pool. The Pool level had dropped a good 30 cm since last year and over a metre since my first visit in 2006. The waters are dark and still and formed a perfect mirror for reflecting the surrounding cliffs. I reckon the water is actually darker as if the tannins are becoming more concentrated as the water levels diminish. Still good for showering in though.
A very dry Tjarra Pool (we were shocked!)
A shower and then dinner of steak and veg followed by Pudding, custard and cream. A big carb load for tomorrows hike. A magnificent day in all.
A catch up and lunch with Pete and Sandy by the Watrara Creek (Tjarra Pool)
Al getting into the outback spirit
Camp at Desert Queen Baths
3 Goanna's Pool, Desret Queen Baths
Perfect reflections in the fading light
The three goanna's silently watching
A great way to end a magnificent day.
Members Blog Index
The Pilbara - The Oakover River Country to Rudall River & Hanging Rock.
Rudall River - A death march of discovery through the remote Broadhurst Ranges - Part 1
A written note outlasts the longest memory
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