Karijini Loop Part 1: Days 1 - 4

Saturday, Sep 28, 2019 at 00:11

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

This map shows the track log for just Days 1 - 4 of our journey. This can be done using the Positions Manager in the ExplorOz Traveller app by selecting the start/end date for the positions data you wish to extract - the system will then pull out any stored positions and create a Track Log. To place the map into this blog, I've used the button labelled "Track Logs" to select the name of my file and this has placed it into the blogs as a UR****/UR tag. I then just type words around it and use the Add Photos button or the Video button to add the rest.

Day 1

Our trip started predawn from Perth on a Sunday morning travelling north up Wanneroo Rd, then Indian Ocean Drive to Jurien where we we stopped for our first coffee.

The coffee machine is perhaps the most fun of the various new gadgets we were testing. However it required an enormous amount of effort to install in order to power it and during the trip it exposed some wiring errors in the setup of the auxiliary battery that we didn't know about when we bought the vehicle. The story about this will also unfold as you read on.



The other gadgets being tested made our cockpit look like an aeroplane. As mentioned in our last newsletter, we have installed a Teyes SPRO 10" Android headunit and of course this was loaded with our app ExplorOz Traveller and EOTopo offline maps. We added a front camera, 2 reversing cameras (on on tow-ball) plus a separate monitor connected to a rear facing camera mounted to the back of the camper trailer.

The 2nd reversing monitor was mounted using this Scosche magnetic mounting bracket (these are VERY strong and highly recommended very cheap from JBHiFi). We also have a second Scosche magnetic bracket to hold my Samsung phone. And finally, is the camper trailer power monitor, which is a software program David wrote to display on his own LCD monitor to ensure he could view the operating states of all the critical power going to the camper. This shows the temperature of the Dometic 3-way fridge, the cabin temperature, the battery voltage, and the vehicle charge (displays voltage and current being supplied from car to the camper battery).

You might wonder why we go to so much trouble, but the reason is self sufficiency and confidence. Risk mitigation if you like.



After the success of the first coffee stop, we continued north to Dongara then turned east along Midlands Rd to Mingenew. Immediately, the scenery changed, the traffic disappeared and we felt like we were on our holiday. Being Sunday, Mingenew was completely closed like a ghost town. We found a public toilet block just behind the main street and made another Nespresso!

From Mingenew, we headed north along the Mingenew - Mullewa Rd and the beautiful green rural scenery continued. Not only was this our first trip with the coffee machine, it was also our first trip with our new Android head unit.



The sign marking the turnoff to Butterabby Graves came at the right time so we made this little diversion and discovered a rather artistic installation here. I'm sure there were campsites further along but we didn't explore that and continued on towards Mullewa where we wanted to stop for a nostalgic lunch at the pub.

From here we headed out along the Carnarvon Mullewa Road, which was busy with horse floats returning from the Geraldton Combined Show Jumping event. (Having a teenage equestrian in the car, we were advised of this detail). Some of the horse floats were so large that they pushed us off the road and sadly it didn't work out well for us with a cracked windscreen before the end of our first day, but thankfully not bad enough to stop our travels. We had hoped to make it to Wooleen Station but a voice from the backseat put an end to that plan with a call to "Stop the Car - there's a fire!"



The smell was definite fire but there were no flames, just black smoke. We didn't know exactly what the cause was initially and because the whole rig was new to us, we felt a bit panicked and couldn't remember where we put the extinguisher. Kids got themselves out very fast with their prize possessions (camera, iPad, phone) and I grabbed my phone and wallet and water bottle and stepped back about 5 metres from the car expecting it to explode but before I could make sense of it, David had the fire extinguisher in his hand and was climbing into the back of the car from the passenger's side to find the cause of the fire. Turns out the auxillary battery had a short!

Now you can imagine the concern this caused. Upon investigation David discovered that the battery was not wired correctly. It was the one thing David says he didn't check when he bought this car, despite having added a ton of new heavy-duty (20mm) cabling for the invertor installation. The problem was the invertor wiring was actually so thick it had been rubbing against the smaller wire across the battery connectors and it caused a short. The wiring to 2 of the connectors were totally burnt out, but the battery still worked so we figured it was ok for our short trip and David is more than capable of adapting or fixing any further problems that might crop up as a result so onwards we went with this trip but Wooleen will have to wait for another visit.

We took a quick look at EOTopo and found a very suitable looking free camp not far from our position - Stock Well 9 Campground. We arrived with plenty of time to look around, get the camp setup, start a campfire (in the supplied firepit) and even fly the drone. Dinner was beetroot burgers in damper buns with salad. Couldn't ask for a better spot.



Day 2

Leaving our campsite after a breakfast of avocado, eggs & optional bbq bacon on wraps or buns, we took our time to explore whatever presented itself as we drove towards Mt Gould. The first thing we stumbled across was the historic site of the old Wooleen Woolshed (destroyed by cyclone) and the remaining shearers quarters and shearers homestead (well worth a look). This was a rather long stop with so much to see and photograph. The driving was very easy - wide open dirt roads in farming country, well graded but to our surprise we had the road to ourselves. Considering it was the peak July school holidays this was a pleasant surprise indeed.

The clarity and size of the big 10'' screen showing the EOTopo map running on ExplorOz Traveller was also very helpful in finding our way. The topographic detail is so pleasing and when looking at the physical terrain out the window and then looking at the detail on the map everything is just there and so clear. For the whole trip we found this combination made exploring so enjoyable. We could anticipate great spots to walk, camp and explore just by using our eyes to pick out interesting features and then looking at the topographic features on the map.

This is how we found Mt Nicholay - a fantastic spot. It's probably not strictly accessible as seems to be on aboriginal land, so hopefully we didn't trespass but it wasn't signed and we didn't camp (but would be a perfect spot for a group). If you climb to the top of Mt Nicholay you can see that there are actually 3 rocks all lined up. We took drone footage and I climbed the rock and enjoyed the views and wallabies that live up there.

Our lunch spot was found on the banks of the beautiful Wheela Creek - just a random river crossing (small causeway to keep the road dry) so it was late afternoon by the time we made it to Mt Gould police lock up and even later when we chose our campsite at the Gascoyne River.

The kids setup their swags, Kai chopped the firewood, I prepared a small campoven roast lamp with potatos and onions, and we might even have played some board games and had some lovely red wine.




Day 3

We were now only 150km from Mt Augustus. We'd told the kids that whilst many other people were making the journey to Uluru before the summit hike was closed to tourists, we were going to visit Australia's largest rock. Mt. Augustus is approximately two and a half times the size of Uluru and is in fact the largest monolith in the world. They were actually quite surprised they'd never heard of it so they were very much looking forward to it. They were a little cautious however about our intentions to do the summit hike (12km) as they know us well - and yes, we've dragged them up a lot of summit hikes in the past. Last September, we took them up Bluff Knoll on the first day of a Stirling Ranges expedition and whilst it was hard going they really did appreciate it and we ended up doing another big hike the same day, plus hike 3 more mountains in subsequent days. But the distinction of "largest monolith in the world" had them a little concerned...

Our 150km drive however took 2 hours as we kept stopping to see interesting things along the way, such as the Gnamma Holes, the Landor Racetrack and some Places documentation of various P-Bays (boring stops to take boring photos of boring signs, only to have to sit on the phone and type up details to ensure the facts are correct for the auto-upload to Places when it next syncs, but better than a day in the office right?).

The only problems we were having with our trips was getting annoyed with the auxiliary battery that although was working, was blowing fuses when it was charging. David was constantly monitoring what was going on and turns out that the auxiliary battery had been installed using a 50amp battery charger but only 30amp fuses, so anytime the battery started charging, it blew fuses. If we could limit its use to stop it charging that would be fine but that would mean no coffees. To fix it would have to wait til we got home to rewire it with 50amp re settable circuit breakers and heavier wire. In the meantime, we were on coffee rations - and only 1 white coffee per day and the rest were black. What a first world problem!

Upon arriving at Mt Augustus Tourist Resort and checking in to our bush camp site we spoke to Ian the station owner who was most informative and keen to chat. They weren't not at all keen for us to do the summit hike today however and encouraged us to spend the rest of the day exploring the other smaller hikes and loop drive, told us about the sunset spot at Emu Hill, and to enjoy a swim at Cattleyard Pool. The insisted that a summit hike of Mt Augustus should be started at first light (6.30am) to avoid walking in the heat of the day. So we did as we were told and had a very enjoyable afternoon exploring the very short easy hikes and dabbling at the recommended swim and sunset viewing spots. After sunset, it was an easy drive back to hot showers at camp where I made an easy dinner of lamb chops & couscous in the camp oven on the gas stove in the camper.





Day 4

We decided that 6.30am was just too early to start the hike but so we took off about 7.30am instead. However, today presented with a horrendous gale force wind that really didn't make for a nice hike. The wind nearly blew us off the side of the mountain and it was very very cold. The predicted hike time is 6-9 hours for the round trip but we only took 1 hour 45 minutes to reach the summit and our total hiking time was 4 hours. What super hikers our kiddos are now! They were so proud of themselves realising that whilst they don't consider themselves athletes, they are far fitter than the average adult hiker. It is very challenging walk - no denying that, so this was a great boost to their confidence and great start to their Karijini adventure because they knew crazy mum & dad had all the hikes there on the hit list too!



After the hike our legs were shattered and we were tired but the plan was to pack up camp and drive part-way towards Karijini via the back route (Dooley Downs Rd). What a fantastic, beautiful drive this was. It wasn't easy driving however due to the many twists, turns and jump ups although the road was very well graded and suitable for caravans if you took care not to drive too fast. David commented that the drive was tiring due to the extra concentration required. The scenery was really quite spectacular and not at all what we expected. However by the end of the day we found ourselves in a spot that was not conducive to finding good campsites and we tried for at least an hour to find a suitable spot. Eventually, we drove up a dry river bed and found a spot quite to our liking and ended up asleep by 7.30pm after a dinner of sausages in onion & mushroom gravy with peas, parsley, and mashed potato. This is my first trip ever with the luxury of a fridge/freezer so items like frozen peas were a novelty. We also had frozen berries and icecream in that freezer box as well as icecubes! Wow, such treats!

David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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