Gibson Desert - South on the cut line to the Eagle Hwy, the Warri Site & threatening weather

Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 00:00

Mick O

Friday 10th July, 2009
Eagle Hwy - 7 or so kilometres south of Mungilli Outstation



It was an ill wind that changed from the blustery north westerlies to a south westerly late in the day bringing with it a ribbon of heavy, threatening cloud. All this as we spirited along the Eagle Hwy heading south from the Warri site. Our plans to stop at the sheds at Mungilli came to nought and we’ve been forced to find what shelter we can from the winds in a copse of acacia a few kilometres south of the outstation.











It was an early start this morning being packed, checked and on the road by 7.15 a.m. Back out to the Talawana and then east on the straight track through the wide swales and sandy plains. The track was in excellent condition with light to medium corrugations and no spinifex seed in the track centre to speak of and worry about. The moon setting behind us was glorious and we stopped to take both photos of it settling into a sand ridge to our west as well as seemingly endless ribbon of the track stretching into the distance to the east. The amount of use the track gets by the local camel population is astounding. It’s a major transit route for them and this may sound a little strange but I believe it’s probably their countless feet and weight that is keeping the corrugations to a minimum. They seem to shift the sand flat again before the corrugations have a chance to get too high. Of course the scarce traffic is another reason. About 40 kilometres east of midway, you pop out of the dune swales and onto the acacia and mulga woodlands that cover the stony gibber country from here to the Gary Hwy. The country is a lot more interesting and provides for much better camping with ample supply of timber and shelter from the wind. This is the zone of transition from the Little Sandy Desert to the Gibson Desert.





We arrived at the first key destination of the day at about 9:20 a.m., the north-south cut line that will take us south to the Treagar Hills and the start of the Eagle Hwy. It is marked by a 44 gallon drum and star picket with the exploration tag attached. Checking the sub tank now mounted on the roof rack I found as I feared that the ropes were wearing through on the mounting plate holes I was using to secure it down. Fossicking around I found a tie down strap with hooks at each end so problem solvered boss! Turning right we were surprised to find the track south clearly defined and in good condition, comparatively speaking. It was over grown in some places and occasionally washed out in areas of stoney rise but easy to follow and easy to drive. I qualify that be saying these are not the tracks to be driving if you’re worried about getting a scratch on the Pajero OK!. The track took us theough the anciant and worn remains of the Connolly Basin Crater. The Connolly Basin is a 9 km-diameter circular depression interpreted as an eroded meteorite impact crater. It was oiginally thought to be a diapir (salt dome), an impact origin was first proposed in 1985. The depression has a topographic rim 25–30 m high, while the centre displays a slight circular rise about 1 km in diameter and 5 metres high exposing strongly deformed and steeply dipping bedrock interpreted as a central uplift. Rain is falling on the fly of the RTT as I type this...bugger. The shape of the crater is quite discernable from the remains of the southern rim looking back north. The huge shallow bowl area becomes obvious to the eye.


As we pushed south we entered the Treager Hills to our east. This low worn range tops out at about 430 metres and is only visible from the northern side. The southern side remains a gentle slope at the height of the surrounding country. We stopped for morning tea in the woodlands to the south before getting under way again and heading past the Woolnough Hills and gibber rises to the north of the Warri site. One such rise gave an impressive vista in all directions topping out at 450 metres altitude or thereabouts.

The stiff north westerly wind had the Warri windmill spinning madly when we arrived about lunch time. The bore is in disrepair with the bore casing covered and the windmill disconnected. I judged the water to be between 10-15 metres below the surface so easy to obtain with a pipe and foot-valve type dropper. We had lunch in the shed at the Warri site parking the car in the shade offered and using the facilities. People had been leaving messages on an old door which was being used for a table so we added ours as well. A quick feed of bickies and cold meats before heading towards the old airstrip and the claypan.






Back on the main track some time later, the good travel conditions remained allowing good time to the cleared line running out north west and the Eagle Hussar No.1 bore site. I had returned exactly 1 year and 10 days after my last visit on our way to Mt Madley and the Calvert’s. The weather had closed in about us and we could see dark showers of rain falling off to the west. Having at least an hour of travel time left we opted to high tail it down to Mungilli where the facilities and shed were a little better than the rudimentary offering at Eagle Hussar. The track south was again in great condition allowing speeds of up to 60 kph. In some places the track was very chopped up by someone tackling the sandy surfaces after a heavy session of rain but in general, we made great time down to Mungilli only to find our hopes for a dry place to shelter dashed. The outstation had been taken over by sandalwood concerns. The sheds were full of bedding and equipment, the bores hooked to tanks and even the showers were operating. We spoke to Paul, a Fijian lad who gave us a few litres of bore water. We opted to move on a few kilometres and pulling well off the road set up camp in the scant shelter offered by a copse of acacia. The wicked south westerly was pushing some forbidding looking clouds ahead of it so we wasted no time in gathering what wood we could and setting up camp. I had the awning out and set up the awning wall as a windbreak as well.


The wind kept the fire going like a forge, the coals glowing red hot in the ready supply of oxygen. Dinner was marinated chook and vegies with the apple surprise jaffles and custard for desert. An early night with the weather so threatening. Hopefully it’ll blow over by the morning. A hearty feed of chops and rissoles tonight.



''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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