Review: Googs Track

My Place Rating: My Rating 3/5

Recently in late July 2014 we visited Ceduna from the NSW Hunter Valley and with friends from Adelaide, travelled up Googs Track to Glendambo. Whilst the trip and the country were fascinating we all felt that it was rather more challenging than we had been led to believe. We are all experienced outback travellers, our friends were scientists with decades of remote field experience and we were travelling in well prepared late model 4wds with good low pressure tyres (Toyota Hilux & Subaru Outback diesel both with similar ground clearance to your average Landcruiser or the like). Firstly, we found it difficult to obtain detailed information on the condition of the Track. None of the Ceduna information officers on 2 separate occassions were able to tell us much and we struck similar difficulties from the staff at the national parks office. One ranger volunteered that they had recently come back towing a 3 ton trailer but neglected to mention that they had only been as far as Googs Lake where hundreds of people were working on regenerating dunes damaged by earlier visitors. As a consequence the Track was very rough and torn up although reasonaby firm from recent rain. The main danger was the number of vehicles heading south from the Lake, some of whom were travelling without flags and at high speed to get over the dunes on the single lane track - an extremely dangerous situation with at least one very near miss. We also observed that some of these travellers were obviously intoxicated despite the early hour. North of the Lake the track deteriorated and there were numerous holes over half a metre deep in the ever present ruts making the going very rough - bad enough to cause some split water containers. Mt Finke was a great relief but we were mistaken in thinking the worst was over. There are numerous unposted tracks in and around the salt pans north of here and we nearly became lost despite having a detailed route map with mileage and gps points. However, the real problem was the dunes that had dried out from the high winds and were less regularly up and down than those further south. Not only was the sand much softer, but there was less opportunity to roll back and have another go if you lost momentum. At one stage both vehicles were bogged a few dunes apart. Alternative tracks were not possible and the only way to tackle these very chewed up sections was flat out. Very dangerous because one minute you are being violently thrown about looking up through the flying sand at the sky. Then you pitch over the crest more or less airborne, not knowing what might be on the other side. Some people might consider this good fun but your adrenalin rush could come at a high cost because amazingly we met a young family heading south, again without a flag and completely oblivious to the risks. Luckily we were stopped at the time and we survived Googs Track with only minor damge but significantly shaken by the experience. I don't want to discourage people from visiting these remote areas. Mt Finke really is a memorable place with some truly unique flora and fauna and many flowers even in winter. Nevertheless, had I known how dangerous Googs Track really was, I would have thought twice about tackling it.
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