Mulgaria 4x4 track (Andamooka to Farina) – closed for all time!

Submitted: Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 19:00
ThreadID: 109340 Views:6332 Replies:10 FollowUps:19
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For a few years now, a few of my crow-eating friends have been extolling the virtues of the 4x4 track linking Roxby/Andamooka with the Flinders Ranges, providing an alternative route to travelling all the way down to Port Augusta & then north again to access the Flinders. This involves taking the rugged track across the northern end of Lake Torrens through Mulgaria and Witchelina Stations to Farina. It has been a track I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years now and on our return from the Great Victoria Desert Expedition this month, an opportunity arose for me to give it a go.

You can imagine my disappointment when ringing Mulgaria, to be informed of the tracks closure. The reason, a party of six vehicles deciding they wanted to do a “Mud Run” a few weeks ago tearing up both the P.A.R. to the station, then all the private station tracks after that. I’ll give the morons their due, they did ring Mulgaria and were told that after nearly 50mm of rain, the roads to Mulgaria, and the private station tracks there on, were closed. Not good enough apparently as these idiots went anyway !

They almost ran down the manager of Witchelina who tried to stop them as they tore though his property. Forewarned, they stormed past the house at Mulgaria (without stopping or even attempting to pay the $15 access fee Mulgaria donates to the RFDS) before the young manager finally ran into them half way across Mulgaria. They tried to jack him up as well before turning about and retracing their route out.Mulgaria and Witchelina are still contemplating action against these imbeciles. After many examples of bad behaviour, this was the last straw for Mulgaria and access through the property on their private tracks is now closed.

Thankfully, after a long chat, and mounting a persuasive argument, the manager conceded to letting my mate Russell and I travel the track across, the last vehicle to do so. On both Mulgaria’s private tracks, and later the P.A.R. out to Farina, we were able to witness the damage done by this group of halfwits. Boys, on behalf of the outback travellers everywhere, you bleep -wits. Your selfish disregard has caused the closure of a track rich in history.

Here’s a small taste of what the rest of us have lost through your selfish actions.


''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 19:49

Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 19:49
Hi Mick

Lets all hope that after all the dust has settled and the morons have been named, shamed, and had the book thrown at them, the track will reopen to the majority of honest drivers that do the right thing, and not like that 0.10% of irresponsible drivers that give us all a bad name.

Looks like it was a great drive, and hopefully you and Russell have restored faith that most of us all do the right thing.




Cheers




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Follow Up By: Mick O - Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 22:00

Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 22:00
We can only hope Stephen but unfortunately the owners were pretty adamant. They have had the restriction signs made already. I hope we weren't the last but I fear we were.

Cheers,

Mick
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Reply By: Slow one - Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 20:08

Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 20:08
Mick,
lovely photos and sadness at what is becoming the norm.

I know well the shooting days before Australia started to become a smaller place for all to access. Cattle and sheep shot,wounded and killed, bread and parcels shot up in the post drop point, machines damaged and signs shot to hell. Hence no access.

Now with modern gear and easy access it has become a huge problem for property owners, so their blanket answer will be no one is allowed.

Pity! I know where they are coming from and I know there are heaps of good people out there.

I recently travelled over a track that had a pretty stern warning from the property owners. I asked the local copper if the track was gazetted and he said it was, I then drove in and talked to the station manager, he then had no problem with what we were doing.

Pity it is the way of the world.
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Reply By: Turbo 1 - Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 21:58

Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 21:58
don't know if this is the same guys but there are photos of them driving through wet tracks,
Cheershttp://www.4x4earth.com.au/forum/sa-trip-reports/32183-outback-trip-painted-desert.html
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Follow Up By: Turbo 1 - Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 21:59

Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 at 21:59
on the the dog fence that is,
cheers
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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 07:17

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 07:17
I don't believe they were anywhere near where these guys went.....
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 08:39

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 08:39
Actually, they were on Mulgaria to get to Sturt Creek Opal Fields. From the Opal fields,the road out to the Borefield Track that they used is owned and maintained by Mulgaria so they were very close but I don't believe this was the mob.

I've been a member on the other site since it started in 2008 so I've posted over there as well.

Cheers

Mick
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 13:46

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 13:46
Idoits tear up tracks 'a few weeks' ago, 4x4Earth trip last weekend, not a chance it was these guys.
Besides, know most of them first hand and no way would local Earth people do that, very conscious of importance of access.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 21:19

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 21:19
Les, The Earth guys might want to delete the photos of the bogged Navara - not a good look, considering where they were at the time. And while they are at it, the commentary wasn't all that good either - references to "going through the fence" might be construed that there was no gate, when I'm sure there was.
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 09:24

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 09:24
Yeah Phil, does look awkward, but then pics don't always paint the correct picture (but understand can be damaging just the same).

As per TR that Nav would have been up front, got bogged (as happens on trips at times), recovered and up on the high track.
In hindsight (as is often the case with these things), a wet track normally = take higher dry ground straight up where available.

I personally hate mud, destroys mechanicals so absolutely and stealthily, and besides that takes months to get out of the nooks and crannies (if ever).
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Follow Up By: chardthechippy - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 11:15

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 11:15
Not happy to once again be dragged through the mud...so to speak. I've tried to contact the station on many occasions before I drove the track to Farina a few years ago so I could pay the fee and travel through. I thought I would drive there and see the owners first hand to pay them but the track went nowhere near the station nor any signs or gates so we pressed right through to Farina. I had information from Andamooka locals that I know well that the track was a public road anyway and many people travel it. Never crossed my mind again after travelling through.
This trip was no different to any other and I did everything by the book, many weeks leading up I was talking to WPA and GWA people to gain access. If you cared to read the trip posted before bagging me then you would see how much effort I put in to gaining the necessary permission. The Navara was up front for the brief moment just before getting stuck and the high line was quite grown over and had some saltbush growing between the wheel tracks. You can see the faint tracks on one of the photos and you can also see he trying to avoid the water.
Turbo1,
Please get your facts right first before having a go at someone, would be appreciated.
Rob,
Correct, we were on the Stuart Creek to Borefield road. Un-gated and un-owned. Many tourist signs and information signs along the way.
Mick,
No where along the track did it say Mulgaria Homestead or Station.
Phil,
As if we went "through" a fence...please! "This is where I made my second detour, albeit only a short one, it did require a few of the cars to turn back to cross the fence through a gate." And the photos actually illustrate him trying to avoid the bog and it was as he slid off the road that he sunk. The rut we left behind was off the edge of the road and would make no impact on the track, would actually work like a gutter and could help to take the water from the centre of the road.
I am the biggest advocate for tread lightly so I get extremely annoyed when I get labelled "half-wits".
I do appreciate all of the other comments of support.

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Follow Up By: turbo 1 - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 14:11

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 14:11
I'm not quite sure who has had a go at who or where anyone has bagged anyone or called them a "half-wit ".

My post quite clearly says..." don't know if it was these guys "

As Phil posted the photo's are not a good, however others have suggested your location was not the same as the original post so everyone moved on and presumed it wasn't you guys.

Re-read the post and I think you'll see you've over reacted somewhat to the whole thing.

And one last piece of advice...You probably shouldn't put in your post.....We hit Gepps Cross at 5pm, beer opened and all good times....
Maybe you only had one, maybe you weren't driving, who knows but like a couple of your photo's and words they get peoples attention.

Cheers






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Follow Up By: Shaker - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 14:18

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 14:18
We made prior enquiries & paid at Andamooka.
We also drove past the homestead & had quite a long conversation with the owner.

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Follow Up By: chardthechippy - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 14:48

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 14:48
Exactly Turbo, ..." don't know if it was these guys "
So why bring it up?? Unnecessary.
And one last piece of advice...You probably shouldn't put in your post.....We hit Gepps Cross at 5pm, beer opened and all good times....
"Maybe you only had one, maybe you weren't driving, who knows..."
My point again....why bring it up here?



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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 18:47

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 18:47
Hullo Chardthechippy

I can understand your frustration at the inference that you and your group were the ones mentioned by Mick. And I think that has been cleared up.

The point I would like to make is this. All roads, whether private or public, have to be maintained to provide safe and reliable access. For some, it is their only access. Some person or organisation, whether private or public, has to pay for this ongoing work to be undertaken.

There seems to be an assumption by some people that it is OK to trash public roads. I disagree. In my opinion it is not acceptable for people, often on a bit of a jaunt from the city, to use open surface roads that are not suitable for travel due to the prevailing conditions. They leave the roads in question deeply rutted and when dried out, both slow to drive on and in many cases as Bob Y has said, outright dangerous.

The cost to bring the road back to a reasonable condition can cost many tens of thousands of dollars and if urgent, can take funds and resources from other programmed works in the region.

It would seem that you had a choice of continuing where you had planned or modifying your route because of the wet conditions. If you insisted on continuing, would you have still made this decision if you had been required to lodge a bond of say $20000 before setting out, to be returned if you caused no damage beyond normal wear and tear?

Just a thought.

Cheers
Andrew
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 08:39

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 08:39
Very unfortunate Mick. It was a great drive, as your photos show, through some fascinating country. I feel for the Mulgaria folk who have tolerated travelers' intrusions into their lives and now have to deal with this mindless damage. I'd close off access too if I was in their position.

Cheers

John
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Follow Up By: Gnomey - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 10:12

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 10:12
X2 100%

Cheers
Mark
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 10:37

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 10:37
Yes it's a shame J & V. There are always those that will do the wrong thing. A very real pity.

M.
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Reply By: Member - Minty (SA) - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 09:42

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 09:42
About two weeks ago we with friends we were having a picnic in a country coucil nature reserve north of Adeaide. A quiet pretty spot with a flowung river through it. There was a group of about five other vehicles, families with kids who were happily playing by the creek. All good and right...just like when we were kids.

Unfortunately a group of about ten highly modified off-road vehicles arrived. This group of nitwits tore up the reserve crossing the creek and making hill climbs up muddy slopes wher previously there were none. There were signs everywhere prohitting this...all duly disregarded. One character drove up the water course straight through the playing kids. Twice! I notified the police by sat phone while the other group photograhed these yobbos with the intention of providing evidence to the local council the next day. We all left the scene leaving them to there wrecking ways. I went into the local town and found the police on their way out to the scene. I haven't followed up on this yet. I did give the other party ther the police job number for reference for which they were greatful.

My greatest fear is that the council will shut this beautiful place because of this behaviour. It was disrespectful to the other people there, it was probably illegal, it damaged the environment, reckless and dangerous.
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Reply By: Member - KBAD - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 10:26

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 10:26
Unfortunately this is happening everywhere it only needs one or two groups to cause damage that looks disproportionate to everyone else. We had the same type of experience at Munglingup beach near Esperance a few years ago called the cops then don't know the end result. Never thought i would grow into being a grumpy old bugger but happy to be called that if it stops idiots from stuffing it up. Perhaps a deal can be worked out with some station owners to allow access in exchange for help maintaining tracks, I am happy to operate a grader for nothing for a few weeks to do tracks, or to donate cash towards track projects something admin may want to look at setting up for a member benefit what do you guys think?
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 10:34

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 10:34
Karl,

your suggestions have merit but I don't know how it will work in reality. Unfortunately I feel confident that some morons will continue to 'roll the dice' and ignore signs/permit requirements or road conditions thereby buggering any arrangements up. This wasn't a single incident but the final straw after many such breaches of trust.

I've often wondered why initiatives to maintain tracks through the very people using them is not more keenly pursued in many areas. Take the Connie Sue/Canning or Gunbarrel for example. As part of your permit requirements, if you were asked to tow a couple of tyres behind your car along a certain stretch to knock out the corrugations, would you be happy to do it? I know I would gladly participate. It would assist in maintaining the tracks, help reduce extreme conditions and facilitate better conditions for all travellers, including the TO's. Food for thought.

Cheers Mick
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Follow Up By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 11:29

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 11:29
G'day Mick, thanks for the posting of this topic.

At a Track Care meeting a couple of months back be heard about an idea DPaW have come up with.

They have been trialling a grader blade of sorts that hooks onto your tow hitch and then drag it down a track. Their idea is that track users can hook onto this contraption and then do a patch of grading for them. Can't for the life of me remember where this grader is at the moment but I think it was on one of the iconic WA tracks.

Cheers

Dunc
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 13:00

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 13:00
Gents,

Like Karl, I would be happy to render my services on a grader, gratis for a few weeks, to repair some of these popular tracks.

However, while not wishing to be negative, I can see a few pitfalls. What manager would want me to operate his machine(I do have a Qld Ticket) without some perhaps lengthy induction. Have seen the odd bloke treat graders as a high speed bulldozer, causing long term damage, that is not always apparent at the time.

Also I've seen the odd station grader, that I wouldn't want to operate, for fear it may have a long, ongoing, and expensive fault develop while I was "johnny-on-the-spot". :-)



Do like the sound of the tyre idea, or Duncan's mention of a light, towalong grader. However, these would need to be done at a sedate speed, or the repair might end up worse than the original problem.

Bob

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Follow Up By: Member - KBAD - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 15:03

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 15:03
Having been one of those "Station owners" that frowned upon granting access to people wanting to drive through the property i understand the rationale for the closing down of the property. But as we experienced at the time in the NT there are places that while it is in the best interest of the property owner to close down the access Government's sometimes decide as is quite right that the Publics interest out weighs that. What is needed is a common sense approach now we will always have idiots the important thing is not to get hung up on them, but to weight it in such a fashion that the benefits to the property owner are such, that they are still overall happy about having the public on there property.
Organisations such as the Cattleman Associations and Farmers and Graziers groups are the best to approach i think if it was to be done in an overall approach.
All in all the only way that families and to a certain degree companies can stay on the land is to be a viable enterprise, now how we as outsiders can help them achieve this is a decision we need to come up with whether it be in the way of cheap labor or monetary reward i do not care, what i want is what i think you guys want and that is equitable access to travel our country.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 06:10

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 06:10
Enough of this on a regular basis works.
Pretty easy to build and leave at each end.



Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 11:53

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 11:53
Thanks for posting this, Mick.

Coming from a station background, I can empathize with the station folk. Intrusion onto their property, without permission, and rooting up the roads into the bargain, isn't going to make them welcoming hosts for the next lot of legitimate travellers who would do the right thing.

Wheel tracks, when quite deep from travelling in wet conditions can be a severe safety hazard when they have dried out. Dropping a back wheel into these, at speeds even as low as 50-60 clicks, can produce an immediate change of direction, or gross instability. Usual result is the vehicle falling on its side.....and worse.

Then depending where the damaged roads are, a staff member must "walk" the grader out there, touch up the damage, and walk the machine home again. When they could be doing something productive on the station.

Thanks for the photos too, Mick. At least if we never get through that way, at least we'll know what the country looks like. Quite similar to some of that country around Lake Harry?

Perhaps you could run a diplomacy course at some of the Members' gatherings, Mick? To assist in getting some of these tracks reopened, for responsible travellers. :-)

Bob

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Reply By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 13:09

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 13:09
Hullo Mick

As others have said, thanks for posting this information and the excellent photos.

It is a shame that there is a small percentage of people who do things like this and spoil it for the majority. But unfortunately we have always had and always will have people who are likely to behave in this manner - an inflated sense of their own importance, the rules don't apply to me, I'm all right Jack - stuff the others, and so on. Basically psychologically immature and not likely to change unless life pulls them up with a round turn and two half hitches!

And it wasn't as if there was no ready alternative. I would have thought that the route via Marree and Bopeechie, while a bit longer would, in the circumstances, have possibly been as quick - unless those roads had also been closed due to the rain.

In another thread, I spoke about a chap who was boasting in the front bar of the Hungerford pub about getting though although the roads were closed. Well the publican refused to serve him and told him what he thought of him, particularly wrt the condition of the roads he would now face when he did the next mail run.

Like in other similar situations, I think we all need (regrettably) to be prepared to report such instances with photographic evidence taken, if possible, with equipment that records time, date and if available, location coords.

Cheers
Andrew
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 06:18

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 06:18
This is not unlike the incident that resulted in the closure of the track up the western side of the border from Cockburn via Quinyambie and Tilcha to Cameron Corner.

About 20 years ago we were lucky to drive north as far as the Tilcha ruins and back.

Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: The Bantam - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 10:53

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 10:53
One reasonable thing for these people is to allow only groups that have "a realtioship" with the property owners or administrators to travel and use the roads.

This is currently happening, there are 4wd clubs, tour operators and other groups who have exclusive access to certain places and they do maintenence, clear obsticles, keep the tracks driven and other things in return.

If you want to go there you have to be a member of that group and woe betide you if you play up.

Quite often the property owners or staff join the trip or thow a barby back at the homestead.

This I believe is the way forward.

Possibly the way to restore failth with the property owners in question is for a group offer to go on a do something about what the brainless muppets have done.

There are people in all these forums and 4wd clubs that have equipment and tickets that would allow this.

Some of the closer places it would be as simple as a bloke hitching up his bobcat and taking it out there for the weekend.
There mignt be ways of rewarding these guys...either kicking in for some diesel or showing their business doing " community service"

If 4wders had relationships with the property owners, they would both know how far they could trust each other.
A bloke might be happy to use station grader if he had taken it for a lap of the homestead and give the driveway a scrape...and had a beer with the manager.
Then again he my not.

If there is a relationship.....people know where they stand.


cheers
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