Comment: Hunt Oil Road

Submitted: Friday, Sep 11, 2015 at 14:27
ThreadID: 130262 Views:2272 Replies:1 FollowUps:7
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The Hunt Oil Road - A potted history.

The Hunt Oil Rd is an abandoned exploration track, cleared by the Hunt Oil Company in the 1960’s, that runs south from Geraldton Bore, on the Gunbarrel Hwy, to the Great Central Rd between Tjukayirla and Warburton. The Hunt Oil Rd is about 263 km long and is one of a few ways to access the Great Central Road from the Gunbarrel Hwy; other options being the David Carnegie Rd (Eagle Hwy) to the west, and the Heather Hwy to the east.


The Hunt Oil Road splits across the north western arm of what in geological terms is known as the 'Officer Basin'. The Officer Basin covers over 350 000 km2 of South and Western Australia. Fully 250,000 km2 of the basin lies across the Gibson and Great Victoria Deserts in Western Australia. As a result, the natural environment is regarded as harsh desert, with low and irregular rainfall, and extremely hot conditions in the summer months. Landforms comprise undulating plains, laterite outcrops and extensive dunefields (Great Victoria Desert) with vegetation of low open woodlands, grasslands and spinifex scrub.


A number of significant exploration ventures have been undertaken across the region and a large dataset is available to the public. The earliest recorded geological investigation of the area was carried out in 1916 by H. W. B. Talbot and E. C. Clarke as representatives of the Western Australian Government. Talbot and Clarke passed through the area en route from Laverton to the Warburton Range, conducting several traverses between Laverton and the South Australia border. The main purpose of the expedition was the investigation of reported mineral-bearing rocks near the Warburton Range. Their published works on the area remained the definitive study until the rush of oil and mineral exploration that commenced in the 1960’s.


The Hunt Oil — Placid Oil — Exoil Consortium undertook a major program of petroleum exploration in the Officer Basin between 1961 and 1966. They concentrated their effort in the area southwest of Warburton, which they considered was the deepest part of the basin. Reconnaissance aeromagnetics in 1961 was followed by a major gravity survey and detailed seismic surveys between 1963 and 1965, culminating in stratigraphic drilling in 1965 and 1966. During the surveys, 15 000 km of track were cleared by bulldozers, some 35 265 gravity stations were established, and 1794 stations were permanently marked. The interpretation of the drilling results led to the suspension of operations. Pour shallow test wells (maximum depth 614 m) and one stratigraphic well (990 m deep) were drilled .


Additional aeromagnetic and geological surveys were done in the northern part of the basin as part of other petroleum exploration programs but none of these reports were published.


While many of the scars left from the gravity and seismic surveys have long been subsumed by the relentless desert, the Hunt Oil Road remains as a lasting reminder of this push into a harsh, remote area in search of mineral wealth. The variety and wealth of the ecosystems the road traverses is astounding as is the rich history of both the original inhabitants of the land, and the many European explorers who crossed these lands including;

• Ernest Giles (1873)
• William Christie Gosse (1873)
• John and Alexander Forest (1874)
• Calvert Expedition (1896)
• David W. Carnegie (1896/97)



2016 will be the 50th (or 55th) year of the Hunt Oil Road's existence.













''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: Phil B (WA) - Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 07:56

Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 07:56
Great write up Mick - it is indeed a great bit of country, especially the lower section with its ranges and breakaways.
Where the Engel wreck was found by you a Nissan patrol was burnt out due to a spinifex fire - all that's left is the Engel and some bits.
I hope you don't mind me adding the following.
Many others visited Alexander Spring, including

Prospectors j Tregurtha, Billy Frost and ??? Schmit 1896/97

South Australian Govt Surveyor Hubbe 1896

Prospectors G Swincer and Co 1896/97

Whitfield 1889

Then there were a myriad of people heading to Rawllinson range in the 1900s

regards
Phil
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 08:08

Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 08:08
Cheers Phil. I didn't know that Hubbe got that far. That's really interesting.

The other thing I've found is that there is simply not a lot of history in regards to the Hunt Oil Road or Hunt Oils activities outside of Geological survey reports from the 70's 80's. For the amount of activity that saturated the area in the early 60's, it's surprising the lack of info on the web. No doubt buried in Govt departments gathering mold and dust.

Hopefully this provides a bit more info on the history of the Hunt and the Officer Basin exploration

Cheers

Mick

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: Phil B (WA) - Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 08:18

Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 08:18
As you say Mick, records buried away in govt depts.

Its a long way off yet (many years) but I happen to be working on a WA Explorer Dairies Project book that covers the Western Deserts ie a line about 200 miles east of Laverton to the WA border. Hence my ability to be able to provide the names and dates. ( Work Completed Canning was published by WA Explorer Dairies Project thru Hesperian Press). For more on the project go here: http://www.explorationswa.com.au/

By the way Hubbe made it all the way across the Kalgoorlie/Coolgardie, he was sent out to find a stock route to get cattle to the goldfields from SA to WA.
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Follow Up By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 11:00

Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 11:00
Mick give Ben (Track Care), a call he drove the HOR a couple of years back with the TOs, following Desert Discovery, and they showed him a stack of stuff that you wouldn't know was there plus the local TO's history of the road and area.

Cheers

Dunc
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Follow Up By: equinox - Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 19:23

Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 19:23
Don't forget Carr-Boyd, who climbed Mount Worsnop in '95.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 21:24

Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 21:24
Hey Mick

I thought that you knew that my great grandfather beat Mr Carnegie to the top of Mount Allot as part of the Hubbe Stock Route expedition from South to West that left Oodnadatta on the 11th November 1895.

On Sunday May 3rd 1896 the party arrived at Mount Allot and set up camp. Hubbe and a Mr Murray set off on foot to look for Alexander Spring and to find the Forrest pile at the summit of Mount Allot. On reaching the summit, they had trouble locating the pile, and when they eventually found the pile, it was reduced to rubble and believed to have been pulled down by Aboriginals, being only 18 inches high.

They at once set to work and rebuilt the cairn and replanted the old pole of mulga, it being still sound after a lapse of twenty two years since being placed there by Forrest. The pile and pole were now 8 feet high above the summit of the hill, and can readily be seen fully three miles from the east side, when brushes and scrub are cut away, which will be done tomorrow.

Monday May 4th 12896, camp 73.
Loaded up at 7.25 am and moved camp to the large creek, to a spot bearing 172° from Forrest's Pile from which is a distance of fifteen chains. Established new camp and turned out the camels on fair roley poley, excellent leguminosae, other good herbage and water bush, the herbage including abundance of parakylia and munyeroo. Then sent Mahar, who is a good bushman and most reliable, to examine lower end of creek, Langman (my great Grandfather) with axe and saw to clear off scrub around pile rebuilt yesterday, left Vines to guard camp and repair saddles, whilst Mr Murray and self, taking our riding camels and spades, started to thoroughly examine top end of both creeks. Left new camp at 8.10am..............................................................................................................It is therefore evident that the soakage where we obtained the water is Alexander Spring..............Langman had cleared scrub around the pile for a radius of 150 feet, which now shows up distantly, and can easily be picked up from every direction..........I (Hubbe) proceeded to and marked Mill's tree on the west side- SA TO WA S.R. Baylee 160 m e SGH 4/5/18976

The tree bears from Forrests pile 285° distant about thirty chains......


So there we go, a little bit of extra history that is known about.



Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: equinox - Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 21:37

Saturday, Sep 12, 2015 at 21:37
Hi Stephen,
I've twice now had a good look for the tree with no success.
The creek bed it is supposed to be in is clearly defined - nice big gums everywhere, either the ants or fire have got to it guess or plain old "old age". - or I just missed it.

Cheers
Alan

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Follow Up By: Phil B (WA) - Monday, Sep 14, 2015 at 09:31

Monday, Sep 14, 2015 at 09:31
Hi Stephen and Alan

The blazed tree - maybe its gone or maybe like Forrest's blazed tree at Windich Spring the tree has grown over the blaze.

Stephen
I was aware of your ancestor but only after you told me - thanks for the reminder.

ATB


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