Trans Access Track & Telstra's Access Track

Submitted: Friday, Feb 09, 2018 at 13:17
ThreadID: 136246 Views:6501 Replies:7 FollowUps:8
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Yes, this topic has been talked about, but I'd like to get the latest info (and opinions)

Rather than a direct route, Google suggests a bypass for the almost 140km point-to-point distance between the WA/SA border east of Forrest (WA), and Watson (SA) - or about 220km between the two sidings.

I'm going to be travelling by bicycle, totally self-supported (ie. carrying all the water and food I'd need for all sections of a much longer trip). As I understand it, there are (at least) two tracks on either side of the railway line - one was created by Telstra, and the other is a railway owned access track for railway maintenance (for which access is restricted, and effectively forbidden to travel).

My questions, are

1. It is possible to legally use (at least) one of these direct tracks between Watson & Forrest?

2. I'm absolutely happy to travel 140km off road, but close to the track (to aid navigation) - what's the terrain like, and how reasonable a proposition is this, remembering that a fat bicycle has very high ground clearance, can be physically picked up and carried across otherwise non-navigable section of tracks (like deep washaways, etc.)?

3. I'm assuming there is no permanent water available between these two points, and I'd probably be travelling in July where the average max daytime temperature is below 20 degrees (and night time just below zero), but what's available water-wise (don't worry, I'm intending on having a 20L water capability, enough for a few days in July)?

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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 00:59

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 00:59
That section of rail is off limits as stated in ARTC web site but some will tell you that it is not enforced. Just means they never got caught.
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Follow Up By: Member - techedge - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 06:23

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 06:23
Ivan, Yes, I've read the Australian Rail Track Corporation's (ARTC) warning about using their "access track". In fact, I'm guessing that their rules for using their track, and the high fees associated with its legitimated used, probably drove Telstra to cut their own access track (on the other side of the ARTC track)?

My question isn't really about using their track - I'm happy to avoid it for those 220km - but certainly not at all costs - if I "had to use it" then I wouldn't bat an eyelid (*).

No, I'm really asking about the feasibility of legally cycling BESIDE the track (but off the land that is owned by ARTC).

So, as I've never been near the rail corridore, is the "other dirt track" close to the railway line, that is so obvious on satellite imagery, the Telstra track? or is it another flavour of "the ARTC's own track", or just a track near the corridore?

(*) I totally agree with ARTC's aims -

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Follow Up By: IvanTheTerrible - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 08:57

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 08:57
The rail corridor is fairly wide and the restriction is for the corridor not any particular track so there could be 10 tracks within the corridor and all will off limits
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 09:13

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 09:13
Hi Techedge

I would love to see exactly where that detour is, but having a guess it is up to Oak Valley and then out through more Aboringinal land and then down to the Trans line.

I would say it will be harder to get permits than to travel the Trans line.

Yes to one of your questions, there will be no water out in the Abotiginal Lands, except at the 2 communities.

There is good rain water at Cook if you are passing through there for you run through to Forrest.

Which ever way you go, do not under estimate your water supplies, as it could end up fatal.


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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 09:16

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 09:16
I should have also said Peter that if you stick to the Trans line, you will have Telstra phone coverage the hole way for a means of safety.


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Reply By: b1b - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 12:52

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 12:52
As Stephen L said, Telstra has mobiles 3G coverage, systems were installed, constructed to provide GPS coverage for ARTC trains and as a side product, customers travelling along the track and passengers on the train had pretty good coverage. pity I haven't any photos of the construction but one that I can remember was the train giving one of our vehicles a tow out of the mud. and yes, the driver of the Nissan Patrol was mercilessly given much ribbing. The Nissan was well and truly bogged.
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Follow Up By: Dean K3 - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 18:03

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 18:03
May have been a Telstra maintenenace gang a few of them got truely bogged on access track which had been closed to all vehciles after significant rainfall

One train spotted them passed on info to perway controller who couldn't help.

Uncle is based in Kal (natpac loco driver) arranged his own winch and few other pieces and sent it out via Loco out from Kal to assist with recovery.

To say lest the employees were given bit of a dressing down but were humble and apprecaitive of the assistance provided even though they shouldn't have been there
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Reply By: bobsabobsa - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 17:39

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 17:39
I have traveled the track from Tarcoola to Hughes more times than I would like to remember , It was a long time ago when I was with telstra and involved with this project.
Yes there are 2 tracks the north that we were not allowed on that was railways and the southern track which is still apart of the railways but be maintained it only to get the machinery in
Telstra would not give a rats ass if you where on there track ,
now in saying that the map you have I do not remember any track we made to the north of the line, there was one cut in from around Watson to Fisher, but to the south and I can remember the graders working ,
This was a new track and nothing to do with the railways maintenance track on the south side of the line
there are loads of tracks north and south , I always said to the guys to keep a eye on the line so you do not wander off
I only worked to the wa/sa border so can only comment on this section
Between Hughes and Cook is the old WW2 intern camp ( name eludes me now ) was great place to kick around for a break from work ,but all gone now.
Cook I think the old hospital build still stands and the railway station is still there
they would take on fuel for the train here and there is a telstra building so you might get water ,
Fisher Watson Ooldea Immarna there is nothing left.
Barton there is a telstra building for the workers and might be water out side in a tank do not rely on this to be available,
Mt Christie Wynbring Lyons Malbooma nothing left , Tarcoola there was a station master and workers and they would take on fuel here
The telsra building at the station had a water tank out back , the pub has gone, so has the houses
Kingoonya there will be water I think the pub is going again and there are people there
There has been a lot of stories of people stopping trains and fines etc I have never seen it , but not to say it is not true, never heard a Train driver say he had been stopped and I found every one you meet super friendly
I will try and find out more about the road you have googled ,but I have never been on it
be aware the rocks are very sharp and expect tyre deaths
As for the Legality of it all, there are more stories than you can poke a stick at
It might be all true which track is railways and which is not all I know we were not to use the northern track as that was solely for railways
BUT be aware there might be fines and dont play on the tracks
Bob Poli
Electrical and Refrigeration Telstra 1985 to 1998
Legality, ?, I will leave it up to the traveler , to do his her homework as with a ,lot of places we travel we must know the law of the land
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018 at 00:11

Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018 at 00:11
Just to let you know the old hospital at Cook was demolished "for safety reasons"about 8-10 years ago.
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Reply By: b1b - Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 20:37

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 20:37
Dean - Telstra troops were there because they (Telstra) were contracted by ARTC to construct and provide 3G coverage for ARTC. Yes, very humble and apologetic but that was their work to be there. NOT as you suggest, there for the fun and being where they were not supposed to be.
Yes, they were well and truly caught in the middle of a rain storm, they were also there before it happened.
The Telstra troops spent a lot of time through all 4 seasons in all weather, mud, 45 degrees plus, etc, etc and not for the fun. Your assumptions are somewhat arrogant and demeaning.
You may have missed my first sentence in original post stating Telstra was contracted by ARTC to construct 3G for their train systems.
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Reply By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Sunday, Feb 11, 2018 at 20:56

Sunday, Feb 11, 2018 at 20:56
We travelled and filmed from Kalgoorlie to Deakin and Watson to Kingooya (and beyond) in 2015. My understanding was that the Railways have jurisdiction over 100 metres either side of the railway line. We encountered railway staff and were never challenged. The old POW camp site is at Nurina. 6 Kms south of Nurina is Kybo Station, and the Campbells are very hospitable.

The road to Haig and beyond is an easy run until you get to the Kybo turnoff, and then gets challenging.

The Telstra track is rough, but should be negotiable by bicycle. The Access track along side the line is fairly smooth b y comparison. I would get off it and well away from the line when trains are approaching.

You should be able to get water at Rawlinna, Forrest and Cook. (the hospital is gone, but there are caretakers at Cook, and there are quarters there for changing train drivers).

I would contact Greg Campbell at Rawlinna, and Rod and Jill Campbell at Kybo to get information. Jill has a museum of Nullarbor history on the property.

The caretaker at Forrest would also be able to give you a heads up before you leave.

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Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018 at 21:08

Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018 at 21:08
Techedge - I can only speak for the W.A. section of railway property you're intending to traverse - I have no knowledge of the S.A. side or S.A. property laws or titles.

Google Mapping is very imperfect and is regularly modified, updated and re-aligned according to suggestions offered by people with Google accounts.

I regularly advise Google of updates needed to their maps, and they change Google Maps accordingly once they have confirmed my information is correct (by cross-checking).
The bulk of Google Mapping was done in 2008 and a lot has changed since then.
Where there have been substantial changes, Google send out their camera car and re-shoot the street view.
So you can often find two different Google street views from the one spot, up to 5 or 8 years apart!

The law is pretty basic - by travelling the Trans-Line access track you are effectively trespassing on railway property - just the same as if I walked through your property.

However, the boundaries can get pretty variable and often altered, once you get a long way from town.
I know of plenty of roads that cut through surveyed properties - illegally, under law.
This happens because the particular property owner doesn't care, that the road is on his/her property.

In essence, the Trans-Line property (survey) under the W.A. Land Administration Act, comprises 5 surveyed Land Titles that stretch from Kalgoorlie to the W.A. border.

Each of these Land Titles is numbered Lot 1 to Lot 5, on Survey P203342.
The most Easterly Railway Land Title (which includes Forrest) is Lot No. 1.
The correct description of this railway property (from West of Forrest to the W.A. border) is Lot 1 On Plan 203342.

The Lot numbers run Westwards, so Lot 5 is closest to Kalgoorlie.
These Railway Lots are owned by the ARTC, and the local Govt Authority that oversees them and controls them (and to whom ARTC pay rates to) is the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

As a GENERAL rule, these Trans-Line Land Titles are 400 metres wide. But there are places where the railway land extends beyond 400 metres in width.
Around Bulong and Kalgoorlie, the Trans-Line railway land boundaries are a zig-zag mess, dodging around mining tenements and other land titles.

You can check the land titles and boundaries using the Landgate Mapviewer Plus. You need to select additional filters such as "topography" and "Landgate WA Now Mosaic", from the top menu to get all the aerial photography and additional information overlay.

So, in essence, if you travel along more than 200 metres from the centreline of the rail track from Forrest Eastwards to the Border, you are not on railway land - so ARTC can do nothing to stop you from travelling.

On the Landgate Map Viewer, you will notice the Trans Access track and the Telstra track drawn in.
However, the accuracy of the track locations is open to question, as the Landgate map overlays are not entirely consistent, anyway.
The Landgate title information is all that is largely consistent.

So, if you're prepared to deviate off the track and keep 200 metres away from the centreline of the rail track, anytime you see some form of "authority" approaching you, you can rest assured that they have no authority to stop you from travelling at a distance exceeding 200 metres from the rail track centreline.

Good luck with your trip and take great care. If you happen to come to grief, such as having a bad fall, or incurring a medical episode out there, it could be some time before help arrives.

Water will be your biggest problem out there. 20 litres is a bare minimum - and you need to ensure your water containers are puncture-proof, so you do not incur a sudden and drastic loss of water.

Drinkable water is probably the biggest worry, because the only water of drinkable quality will be where settlements have been established.

There will be old railway dams, gullies and other depressions, where water can be acquired from - but you would need to carry some type of filtration and purification setup or chemicals, to ensure you ended up with drinkable water.

Most dam water and surface water in the country and inland regions of W.A. has a certain level of e.coli bacteria - which can vary from low levels (and thus not affect you) - to high levels, where you will almost certainly become very crook from drinking the untreated water.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - techedge - Monday, Feb 19, 2018 at 17:00

Monday, Feb 19, 2018 at 17:00
Ron, thanks for your thoughtful and informative reply.
If I take that route (or any remote track where water will be an issue, ie. most Australian off-road routes) I have various filter equipment that claims to remove bacteria, and I'll also have some chemicals for the odd occasion something breaks, or "to be sure". Being close to phone access is certainly a plus for unexpected situations.
You may notice I'm also investigating more northerly, in a general westward direction, routes.

Thanks again!

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Feb 19, 2018 at 17:25

Monday, Feb 19, 2018 at 17:25
Techedge - When I was a military engineer, one of the Engineer Corps most important jobs (besides breaching enemy barricades and blowing things up in general), was ensuring secure and safe water supplies for all the troops.

To that end, we had sizeable water filtration units mounted on trailers, that were utilised to filter all water supplies, regardless of whether the water came from tanks, bores, or dams.

The most efficient water filtration uses charcoal or activated carbon filtering. Charcoal or activated carbon effectively stops the very nasty bugs such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia and e.coli that will give you severe gastro-enteritis.

Many people think rainwater tanks provide pure clean water - but they are very often polluted with bird droppings, rodent faeces and urine, and a host of other nasties!

I can recall way back in the late 1960's, we had a 20,000 gallon concrete rainwater tank, fed from a large shed roof, supplying the farmhouse with drinking water.

We rarely checked the tank, but we started noticing these little dark "flecks" in the water coming through the taps.
We shrugged it off and ignored them - then the "flecks" starting become lumps!

We did a tank check, and we were appalled to find the remains of about 50 rats and mice floating in the tank water!
The "lumps" coming through the taps were chunks of decomposed rat! Gaaah!

What had happened was the rodent-blocker on the inlet pipe to the tank had corroded and fallen off - and the rats and mice were running down the inlet pipe, then jumping off the end to get a drink.
Naturally, they couldn't get out, swam around for a while, and ended up drowning in there.

We had to empty the tank and clean it right out and start afresh - with a new rodent blocker the first addition to the tank!

Surprisingly, we never incurred any disease or illness from the water, and that may have been because we drank mostly hot drinks, and therefore boiled about 90% of the water we drank from the tank.

Boiling is your final resort to ensure drinkable water when its quality is in question.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - techedge - Monday, Feb 19, 2018 at 17:43

Monday, Feb 19, 2018 at 17:43
I grew up on farms. I know what goes into tanks, and what comes out!

I did cycle the CSR in 2015 and used 100% unfiltered water from a small handful of wells I could have used - but I had the luxury of selecting Well 49, 46, 33, 26, Georgia Bore, Well 18, 12, 5 - because the water went on a 4x4 and I didn't have to fill up every day. If I did it unsupported then I'd have used my filter, much more!

The downside of not being exposed to bugs in the environment is the "sudden" explosion in allergies the "developed" world is experiencing. And, there's a thing called a Fecal Microbiota Transplant ...

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