Volkes Hill to Cook track

Submitted: Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 14:07
ThreadID: 138198 Views:5431 Replies:4 FollowUps:24
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I see Phil G and Stephen have done this track a few times.

It seems the top is duned and the bottom is flatter. What pace do you think I should allow compared to say ABH or Googs?

I can't see a trek on Exploroz, Does anyone know where I could find a GPS log?
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 16:41

Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 16:41
Hi Boobook

Distance wise it is not that far, but work on 2 easy days drive. I say 2 days as the first night heading south will have you camped on the start of the Bluebush country and then a slow drive for a few hours the next day into Cook

We have driven it 3 times now and the first time was the best, as it followed the original track that went past a few Aboriginal rock holes, that are now off limits, with a new and very wide road taking you west, then south to meet the original road.

It is a very easy drive and you would have to be doing something very, very wrong to get caught out on the small dunes. The dune country will mainly be around for the first couple of hours south of Voakes Hill corner and then the country opens up to good travelling, where you will want to keep a keen eye on the speedo, as speed will sneak up quite easy and it will be very easy to sit on 80 kph.

If you keep an eye out on the vegetation, the appearance of Bluebush will tell you that you are then heading into the true Nullarbor country, and before long, all tall timber will give way to open grasslands and Bluebush as the dominant vegetation. The change in vegetation will as herald the start of limestone and you will need to drop your speed and watch out for larger rocks that will quite easy take no prisoners and ruin a tyre in no time flat.

When in this type of country, we found a comfortable speed is around 30 kph and it will be like that for 2 - 3 hours north of Cook until you drive into Cook.

Its a great drive and once again you see some very contrasting country.

The below images will be all heading south from Voakes Hill Corner through to Cook.



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Follow Up By: Boobook - Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 18:21

Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 18:21
Thank you very much for a thorough, detailed overview, Stephan. You are very kind.

That is great information.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 19:02

Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 19:02
Hi Boobook

That’s what it is all about, helping out fellow travellers.

If you check out my user treks, 2012 you should be able to download a copy of my track file.


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Follow Up By: Boobook - Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 06:41

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 06:41
Thanks Stephen, unfortunately, the User Treks seem to be broken again. I can't see any trek for that section and even if it was there, you cant select a treck from the map anyway.

I've raised this as an issue.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 10:16

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 10:16
Yep, a nice quiet drive.
I seem to forget some details so am grateful for Stephen's photos.
If he was still using film, I would buy Kodak shares. lol
Good on you Stephen.

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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 20:34

Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 20:34
Hi Boobook
We did that same trip a couple of years ago, when the Maralinga access was closed, and you provided some useful suggestions for an alternative route.
Everything Stephen has said above is spot on - it's a good drive, with the sand easily manageable and the rock at the southern end requiring a bit less speed and more care.
And Cook was an interesting spot to camp for the night, and watch the Indian Pacific passing through.
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Reply By: Phil G - Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 22:08

Monday, Apr 22, 2019 at 22:08
Can drive Voakes Hill to Cook in a day if you're in a hurry. But I'd take at least two - I never really worry about how fast or slow I am going. Some magnificent country through there - fantastic camping, interesting aboriginal and european history and diverse flora and fauna. If you can get hold of Mark Shephard's book on the Great Victoria Desert, it will make your trip a lot more interesting. Also like to read Len Beadells chapter in his Outback Highways book.

As you head south from Voakes Hill you get a simple track that can be a little overgrown in places then probably about 10k south of the Mamungari Conservation Park you will turn right. From then on you are travelling on roads put in by Rodinia Oil Exploration about 12 years ago, so travelling is quicker.
Unfortunately access to Bryngina and Churina were bypassed by this road.

Further south towards Cook the landscape transitions into the Nullarbor so can be slower going because of the Limestone bumps. As you head south the last good camp is near NME183 which is where the ancient shoreline was - so basically the last of the sanddunes as you head south.

Can pick up water at the shed tanks about 13k N of the Lake DeyDey Rd Intersection and there is another tank immediately east of the intersection. The tanks south of NME183 are no longer functional.
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Follow Up By: Boobook - Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 06:42

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 06:42
Thanks Phil. Great information.
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Follow Up By: Phil G - Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 22:31

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 22:31
Hi Tony,
Any info you need, just ask - done that road maybe a dozen times since 2001. I like to use it when travelling to WA - last time we used it was 2 years ago - took the shortcut to Dirk Harthog Island!
BTW, sold the 200series after one of the turbos died - I replaced it before selling to a mate who insisted he buy it. Bought a brand new Troopie so currently having good fun fitting it out.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 20:52

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 20:52
This is a screen shot of the new alignment on the HEMA GDT in red (ignore the bit going west from the corner, that track is closed as is the original bit that is now bypassed).

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Follow Up By: Phil G - Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 22:25

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 at 22:25
Gday Peter,
Its good to see that Hema have finally worked out how to spell "Voakes" - at least on the Hill and the Corner. One day they'll get it right in their comments on the maps.
The old track via Bringyna and Churina has been closed for maybe 6 or 7 years now. Pity because it was part of the adventure of doing that track, but I guess these sites were of huge significance to the MT people - not a lot of permanent water sources out there, but at least Muckera and Waldana are still on the main road. It was great that Len Beadell was able to line up the road to take in these water sources. I think that after the Mt Davies Rd, it was probably the 2nd hardest track he put through because of the mulga and dunes he had to cross.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 08:03

Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 08:03
I see Hema call it Volks Hill and Voakes Hill is various places.Austopo calls it Voakes Hill and Westprint call it Vokes Hil. No one calls it Volkes Hill except me above LOL.

But I see it is Vokes Hill on the Beadelltours website, and for apparently for good reason. Len called it Vokes on the Plaque at the site.

Maybe Hema is still right half the time, but the 'other half'.

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Follow Up By: Member - JOHN C16 - Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 09:06

Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 09:06
Another source of information on this subject.

This is the back of the road sign at the junction of the ABH and the side track that leads to Voakes Hill:

Note that the author is P. L. Vernon. If this is the great Peter Vernon of Canning Stock Route fame then I would trust his claim. At least he is right about the distance to Voakes Hill.

Cheers, John
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 12:29

Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 12:29
My money is on Vokes Hill Corner. That's what Len Beadell named it on several of his plaques, and This 1909 article at the time of RT Maurice's death calls the cook and General hand W. Voke.

Besides, Westprint call it that. They generally do their research well.

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Follow Up By: Member - JOHN C16 - Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 15:04

Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 15:04
R.T.Maurice called it Vokes Hill on the plan showing his 1901 exploration trip:

So Len Beadell was correct in calling it Vokes Hill in 1956.

Subsequently the name was changed by the Geographical Names Board. Voakes Hill was gazetted on the 18th November 1993 and then recorded on 28th November 1994.

So the correct spelling today is Voakes Hill.

Cheers, John
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 17:22

Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 17:22
It's listed under both spellings here

SA Government Place names search.

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Follow Up By: Phil G - Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 17:39

Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 17:39
Gotta feel for Bill Voakes - even his boss spelt his name wrong and got it wrong in the history books! :-)
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 08:43

Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 08:43
John, can you please point me to where the name changed. I can't find that, or even a Geographical names board in SA.

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Follow Up By: Member - JOHN C16 - Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 11:48

Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 11:48
The name change was reported in newsletter number 31, June 2007, Friends of the Great Victoria Desert Parks.

The relevant section is ‘What’s In A Name’ on page 2.

Friends of the Great Victoria Desert
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Follow Up By: Phil G - Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 18:22

Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 18:22
That was a nice find John. That was about the time I joined FOGVD.
I knew it had been spelt Voakes because that was the way it was spelt on Government maps. But his name got misspelt everywhere, so its nice to see Exploroz has it correct and the other mapping people are gradually getting it right.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 20:49

Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 at 20:49
You vokes are getting your knickers in a knot, over whether it should be spelt Vokes, Voakes, or Volkes? [;-)

Maybe it was originally Volks, because everyone knows that it's spelt and pronounced, Volks-Wagen!

I reckon I could bring up many hundreds of place names that have been misspelt, misheard, mispronounced, and changed from one form of spelling to another, several times over!

The name Vokes or Voakes actually comes from the ancient Norman conquest of England.
It comes from the French name "Vaux" - and because of the English linguistic stew of the Middle Ages, the scribes of the day couldn't settle on a precise spelling of the Anglicised version of Vaux.

Thus, the name became, Vose, Voase, Vaux, Voxe, Voaux, Vokes, Voakes, or Volkes! Take your pick!! LOL

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 07:48

Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 07:48
I don't really care which way it is spelled, but I can see a lot of evidence that it is Vokes. And none other than some graffiti ( and a newsletter quoting that graffiti that it's Voakes.

I dunno why but it is bugging me.

The employer called him Vokes, a newspaper at the time called him Vokes, the person who naked he riad called it Vokes Hill but some graffiti guy says that's wrong.

I cant find any reference to the name change either.

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Follow Up By: Phil G - Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 09:52

Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 09:52
Tony, at least we know its not Volkes :-)
Not sure why you are ignoring the Australian Government data.
Geoscience Australia (formerly AUSLIG) are responsible for the mapping of the country. They use Voakes on their maps. But Vokes still comes up on a search for historical reasons as that what was used prior to the change.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 13:29

Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 13:29
Phil, I am not sure why this is bugging me so much.

But all the historical records show that the person's name was Voke. Voake is a recent name change.

I just think that the guy deserves to have a place spelled correctly if he was an explorer in those days, and two significant Australian explorers believe he deserved a place named after him. Even if he was 'just' the cook.

Every piece of evidence at the time, including many newspaper reports by different journalists, his boss, maps at the time, place markers, etc all point to his name being Voke, none suggest it was Voake except someone who decided to put graffiti on a sign recently. No other evidence of his name being spelled that way seems to exist.

If he was called William Voke, and a place was named after him with the same spelling, then it is Vokes corner. Surely? If contemporary accounts have it wrong then they should be corrected. I think the guy deserves that respect.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 13:54

Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 13:54
The blokes name was William Paul Voake (spelt that way in virtually all Govt records), he was born in Somerset in the U.K. in 1845 and died at Coorabie on 29/09/1922 at the age of 77.

He was sometimes called Paul Voake, and sometimes called William Voake.

On his marriage certificate (he married a woman called Girldina Smith on 20/11/1875), his name was incorrectly recorded as Paul Boake! (quite a common misheard name error, as I understand).

There's plenty of information on the man on the Ancestry message boards.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 14:12

Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 14:12
Can you point me to the official records please?

Ancestry can lead you in the wrong direction in less than 50 years.Been there.

The message boards are the only reference I can find of the person you are talking about. They have that person married to an Emily Dinah Voake. Typical Ancestary search. LOL.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 22:34

Monday, Apr 29, 2019 at 22:34
The S.A. Births, Death and Marriages records are where to start. But you can't do any online search on their website, you need to be "on the ground".

S.A. Births Deaths & Marriages records

The above site also provides links to;

The Family history service - State Library of South Australia

The National Library of Australia. The NLA is really only suitable for finding military records and immigration records for the 20th century.
As Voake immigrated in the 19th century and does not appear to have served in any of Australia's military, I'd say the NLA can be discarded as a source of information on Voake.

The Ships List has been compiled from newspapers and records from State Library South Australia, official passenger lists (mainly of immigrants arriving in South Australia under United Kingdom assisted passage schemes) 1847-1886 GRG 35/48a (formerly ACC 313); the Sydney Shipping Gazette; the South Australian Register; the South Australian Government Gazette; GRG 35/48/2 Crown lands and Immigrant ships papers; the Biographical index SA 1836-1885.

I think that is a fairly comprehensive list of sources, which sources can be cross-checked one against the other.

One Paul Voake is listed as arriving in Australia on the "Electric" on Sat., Sept 23, 1865, and his nationality is listed as "English".

The Ships List

Genealogy S.A. is also a very helpful group.

Genealogy S.A.

Trove is an excellent source for digitised newspaper and other publications records, going back to the early 1800's - but be aware there are still many publications yet to be scanned, the OCR scanning is imperfect, and Trove still relies a lot on internet volunteers to make corrections to badly-scanned articles, and badly-printed publications.

Due to the regularly-imperfect OCR scanning, it is often easy to miss articles in a Trove search.

No need to scoff at the Ancestry information giving another wifes name for William Paul Voake - it's entirely likely Emily Dinah Voake was Voakes second wife, after the death of his first wife, Girldina.

Unfortunately, I can find no immediate-to-hand record of the death of Girldina Voake.
This could be because she was buried outside Australia, buried in an unmarked grave (of which there are many in Australia), or her death/burial record never made any publication, and is only held in the S.A. Births, Deaths & Marriages records, which can only be accessed in person.

Death of Emily Dinah Voake - 1939

Marriage of Paul William Boake to Girldina Smith

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2019 at 07:35

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2019 at 07:35
Thanks Ron, none of those point to Voakes being directly related to the person that was on the Explorations, though Paul Voaks was living near the area. Other than families tracing in Ancestry forums =tracing their history 80 - 100 years later guessing their name as related.

On the other hand, the following DIRECTLY place W Vokes with RT Maurice BY RT Maurice and at least 4 - 5 independent journalists AT THE TIME. All from TROVE and the SA Government sites.

References to W Voke

Map from 1902 showing RT Maurice’s travels from 1901

1901 article in the ‘Adelaide Observer’ just after the trip return

Another article with interview of Maurice and extracts from Diary in ‘The Register’ paper

Another article in the ‘SA chronical’

1909 Newspaper article on RT Maurice’s death mentioning W Voke in 1901

Then Len Beadell named the corner on the Anne Beadell Highway Vokes Hill Corner.

Evidence of this includes to plaques he made at the time which still survive.

Also his daughter’s web site refers to Vokes Corner in many places.

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