Willem's Big Trip. Report No 5

Submitted: Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 12:10
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Connie Sue Hwy, Warburton, Giles, Warakurna, Olgas, Uluru, Alice Springs

The first 100km of the Connie Sue passes over station property. There are tracks running in all directions but one can still see where Len Beadell directed his bulldozer driver to sink the blade. More that 40 years later the windrow is still faintly discernable in places. The right rear backing plate that covers the brake rotor was now loose on my truck and rattling like mad. So with six ocky straps I made a temporary restraint, which held all the way to Alice Springs. There I cut the offending thing off with some tin snips. Also removed the gearbox bash plate as an eagle’s nest had accumulated under the truck. So it also went on to the roof rack.

The first part of this track was very bumpy crossing over many limestone ridges and we were restricted to 40kmh. At 102km a big graded road came in from the west and we found out that this was the Kalgoorlie access road for the Tjuntjuntjurra Community. No less than 8 abandoned Ford Falcons were on this road in various states of disrepair. About 70km further was the turnoff to the community and a self-storing water tank. Another half an hour’s drive to the north we found a campsite amongst the gidgee trees and had a good rest. The following morning I dropped a full jerry of diesel on my leg. Ouch that hurt! A great big lump swelled up below my knee(the bad one) and kept me hobbling for weeks. From this point the track starts to become corrugated and in fact the corrugations did not let up until we were close to Warburton,

We were however able to do 70kmh now. We saw Plains Turkeys, Dingoes, Camels, Kangaroos and some Mulga Parrots. A drum on the side of the track indicated t track to somewhere and our maps indicated the Neale Breakaways.
They were very spectacular when we got there. Trouble is I drove too close to the small escarpment where water was seeping out of the soil and the GQ started sinking fast. I was in 2wd and had to flatten the pedal to get out of the slush. We had lunch in a secluded area and looked at the many different colours and forms the ochre sandstone can take on. Another track led to an old fuel dump with about 50 rusting drums left there. We wondered if Len Beadell and his crew left this behind.

At Neale Junction we had lunch at the picnic tables, signed the visitors book and saw the plaque where someone’s ashes had been scattered. Along the track we found some Thunder Eggs, which had become exposed to the elements over the years. Close to BM 409 we took a track to the left searching for some aboriginal art, which we had heard of. The details were very sketchy and needless to say we didn’t find any country, which would have supported paintings or petroglyphs. We did however see some good breakaway country. Back on the CS we progressed a short distance and turned left again along another track which looked as if it had been graded recently but that too petered out in to some heavy scrub after 2km and then the track was heavily washed out. The sun was setting and it was time to camp. George walked over to a pinnacle close by to get a better view of the terrain but reported back that he couldn’t see any other tracks.

On the way back to the Connie Sue the following morning, and driving in to the sun, I hit a washed out section of the track and bent the left hand front steel rim but not hard enough to make it un-driveable. Looked at Ryan’s Bluff and the airstrip to the east, then Hann’s tabletop and then Waterfall Gorge. There we met a couple from Adelaide (the first travellers we had seen on the tracks since Israelite Bay, 7 days prior) in a new Navara who had been having all sorts of troubles with aftermarket equipment. They were following ExplorOz Treknotes and told us of a nice gorge about 75km to the east. We decided, maybe next year. While I was talking to them, my crew went on to photograph the hundreds of Zebra Finches, which had come to the water pools for a drink. The finches would fly down, take a quick drink and then take off again in a flurry of wings. Suddenly a hawk swooped down and took one in mid-air home for lunch. Definitely something you don’t see every day. From this point we visited Harness Gorge, McKenzie Gorge and then dropped off the plateau into the sand country again before stopping off at Warburton for supplies. We also visited the Warburton Cultural Centre, which is very modern and has a wider range of New Age aboriginal art including glassmaking and basket weaving. I closed my eye when the girls brought out the plastic cards. While purchases were being made I refuelled from my Jerries and then we set off to find a campsite. Along the way I saw a grey camel, another thing I have never seen before. A dingo posed on the road for photos before loping off in to the mulga. Judith saw a possible campsite off the road and we settled down for the night. Only one vehicle passed and we turned all our lights off when we heard the vehicle approaching.

This next day we had our first ice on the windscreen and an omen of things to come. Packed up with frozen fingers inside the gloves! We pushed on along the Great Central Road and stopped for breakfast at a nice bush shelter about 45km from our campsite. It is located off the road and has a water tank, windbreak with seats and long drop toilet. We visited Giles Meteorological Station further up along the road and refuelled at $1.55 at Warakurna Roadhouse (where diesel is cheaper than Unleaded (Avgas)) and had a bite to eat. Travelling north from there through the Rawlinson Ranges, Schwerin Mural and Petermann Ranges is always spectacular. The road past Docker River wasn’t too bad although still heavily corrugated in places. We stopped off at Lasseter’s Cave now called Tjunti. It is an abandoned Outstation with some modern housing. Camping is not allowed there any longer but a camping area is provided 5km west of Docker River Community. There is a lot of rubbish lying around at Lasseter’s, as the rubbish bins provided are not emptied regularly. In the late afternoon I found a campsite about 1km off the road and 20km from the Olgas. The ice was a lot thicker the following morning and we had to wait for the windscreens to clear and the tents to dry out a bit before moving on. At the Olgas Lookout everyone went for a walk while I reinflated both vehicles tyres to 35psi(George’s el cheapo air pump had karked it by then). We had a very expensive breakfast at Yulara Township and travelled on to Mt Ebenezer where we stopped for lunch and topped up with some diesel to get us to Alice. Just before the Finke River on the Stuart Hwy a saw a Tojo 45 series Ute on the side of the road. I stopped and ascertained that the couple from Geelong were in trouble with a snapped draglink. We tried welding it but could not get a good contact. After about an hour we decided to tie it together with a tent peg and some metal clamps. I then gave them one of my tie down straps told hold the draglink in place and we yanked it really tight. It got them to Alice!

George and Maureen said their goodbyes in Alice and pushed on home to Darwin while we relaxed in Alice and Judith and her friend did some arty workshops at the same time as the Beanie Festival. I ordered some parts for the Nissan from the dealer, which never arrived. We stayed in Alice for 12 days. My mate Bill and I took on the Fish Hole Gorge track in the Chewings Range, and won!
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Reply By: Lone Wolf - Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 12:16

Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 12:16
I watch a TV show on SBS on Monday evenings, called Mythbusters. One of the guys on it, Jamie, has a saying....

"When will the fun ever stop?"

You would make a good Jamie I reckon.


AnswerID: 120636

Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 15:07

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 15:07
Those Mythbusters are something else,again!!
FollowupID: 375853

Reply By: GOB & denny vic member - Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 14:35

Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 14:35
thanks willem for the reading i hope you dont mind i have printed out each episode for denny to read
we have both enjoyed your travels

AnswerID: 120642

Reply By: Member - Eric P (Int) - Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 16:40

Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 16:40
Hi, Willem,

Nice to read about your trip.

I would like to be able to be away for such a long time, but I will probably have to wait until i am retired (i.e. 5 or - years), and I wonder whether I will then have the money to travel to Oz.

I have a specific question: you say when you camped after Warburton you switched all lights off when a vehicle approched.

What kind of danger do you fear (I also heard people saying one should not camp in Warburton but in the (very) secured campsite.


AnswerID: 120654

Follow Up By: Willem - Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 22:20

Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 22:20
Hi Eric

There shouldnt be any danger out there but it is always prudent not to attract attention to yourself when you are in isolated areas. Normally we camp well away from any possible sighting by others but at other times one has little choice. The law of averages states that maybe a percentage of people are psychopathic maurauders. If there are such persons travelling by at night, then I would rather not be seen to have a welcoming sign out.
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Reply By: Member - Cocka - Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 20:40

Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 20:40
Nice notes Willem. The CS is on the list of my things to do. I keep adding more than I'm doing, guess I'll have to get moving, getting away from this computer will help.
Sorry to hear about your mishap with the jerry tank, ouch, can't imagine how you'd do a think like that. We don't heal as quickly now as we used to, so take it easy. Hope your all better now.
AnswerID: 120676

Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 21:15

Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 21:15
JK Rowling eat your heart out. I'd rather read about the adventures of Willem and friends than Harry any day.
Interesting about the rubbish at Lasseters. We were there in May and is wasn't too bad. I tend to notice these things. When you passed the Schwerin Mural Crescent you also passed the Sandy Blight Junction turn off to the north. There is a very pretty campsite about 12 km along here on the right. You have to drive along one of the flood control grader cuts to get off the road.
I love this area: Bloods Range, Petermann Ranges, the first glimpse of the Olgas. You don't mention Uluru. I must have been there a dozen times but it is always awsome. BTW Willem, a hell of a drive just to avoid the $25 park entry fee .
Reading your notes has been a real pleasure. I can't wait to get back.
AnswerID: 120684

Follow Up By: Willem - Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 22:23

Saturday, Jul 16, 2005 at 22:23
Ahhh but I have my new Harry Potter book on order and will pick it up on Tuesday. Having spent 5 years at Boarding School I relate to all of Harry's adventures.

Wouidn't mind that wand of his :o)
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Reply By: Member - Andy C (WA) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 01:09

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 01:09
I too, would turn off my lights if I was camped in the Central Reserve without a "permit to transit". Even with that permit, the only "legal" camp is at Warakurna (Giles) and then Docker River over the NT border.

Has something changed Willem?


ps: have followed all your posts and loved them!
AnswerID: 120725

Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 15:07

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 15:07

Nothing has changed.

Permits............... I have vowed never to go and seek permission for a permit again. What a load of rubbish. It has all to do with bluff and beauraucratic nonsense. You are given a permit to transit a so-called area housing another culture within a culture. You Can't do this, you Can't do that, and in some instances you are supposedly not allowed to camp whilst in transit, maybe having to traverse 1000km in a day to achieve this. Meanwhile the people of the culture whom you must not interfere with are allowed to come in to your town and defacate on the main street and carry on in an uncivilised manner without repercussions. Go figure.

No one cares about permits, no one asks to see one. Permits are a hangover from the paranoia of mining activities in the 1980's. In WA the Department of Indigenous Affairs has a different interpretion to permits than the Councils supposedly administering the 'Homelands'

The roads are funded by the taxpayers of this country and I will use those roads when they are trafficable. Anywhere in Australia you are allowed to use the road verge for up to 50 metres to camp or rest

From my perpective it is a case of civil disobedience. I will NEVER apply for a permit again and will go where I please.

My opinion alone

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Reply By: Member - Andy C (WA) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 21:44

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 21:44
Well said Willem!

I couldn't have put it better.

You did the right thing talking to the elders up north and managed to experience some country that the rest of us are very unlikely to ever see - and that's the way we should be able to camp, transit etc - by having a good chat and some mutual respect. Seems that governments can't quite quantify or understand that!

AnswerID: 120850

Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 22:14

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 22:14
Agree !
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Reply By: Richard Kovac - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 22:54

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 22:54
Me again
Have you got the cords for this spot?

"Another half an hour’s drive to the north we found a campsite amongst the gidgee trees and had a good rest"


AnswerID: 120860

Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Jul 18, 2005 at 16:39

Monday, Jul 18, 2005 at 16:39
Hi Richard

Mate!.... co-ords? After water tank about 15 km on the right on a small rise. Look for our covered fire mound. Plenty of firewood.
FollowupID: 376010

Reply By: Richard Kovac - Monday, Jul 18, 2005 at 20:49

Monday, Jul 18, 2005 at 20:49
thanks Willem

so that 15 km before water tanks if coming from north LOL......

1/2 hr drive in the bush could mean anything, it's called fuzzy logic


AnswerID: 121009

Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Jul 18, 2005 at 20:56

Monday, Jul 18, 2005 at 20:56
Yes mate.

If coming from the north and you get to the water tank and intersection to Tjuntjuntjarras Community. .......................

Then turn around and drive back 15k hahahahahaha
FollowupID: 376063

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