Kidson/WAPET Track – What’s Out There + Pics

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 17:21
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This follows an earlier thread on Kidson and gives conditions in June 2007. It’s long –but I hope it suits.

We travelled solo from Sandfire Roadhouse on the Great Northern Road near 80 Mile Beach to Newman along the Kidson, to Kunawatjiri, then Canning SR, and Tallawanna track.

Distances, Fuel and Supplies. Sandfire to Kunawatjiri (the next settlement and diesel supply) is 660km. More distant diesel supplies are at Capricorn RH petrol and diesel fuel dump (approx 930km) and Cotton Creek (diesel) (approx 1070km). Travellers planning enroute refuel should check fuel supply points before travel and if Capricorn fuel dump is to be used, book fuel when at planning stage. We arranged fuel resupply (if needed) at Punmu, Kunawatjiri and Cotton Creek by phone when in Broome two days earlier. Very agreeable and simple. Very basic food supplies were available at Kunawatjiri.

We filled at Sandfire RH including two jerry cans - giving a total of 220lts or maybe 1350-1450km in the Troopy with no trailer.

Temps. There was no winter to speak of this year June-July – only one morning below 5 degrees. Days generally in mid to high 30s. So flies a plenty and just a few mozzies.

Entry Point. The Western entry to the Kidson is 44km south of Sandfire and 1.4km north of the 80 Mile Beach Camping Ground turn-off. A radio beacon marks the entry – no sign. Just a gate and an untidy track – ie few indicators of recent travellers. The road here is flat with occasional dips.

Camping. Camping spots are plentiful and easily found: on the gibber, near several rocky knolls, on several of the large sand dunes, on the road itself and at three bores. Two bores were operational - good water and showers (ie it was windy). Our choice places were the large rocky knoll at 237km from track start (pic), Razor Blade bore (pic) 409km, the bore near the Punmu turnoff (pic) 512km (this has no real camp site). Others may well like the views and camping on the occasional sand dunes (approx 280-320km from start).

Driving. The trip to Kunawatjiri can be done in two days if no punctures and no camera. But maybe you’ll come home with damage too. We took a lazy six days. Driving conditions are generally easy on red dirt, sand and gibber in the north/west (pics). In the west, before the sand dunes, there are many short scratchy sections where sometimes the scrub on each side interlaces (pic). Washouts are sometimes 60-90cm deep and required some road building and off track driving (pic). There are several diversions some of which are faint and occasionally overgrown. There are occasional long flat stretches of deep sand requiring 4WD.

The sand dunes themselves are easy driving. From memory they are clay-topped. The Hema map warns of washouts on one side of the dunes. If you travel fast, be warned. The washouts are now on BOTH sides; they are deep and they run down and across the track. At low speed they are of no concern.

Spinifex is a serious consideration. It gathers under the vehicle (pic) and requires checking and removal if the grass is high. The seed will get into the radiator fins and is impossible to remove by any means other than radiator removal. Do not rely on a single flyscreen to protect against this.

At the Percival lakes chain of claypans the track is forced to take a southerly course. This area was dry and easy going - but clearly would be difficult/impassable when wet.

Past the Punmu turn-off, the 109 km of road to Kunawatjiri is flat and smooth highway. The CSR is 4km beyond Kunawatjiri.

Wildlife. Expect to see geckos (especially in the cup at the Moriaty memorial) (pic), perhaps ridge-backed monitors (I found a pair hibernating near one of the bores) (pic), camels (regular escort service –whether you are lost or not), dingoes, and of course finches, budgies and our favourite - the butcher birds.

Kunawatjiri. The store is small and carries few supplies. We bought 3 years old frozen bread, cereal, biscuits and a kit of tube patches with glue. (This kit was poor quality – but needed due to several repairs.). Brian Kelly ran the store. Had been in the area some 28 years.. Told of his fight to get proper water supplies along the track after the loss of a family out there. Eventually govt agreed to bores and windmills – but there was a tardy response from finance/Army who started the project late – ie Spring. It ran into early summer before the project was abandoned.

Side trip. We travelled the Gwenneth Lakes track (turn off 386km from start) for just 14 km to the first windmill. We were the first to travel this track since it last rained – so probably 2006. The track entry has a marker (pic). The track is quite easily seen, but severely overgrown with very high spinifex and dense scrub sections. Track clearing was necessary when we could not find or make a diversion. The windmill is said to be evidence of the abandoned govt project referred to earlier. The corroding galvanised tank sheeting and reinforcing iron lie in wire-tied bundles beside the erected mill (pics).

In all this was a great trip. We saw no other people. A real sense of adventure since we had done no research. Did not refuel at Kunawatjiri, but pushed on to the Tallawanna – another story here!

Any comments/questions welcome


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Reply By: Member - Mick O (VIC) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 17:37

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 17:37
Nice one Chris. Kidson/Wapet will be part of the sand and spinifex tour this year. Going to duck down the Jenkins Track to Veveers crater and then back up. Have found the message boxes for Tchuck pool and the likes. Bunnings steel first-aid boxes. Bit pricey but solid and will last a good while. Will take five with me.

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: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 18:11

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 18:11
I'd like to be there Mick. Hoping to move into new place SW of Gloucester this year. Wonder whether I will get away at all this year...

So keep me informed and take some good pics.

Oh.. Dont forget the SS bolts/screws for those boxes :) Admire your commitment to this.

Best regards
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Reply By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 18:13

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 18:13

Forgot to say PICS are on 'my rig' page - and not in travel sequence

Cheers all
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Reply By: Michael A (VIC) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 18:16

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 18:16

Thanks for the details, it has helped me get a better picture of what we may encounter when we travel the Kidson Track later in the year.

Michael A
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Follow Up By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:23

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:23
Thanks v much Michael. Have a good one.

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Reply By: Himble - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 19:18

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 19:18
Great trip report Chris!

Kidson is one of just a few tracks I HAVEN'T done yet so your report and pics are definitely handy!!

Thanks again!

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Follow Up By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:25

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:25
Thanks Himble. We'd definitely go again - and do it righter next time.

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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:02

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:02
Comprehensive report Chris and good photos. Like the water flowing out of the bore standpipe.
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Follow Up By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:29

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:29
I liked standing under it mostly Dunc - the wind gives it a nice chill factor. Must say that the finches and budgies didn't seem to appreciate my needs. Heaps of them around. Good reason to camp a little distance away.

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Reply By: Willem - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:10

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:10
Good report Chris

Fuel availability stopped my trek to Gwenneth Lakes in 2006.

Hopefuloy I will get to visit these places ie Gwenneth Lakes, Joanna Spring and Dragon Tree Soak in 2009. Planning a 3 month trek out that way.

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Follow Up By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:34

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:34
Watch out for the spinifex Willem. Your ideas about 3 thicknesses of shade cloth across the grill seem like the go.

Gwenneth is definitely a trip for the experienced and well prepared traveller. Probably best with others to share the workload.

Let me know how you go.

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Follow Up By: Willem - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:53

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 20:53
Yep re spinifex

I am lucky in a way that the whole Nissan exhaust pipe lives in an exhaust jacket. I have removed all bash plates and get very little grass collection in the middle of the chassis though there is quite a collection above the fuel tank at the end of the day. It is a nightly chore when driving cross country.

Shadecloth over the bullbar abd then again over the grille helps. I also have seen a mining vehicle out there with a type of chain mesh hanging down from behind the sump to stop grass collection.

Will most likely have my mate with his GU 4.2 with me for the journey. This trek will involve about 500km cross country driving with trailer in tow as well. We just take it easy and won't worry about the scratches....LOL

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Follow Up By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 06:42

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 06:42
Green with envy, That's the sort of trip I wanted to do.

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Follow Up By: Willem - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 08:10

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 08:10
Well Chris, let me know. Maybe we can work something out, if you are free. Email me through my website below

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Reply By: Footloose - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 21:58

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 21:58
Chris, well done. Lots of useful info.
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 22:00

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 22:00 sorry try this
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Reply By: Peter McG (Member, Melbourne) - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 11:21

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 11:21
Thanks Chris. Also heading out that way again this year. Did CSR last July and plan on going out along the Gary Hwy the Talawana to Rudall river this year.

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Follow Up By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 20:51

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 20:51
HI Peter

Another bloke making me envious!!
Rudall River is wonderful - spent about a month there in 2007.Hanging Rock and Desert Queen Baths are the 'must sees'.

One you are past Cotton Creek turn off, the Talawanna becomes a highway.

Have a good one

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