Walcott Inlet

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 15:24
ThreadID: 66497 Views:2956 Replies:5 FollowUps:9
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For those planning a visit read on.

This book reading stuff can certainly be contagious! Following on from my reading the “River of Home” it was recommended I read “Last Horse Standing” and what a great recommendation it was I might add. I have already confessed to being a non reader so it was somewhat surprising when I couldn’t put this book down!

Having had aspirations of visiting Walcott Inlet in 2005 but to be outvoted when we were near the turn off I have developed a little thirst for information about the area. There remains a strong desire to see the place notwithstanding the negative feedback I received at the time. After reading these two books I feel a much stronger urge then ever to have a look.

What interested me most is that the events in this book are set in 1971 when I was 16 years of age myself and the Kimberley seemed young with plenty of life threatening adventure. It is hard to imagine that this story was unfolding at the same time when I was going to school and having an easy life at home. You just have to admire the people that shaped this country.

Clearly it is a harsh country with little to offer by way of luxury – no camping under some palms swaying in the breeze. It would be easy to dismiss this place as some god forsaken place BUT it has some magnificent history and rarely do you have the opportunity to look at something like this that just does not have mainstream appeal.

In some way it would have been a shame to see the place before reading the books and my future visit will certainly have me looking at the place differently. I would thoroughly recommend both books if planning a visit to Walcott Inlet.

Kind regards
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Reply By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 15:41

Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 15:41
Hi Beatit,
If there's one person who would know about the place, it's Peter Lacy from Mt Elizabeth station, who pushed a road (track, really) through that way.
Lots of interesting remnants there - the airstrip, the old leprosarium, Munja, and remains of an old barge made of drums, which was probably used as a lighter to shift stuff on/off boats which would have come into the inlet, a dicey exercise in itself. It was probably an access point to Pantajin station to the north as well.
Sounds like I'd better chase up these books.
With regard to camping there, analysing the maps before we went in made us decide not to camp at the actual inlet, but to camp on Brockman River, about 20km back up the Calder as a base. This gave us much-needed shade, and some limited fresh water. Also it looked to be well above (height) the croc-infested Calder, meaning we only had to worry about freshies. There is no fresh water at the actual inlet and only a few boabs for very limited shade.
Fantastic drive in, tho and would love to do it again.
AnswerID: 352166

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 16:23

Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 16:23
Thanks Gerry for that information, I was aware of the Lacey connection but your suggestion for a camp is much appreciated. Did you do it as a guided tour or a DIY? I think that some of the appeal for me would include a visit to Mt Elizabeth station but who knows if this will be possible in a couple of year’s time.

It is interesting that my original infatuation came from a magazine article about a guided trip to Walcott and the half dozen or so photos with the story made it one of those mysterious places that I just want to see. There is a lot of history about the early attempts to settle and hardships that put new meanings to the Inlet, the old leprosarium, Munja and the country itself. I hope to find out in a couple of years.

Kind regards

FollowupID: 620378

Follow Up By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 19:35

Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 19:35
Hi Theo,
It's been a while since I was there - early 90's, but have been to Bachsten Creek again in the late 90's. The first trip was from Mt Elizabeth travelling on our own, just 2 vehicles. The second trip was from Charnley River station, but that track is now not passable, leaving only Mt Elizabeth for access. You'd need to check with Bushtrack Safaris or Mt Elizabeth to see whether they allow solo journeys in. There is also a track from the Calder River crossing going north to Pantajin. This used to be out of bounds, but worth checking with Mt Elizabeth on the status of the track, as my maps would indicate some great country through there.
Bachsten Creek is a beautiful place to stay for a week or so if necessary - so much to see in the vicinity. The track is very rough in (see the pics on my profile) and you need a fair bit of clearance. Both Eliz - Bachsten and Bachsten - Walcott can be done in a day each, but there are quite a few spots along each section worth a stay, breaking the journey.
On the way from Bachsten to Walcott Inlet, Wren Gorge is a great place, with camping nearby. You can also camp near the Calder River crossing, but we've been warned of salties that far up the river. Also got bitten alive with midgies there.
Don't go too early in the season; the track from Mt Elizabeth passes through some large areas of black soil country which can get pretty wet. On one failed trip, we got pretty deeply bogged near Magpie Springs and had to turn back (after we eventually got unbogged!).
In any event, the whole trip from Mt Elizabeth right through to Walcott is a fantastic 4wd experience.
FollowupID: 620403

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 08:05

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 08:05
Hi Jerry,

Sounds like a great way to spend a couple of weeks! I was aware of the Mt Elizabeth/Bushtracker Safaries involvement and I knew that Pantajin and the Calder was close by (from the book) and it would off course be more special now that I read the book. Interestingly we were there, in that neck of the woods, in August 2005 when Mike Keenan was finishing this book. A lot of the station names around there get a mention for one reason or another and some I am aware are still there today.

I did overlook something most important in my post and that was to wish Peter and George Camp all the best and also to thank Peter Wann for sharing his experience. Lastly Mike Keenan for following all leads and telling the story.

Kind regards

FollowupID: 620480

Reply By: Member - Tony S (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 17:40

Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 17:40
Beatit , have fun , wellworth the effort.
The only thing I suggest, take a good comunication set with you and think of what spares you may need. You never know.

The rig

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AnswerID: 352186

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 08:05

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 08:05
Thanks Tony.
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Reply By: Grandma June - Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 18:14

Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 18:14
You have my interest here, but do you have an author for “River of Home” please. Unless I am doing something wrong, Google is unable to help me this time.
Many thanks
AnswerID: 352190

Follow Up By: westskip - Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 18:54

Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 18:54
Hi Grandma
The book is actually titled -
The Rivers of Home:Frank Lacy Kimberley Pioneer
and the author is Marion Nixon

Another great one is a trilogy titled The Last of the Packhorse Stockmen by Neville W Tickner

All should be available at your local library

FollowupID: 620397

Follow Up By: Grandma June - Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 21:28

Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 21:28
Thank you so much for that. I can't get enough of Australiana reading.
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Follow Up By: westskip - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 07:27

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 07:27
Grandma June

Another good read is the other book mentioned here:

Last Horse standing by Mike Keenan

Factual and set more recently in the Kimberley

FollowupID: 620471

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 18:33

Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 at 18:33
Beatit, I think I suggested "Last Horse Standing".
If you go in, try and connect up with Rick Jane. He knows so much about the area and the local art.
Rick and his wife Ann (Peter Lacey's brother) run Bush Track Safaries (which is on the market), but they want to continue to operate Bachsten Camp which is a great area too, about 70k back from Walcott.
We spent a couple of weeks in the area in 2005 and it is is one place we would like to go back to.
There are some pics in the link below in 2005.

OKA196 Motorhome
AnswerID: 352193

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 07:48

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 07:48
Hi Peter,

Yes it was and I much appreciated the read! I emailed Ann to tell her how much I enjoyed her father's story and she responded. In 2005 I had a conversation with Pat which settled my intention to visit and it was then OK to do this as a DIY for a track fee (which I was happy to pay as they spend some time fixing this for each season). I suppose things do change as people get older hence a sense of urgency for me. However the bride is nowhere as keen to do this so the details are yet to be sorted. It won't happen before 2011 so who knows what the lay of the land will be.

Had a look at your web site and it looks good, so do your journeys as well. I did have a problem getting into the slide show but that may just have been a work internet thing.

Kind regards and thanks

FollowupID: 620476

Reply By: draff - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 08:27

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 08:27

I would encourage you to take the time to do this trip if you can. We travelled up to Walcott Inlet in 2007. At that stage you could certainly do this an DIY independent trip, you simply had to pay the fee at Mt Elizabeth Station and register with them your expected travel times and they gave you a map and instructions. They informed Bachsten camp of your likely arrival day and thus people kept tabs on where you should be on which days which we found comforting as it is very remote - this might help your wife feel more comfortable with the trip to know that the station and the camp are in touch via radio and know where people should be, so whilst it is a remote trip at least someone knows where you are approximately. I certainly wouldn't do this as a single vehicle though.

We have travelled to many places around Australia and there is no where where we have found the true sense of remoteness we found on the track to Walcott. It was an amazing trip. Our favourite experience was camping somewhere on the side of the track, truely in the middle of nowhere and the most remote, amazing camp site with the Kimberley stars above.

In terms of helping convince your wife that its a good idea to go, I suggest you utilise the facilities of Bachsten camp on the way in and out of Walcott, they have hot showers, loos, camp sites with sinks (!!) and a nice walk to the Bachsten falls for a swim. We travelled with my parents and stopping at Bachsten camp on the way in and out helped my mother enjoy the remote experience without feeling uncomfortable.

Camping at Walcott Inlet itself is not particulary easy due to the need to keep covered in mozzi repellant but the fishing is incredible (although you get very muddy!) and the sunsets beautiful. Although I would suggest this trip is about the trip not the destination as such...

I couldn't recommend this area of Australian more highly.

Mrs Draff
AnswerID: 352263

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 08:43

Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 at 08:43
Thank You Mrs Draff, I am convinced, it is Mrs Beatit that is less so! I have like the prospect of visiting the area for some time but since reading the books and reading encouragement from people like yourself I feel an even greater need to go.

I like the feeling of remoteness and I can relate some way to this when we crossed the Simpson. There was one particular clear and still night when we climbed the dunes and we had that feeling, knowing that there was no one around for maybe 1,000 square kilometers.

I look forward to going one day, looks like possibly 2011.

Kind regards

FollowupID: 620493

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