Nullabor Roadhouse to Volkes Hill Corner

Has anyone been on this road in the last year or so. Please, what is it like? We think it might be better than the corrugations from Coober Pedy to the corner. What do you think. Starting the trip in late August , east to west. any other Exploroz forum readers doing the highway around that time? Looking forward to the camping and putting a new line on our map, but a bit concerned. This might be the least travelled road we have done.
Thanks to anyone who can give us their views.
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 16:58

Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 16:58
I travel this road most years. Was there last month.

Its a nice way to access the GVD. From Nullabor, we usually take the back tracks to Cook via Knowles Cave and Kunda Rockhole (see Hema map). It is slower going because the limestone bumps on the track, but nice to experience the Nullabor. Have good GPS mapping, otherwise you can get lost - there's no signposts out there. The Alternative is to take the main road from the Eyre highway - turn north about 40km west of Nullabor - its a good road with frequent muddy patches but easy to maintain 60-80kph.

At Cook, there was a fair bit of building going on - extra accommodation for railway crews I guess. But there are no tourist facilities at Cook. We usually stop at the railway station (has toilets) look at the old jail cells, and other things around - there is usually a train pulled up. We also wander around to teh old school for a look and the site of the hospital which was demolished a few years ago.

North of Cook, you travel about 100k before you reach the sand dunes of the GVD. There is nowhere worth camping before that. You'll pass Muckera Rockhole (google it for history), some old Batt tanks, a rainwater shed tank and then reach the first dunes which were overgrown with green vegetation last month.

Further north to Voakes Hill it is a nice drive all the way - no corrugations, plenty of nice desert to camp in. Len Beadell put this road through in 1961 and followed a line of aboriginal wells which you'll pass at Bryngina, Churina and Waldana. Lake Wyola had water last month - first time I've seen it with water.

There has been a stack of new mining exploration going on - north of the aboriginal business road there are some newly graded roads that are easily mistaken for the main Voakes Hill Rd, so take note of your computer mapping to stay on the right road. There may be a bit of traffic with heavy trucks etc too.

As you get into Mamungari, the track gets a bit overgrown, but shouldn't trouble you, and the dunes get a little bigger.

The desert is looking great. Enjoy!

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Follow Up By: VistaMax - Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 17:30

Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 17:30
Thanks Phil. I was hoping you would reply. We have seen previous posts from you re the Anne Beadell.
We also travel in a troopy, and our camper is a VistraRV. It was partly designed by the fellow who designed the TVan. Luxury for us, after having camper trailers for so long.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 18:48

Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 18:48
Gday Max,

We'll be out there again in August - doing work with the Friends of the GVD. I'll look out for you, but the most likely we'll be heading home around August 22nd but heading back to Adelaide along the Dey Dey Rd. You won't be the only ones out there with a Troopie pulling a Vista RV!! One of my good travelling friends will be with us, and recently upgraded from a TVan to the Vista!!

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Follow Up By: Spinifexi Bob - Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 22:24

Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 22:24
The section of the Cook - Volkes Hill road that used to pass Bryngina ,Churina and Waldana "Native" Wells is no longer accessible . This section of track has been closed by the Traditional Owners to help restore and maintain the spiritual integrity of these important sites . A detour to bypass starts approx. 25 Ks North of the Business Road - Cook Road Cross Road this track now takes a more northerly direction for about 30 ks and then east for a few ks until you hit the old Volkes Hill road and turn northerly again to Volkes Hill.
The Detours are at this stage rather poorly sign-posted so take notice and care for a number of reasons
1 There is lots of Mining activity with many associated tracks
2 There can be some heavy vehicles using the Detour. Use Ch 40 and Scan
3 The old track does not have a physical barrier . It relies on the honesty of the Permit holding traveller to abide by the conditions of their Permit and to respect the wishes of the Traditional Owners.

If more information is needed ring the Oak Valley Community Office 08 86704 214

Spinifex Bob
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 23:37

Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 23:37
Gday Bob,
Yeah, we heard via the grapevine (chatting to a mining crew out there) that that section may be closed in the future, but there were no signs up last month and to any traveller it is open as usual. There is virtually no signage on any of the mining roads, so its very easy for the casual traveller to get lost, hence my reference to computer maps to stay on the correct track. There was no reference to any new road on our permits. And the intersection where the BMR Line crosses the Voakes Hill Road is dangerous - vehicles do not slow down from any direction because the intersection does not look like an intersection and there are no obvious signs apart from the odd piece of pink ribbon. I have superimposed the "new" track that you are referring too over the hema map. There are of course a huge number of new shotlines that are not on any common map.

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Follow Up By: Spinifexi Bob - Friday, Jul 22, 2011 at 00:23

Friday, Jul 22, 2011 at 00:23
Hello Phil,
Yes I have been suggesting the need for better sign-posting for a while.
Each end of the closed section did have a white survey peg placed in the middle of the track stating that it was closed and a detour is necessary.
The northern - most intersection of the detour track and the Volkes Hill road [near 108 on your map] is easily missed. There is or was another white survey peg in the middle of the track stating "Volkes Hill" this way.
If a traveller were to miss this turn North and continue on this mining access road to the NE they will be travelling outside of the Permitted area and in about 150 ks eventually reach a dead - end nowhere near Volkes Hill.
Your advice re the use of some sort of mapping is very valid as there is a real risk of taking the wrong track or tracks if you are not well informed.

As I said before a phone call to the Oak Valley Community Office
08 86704 214 would be a good idea.

Spinifex Bob

ps In the not too distant future there will be a detour created to bypass both Waldana and Aru [Mukera].
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Jul 22, 2011 at 11:29

Friday, Jul 22, 2011 at 11:29
Gday Bob,
There were no closed/detour pegs at either end at the start of June. Sounds like I might have visited these places for the last time. Pity really when these areas have a significant recent history (with explorers such as Giles/Maurice/Beadell) as well as an amazing aboriginal history.

As you say, if the traveller misses the intersection, after about 120km they will reach the Anne Beadell Hwy about 20k west of Anne's Corner. That intersection is not signposted either, so they will probably cross the Mt Davies Rd and end up in the middle of nowhere. I think its a serious situation when the BMR mining roads are twice as wide as the public roads and there are no signposts in such an isolated area. And having seen semis drive through this intersection at 60-80kph, it has the potential to be a major disaster.

For the benefit of travellers who will be heading this way into the GVD, as well as the map I've posted above, I'll put up some mileages for the turnoffs. I have tried to upload track files to the member fileswap area but it is no longer functioning.

So heading north from Cook towards Voakes Hill, zero your speedo at the intersection with the Aboriginal Business Rd. As you head north, after about 10k there will be rainwater tanks on your right, then at 12k, a Terrex mining camp. Continue north and at 24km you will be confronted by a Y junction. You need to take the left fork (the right fork is the road that is to be closed). Then at the 48km mark (24k north of the Y junction) heading north you will come across a 4-way intersection - you must turn right (east). To go in any other direction will put you into the desert along closed mining tracks. After turning right you travel another 18km and you'll come across the poorly signposted intersection with the old road where you turn left and continue north as usual.

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Follow Up By: VistaMax - Friday, Jul 22, 2011 at 18:07

Friday, Jul 22, 2011 at 18:07
Phil, Peter and Margaret, and spinifexi bob
Thanks for all of this. I've printed it all off all your suggestions and advice. Not too confident though as we got terribly lost trying to find the Walker's Crossing road out of Moomba. Got there eventually, but unsignposted mining roads do make it difficult.
Do you know if there is anywhere in Adelaide, or the net I suppose, where we can get detailed maps. We have tomtoms but not special off road gps systems. I do like a paper map on my lap as we go.
Have seen your photos Peter and Margaret. The country looks great in them. And the roads don't look too bad. Rough, we don't mind, corrugations we hate. Who doesn't?

Max and Val
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 18:11

Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 at 18:11
Great route.
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