Perth to Coober Pedy 16/04/2011-22/04/2011 via Anne Beadell Highway by Mrs Kanga

Saturday, Apr 16, 2011 at 00:00


Day 1 - 16/4/2011
We left home at 5am in the dark to avoid the morning traffic. Weather fine and sunny, saw two hot air balloons near York/Northam turn off about 500km out from Kalgoorlie just before 7am. Quick pit stop at Cunderdin then on to Kellerberrin for Morning Tea at the local coffee shop at about 8.15am and pick up a Saturday paper and a scratchie. West of Southern Cross we had to pull over for couple of wide loads with Haul Paks on board and then again for their buckets. Met up with Darryl and his 7 Miller mates on the road to Coolgardie. Fuelled up at Kalgoorlie and had a late lunch at Paddy’s then left Kal at 2.50pm. Got to Leonora at 5.15pm, refuelled and pulled in to the Caravan Park which has improved every time we have been there (except I think someone must have stolen the kettle from the camp kitchen). Unpowered site $15 per night for two people.

Day 2 - 17/4/2011
Another fine and sunny day, left Leonora Caravan Park at 8.40am. Topped up fuel at Laverton and let tyres down a bit then off to the 7 Millers Shack. Took turn off to Lake Rason at 12 noon and soon saw a bungarra then two emus. Saw a couple of herds of camels. Track in good condition, appeared to have been graded since Darryl left a few days ago. Arrived at the shack about 2.30pm for a late lunch. Some water in the lake, great view. Andrea and I circumnavigated the island, slippery and boggy in places underfoot , retrieved half a dozen golf balls and some fire wood. Got the fire going for the baked spuds and corn then whacked a few golf balls before dark. Shower facilities quite impressive, although when it was my turn, the pump wouldn’t work so had more like a bath in a bucket. Great to see the photos of the history of the shack, quite amazing. Cute little bats in and about the shack at night. Really liked the flashing “OPEN” sign boys.
Day 3 - 18/4/2011
After a good nights sleep we left the shack about 8.45am and hit the track we later found was called the Spackman Track when we stopped in at a mining camp for Beadell Resources. One of the trucks was hopelessly bogged, and waiting for a Bulldozer of some kind to extract it.. Saw a heard of four camels. Hit a falled tree just after we finished lunch stop on the Anne Beadell Highway just after turning off the Spackman Track, no real damage though, turns out the trailer brake bias was not adjusted right and the trailer just pushed us into it. Andrea now refers to Adriane as George, as in George of the Jungle, because he has hit or almost hit about three trees now and is often heard on the two way to say “watch out for that tree” . Set up camp at Neale Junction (crossroads of the Connie Sue and Anne Beadell Highways) before dark. Lots of ants, water tank, long drop loo, fire rings, picnic benches and shade. Lovely clear night sky with a full moon, just perfect.

Day 4 - 19/4/2011
Fine and sunny, on the road before 8am, bread machine chugging away, should be ready in time for lunch at Ilkurlka. Track is sandy with occasional washouts, have let tyres down to about 24 front 34 rear, corrugations okay. Twenty one kms in from Neale Junction are some bad washouts. One camel 83km in. Turned off to aircraft wreck, over about 19 dunes to the wreck site. Light aircraft, Gordon thinks it might be a Piper, apparently crashed in 1993 and the track put in 1995. Back to the “highway” then stopped at a water tank for lunch. Fresh bread sunk a bit from the corrugations but it went down a treat for lunch, none left. Amazed at how many camel prints there are, saw 3 camels. Got to Ilkurlka at 12.50pm and the bowser said it was closed until 1.30pm but Gunter and Lisa opened it up for us. They are volunteering there for a month, nice couple from Adelaide. Brought them up to date with the road conditions to the West and asked about what to expect to the East. Today was the first day they had seen anyone in four days. Great facilities and well stocked store, they said their internet wasn’t working though. Had a quick chat with some fellas heading west then back on the road by 1.45pm. Came across a camel in the road, about 40km from Ilkurlka, it just kept running in front of us and wouldn’t let us past. We eventually got past it, then it was stuck between us and Gordon for quite a while until we stopped in front of it and it went off the track. Another bad wash out 75km east of Ilkurlka after a sandy section. Saw a Bustard bird, lost one spotty cover. Passed the border and pushed on for sunset at Serpentine Lakes where we set up camp on the west side. Very picturesque spot, moon came up and reflected in the lake, which was full of water.

Day 5 - 20/4/2011
Changed clocks one and a half hours to SA time last night. Dark clouds in the distance when we got up and soon covered the whole sky. On the road by 8.45am, went back to the border for a photo op. Saw 8 camels on Serpentine Lake flats. Overcast sky soon cleared. Ninety three procession caterpillars coming along the track, Adriane tried to encourage them to go bush. Stopped for approx one kilometre walk to a rock hole on a clay pan to look at an Aboriginal site that member Stephen from Clare SA had told us about, one duck was there. Back to the road and saw another camel. Adriane was just commenting to me that he saw some fresh dog tracks and barely finished the sentence when Andrea radioed in to say they had just seen two dingoes. Stopped four times in about 3kms to get thorny devils off the track, Adriane said he thought he had ran over the first one but we stopped and got him off the track an he seemed fine. Also saw numerous small lizards and birds, including budgies and finches. Bad washout 110km from the border. Set up camp at Vokes Corner, tried to eat most of out fresh produce for dinner and Adriane got hammered.

Day 6 - 21/4/2011Gordon and Andrea’s thirty second wedding anniversary today. Adriane was up early to catch the sunrise. Varied bird life at camp, a weiro, budgies and a couple of pink and grey galahs. Back on the road by 8.30am, spotted a rabbit. Section of track between two unmarked crossroads has been graded but quite soft. Adriane had barely finished commenting to me that we had seen no one yesterday and no one so far today when we came round a bend and almost ran straight into an oncoming vehicle. We all pulled over for a quick chat, Joel was on his own and heading for Kalgoorlie. We pressed on to Anne’s corner and stopped at 11.40am for a cuppa etc. Lots of finches in the surrounding bush and evidence of rabbits. Back on the road at 12.25pm, track slow going with many twists and bends, ups and downs and lots of corrugations, rarely out of third gear.
Went through the Commonwealth of Australia Department of Defence area. Wind getting up a bit for the first time so far, clear blue skies. Distinct lack of any evidence of kangaroos so far on this trip. Made scratchy radio contact with other vehicles travelling west when we were 8-10km west of Emu. Passed big eagles nest about 3.5kms from Emu. Stopped under Emu picnic shelter for a late lunch and met up with two couples from Victoria one of which was towing a Tvan. Their report of the road conditions wasn’t very encouraging. Back on the road by 3pm and soon encountered some corrugations from hell. Six ks out and they tell us on the radio that it gets worse!Arrived at first totem at 3.50pm and second one soon after. First blast was on 15 October 1953 and the second on 27 October 1953 and the signs say that the area is still unsafe for human habitation. Back on the Anne Beadell Highway soon after 4pm, will see how long we can put up with the corrugations before stopping to make camp. Over 40kms east of Emu and this has to be worst corrugations we have ever encountered, make them stop!!In an attempt to get away from the corrugations we sometimes drove partly off the road but in doing so, we collapsed a rabbit warren with a disturbing thud. Picture of Adriane with one foot in the hole shows the resulting depth of what we fell in. Decided to push on to Tallaringa Well for the night to get as much of these corrugations behind us as we can today. Will be setting up in the dark though. Before dark we saw 2 large bustards, 4 camels and large clouds of budgies. Found a dead tree for firewood and dragged it to Tallaringa Well for a great camp fire. One of our spot light bracket welds has come loose from all the vibrations.Had a great meal by frying up some mushrooms, onions and sliced cooked baby potatoes with a few herbs and spices then mixed up some grated cheese and half a dozen eggs then poured it over the fried ingredients in the frypan. Popped a lid on the frypan with a few coals from the fire on top to help it set. We christened it our Anne Beadell Frittata (Adriane called it a lumpy omelette) wasn’t much to look at but it was quick and tasted awesome.

Day 7 - 22/4/2011Left Tallaringa Well by 9am just as the flies started to arrive. Couldn’t actually find thewell though. Another beautiful day, bright blue skies with scattered white puffy (Simpsons clouds). The road unfortunately was more of the same horrendous corrugations. After a comparatively good track and facilities on the WA side which was free to use, it has been increasingly disappointing on the SA side of the Anne Beadell Highway. We are starting to question what they do with the $110 we had to pay for the Desert Parks Pass. The maps are good quality but can’t say the same about anything else. The road doesn’t appear to have had any maintenance for many years, apart from one shelter with a picnic table under it, there are no toilets, fire pits and virtually no signage or information about the area. When reaching the dog fence line for Mabel Creek Station you have to drive 3kms along it to get to the gate then another 3km back up the other side to rejoin the track. The road is varying degrees of awful. Have seen the first few signs of kangaroos since leaving the Conservation Park though, which seemed really odd, perhaps Camels are the conserved species! Passed a Left Hand Drive Troopy but they didn’t stop. Track finally improving around the Mable Creek Homestead so stopped at the railway crossing to put some air back in the tyres before pushing on to Coober Pedy. Checked in to the Opal Inn Caravan Park for the next two nights and promptly got some washing on the go (only one machine of the two working). Looking forward to washing our hair, showers take 20c pieces for 4minutes, might need a few.
Adriane did a bit of grinding and Gordon got out his portable welding gear and he and Adriane welded the spot light bracket back on a treat. Don’t imagine much will be open today as it is Good Friday so thawing some prawns out for dinner. Went in to town and found that most things where in fact open so we re stocked the fridge, refuelled and had a quick look around. Had a great meal of stir fried prawns and organic vegies with a awesome potato bake Andrea made. Shower was bliss, went the full monty and spent 60c, feel human again!
Tempus Fugit

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