Canning Stock Route Day 14 - Well 33 to Well 37

Wednesday, Jul 16, 2003 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Day 14 - Wednesday 16th July
Start - Well 33
Stop - Well 37
Trip Odometer - 256.9km
Stopped time - 6 hr 5mins
Moving average - 31.4km/hr
Moving time - 8 hr 11mins
Max speed - 79km/hr

This morning we needed to wait until opening hours to head back the 6.8km to the Kunawarritji Community to refuel, check on available stocks of food and as promised met Cathy and Carl the white managers who are responsible for the improved operation of the community.

The community is a modern example of the new and growing breed of aboriginal communities run by white management that have embraced tourism. The store is stocked with supplies for tourists including frozen meats of much variety including marinated chicken pieces in cryovaced vacuum sealed packets, fresh fruit and vegetables and the usual assortment of tins and packets, frozen bread, icy poles, toiletries, and even film. We all bought as much as we could. I topped up on potatoes, meat, and even onions and carrots. The community has been planning to advertise on ExplorOz for some time and we had been asked to drop in and explain it all to them. They also want us to build a small website, as the community really does wish to let travellers know they are welcome and that they are working to improve facilities and supplies. A new store is actually being built soon and enormous amounts of fuel is available - ULP and diesel. There are no spares, but regular truck and plane (weekly) transport can be arrangement for emergency requirements (ie. truck comes in from Port Hedland along the Wapet and the plane is the weekly RFDS service).

The most interesting thing we learned was that the Gary Highway (runs east towards the NT border) has recently been graded and you no longer need a permit to travel through the Kiwirrkurra aboriginal land because the community has actually been moved after they were evacuated for about a year in the last flood and the new road bypasses the new community. I even saw the community featured an ABC current affairs program that they have established the first joint NT/WA Police station there. In fact, Carl told us that the local plan is to encourage travellers to make the loop drive from Alice Springs along the Gary Highway through Kunawarritji and west to Marble Bar, then down to Newman and back east along the Talawanna Track and back to NT along the Gary. The Gary is now so wide and graded that you could bring in the caravans and that is exactly what they're hoping for we were told.

So, a couple of hours later after a few interesting chat with Carl and Cathy we all headed off on our quest to finish what is known as the northern section of the CSR. Just another 18 wells to go... with 1157km on the CSR already behind us.

Wells 34 and 35 were underwater, but the access tracks were driveable all the way to the sites. We stopped for lunch in what I could only describe as an enchanted forest of desert oaks between Well 35 to Well 36 via Bungabinni Native Well (a nice little spot where we wandered around in the reeds and found a little water). Well 36 was also underwater but visible from the shoreline. No room for camping for a group of 4 so we had little choice but to move onto Well 37.

We knew we'd be lucky to make it before sundown and infact we, as the lead vehicle, made it on sunset, but tail end charlie made it by the light of the moon alone. This section of track is currently in pretty poor shape, and I would assume this is because the track we were following is not the original track, but a recently forged track across the tops of dunes in an effort by previous travellers in wetter times to avoid low-lying ground. The plains beneath the dunes were massively overgrown and we had no hope of finding the original track but I hope someone is planning to re-make it as the current track is pretty rough and slow going. It actually took us exactly 1hr to cover the 21km from Well 36-37 and we didn't arrive until 5.15pm, and the others came in about ½ hr behind us. It made a very long day, but it was a fantastic camp - full of mystery beneath a grove of desert oaks. This was a site I could stay at for a few days.

David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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