Wiluna to Telfer via Gibson Desert (Photos + Route)

Saturday, Jul 10, 2010 at 15:09

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Complete Trip Route

Day 1 - 3/7/2010

Left Wiluna at 10.15am heading east. Stopped for lunch @ 1ish until 2.30pm at Wongawol Creek. There is a great campsite here on the north side of the creek and we almost stopped for the day but continued on. We shared the spot with another couple in their troopy and had a quick chat. The kids found lots of cattle bones and had fun smashing the teeth out of a set of jaw bones.

Driving on we enjoyed the scenic Princess Ranges and the road was more undulating and stoney. Charles Wells Creek has a track 100m north on the west side of the Carnegie Rd that leads to large area suitable for camping along river banks but we continued further on.

At 4pm we pulled camp at Mingol Camp or Harry Johnsons Water as its also known. David took off for a 8km run whilst I pulled water from the river ready for his hot shower (Twine heat converter is mounted under bonnet).

Dinner over the fire was kangaroo sausages, couscous and a pouch of indian vegies (soak in hot water for 5mins) - very yummy.

Day 2 - 4/7/2010

My turn to run this morning (cold) but I've learned to wear gloves and my new headsox bandana that I bought in Wiluna (the latest craze of the gathering, but so effective). I gave myself enough time to run 7km then returned to find my hot shower ready, how lovely. We ate toast cooked over the campfire and left at 9.40am. As we pulled out of camp, we drove along to speak to the campers that arrived in the dark last night and found they were ExplorOz site visitors from Rockingham - 2 vehicles with kids and family enjoying a leisurely pace of travel.

We stopped at the junction of the Glenayle Road and interrupted a camel trying to reach water. The well area was quite wet, there was ponded water over the road and the grader had setup a road camp.

Further on at Carnegie Homestead we stopped and chatted with Elaine the manager's wife. We left her with brochures and one of the trivia cds (I sent them all back to the office and didn't keep enough to hand out unfortunately). We didn't leave until 11.50am as we also chatted with the only campers there - the couple in the troopy we'd met the day before. They had reached their destination and were waiting for a convoy of 11 others before continuing on.

At 1.30pm we stopped at Mt Nossiter on the Gunbarrel Highway for lunch and noticed a flat tyre - driver's side rear. We think we must've driven over a piece of wire at Carnegie Homestead as it was a direct puncture. David swapped over the flat with the spare wheel whilst I set out the camp table and made tuna, egg, and salad lunch. We walked up Mt Nossiter and enjoyed the slight elevation to view the surrounds.

We continued along the Gunbarrel Hwy and turned off at the Eagle Hwy and headed north. Having never been on this track our plan was to take it all the way up to the junction of the Talawanna Track in the Gibson Desert. The Hema Great Desert Tracks maps show two waypoints around Mungilli, as do the ExplorOz trek notes however we found there is only 1 site along this section, which is the outstation (and not at the position shown on the Hema map). We encountered a hive of activity at the outstation by aboriginal workers that seemed to be stripping sandalwood. There was a huge wet black mess covering the track where they had water blasted the bark off huge stockpiles of wood. We stopped for a quick chat to determine whether to camp at their camp (not our first choice) or if there was anything up the track. They confirmed nothing up the track but that we should pull our bush camp somewhere there. Before leaving we asked the question "will it rain?" as the skies were turning dark and ominous. After gazing skywards for a moment, the response was "not tonight. Tomorrow showers".

And with that, we drove about 2km up the track, pulled off in the scrub and confidently lay out the swags. Cooked hot soup entrée over the campfire followed by a curry of mince, brussel sprouts (our favourite), carrots and baby corn. The kids toasted marshmallows and then wrote in their journals. Chardae wrote a story about a camel and drew a picture - Leah wrote about what she learned from Bob Cooper at the bush survival course - which greatly impressed her.

Day 3 - 5/7/2010

We woke at 5.30am and still no rain so David took off on his mountain bike for a ride. He returned at 7.30am and we brewed up our fresh coffee as per our normal routine, which requires grinding the beans in the coffee grinder first. We have noticed some problems with our inverter so he put some time into finding the problem and fixing it, and thankfully it was just a faulty fuse under the bonnet. He also swapped over the flat tyre from the rear carrier to the roof and putting the 2nd spare on the carrier. So with these jobs on top of the training, we didn't leave camp until 10am.

The drive today along the Eagle Highway went through areas of long spinifex and strange shaped termite mounds with pointed tops. Other than that, fairly uneventful. David is being very conscientious and stopping at every junction, every bench mark, and "significant" site to take a photo with the iPhone, and send it via email with a text description to ExplorOz using the new Place updates by email function he has just completed. Whilst we are not in service, the emails do not go of course, but queue up in the outbox however the photos store the GPS position in the metatag data.

By 3pm we had reached the Warri Site so took our time exploring and drove out to the Karrarinarri Claypan, soak, and rockhole before setting up camp however by the time we reached the Warri Site after our excursion the weather was very threatening so we agreed the shed might be a good option for our camp. The shed is set back about 200m from the (disabled) bore and features a fireplace with chimney so we setup a drag chain and when looking for some good dead wood to really setup a great camp. We pulled quite a bit of dead wood from fallen branches back from the camps to the shed and started to offload swags from the roof.

I wasn't terribly impressed with the state of the shed - it had previously flooded and needed a good sweep out but more worrisome was the amount of debris such as old wooden doors, bags of concrete and about half a dozen 44 gallon drums. David and I started to shifting things around to ensure there were no "visitors" but when we uncovered a snake that at first I thought was a tiger snake, but then wasn't sure. I convinced David that I could not camp there. He was not happy but my reasoning was that wet and cold was just a temporary state of discomfort - snake bite was going to ruin our trip and require immediate evacuation. The gamble was pretty obvious to me.

(I later reviewed the photos I had hurriedly taken and considered it was a Stimsons Python and have since confirmed this, so it was non-venomous).

Soooo, we repacked the roof and dragged back some of the wood and setup a tarp off the car over our swags. By this time it was 4.30pm and the day had turned dark. I put a small rolled roast lamb in the camp oven and we managed reasonably well. The weather even cleared to reveal some stars and the rest of the night was .... DRY!

Day 4 - 6/7/2010

David ran 12km from 6.45am - 8am whilst the kids and I enjoyed the warmth of our swags. It is still very cold... and now windy. We moved off at 10am. On our way out, we found the track to the airstrip (missed it yesterday) but the airstrip is completely overgrown by spinifex mounds. We decided however to drive the length of the airstrip and found the track re-joins the claypan track at a star picket.

Our driving progress on this trip is very slow - we stop at every benchmark, star picket, sign, junction, creek, track, well, whatever and take a photo with the iPhone (which captures the GPS position) and send back an email with the pix and a subject line of the name of the place and some text in the email body to describe the place to places@exploroz.com (of course we are out of service but the email simply sits in the outbox and goes when back in service).

We did eventually reach the end of the Eagle Highway and sat at the junction pondering whether to turn right to the Gary Highway, or continue north on the lesser used track that joins the Talawanna Track - that's what we chose. We think we are following tracks left by Member John Baas and his small convoy of 3 vehicles. They were headed our route and left the day before us. Other than their tracks, this is a very little used track and is almost overgrown completely in places. Many times we have driven through very tall spinifex as high as the vehicle and some rough washouts and the usual corrugations. We got to the Talawanna and turned east with the weather continuing to black out the sky.

We started to look for a camp almost right away at 3.45pm as the plan was it was my turn to run before dinner. We found some lovely groves of trees that would make great camps in fine weather but we opted for high ground and setup the kids swags in the OzTent, ran a tarp off the car over our swags and connected it all together to make one big covered area in anticipation of rain.

Actually - david and the kids setup whilst I took off for a delightful 30min run. I ended up so hot that I took off my top as i was running (still keeping the long-sleeved layer on) and tucked it in my skins, and took off my bandana - quite a change of running attire! With no well or river water, I had to make do with a washdown using "wet ones" and I only made a basic dinner of noodles for the kids (but their favourite) and an easy chicken rogan gosh and a little rice for us. Dessert for the kids was custard topped with smarties (as per last night as it was such a hit). There was light drizzle in windy squalls throughout the night but certainly not as cold.

Day 5 - 7/7/2010

We awoke at 6.30am and I cooked a hot breakfast of frittata - bacon, zuchinni, eggs, cheese over the campfire and good freshly percolated hot coffee. We packed up our big camp slowly but we were ready to depart at 9am. I really like this tree we camped beneath... specky in the variable light...

We made quite a lot of stops today and not many kilometres travelled. BM's everywhere, Windy Corner, more BM's and then Patience Well. We had taken note of the track uploaded in EOTrackMe by Equinox to Patience Well No. 1 a few weeks ago and noticed he also upload a Place record for it, which was significantly different to what was shown as the approximate position on other maps so we figured he must have been confident he had located it. So we took the position and headed there too. Through the dense spinifex mounds we bounced but sure enough - we landed on the exact spot he went to and found their tracks and campfire remains. We setup our camp table and whilst David and the kids explored, I created two salads for lunch - one made from left over rice with diced green capsicum, pine nuts and vinaigrette, the other with freshy grated beetroot (turned my fingers pink), grated carrot, and currants. This was served with tin tuna, diced feta cheese and cruskits.

The well is just a hole in the dirt and we were puzzled that the site was so unlike all the other oil well sites with absolutely no debris or evidence of mining around. The well hole however was surrounded by earth mounds that weren't dug by hand and in the end we both agreed this was the site of Patience Oil Well No. 1. We also found the remains of a feral cat which was rather interesting so took some photos as it was well preserved, or fresh.

We had spent a lot of time on this excursion and didn't really have enough time to push on through to blaze a trail across to Patience No. 2 so we backtracked to the Gary Highway and made camp at Whau Whau Well by 4.40pm and met up with a small convoy of 3 vehicles towing camper trailers who were avid ExplorOz visitors on the same route plan as us. Lovely people, but we camped away and did our own thing. More rainy weather likely so setup big camp with Oztent and tarps over swags but it didn't rain. This is a really lovely site with beautiful white gum trees and soft red sand (but damp from recent wet weather). We cooked a pumpkin soup entre, then our second batch of kangaroo sausages and served it with baked beans and a potato salad. The fire was a corker, so we also put on a bread mix in the camp oven.

Day 6 - 8/7/2010

David rode the track down to Veevers Crater this morning whilst we all slept. It took him 1 hour 45mins to cover the 30km return trip, which is possibly the slowest average time he's ever taken on the bike. He only made it back to camp about 5mins before the allocated "call it an emergency" time. He explained the corrugations made short work of him and his wrists and back were in agony from the vibrations. He enjoyed eating the freshly baked bread for breakfast but not so the big pack up of camp, which meant we didn't leave camp until 10am just when the other group of campers nearby were returning from their excursion there. We stopped to chat and they said they'd noticed his bike tracks - I wonder how many bikes have been out this far??

We then drove out to the Veevers Meteorite Crater site and back, enjoyed lunch somewhere out on a lovely dune and made it about 30km short of the Canning Stock Route at 3pm where we stopped at the bore and tank site and used water for showers.

The weather finally looked like it was clearing and we enjoyed about an hour of delightful warm sun and hot showers. Just as we finished our cleanup a vehicle arrived with a couple looking to use the water for a shower also but the sun had disappeared behind the clouds and the solar bore pump wouldn't operate so they missed out on extracting water. They moved off to camp as did we, although we setup further back in the trees away from the bore. As we setup this camp it was apparent we were in for bad weather but we didn't setup the tent - that is just getting too hard so we rigged up the tarp over our swags and fingers crossed. We got through dinner without rain and cooked rigatoni pasta with bacon, onion and a jar of chargrilled vegetable sauce and parmesan cheese. Finished off with freddo frogs, coffee and a red wine it was looking ok for the night - we even briefly saw the stars appear. The night however brought massive wind squalls that flapped the tarp and kept us awake followed by long solid downpours of rain that didn't let up for hours.

Day 7 - 9/7/2010

We awoke to rain but had packed everything away well for the night so with a basic breakfast of cereal, yoghurt and berries (from a tin) we moved the kids directly from swags to the car, and pulled off our earliest camp departure yet - 7.57am! I was a bit miffed however - I had hoped to get in a morning run.

We drove into Kunawarratiji Community, fuelled up, bought a few supplies from the new store and chatted. We heard a familiar voice on the UHF and sure enough it was Member Jiarna who had been at the National Gathering so we stopped and waited for them to arrive and chatted. They had left Wiluna and travelled north up the CSR in the time it had taken us to travel east along the Gunbarrel, up the Eagle, Gary Hwy and rejoin the CSR just south of Well 33. They were now heading east to the NT via the Gary Junction Hwy and we were heading west to Ruddal River so it was only a brief reunion and we were all off again going our separate ways.

Today we encountered our first day of driving in torrential rain as we headed west through Punmu and onto Telfer but in the last hour of driving the sky turned blue, the clouds disappeared and we have sat around the campfire in our tshirts. We enjoyed the drive however, with some hills to climb, Punmu to visit, camels strolling out to water and good driving conditions.

We are currently bush camping just off the Punmu-Telfer Rd in some beautiful sand dunes enjoying the first mild night of the trip that has not required extensive laying of thermals, jackets, beanies, gloves etc and we have picked up mobile phone/internet service via the Telfer mine site. Tomorrow we will head into the Ruddall River National Park.

We got down our bags of clothes to find some damp items which are now drapped around the fire, and the swags are a little damp too. I'm hoping to run tomorrow. Dinner was macaroni cheese for the kids (some packet rubbish the kids didn't like it oh), and beef stroganoff for us.

David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
BlogID: 2025
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