Anne Beadell Highway - Downed aircraft, Neale Junction to Yeo Lake Homestead WA

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 00:00


Wednesday 19th April
Yeo Lake Homestead W.A.

We tried to beat the flies to breakfast and were largely successful in our endeavours. On heading off from the Madura Laguna site we knew we only had 20 odd kilometres to go to the crash site turnoff. The track provided some wonderful vistas across gum spotted spinifex country. At times the grass like spinifex fronds made the countryside resemble thegrassy African savannah, so much so we were almost expecting to see giraffe, wilder beast and any number of exotic animals grazing around us.

The nine kilometre track into the crash site again provided fabulous scenery and a return to the winding sandy track, altogether different from much of the Anne Beadell. The marble and ghost gums were fantastic. Several of the dune crossings were quite hairy and I was a tad concerned at our ability to cross them on our return.

The crash site of the Goldfields Airlines twin-engine plane is some 6.5 km “as the crow flies” from the Anne Beadell. Just how the pilot put it down out here and with so little damage is a testament to his skill. I don’t think he’d have worried about spending money on lotto tickets from then on. The plane is a Goldfields Air Services flight that crashed around 26th January 1993. The track to the site was made in 1995 by a West Australian who received the lat/long of the crash site from a pilot. Back then the plane was totally intact, less the instruments. Vandals have since taken the engines and by comparing photos to what exists today it seems many other items are slowly "disappearing".

Amanda managed to stumble across quite a large scorpion on her way back to the car. It was duly photographed before we headed off. As feared, the track back south did cause a few concerns in one particular spot where an approach up a particularly large dune took a sharp “S“ bend and was heavily corrugated just before the summit. We made it across but only just and after being stropped quite soundly and managing to get moving in low 4x4.

A little way down the highway we again spent time watching a camels bum and that ungainly but efficient ‘square’ gait they have (both legs of one side moving forward together). It does wear a bit thin after 5 kilometres though. This one, another male, was not as large as the previous days. To his credit though, he was quick. He could trot at 35 kph to be exact. A firm favourite for the emirits cup in Dubai!. It’s a dangerous manoeuvre trying to pass a fast moving camel on a narrow dirt track and one that I’m very reluctant to undertake due to the risk of staking a tyre or having a half a tonne of camel coming down on your car bonnet. Very ugly indeed! Never the less, we managed to nudge the ship of the desert aside and continue on.

Saw a bustard or two again. They are reluctant fliers let me assure you. Very ungainly in getting airborne almost as if flying is a near forgotten art to them. Perhaps we’re witnessing a case of reverse evolution?

We reached Neale Junction at 12.40 p.m. and took lunch there.Neale junction is the intersection of the Connie Sue and Anne Beadell Highways. There is a good stand of gums nearby under which several picnic tables and places for campfires have been set. While we were lunching, a couple of Tojo “Troopies” came roaring south down the Connie Sue. Each vehicle had a single occupant who both got out of their vehicles at the intersection and marker post, shook hands, posed for pictures then straight back in the vehicles and roared west along the Anne Beadell. They didn’t come and say G’day to us, as is the unwritten rule in the bush. Anyway, 10 minutes later, after we’d packed up and were taking photos at the Len Beadell post, they roared back again. They’d taken the wrong turn. I couldn’t help but call out “Ya lost Mate? Need any help?” as they went past.

From here the road got progressively better and became more like the Beadell Highways of outback lore. Straight and long although still often only two wheel tracks defined by spinifex. The track again paralleled and occasionally crossed the dunes. There were wide plains of spinifex and mulga with the occasional gibber plain and rise. At 3:00 p.m. a low range became visible on the western horizon. It was dominated at the northern end by a flat topped mountain (hill). The road made exactly for this protrusion and we reached it at 3.40 p.m. it being the Morton Craig Range on the eastern boundary of the Yeo Lake Conservation Park.

Only a few kilometres down the track we came across the Yeo Station homestead that has been restored to some extent by Conservation And Land Management W.A. (CALM), to provide a camping shelter for travellers. Here we also caught up with the two vehicles towing the Ultimate type camper trailers who had been a day ahead of us for most of the trip.

We set up camp quickly beside the homestead and spent an enjoyable night with our travel companions, Ken & Laura and John & Linda, drinking red wine (1996 St Hugo) & stickies and letting the bull-dust fly.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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