Anne Beadell Highway - Annes Corner, Volkes Hill Corner and on.

Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Monday 17th April 2006
Anne Beadell Hwy
Approx 20 km east of SA/WA Border
GPS: S 28.30.656 E 129.09.477

Today was an interesting day to say the least. The wind howled all night , only relenting when the rain started. It was only light but constant throughout the early hours of the morning. The tent canvas was bucking and billowing pulling free of the pegs on several occasions. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep. There are only two things you can do anyway. Hunker down and sit it out or make a dash for it. Sitting on the only salty clay hill didn’t seem like such a hot idea now. With the map showing basically sand all the way, I decided to pack up early and get away.

So it was that we were up and packed and on the road before 8:00 a.m., a cup of tea our only breakfast. Our start almost came to an immediate end with the hard crust we had driven over yesterday giving way almost immediately through to a deep, powdery white fines. We made it with a prayer and the peddle to the floor in four low, back onto the sand of the track and west ward ho. The sky was gloomy and the rain continued unabated but for the brief respite that allowed us to pack. I spread a blue polytarp across the bed to protect the bedding from the wet canvas.

It wasn’t long before we picked up a set of camel tracks moving ahead of us. After 12 or so kilometres we came across a big bull in full trot along the track. A very large and healthy looking specimen. Only one problem. He wouldn’t get off the road. He ran in front of us for 5 kilometres at about 20 kph and we eventually had to nudge him off to the side in a passing manoeuvre. This was not the animal that I saw last night as I think it must have been a female. This one was in must and he stank to high heaven.

We were only some 16 km from Anne’s corner which we reached after half and hour or so. The first 28 km from there was a windy, confined track of deep sand cutting across and winding its way through dunes. At 28 km or so, the track opened up to run parallel with the dunes. The scrub gave way to groves of gums and the circular spinifex of the red centre. We took a breakfast stop on the track at 9.40. Time for a cup of tea and a jaffle or two. I rang Scott on the Satphone with a view to getting the BOM weather forecast for the area. My idea of trying to run out from underneath the weather was not looking too promising. At least we can say we’ve seen the desert in rain.

We crossed into the “Unnamed“ Conservation Park just before noon. The Unnamed Conservation Reserve is one of Australia's 12 Biosphere Reserves. A biosphere reserve is a unique concept which includes one or more protected areas and surrounding lands that are managed to combine both conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. Each biosphere reserve conserves examples of characteristic ecosystems of one of the world's natural regions, managed for their protection and study. The major ecosystem of the Unnamed is warm deserts and semideserts and is monitored for Fire history, Genetic resource management, Rare/endangered species, Wildlife population dynamics, Cultural anthropology, Traditional land use and Recreation/tourism. Volks Hill Corner was reached at 1215. On perusing the visitors’ book I found that we are only two days behind Connie Sue Beadell who now runs Beadell tours. She and her crew had been clearing the track of fallen trees and taking care of a little maintenance work such as painting the post at Volks Hill Corner. I found that there are two vehicles ahead of us on this day and a pair of Germans a full day ahead.

The road onwards provided some delightful vistas across dunes big enough to be hills in their own right. The country varied from the sandy spinifex tro open woodland of Mallee and Cyprus.We saw a couple of large grass leaved Hakea which I hadn’t seen before as well as stands of desert oak and some of the biggest examples of Sheoak I’d ever seen. The gums were not ghosties but had a white trunk with mottled spots. Marble gums. Towards the end of he day we traversed mulga woodland with deep pools of mud and water on the track. The trailer and vehicle are a mess. We ran into a mob of five eastbound vehicles 32 km from the border and both swapped track info. For us apparently it gets better, for them… the news was not so good!

It’s been a long and trying day. We’ve had rain, mud and deep water. Speeds have been between 15 and 40 all day with the driving being constant work. Not terribly technical but just the enormity of the track. 1300 km of slow, twisty and rough track. We’ve camped under a stand of sheoak. The wind has died down to just a faint whisper through the trees. The fire is going and the tent has dried out. I cooked a lamb rendang ccurry and rice for dinner with a bottle of Chards. Nice stuff. I’m going to go sit in front of the fire for a while.
''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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