The GDEC 2010 Expedition - An introduction

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 00:00

Mick O

“Expedition” ;-

-An excursion, journey, or voyage made for some specific purpose, such as exploration;
-The group of persons, vehicles, etc., engaged in such an activity.



Having made a reluctant return to the cold and wet weather of Melbourne, the laborious task of downloading sorting and collating thousands of photo’s and more than a few hours of video has begun. After 3 months on and off the track, it’s is also fun to revisit the trip journal and see just how much I’d forgotten from those early days of the trip. With the unpacking done, the washing sorted and the vehicle almost in a respectable state again, I thought I would type a quick overview of this years trip as a precursor to the upcoming blogs.


The 2010 expedition took shape after our ill-fated trip of last year. There were more than a few goals left unrealised in our foray into the Western Deserts of 2009, one of the more significant being the exceptionally remote and isolated conservation area, Dragon Tree Soak. Many of my travel companions of last year shared a common interest in the early explorers of Australia and in particular Giles and David Carnegie. The trip was designed to comprise three sections all of which could be adapted or modified depending on participants and conditions. In addition to some good friends made last year, the irrepressible Canadians decided to join us once again pulling their faithful Landcruiser High-top affectionately known as “the Guppy” out of storage. The trip would again be a test bed for the latest generation of Arctic Cat Diesel ATV’s (Quads) of which Scott and Gaby are prominent dealers on the North American continent. It seems ironic that Australia provides probably the harshest test bed as far as terrain is concerned. Certainly, Canada and the Arctic provide some harsh environmental challenges but our deserts provide a real test of machines (and the men and women who ride them!).

I’m sure I must have suffered a head injury of some description last year because upon my return I decided to upgrade from the faithful Patrol and bought the latest Toyota Cab Chassis. The 6 month delivery time took a fair chunk out of my design and build phase for this vehicle which in the end saw me take possession less than a week before departure. The vehicle arrived having not had a shake down and only just having been run in. The assessment of the numerous bit’s and pieces within the vehicle would also be an ongoing project for the trip.

As emails flew between the intended participants, four clear goals became apparent. The first would be a search for the missing explorer Alfred Gibson, the ill-fated member of the unsuccessful Giles expedition of 1874. Now while Alfred was a strapping young man who could lift heavy things about camp, he did not appear to be much of a bushman and his resulting loss and death in the desert north west of what is now Warburton led to the area being named in his honour. Not withstanding that he had been missing for 140 years, we undertook a lot of research and preparation to increase our chances of locating some evidence of his passing (or at least have a lot of fun trying!).

Following this search we would head north into the Gibson to try and locate the fabled “Deep” rock holes of Carnegies 1896 expedition before charting a route cross country to the Hickey Hills, Hideous Rock Holes and Patience Well near the Gary Highway. A power of research was undertaken by group member Equinox into the Giles and Carnegie expeditions to assist our quest. Alan and Dad John were to lead this first stage of the trip.

Stage two would be an exploratory visit to Rudall River National Park. Here we hoped to expand upon our explorations of 2008 and manage to get the vehicles into so
me of the more remote areas of the park. It would be a great opportunity to introduce friends to some highlights of the park such as Darlsen Pinnacle and Camel Valley. From Rudall we intended heading into the Great Sandy Desert north of the Wapet Track to push cross country and utilise what-ever old survey lines remained to the Dragon Tree Soak and then out to the Northern Highway near Broome.

While restocking and licking our wounds at Broome, we would be joined by my better half Queen Vik (The pocket Rocket) and then embark upon the Final phase of our trip would see us head into the remote Kimberley to explore the Carson and Drysdale Escarpments south east and inland from Kalumburu. This stage of the journey also gave me the opportunity to show Queen Vik some of the highlights of the Kimberley including Mitchell Plateau and the Bungle Bungles. The group would then make their way back south along various routes depending upon their time constraints and other plans.

So it was that leaving our respective homes, we gathered as a group at Jamestown SA on the 31st May to commence our adventure. The next three months proved to be an amazing experience as we charted our way slowly across some of the most remote and harsh desert country the wide brown land has to offer. Adventure, drama, mystery....perhaps I exaggerated a bit on the mystery but we had our fair share of it all. The resourcefulness of our team never ceasing to amaze me. The quads covered some 1600 kilometres for the trip of which the majority was “off Track” and in uncharted areas. Many repairs to vehicles and equipment were effected and improvised along the way allowing us to achieve our goals. I hope that the blogs of our 2010 expedition that I have started to post will adequately convey the experience.
''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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