Mount Augustus WA - (How to use an Oztent as a life raft!)

Friday, May 26, 2006 at 00:00


Friday 26th May
Mt Augustus WA

I decided that discretion was again the better part of valour and not climb the mount today. I’ll save myself for Karijini.John and Julie awoke to find their tent in a large puddle of water. Damned if anyone new where it had come from as it was dry when they set up camp. They decided to unpeg and drag the tent to another area. Julie was pulling out the back pegs and as she did so, a geyser came bubbling up from the ground. As luck would have it, they’d holed a water pipe while setting up. Talk about laugh. Now unrestrained by any object, the fountaining water soon formed a large pond in the middle of the campground. Ever the wag, John dubbed it “Eller Springs” in his own honour.

Mount Augustus is the largest monolith in the world. It is 2.5 times larger than Uluru Ayers Rock) and stands 858 m above the surrounding plain and 1105 metres above sea level. On 3rd June, 1858 Francis Gregory, during his epic 107 day journey through the Gascoyne, became the first European to climb the mountain. He named the monolith after his brother, Sir Augustus Charles Gregory (1819-1905). At the time Augustus was on his last expedition, an unsuccessful foray into western Queensland in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of Ludwig Leichhardt. The most significant difference between Uluru and Mount Augustus is that the former has a hard coating on its exterior which has, very distinctively, created a situation where there is no scree or talus slope at the bottom of the monolith. In the case of Mount Augustus there is a scree slope so it lacks the distinctive shape of Uluru although it does change colour during the day. Mount Augustus also has considerable vegetation on its slopes.

Amanda and I drove over to the Gum Grove area (Warrarla) and then hiked up the side of the mount to Kotke Gorge.The rock-strewn gorge did not have any water in it at all but the 500 metres height provided some good views to the north and east.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in leisurely pursuits such as worrying about dinner and watching the mad galahs perch precariously on the overhead power cables. Their antics and accompanying screeching was hilarious. Our small campground soon filled and became quite crowded during the later afternoon. Duncan arrived later in the day.

A quite aperitif at the local saloon ($26.00 for 4 drinks!) in the later afternoon and then we cooked chicken pasta for dinner and had John and Julie over. A lovely evening capped off with Coffee, cake and New Norcia Muscat Liqueur.

''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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