The G.C.R - Yulara to Docker River (Corrugations, Dust and Disappointments)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 at 00:00


Tuesday 29th May, 2007
Docker River NT
Great Central Road

We called at the Yulara supermarket for a few last minute groceries and departed out the Road towards Kata Juta and the Great Central Road. As expected, the GCR was heavily corrugated as we headed west towards Docker. We stopped for lunch along the way and then pulled in to investigate Lasseter’s cave. During January, 1931, Lewis Harold Bell Lasseter sheltered in this cave for a period of weeks after his camels bolted. Lasseter attempted to walk to Mount Olga to meet his relief party but died at Irving Creek. The legend of Lasseter’s Reef either died or was created with his death, you be the judge.

Hugh was to suffer an acute case of culture shock when we pulled into Docker River for a few bits and bobs. Being his first visit to a desert community, the state of the place and the people around the general store left him pale and unable to speak. It is hard to explain to many that these people are the first generation removed from their traditional desert lifestyle and that it is near impossible (and perhaps unreasonable) to impose upon them a system of beliefs and lifestyle that belong to white east coasters. They are who they are and they’re happy.

We’ve set up camp in the campground area under the desert oaks. What a sheer disappointment it was to find that the campground initiative has gone to waste. The bore was broken and there was no water. The septic systems on the toilet blocks had been collapsed by locals taking short cuts over the hills in their vehicles leaving quite treacherous holes in places. The fire pits were full with ash and had not been emptied in all probability since I was there 12 months ago. I had to shovel out ash just to make enough room to get a fire going. No firewood was supplied leading us to go and get some from a fallen gum tree a kilometre or so east. What a disgrace.

We had a visit from the local community administrator who outlined his frustrations at getting any of the community members to take responsibility or accountability for anything in the community. Again a shock for Hugh but at least he got the situation explained by a person with genuine experience on the ground there. The sunset was a compensation though and we spent a good hour at the viewing area watching the changing light on the surrounding hills and trying to do it justice.
''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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