The David Carnegie Road & The Gunbarrel Hwy to Carnegie Station W.A.

Friday, Jun 01, 2007 at 00:00

Mick O

Friday 1st June, 2007
Carnegie Station WA

Another glorious morning in paradise, even if it was somewhat brisk. After breakfast and pack up we picked out way through the scrub and back onto the DCR to continue our journey north. The drive was a revelation with the spinifex covered sand dunes and swales being punctuated by shady glens of gum, picturesque claypans surrounded by good sized trees and the occasional rocky rise. There was a lot of variety in the passing landscape. We again stopped on every occasion that a tree or shrub had fallen onto or across the track, dragging the offending timber off the track. At one point the road was fringed by thick mulga into which the camels had had a feast stripping the softer top most branches and discarding them onto the track. It took a couple of minutes to clear the offending tyre destroyers but we considered it well worth the effort.

I took note of particularly good looking camp sites, recording the GPS co-ordinates for future reference. One particular copse of eucalypt would have supported a pool of water somewhere as the amount of birdlife and in particular the constant pepping of the ubiquitous Zebra Finches was a sure indicator of it’s presence nearby. The lack of vehicular traffic again meant that it was a great driving surface despite the encroaching spinifex and plant life. The many camel prints showing it was getting a lot more use by the locals than by cars. We stopped to investigate any place of interest (actually it was to give Hugh a smoke break) finding quite a few different types of ant nests. Some were quite the little engineers building up walls of granular sand and small rocks, fortified with sticks of spinifex. I believe that this was to offer protection from free flowing surface water during the rare but heavy rains. Indeed some of the walls and entrances to the nests had been built up to 20 cm above ground level.

In some places we had to contend with deep washaways along the length of the tracks, particularly around stoney rises where you would expect the runoff to be greatest. Eventually we climbed a jump-up of sorts onto a rocky plateau which also signalled the vicinity of the turn to Forrest’s Camp. We traversed the rocky country for a few kilometres before dropping into the sand again.

Around 40 kilometres short of the Gunbarrel intersection, we found the Road blocked by a large expanse of waster. The entire area was littered with claypans that were now full of water. Neither of us felt like wading through and with discretion being the better part of valour I took a look around to find an alternate route. As we stood there a lone dingo strolled casually past us heading south. He was within 60 metres or so of our vehicle and couldn’t have cared less about us. He trotted off. We made a detour around and between the numerous claypans for about 1.5 kilometres before getting back onto the DCR and were untroubled on the remainder of the journey to the Gunbarrel.

I was keen to stop at the intersection of the DCR and the Gunbarrel as I had camped here back on the 9th July, 1985 the Gunbarrel in my Datsun 720 ute. The cross road had been called the Eagle North-South Road back then. After the obligatory photo stop at the end of our 242 km journey, we headed west on the Gunbarrel towards Carnegie Station. I was keen to pick up certain landmarks I recalled from my earlier journey.The Gunbarrel west was in fairly good condition, certainly better than the corrugated hell that it is on the section east from Everard Junction. We got quite a shock to pass a Toyota Camry sedan with a full roof rack passing us in the opposite direction. Though we stopped anticipating a chat, they just ambled past. Possibly European tourists, who knows. I hope they know what they are heading into.

In 1985 after a few days on the track, Bill and I drove onto a claypan roughly the size ofg a footy oval. Someone had fashioned a rudimentary set of Aussie Rules goal posts from twisted mulga trunks at one end of the claypan. What the story was behind the site I had always meant to investigate but I presumed it was done by the original Gunbarrel construction crew on their way through. I was keen to revisit the claypan and on our arrival, found that the original Mulga posts had been replaced with a proper set of steel posts.

Arriving at Carnegie late that afternoon, the young South African couple who had just taken over managing the place were most helpful. We decided to stay in the lodge facilities that night cooking up a meal in the rec area, having a hot shower and sleeping in the huts. The facilities were quite good and we enjoyed checking out the many interesting bits and pieces posted about the large rec room.
''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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