Canning Stock Route - A day trip to the Calvert Ranges (From Durba Spring that is!)

Tuesday, Jun 05, 2007 at 00:00


Tuesday 5th June, 07
Durba Springs
(Calvert Ranges)

We were up early and had the fire going. I stripped the unneeded gear out of the Patrol and then it was thick slabs of toast with butter and vegemite for breakfast. We said our farewells to Gaby and Scott and hit the road out at 7:45 a.m. Our route back along the Durba Hills to the turnoff for the Calvert’s passed quickly. With hardly anything on board now, the car just wanted to fly. It’s amazing what a difference several hundred kilos of gear makes! The track to the Calverts is quite different from the Canning so far in that the sand dunes were a bit larger and often followed no set direction. Many times we found ourselves circling inside what was almost a natural amphitheatre before the track would pick a bit of a gap or low point on the dunes and cross. The sand was often deep and loose with high, steep and soft crests. The approach often involved the sharp right hander immediately prior to the ascent making maintenance of momentum difficult. I’d hate to be towing. We passed the Sunday well and then a further 25 kilometres to the Calverts Loop. The track was often hemmed in with the faux holly, acacia and shrubs.

On reaching the culverts, we opted for the anticlockwise trail. The approach to the ranges arrives quite quickly. They themselves are a low, worn range only 20 to 30 metres high at the most. They are spotted with white trunked gums and surrounded by dunes and rocky spinifex covered rises. As per instructions, we took the second left into the cliffs only a little over a kilometre from the intersection. Here we walked a short distance into a rocky gorge (of sorts) and immediately found an abundance of artwork. There were many pools of water and I some places it seeped slowly down rock faces from pools above. The amount of art was startling. Nearly every face of rock, every cavern and overhang exhibited some form of art work. A lot of it was very primitive and often worn by time but incredibly abundant. There were even some rock etchings. I climbed into one crevasse and found three or four emu feet etched into the rock. Just what they had used to chisel these glyphs remained a mystery.

The Kimberly people arrived a short time later. Hugh and I retreated to the car, boiled the billy and had a cup of tea with the sultana cake that I had made the previous day. We continued to drive the loop around the range and I was quite shocked to find that the range ended almost immediately to be replaced by open expanses of sand and dunes. Thus it was for nearly 9 kliometres until the low ridges once again emerged from the sand. We made our way through he aptly named Skeleton Pass to reach the northern side of the range. Here the range was a tad more impressive and certainly longer and higher. Not as impressive as Durba but those broken jagged saw tooth cliffs were impressive none the less. We pulled into one slight canyon and took the short walk along a trail to Calvert’s cave. It was more of a shallow cavern overlooking a small rock pool where some water remained. From here we continued our exploration around finding small grove of gums that was the obvious camping site for the area (and quite nice to) and then back onto the southern edge of the range to the track.

The return trip was just as rough with no respite from the corrugations. It seemed as if our very fillings were going to be shaken from our teeth at times. Stopped for firewood in almost the same spot and Hugh chopped up a couple of sturdy logs (which I am warming myself in front of as I type). Refuelled the vehicle on the return and then showered and I BBQ’d a true meat-fest, steak, bacon, snags, eggs and tomatos. What a truckies feast! A pair of dingos welcomed the night with a mournful symphony that echoed up the length of the gorge to us. It was strangely pleasing to listen to. I wished it had lasted a bit longer. I have taken care of a bit of washing before tomorrow’s departure.

''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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