Rudall River NP - Finally conquering all 8 pools of the Desert Queen Baths!

Saturday, Jun 09, 2007 at 00:00


Saturday 9th June, 2007
Desert Queen Baths
Rudall River National Park

One of my ambitions was fulfilled today, to swim all the pools of the DQBGorge and to explore the upper reaches of the creek that feeds them. As I recalled from my experience of 2006, the water of pool 4 was BLOODY cold and left Hugh stunned and unable to speak. Anyway, I transgress….

The crew are round the fire and the soup is warming. The third loaf of bread is cooking in the Cobb. Life’s pretty good. After a leisurely rise and the break out of the eco-billy, we mounted a major league expedition up the DQB gorge. After Gaby and my successful scouting mission into the hills the previous day we had a rough idea of the lay of the land and knew which gorges were dead ends. We rock hopped along passed various pools, many ringed by rushes and magnificent gums and then finally reached the broad expanse of the Desert Queen Baths rockhole. It was brimming. Being fully prepared this year, I wrapped the camera in garbage bags and Hugh and I headed off. Hugh had forgotten his swimming trunks and so swam in the budgie smugglers. What a sight it was and the poor bugger had no where to stash his cigarettes either.

The first pool, the widest, proved no real difficulty. The water was still high enough to allow easy egress out on the far side. Pool two, longer but no dramas. Pool three proved a difficult climb on the far side. You had to lever yourself out of the water and up a metre or so to a rock ledge. Pool four, that old chestnut! Deep, dark and foreboding it was bloody cold again! It left Hugh, who has little enough body fat as it is, breathless and speechless. He simply stood there blowing air! We had to take 10 minutes in the sun on the warm rocks to get warmth back in the limbs.

After the four main pools, there are a further four to be waded through in the upper reaches of the creek. These are wide, shallow, warm and sandy bottomed. Scott and Gab had scaled the gorge walls adjacent to the first pool and followed our progress from on high. I left Hugh at pool 7 and headed up to eight myself, once past it climbing onto the surrounding hills to get a high vantage point. The upper reaches of the creek flow through a large pound like feature, a basin type area surrounded by high ranges and hills. The creek is sandy and wide and I could make out its course off to the west where it crossed through another rocky gorge about 2 kilometres distant.

On picking our way back along the rocky gorge to the camp, the afternoon was spent quietly about camp. S & G planned their trip and I baked three loaves of bread using the roller draw as my work bench for kneading. It was fairly cool towards the end of the day so the bread was left in the sun in front of the solar cells to prove. Gaby had her first try at bread and using the Little Red Hen theory of cooperative federalism, (No knead – No eat), she put her back into it and produced a credible first effort. All successful and delicious. I must admit that that Scott & Gaby devoured the finished loaf in record time.

We were visited by Trev and Cath, two septuagenarian adventurers for a fireside chat. These brave souls have been travelling the outback in their 60 series for years and don’t appear to be letting age get the better of them. While being given a tour of their vehicle, we listened to the amazing community surrounding the HF radio. A bloke stranded with three shredded tyres somewhere well off the Connie Sue was requiring assistance. It transpired that someone was heading to Alice via the Donahue. They would pick up three tyres and convey them to Yulara. There a second party would pick the tyres up and get them to Warburton where party three would get them down to the Anne Beadell. Party four was going to meet there and convey them west then south taking the 50 km detour off the Connie Sue to deliver the tyres to the strandee. Wait time 5 days but problems solved. What a fantastic thing. You’d be hard pressed to organise that on a Sat phone. I’m going to start saving now! In bed early again.

''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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