Rudall River NP - West From Tchukardine Pool to the Oakover & Christies Crossing

Monday, Jun 11, 2007 at 00:00


Monday 11th June 2007
Unmarked track somewhere north east of Balfour Downs
22 35.955 S, 121 04.549 E

What a day. After a night of listening to the donkeys braying all night, we were up early. Chunks of thick buttered toast for breakfast (bread made at Desert Queen Baths) and then off. We left a message or two in a jar at the base of a tree and headed west. The track was very rocky to start with and I kept a pretty accurate track record. You had to look carefully at times particularly when crossing rocky areas and quartz plains. It wasn’t long before we caught site of a few of our feral friends off in the distance, wild donkeys and mules

We managed to progress slowly till we eventually reached a large open grassy plain. Here we spied a few donkeys but the track disappeared. We backtracked and performed a grid search picking up tracks on the far side. They to soon petered out. Scott and I walked into the bush surrounding the grassy plain and about a km back, I spied a cairn thru the bush. A quick expanding circle around this turned up very faint marks. We were off again. Only 2.4 km though and the track disappeared completely. The entire surface of this area, a large soil plain. had been inundated with flowing water at some stage washing all surface tracks away. After an hour of fruitless searching, Hugh and I retreated for a cuppa. I thought about the Ozzie Explorer program and got the compute fired up. I was able to pull accurate readings for the track junction off and give them to Scott who set it as a waypoint in his gps. Off we went. Bush bashing for a few kilometres. To the northwest, the soil plain ended and we emerged into low dune country again and managed to locate the faint outlines of a track west. On we went again.

The proof of the tumultuous rains that must inundate this area in the cyclone season were evident in the crash stop I had to perform in one location. The track ended abruptly in a 3-4 metre drop. Where a slight runoff creek should have been, there was now a large washaway etched into the sand and soil of the low hill we were trying to circumnavigate. It was now impassable and we could not find the egress point on the other side anyway. I have a feeling that some of this new canyon may have actually been the track only a year or two before. Again the prudence of getting o0ut and walking the thick scrub paid off as we wouldn’t have seen the drop until we were nose diving into it.

Some time later we crested a high dune and were rewarded with the sight of a low rocky range to or west which ran off NNW. Further to the west we could see a large flat topped mesa which we identified as Bocrabee Hill. Our maps showed that the tracks should pass both to the north and south of Bocrabee, meeting a short distance south west of the mount. Again the remoteness and lack of use showed how quickly tracks can disappear and after some confusion (which involved me hiding under my jacket with the computer trying to get it dark enough to see the poorly backlit screen), we found a track which, after fighting our way through shrubbery so dense we could hardly see the sand-flag on the Troopy a head of us, eventually had us skirting the western talus slopes of Bocrabee Hill.

Again the proof of recent rains was in the carpet of pink flowers that covered the flats around the hill, climbing the slopes to meet the stark red of the ramparts. The track disappeared once again but by checking the maps, and a fair degree of guess work, I took an educated guess that a particularly gap in the otherwise impenetrable scrub must have been the original site of a track. After plunging through the dense scrub for a couple of kilometres, running entirely on intuitive guess work, we again found the remnants of a track that would furtively appear every now and then. We had to negotiate large swathes of thick brush, occasional gullies and wash-aways before the country opened into the flatter drainage area of the Oakover basin. At some point we spied a tank and windmill in the distance indicating our arrival in serious cattle country and then the Oakover River and Christies Crossing.

Here we decided to head south remembering my difficulties in trying to locate a track south to this point from Woodie Woodie the previous year. The station track seemed in pretty good nick as we followed the Oakover south, twisting and turning to cross it several times on the way down. There were large pools of water and drifting mobs of cattle which you had to be on the look out for. It was impossible to follow the number of tracks on the map so we just navigated our way by bearing, the occasional landmark hoping that we were heading in the general direction of Balfour Downs and the Talawana.

With the light fading and the cattle and roos thickening, we decided to call it a night and have set up camp in the shelter of some mulga not too far from the main track. It’s going to be a cool night so the fire will be a good one. By our reckoning we are about 35 km north east of Balfour. Tomorrow will tell.

Link to Tchukardine Pool Trek notes and waypoints
Link to Rudall River Blog with Place Index
''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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