Rudall River NP - Back in Rudall Again - The Broadhurst Ranges & Desert Queen Baths.

Friday, Jun 08, 2007 at 00:00

Mick O

Friday 8th June, 2007
Desert Queen Baths, Rudall River

It was an early-ish start with breakfast and then a clean up for the campsite picking up all the rubbish left around by the locals, burning what we could and burying that we couldn’t. The Rudall Road is still the main route for the locals to get from Cotton Creek up to the Kidson and the Punmu and Kurnawarritji communities. As a result, the road has taken a beating from two wheel drives and the high speeds the locals insist on travelling at. The roadside was “littered” with the remains of their campsites leaving all the white mans rubbish where they drop it. The track was much corrugated and often lengthy stretches of deep sand. We crossed the Rudall near the airstrips finding quite a few long pools of water on either side of the crossing.


Since my last visit 11 months previously, it seems that someone had been fairly busy in despatching the odd camel that wandered too close to the road with carcases and piles of bones becoming a regular occurrence. While Scott and Gaby had left camp ahead of us, we passed them fairly soon as Gab was having a photo frenzy at just about every pile of bones. Knowing she’d stop at one pile, we left a note for them by the roadside in a grinning camel skull. A bush mail box indeed. Despite the culling, we still encountered some big mobs of camels. One group numbered 14 beasts.


On reaching the DQB turnoff and its painted oil drum signpost, we headed east on the narrow, winding track. While often well defined, in many places the ruts have subsided into the surrounding earth up to metres in some places make for steep sides and thick scrub with no where to pull off should you encounter oncoming vehicles. It was in one such section that we met an OKA truck heading west. I don’t know how it came about but it ended up that we did the courteous thing and managed to get the patrol off the road.


The track wound its way through the Broadhurst Ranges, dipping down across rugged creeks and steep sided gullies and skirting worn pinnacles and rocky outcrops. It was at one point after passing Compton pinnacle that we disturbed a mob of camels. This was basically the very same spot I’d encountered a mob the previous year. They again hit the track and wouldn’t get off. Scott and Gaby loved being up front and as I watched the camels twisting and turning on the track ahead of them I thought it an opportune time to call the 2007 Rudall River Camel Cup over the UHF. The scrub and spinifex were thick and a bugger to push through if you were going off track. The high cave on the southern wall of the valley still beckoned but after last years experience with the thick scrub, it might be a hike instead.


We arrived to find we were the only visitors at DQB so set up in the main camp area 100 metres back from the main gorge. Intending to stay for a couple of days we set up the big tent. Timber had been scavenged on the way in and water dragged out from Goanna Pool. In the afternoon, Gaby and I climbed the ridge above our camp getting a good overall view of the confusion of gorges on the other side and revealing that many ended in steep blinds. We also clambered along to the end of the ridge to stand on top of the sheer wall above Goanna Pool at the mouth of the gorge. It got pretty cool once the sun sank behind the range at our backs but it provided a spectacular sunset. It was a BBQ and fire roasted vegies for dinner. I just can’t get used to the Canadians can cooking. There’s certain logic to it I suppose but Stag Chilli every night…I ask you!
''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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