Canning Stock Route - Breadon Hills, Godfrey Tank and on to Well 46

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 00:00


Wednesday 10th June
Well 46, CSR
20 38 31.26 126 17 14.72 Od 207176

Up to a scant fire on the left over timber I had collected the previous day. When we went to head off, Willies car had electrical problems meaning his navigation system was out.John, thank god, was soon at it diagnosing the problem. I provided some odds and sods to assist in getting it going.

After 45 minutes, John had rewired the vehicle and we were off. A good road to the south across wide open spinifex and the occasional low dune. The Breadon Hills soon came into view, the jagged, torn outlines of these rugged ranges providing a spectacular backdrop. Plenty of photo and video opportunities were to be had. We took the track into the ruins of Well 47 and then back out and down to the Breadon pool intersection. I passed the valley in which John and I had camped in 2006. Here Willie left us and headed on towards 46. The rest of us took the narrow, winding and dusty track into Breadon Valley and the pool. The track, whilst easy driving, crossed grasslands and almost Canegrass like savannah to the low hills at the end of the gorge. By unanimous consent, a cup of tea was in order before we saddled up and headed off on the short, 3 minute walk along the gorge to the Breadon pool and the native hide.

Joe Breaden after whom the pool and the hills are named was a member of David Carnegie's exploration party who were the first Europeans to discover this area during his 1896-97 expedition across the Gibson Desert.The pool sits at the end of the narrow gorge and was filled with water on this occasion. Two large native figs shade the area. On the stony cliff walls above the pool, natives have enclosed a small cavern with rocks to form a hide. It was reputed to be used by them to hunt wildlife coming down to the waterhole to drink.

From here we headed up onto the rocky plateau above and started scouting for Godfrey Tank. It was overland across the rocky range looking for cairns to lead us to Godfrey Tank. I did the long walk to a far cairn and then into a valley finding the rest on a well worn path to the tank and pools. Godfrey’s Tank, despite its name is not a man-made structure but a natural rock pool. Godfrey Massie, also a member of Carnegie's team, discovered the rock pool that now carries his name. It comprises a large round shaped bowl in the narrow steep gorge. From our location, flowing water would plunge 15 metres or so down into the main pool. The sheer walls have been chiselled with the names of explorers and drovers alike, all of whom passed this way in the last 100 years. In the upper reaches of the creek, large pools of water stand. The surrounding rocks have petroglyphs and rock carvings of indeterminate age etched into them again attesting to the long term habitation of this special place. It was a great place to spend a while.

We walked the trail back arriving above the car park area to the west. We had lunch in what shade could be found there. Peter and Sandy decided to head back north along the Canning as their tyre situation was somewhat extreme (They can plug but cannot run tubes due to the rims and the internal run-flats). They kindly offered us their remaining fuel which we eagerly accepted and taken onboard using the tanami pump. We headed back out towards the main track again at about half one. It was indeed a sad feeling and a knot in the pit of the stomach to say goodbye to one of our number. It was difficult to listen to them fade into static on the radio for the last time.

Heading south as a group of four we stopped at numerous locations to get firewood, fortuitous as Willem’s numerous ailments had prevented him from collecting much on the way in (it was his one request when we gave him an update on the satphone).We climbed one or two high spots to gain an appreciation of the surrounding country and take photos. The setting sun in the eyes once we hit the turn for Well 46 was blinding. Stopping removing the dust from the windscreen was of some help but it was a slow last few kilometres into the well arriving just as the sun finally sank below the western horizon. We wasted no time in getting a huge fire going and boiled heaps of water for the washing. Pants, shorts, four shirts, heaps of jocks and socks, all hung out by dinner. It was a definite can night, a shower and then to bed early, thoroughly exhausted.

''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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