Western Deserts Trip and Track Report - The halfway mark

Friday, Jun 26, 2009 at 17:46


Well after over 6000 km and a fair bit of time on and off some of the best outback tracks, we have reached the blue of the Indian ocean and our little group has headed in opposite directions. I gather that Equinox (our Perth based emergency extraction co-ordinator lol) has given a bit of an update as to how our trip was going so I’ll report on a few tracks first.
Alice Springs – Haasts BluffPapunya Road
Very poor condition and heavily corrugated at the southern end in particular. Many areas chopped up due to inclement weather.

Gary Junction Road (To WA Border)
Good condition with the occasional patch of rocky surface and the odd corrugation. No troubles presented to vehicles or heavy duty (off road) trailers. Deteriorates immediately after crossing into WA becoming heavily corrugated as you approach Mount Webb. Had anecdotal reports that it is in good condition getting towards the Gary Junction. Excellent condition once past Kurnawarritji (Well 33). .Fuel at Kintore was a pleasing $1.65 per litre for diesel

Kiwwurkurra – Balgo Road
Track only. Often a bit overgrown. Large boggy areas and marsh crossings due to recent rains. Easily navigable to the southern shores of Lake McKay. A great drive though.

Mulan (Lake Gregory)
Lake is very low leaving the “Handover” camping area 2 km from the muddy shore. Camp area in poor condition with no water and the Spartan dunnies falling apart. Still plenty of bird life about, brolga, swans, waders, whistling kites, emus, bustards and many wild ponies and cattle. Track from Gregory to the Canning is in good condition. Diesel Fuel atMulan was $2.80 a litre.

The Canning...What can you say.
Well 51 down to 49 is horrendously corrugated. Not bad in around the fantastic Breadon Hills. Sandy and a good drive south as you would expect. Very closed in in areas towards 44 from the Gravity lakes. Corrugations from the Kidson Bluffs tro 33 have to be driven to be believed. They are even worse than I remember them. Tyres down to 16 psi and slooowww going.

Track to Helena Spring.

Fast disappearing. He first 17 km was difficult to find and hard to navigate through dense scrub. At trhe 17 km mark you cross northwards the first dune and the country is enlightening. Grass covered swales and sheltering gums for 5 km. The trip into the soak is well worth the short 4 km trip. It contained a good sheet of water and supported a stack of bird and animal life. The last 5 km down from the high plateau into the Helena basin has seen the track disappear. It is easy to find with a gps although the Hema coordinates are about 150 metres off the spring. Exact co-ordinates for the plaque and spring are

Kidson Track north from Lake Auld

Great comndition with plenty of camels. Water at Razorblade bore but not at the next widnmill marked on hema map. Track suitable for trailers and most likely for well prepared off road vans.

Numerous cut lines, tracks and siesmic lines east and north east of the Kidson will require more than the usual number of spare tyres, patches, a sense of humour and a bloody good coating of duco protector.

John and Suzette and myself reached Joanna Spring on Friday the 19th via the cut lines after 4 days of often arduous and slow travel. The confluence at 20 00.00 South, 124 00.00 East cost us 6 stakes in 10 km between the two vehicles (No tyre arguments please, nothing will stand the conditions out there). The Anna Plains was a mixture of everything from the torturous twisting through thick turpentine and grevillea, to wide open plains, sand hills, gibber and clay flats and salt pans. Hard going into our second confluence at 20 S 123 E but we made it leaving caches (and an exploroz sticker) at both. We spent a couple of days licking our wounds and patching tyres at 80 mile beach and John and Suzette are heading north to Cape Leveque for some well deserved rest by the beach. I am currently at Cook Point CP, Port Hedland restocking before heading out to Rudall River on Sunday in company with EO members Peter and Sandy and the amazing (“What sort of Toyota is that Mister?”) Hummer.
No doubt a few interesting blogs to post in the coming months. Gigs of photos and 4 hours of video so far. Take care out there all who are travelling.

Cheers Mick.

''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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