Rudall River - A hard days slog in search of Darlsen Pinnacle

Monday, Jun 21, 2010 at 00:00

Mick O

Monday 21st June 2010
Some distance along the Yandagooge Creek
Rudall River National Park


Early start for with packing up to be done. Managed to get everything squared away and the awnings packed in good time. Al took my quad and John took MJ and they headed off to see the sand mountains. I amused myself by evicting Gaby from the gorge and having a quick and certainly refreshing dip in the pool. It was invigorating.


The boys arrived back at 1030. Al has had some difficulties with the quad and had blown a few fuses. He hadn’t been able to make it to the top of the dune in several attempts. Tyres were too high pressure. All packed and headed off about 1045 for the hours drive back out to the main road. Al managed to slash open one of the rear tyres and it took four plugs to stem the flow of air. Once on the main track we headed up only a kilometre and headed cross country to the west. The going was OK through spinifex and long burnt sticks. Occasionally crossed one or two survey lines on our route towards the Yandagooge Creek.


Our first creek crossing, a tributary of the Yandagooge just north of Pinpi Rockhole, was interesting to say the least. I found a decent spot to cross into the creek but the drop was too high and once the rear of the ute had cleared, the drawer bar dug in keeping the rear wheels from getting full weight and traction on the ground. Digging a ramp was going to be a very big job so while clearing what we could from around the tow bar, MJ and Jay-dub jacked up the rear of the trailer on two high lift jacks till the trailer wheels were well and truly in the air. This resulted in the tow bar lifting and pointing downwards allowing more weight on the ground at the rear of the vehicle. I simply drove the vehicle forward allowing the trailer to fall forward off the jacks. A somewhat unorthodox method that worked well enough. Keeping the revs up, I managed to cross the sandy expanse and climb the banks on the other side. Once clear we did a little more digging in the area where the tow bar had hit to facilitate Scotties crossing and we were off. No other issues getting everyone across in good order.
Saw a couple of new sheds and activity about the place with lights on one hilltop and a vehicle on ahill top well away to our north.


More scrubby plains until we hit the wide and winding Yandagooge. Here our crossing became more of an issue. We hit it at a spot that looked all to familiar. The eastern bank was high and slightly to our south it formed a sheer,
vivid red cut some 4 metres high where the swift flowing floodwaters had cut into it. By sheer coincidence, I had captured this very bank on video during our quad expedition of two years past. We managed to pick our way down a sloping bank a short distance further to the north. This put us in a spot where we had a 1 metre drop onto the sand. We then had to traverse about 90 metres of sand in an “S” shape to bring us across the creek to a point where the opposing bank was not too steep. It was a fairly sharp rise of 1 metre onto a flat of crusted sand of about 50 metres to a final sharp rise of 3 metres onto the surrounding plain. Should be easy enough….right!



MJ tackled the crossing first in his Troopy making it all the and onto the lower stage of the opposing bank. I came second and got through the creek but on the climb out, the trailer dragged on the steep side of the bank dragging the vehicle to a halt. To make matters worse, the thin crust on this side of the creek actually concealed a deep fine powder meaning once through, down you went. MJ backed in to snatch and also went through the crust on the first attempt. Two vehicles down, two waiting.



It was Jay-dub(JW) to the rescue once again producing his 75 cent Max-Trax equivalent. Yep a bundle of Hessian bags used for mineral samples. Two thirds filled with sand, they were laid down in front of each wheel of the two vehicles and then in low range first, we eased up onto the top of the bags and halted. Michael then bolted like a rat up a drain and with me gunning the big truck behind, snatched me forward and back onto the solid crust again. We were both then able to get up onto the top of the main bank and the plain. I ask you, why would you spend $350 plus for a plastic board?



With tyres right down and driving it like he stole it, Scottie made it a cross as did Jay-dub in the big 80. Some other dramas had transpired while we extricating ourselves. While scouting the creek, my quad had shorted meaning Al couldn’t get it started. Jay-dub towed it in on his quad and we all had lunch at the hilltop while we tried to identify what was causing the electrical issues. The issue couldn’t be identified despite a bit of chasing down so we had to start the quad using a pair of pliers to short across the solenoid. We had chewed up a fair bit of the day but the time we departed our lunch stop at 3.30 p.m. The drama just never let up and we had only headed a few kilometres east when the call came in. Suzette was bogged on her quad at a very awkward angle somewhere off to our south and she also reported that it was looking very much like Outback Al was on fire. Could this day get any better?



Swinging into action we began to bear left with me praying that the quad was OK. Knowing the glacial pace at which things take to register at times with Outback, I hoped he’d shut down and reached for the extinguisher in the storage box. Thankfully before I got there, Suze had got her quad out and had reached Al (who was still incommunicado), revealing that the cloud of smoke was in fact steam and that the quad had overheated. Well at least all I had to worry about now was a cracked head! A couple of kays in the distance a large dome of conglomerate rock stood out like a turtles back. We decided to head to it, find a sheltered local and set up camp as it was now far too late and we didn’t wish to be caught out on the plains for a windy night. John towed Outback in on Big Red.


We nestled in on the southern side of the hill with the rocky walls rearing above us. It provided a nice open area with areas of small gibber that was largely clear of spinifex. Thankfully we found some quality timber nearby that was all dragged in behind the quads. This locale is right on the border of the park. It had been a hot day of tough going across unforgiving country. We were all knackered to say the least.
While the fire was burning down, I used my remaining strength to climb up the rock face to the summit of the hill and catch the last rays of sun hitting the hills to our east. While exploring, I managed to find that the remnants of an old track ran off to the north east. Hidden by the spinifex, it would be near impossible to locate unless you drove over the top of it but from a height, the change in vegetation speared off in a straight, easily discernable line. One to file away in the memory banks for the trip home.


A bit of work on the quads in the fading light and mine was drained and topped up with fresh coolant. The unit had to be parked backwards half way up the trailer ramps to ensure that all the air cleared from the lines. It appears tha no damage has been done by the boil over. The electrical issue in the ignition remains elusive though. It was a hearty feed of steak for dinner and then a refreshing bevy as we watched the International Space Station soar serenely overhead. My god that thing is huge.















Link to our first trip into this area in 2008


This is a snippet of video from 2008 that shows the area of our crossing.







''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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