Rudall River - Someones put a uranium mine in my favourite National Park!!!

Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 00:00

Mick O

Friday 18th June, 2010
Desert Queen Baths (DQB), Rudall River


You know I always manage to forget just how rough the road into Desert Queen Baths is. Despite being only 17 kilometres long, it’s a bloody rough and difficult track where tyre disaster can strike at any moment and quite often does! The lift you get in your spirits as you push further into the Broadhurst Ranges makes it all worthwhile though.


Our day began early enough with an intended departure time of 7:30 a.m. We were well on target when Scotty, checking under his trailer, found that his spring pack on the passengers side was in some disarray due to the rear holder and load assist spring being broken. The prompted a quick re jig and I crawled under and bolted some plumbers bracing strap into place around the back of the pack and wrapped the front end with Gaffer tape. It should do the trick. We were away by 7:50 a.m. which was a good effort considering the minor crisis we had dealt with. Heading west along the Telfer Road we had only 92 km to complete to reach the Rudall turn. I’d loaded the shortcut route into the GPS ( 21°37'21.20"S 122°10'41.30"E ) the night before as it would save us 50 odd kilometres. We passed Clarence’s corner and more than a few camels grazing nochelantly along the road side.


Our arrival at Telfer was heralded by mobile phone (3G) reception (Telstra only) so there was a flurry of activity as phones were switched on and friends and family rung. It seemed quite funny that Al and I were yelling into our respective mobile phones whilst driving through the desert. JW was on the internet pretty quick smart as well. The Rudall turn was easy to locate and it was pleasing to see that the security point had been moved. No doubt the oxygen thief that had manned it has been redeployed to a block of public toilets somewhere out west, hopefully Docker River! The road was a pleasure and was well maintain as we headed south through the Patterson Ranges. We stopped in at Xmas pool (21°53'23.20"S, 122° 6'56.83"E - turnoff to pool which is un-signposted ) and then headed down to the Throssells and the beautiful hills around the Coolbro. I was getting excited by the time we hit the clay pan and 7km later, the turn to DQB. I was somewhat disappointed to find a bloody Uranium Lease all staked out. This is why the road south from Telfer was in such good nick as it joins the Kintyre site to the Telfer site and the main Telfer Road to the west. Our old clay pan track was taped off as well. The iconic old oil drum that marked the Rudall turn off was also missing. Now who in their right mind would take that? It will be interesting to see just how much this new uranium operation will affect the park and access. So far it’s just outside the Park boundaries.


By way of later research I was able to ascertain that uranium was discovered in the Kintyre lease area in 1985 by CRA Exploration Pty Ltd, now Rio Tinto. Due to depressed uranium prices, they placed the project in care and maintenance in 1998. The deposit was initially within the Rudall River National Park, but the area enclosing the deposit was excised from the park in 1994 (funny that).The camp was dismantled and the site rehabilitated in 2002. The Kintyre property was acquired in 2008 by a joint venture between Cameco Corporation and Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd. Now here comes the sinister part; “Cameco” - Canadian Mining and Energy Corporation. Damn those Canadians.


We arrived at DQB to find three other vehicles also in residence. We moved down to the west and set up in the “toilet “ area. Christ the inconsiderate nature of some people! There was dunny paper strewn everywhere and human faeces left lying about uncovered. Bloody hell some people bleep me (pun intended). During set up I broke out the awning for the first time and just as well as shade was certainly at a premium. The paucity of firewood around the campsite prompted a firewood expedition on the quads and then, as custom demands, it was time to retire to the gorge and have horse’s doovers on the banks of 3 Goannas Pool.


It is so bloody hot tonight that we take no comfort around the fire. It was a matter of cook your dinner and get away from it. Fireside chat was held well back in the cooler recesses of the night.


''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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