The Pilbara - Taking the back way to Karijini via the Juna Downs (Packsaddle) Road on CANADA DAY!

Thursday, Jul 01, 2010 at 00:00


Saturday 1st July, 2010
(Canada Day)
Dales Gorge, Karijini.

Again sleep came hard last night with the incredibly noisy Karaoke screaming out of the pub until all hours and then the 5am rush with vehicles beeping, doors slamming and dogs barking. Had breakfast in the camp kitchen with Al McCall before farewelling him on his journey south. After the last minute packing and a quick final trip to the supermarket, we marshalled at the BP service station before heading out of town at about 10.30 a.m. It was about 160km north to the Karijini turnoff through hills and vistas that seemed almost surreal at times.

The countryside looked like a painted back drop from a movie set and when the blue hues seeped in, like a Namatjira painting. Investigating the map, I managed to locate the packsaddle bore which had been the original route to Karajini (or the Hamersley Ranges as they were known way back when). A quick confab and the back route into Karajini on the Juna Downs Road was quickly voted as the route. What a great decision it was. There is a gate across the road when you first turn off the highway with a “Juna Downs – Private property Trespassers prosecuted” emblazoned on a sign. This belies the fact that this road is a public access route and it is actually only the Juna Downs Station that is now BHP property. How long this will remain the case is anybody’s guess though. The road was in great nick and being just adjacent from BHP’s “Area C” there is a lot of exploration activity in the way of drilling. As Juna Downs is now owned by BHP so no doubt mining will come to the area in due course.

The area has been destocked and as a result, the countryside is making a comeback from the ravages of near a century of pastoral grazing. We saw a couple of emus and the odd roo on our travels west. The access road to Mt Mahary is still well sign posted. Why more people don’t use this route into the park I’ll never know. The road was little used and as a result was in fantastic form. The scenery is great as you wind through the ranges heading north. We had a lunch break by the wayside with a range at our backs and a view across the plains to the southwest. A bit windswept but a good stop never the less. Eventually we made our way reluctantly into Dales and the camp area. We were funnelled into the newer camping circles out the back. In reality that are not that far behind the actual camp grupenfuhrer’s post. It was fairly exposed and it was a chill wind swept across our site. To combat the wind, we pulled the vehicles into a square to form a rudimentary shelter. No fires allowed so hoping to give ourselves the psychological edge in the keeping warm stakes, we substituted an actual fire with a piece of paper with the word “fire” which was planted on the ground and held down by a rock. It did nothing for us!

Gaby unpacked her rolls of bunting and the vehicles were soon festooned with Canadian flags, bunting and roundels. It’s a pity we couldn’t get warm still we were prepared to suffer for our arctic cousins and help celebrate Canada Day. I cooked up a massive bowl of Seafood pasta and was surprised that the three of us managed to polish it off. It was cold, damn cold so we all retired early to our respective beds.

"O Canada" was proclaimed Canada's national anthem on July 1, 1980, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

''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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