Little Sandy Desert - On the Talawana Track east to Midway Well

Monday, Jul 31, 2006 at 00:00


Monday 31st July, 2006
Midway Well, Talawana Track

It was an early start to the day with Johnno determined to start the day as he had finished the previous. Standing on a hill with a camera awaiting the sunrise. It had been chilly overnight but enough wood had been saved to provide a fire for to take the chill off things, boil the water and prepare some jaffles. I replaced the tyre, it appearing to have held pressure throughout the night. I decided to keep an eye on it and trimmed the plug back to flush with the sidewall. Had a chat with the neighbours. I was amazed to see that JT had washed a full bloody machine load by hand and it was all hung out and drying. That boy has got to drink more scotch.

Knowing the store at Parrngurr (Cotton Creek) wouldn’t be open until after 9 a.m., we deliberately left our departure until late. It was 8.30-ish before we finally pulled back out onto the track and travelled the 20 km south to the Talawana. Again we found this to be a well maintained dirt road of impressive width. An easy cruise at 80 kph. Indeed we had done the 60 km and were at the store by 9.30 where we took on 112 litres of juice at $2.40 per litre. That’s a whopping 50c per litre cheaper than Kunawarritji! Parrngurr (Cotton Creek) was not an impressive place. I think the population is about 120 people and over 1000 dogs. I kid you not. While waiting for the manager to arrive at the bowser, a fight broke out between a couple of dogs amongst a pack of 50 or so following some old gent. The howling, growling and yelping soon drew in most of the other town mongrels until the mob easily numbered a couple of hundred. Once the pack had formed, the zulu dog (opposite to alpha) didn’t stand a chance with the pack tearing in. In the middle of this was the elderly gent trying to break the victim away from the alpha dog with a few rocks. I was genuinely concerned for his safety on account of the number of canines surrounding him and obviously becoming excited by the fracas. Eventually another elderly woman waded in with a whopping great stick and just started indiscriminately sweeping away on the beasts. An amazing and frightening thing to behold.

After paying for the juice, we hightailed it back some 20 km to the Talawana junction and headed east. It didn’t take too long to find out just what the day was going to consist of. Corrugations and in all sizes, big, small and intermediate. It was a constant juggling act to find the sweet spot for getting on top of them and then still keep an eye out for rocks, stakes and other potential hazards. Plenty of camels along the way as well as other vehicles, often travelling in groups of four or more cars.

We shuddered our way east to the canning and well 23. Here we travelled on the Canning again to Well 24 where we took lunch. Had a chat with another bloke towing an Ultimate Camper Trailer. From Well 24 it was only 3 km till we reach the Talawana turnoff and bade the Canning farewell. The Talawana crossed some rocky territory punctuated with salt lakes within the first 15 kms then began to straighten into a Gunbarrel heading east. Very corrugated but it ran straight as a die at 90 degrees due east. We made good time and the scenery of the surrounding countryside remained just spinifex and sand dunes.

We gathered a bit of timber before heading into the halfway well. We haven’t found that but have camped near a native soak. We spent a bit of time enlarging the well from a fetid hole to something a fraction deeper. After several hours, the water had settled and was quite presentable. Tea on the BBQ and a roaring fire. Having unwittingly destroyed a habitat log to provide the warmth, we now have a small sand goanna as company. He’s going to star in photos tomorrow before being found a new home. A startling clear night and it’ll be a crisp one too!

''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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