Rudall River NP - Expedition into Yandagooge Gap - Day 4 (And on to Xmas Pool)

Sunday, Jul 20, 2008 at 00:00


Sunday 20th July, 2008
Wantamata (Christmas Pool), WA
21 53.454 E, 122 07.562S

What a splendid day again. We’ve explored on the ATV’s, successfully navigated our way back to base, extracted ourselves with only one further puncture (mine…and on the %$#@*& trailer again…and the &%^$#@* tubed tyre!) and have gotten a little of the way north towards the Telfer Mine Road.

It was a night of gusting winds, so much so that even in the relative safety of my low, streamlined tent and further sheltered by spinifex, there was a patina of dust over everything inside, me included. Despite the howling easterly, I slept relatively well and arose without too many aches and pains to find the wind little abated as the sun rose. I got the fire going and had largely finished packing and was onto the spaghetti jaffles when Scott and Gaby emerged, functioning slowly, from the pleasure dome (as the REI tent is now known). Two cups of tea and a chat around the fire later, we were packed and then taking care of the daily puncture repairs in the front tyres. Both Scott and I had one in each a front tyre and we both had further “slow” leaks which we opted to take care of as well.

9:00 a.m. saw us on the track out of our nights refuge and heading north west again. We decided to track further to the west on the rest of our return journey and found the going much easier. There was still a lot of the old growth spinifex to contend with but through good vision and a bit of foresight, we were able to avoid much of the mulga of two days previous. In some areas, recent fires allowed us a good clip across reasonably clear ground. It was still a bit of a mix though. On passing the conical mound at 22°21'24.66"S, 121°51'31.05"E, the western ramparts started to get higher. On some occasions, the walls sported impressive cliff faces towering at least 50 metres above the equally high scree slopes. Standing upright on the ATV for extended periods of time, I decided that two things were needed. Firstly a cruise control or throttle catch and secondly, that the handles bars need to be 80 to 100 mm longer. This would make it much more comfortable in the standing position.

Also solved was the great boot impression mystery of yesterday. We saw plenty of donkey tracks on our trek this morning. In one sandy spot I found that two hoof prints directly opposed and opposite each other perfectly form the shape of a boot impression. The boot print was in fact two hoof prints.

Our westerly track proved much easier and we covered almost the entire first days distance on three hours. At one point we ducked into a gorge, the entrance of which had largely been concealed by drifting sand hills. It was a great place to drive around and held a seasonal rock pool as well as a central sentinel of rock (22°16'4.68"S, 121°48'59.27"E). On exiting though a second entrance into the main valley, we crested the entrance dune to a great view before again plunging into the scrub of the Yandagooge.

Sighted a goodly mob of ill looking camels in a patch of Mulga, the same that took me some time to negotiate on day one. The western path proving better again. Managed to provide a lesson on puncture repair to the video camera and show just how lethal this burnt timber is as one piece had penetrated right through a lug on the tyre without damaging the tyre itself.

We reached base camp right on 12 noon feeling both relieved and impressed at the distance we had made over time. There was still no way to avoid the low scrub and Grevillea near camp but still reached base in good time. My fears in respect to the solar cells had been realised with them lying face down on the ground, thankfully undamaged (again judicious placement proving provident). Though hard to gauge when they went over, I was tipping 24 hours at least as the batteries in the vehicle were low, showing 12.25 and 12 volts respectively. Even today’s driving hasn’t bought them up to speed. Both fridge and freezer were performing perfectly at –14C and 2C respectively meaning Scott could enjoy a cold beer with lunch.

Lunch out of the way, we were on our way by 1:20 p.m. on the slow laborious drive out. After plunging back into the track-now-creek, it was a slow, methodical and nervous trip north, constantly watching the shrubs and scrub for anything that may destroy a sidewall in a moment of inattention. It was all to no avail though when with less than a kilometre to go, I noticed the rear left had trailer tyre getting flat! This was the tubed tyre bugger it! On examination a needle like piece of timber had penetrated through the tread. On went one of the new Dick Cepek’s and then we were out onto the main track. Here or speed picked up from the thick scrub crawl. I was amazed at the amount of wildlife that had crossed our tracks over the past three days, emu, dingo, roo and the ubiquitous camel, often in great numbers. Also, how quickly the wind and drifting sand had obscured our tracks on the main east-west track. The wind had also done a great job of blowing dead timber we’d cleared on our journey inwards back on to the track.

Once we hit the main Rudall Road, it was north past Moses chair to Christmas Pool. The road was heavily corrugated and sandy but we made good time at 60 kph or thereabouts. We found Xmas pool dry and the barren rocky campground was beingswept by the strong easterlies that had plagued us since yesterday. Circling nearby we found a slightly sheltered spot on the gibber and spinifex and set up camp, using the vehicles to form a windbreak.

We all decided to brave the wind and shower, the breeze making it somewhat invigorating. The pain was worth it though, the dust and weariness of the trail washed away so that clean, conditioned, well fed and well lubricated, we could enjoy the evenings campfire and plan the next big trip in two years time. The sunset was special with the distant hills being layered with gold and indigo. Hopefully one of the photo’s will do it justice. Dinner was rissoles with mash and veg, a desert of chocolate rice cream and a milo and Bailey’s. Great to be alive. Even the wind has died down.

''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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