Great Sandy Desert - Confluence hunting again (20s 122e)

Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010 at 00:00

Mick O

Wednesday 14th July, 2010
Great Sandy Desert – Anna Plains Track


A beaut sunrise over the Whithorns this morning A bit woolly headed but otherwise looking forward to a day of confluence hunting. We were packed and away at 0830 a.m. as per usual having 20 km to complete to our jumping off point for the confluence chase. I managed to investigate the track I’d seen heading off to the north last year finding it led to a gravel scrape only a couple of hundred metres in. The track was again over grown in may places, the flora ripping down the side of the vehicle. At the 20 km mark, the track took a turn to the north so we ducked off into the bush and parked behind the first dune preparing the quads for the arduos trip south west.






On heading off, we stumbled across an unmarked cut line almost immediately. It was heading to the south west, the same direction as our destination. This was indeed an added bonus. It was very overgrown in places, particularly in the flat soak areas between many of the dunes. These were choked with growth making progress difficult at times. Thankfully, it was usually possible to pick up the cut through the top on a distant dune and thus aim for that. We found some water in soaks and shallow claypans and more than a few camels haunting the area. It was apparent that the camels have used the cut line as a thoroughfare. After the first 6 or so kilometres the soaks disappeared to be replaced by normal dunes and swales. The blow outs and bowls on the dune tops were very impressive.




At 15 km we lost the cut line and headed the last 8km cross country and rough country it was too. Spinifex central and very rugged. Some of the drop offs the dune tops were precipitous causing a bit of thigh squeezing from the quad passengers. We reached the confluence just on 12.00 noon. It was situated mid way in a wide swale between two dunes. Of course there was the obligatory photo shoot but the confluence shuffle was very light on this year as a week in the saddle had taken its toll on us all. The comfort was that confluence 20s-122e was ours.







We took lunch in the shade of a tree on a dune top a couple of hundred metres further south of our confluence then it was home the same way adding a bit of hi-jinx in a blow-out bowl. It was a bloody long trip back up the cut line leaving us exhausted by the time we reached the cars at 3.00 p.m. 56 km all told and some bloody rough country at that!. Heading off along the track we moved a further 15 odd km with me running out of fuel in a washaway. I wasn’t quite quick enough in getting it over from the rear to front tank. I had to key crawl the vehicle up and out onto level ground and then bleed fuel back through the system.





The track was a mixture of conditions with it largely overgrown. This meant a meandering course which led to Scotty taking a stake to his water container. It was a novel way to collect fire wood that's for sure. Thankfully the jerry was empty. Goes to show the logic of steel watercans. Another little bit of excitement later in the day. I had been running on the sub-tank for the duration of the expedition so far and knew it was getting towards the bottom. As we made our way along an eroded section of track, the right hand side of the vehicle was up on the track edge meaning we were on a bit of a lean. Forgetting about the low status of the tank, she stuttered and died almost immediately not allowing me time to self prime the feed from the main tank. Damn! I had to key crawl the vehicle forward till I could find a relatively flat spot and then prime through the fuel filter which took some doing. Thankfully JW loves a crisis and had returned to help me out. With motion lotion restored to the engine, we were underway again. Grabbing a bit of wood along the way, we found a camp in the lee of a small rocky hill 500 metres or so north of the track. It was a great little spot that gave us an uninterrupted view to the west and a great sunset. The magnificent blue sky has a clarity you only get out here. It was a cuticle of a moon again. Rissoles and veg for dinner and possibly my last meal cooking for the Canadians. Free from the kitchen at last and I reckon I’m getting a look of resentment already ha ha.














''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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