Kalgoorlie to Alice Springs - red sand, dingos and camels - Part 1

Published: July 5th 2013
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20 June 2013

Thanks again, Jim and Sandra for your hospitality, it was great to catch up.

Kalgoorlie has really slowed down in the last 6 months, according to local business people, presumably because of the drop in gold price

All topped up with fuel, food and vacuum packed meat, we discovered a half flat tyre, so fortunately Beaurepairs was around the corner. This delayed departure and we left Kalgoorlie at 11.15, with approximately 380 km to drive north on the main highway to Leonora, then Laverton. The highlight for the day was to walk around the ghost mining town of Gwalia just out of Leonora. The little, rough, corrugated iron shacks have been “restored” and look like the people just walked away yesterday. The little hall, shop, and garage are still there with tools etc left intact. There are still locals living there and they look after the place. Leonora and Laverton are small, quiet mining towns, and we are meeting the odd kiwi here working. Temperature got up to a very pleasant 23 degrees. We found a campsite off the road about 30km east of Laverton on the Ann Beadell Highway track. Lit a fire and
Stats for machineryStats for machineryStats for machinery

Of interest to some people, mainly blokes
enjoyed that before it got too cold.

21 June

Woke up this morning to 0 degrees and that was after the sun had risen. Don’t know what it would have been before that! Heading east on the Ann Beadell, the first 100km of this track is a good road, but after that it deteriorated into long sections of corrugations. To travel through this aboriginal titled land, we have had to obtain permits for two sections. These are available on-line, don’t cost anything, but need to be arranged well before travel is commenced.

We met only two vehicles (3 Ozzies) today, at Yamarna Station ruins. It was a warm 33 degrees in the sun and 18 in the shade. 4 emus walked past our lunchstop. Our first camel sightings, a group of nine, came into view. We had been following their tracks in the sandy road for quite awhile. Great to stop and watch the big male gather up his harem of ladies and kids, and quietly meander away. The corrugations between Yamarna ruins and the abandoned Yeo Lake homestead were pretty rugged. . This two-roomed homestead is still standing, a testament to the harsh pastoral conditions here. The farmers just walked off the land. It is now used by campers for shelter, there is an outdoor shower room made out of 440 gallon drum with a door cut in the side, and a place to tie your solar shower up in a tree. There is also a water bore with a hand pump and a long-drop.

We carried on to camp up for the night beside a beautiful jump-up (a flat topped rocky hill, where the rest of the land has eroded from around it). The sunset was stunning making the rock a beautiful bright orange. We lit our first campfire. As it was the shortest day (or maybe the second to shortest) the sun set at 4.45pm. Yep, saw only those 3 people today in about 200km.

22 June

We heard a very close by pack of dingos howling first thing in the early morning, then woke to another frost, oh that ice on the top of the tent ….brrrr. . Today saw more camels, a dingo, bustard bird, parrots and kangaroos. Had lunch at Neale Junction, just a crossroad of tracks, with a visitors book in a metal tin on a post. If we had continued east we would have arrived in Cooper Pedy – 9 days travel – no shops. Leaving at 1pm, north on the Connie Sue toward Warburton, and averaging 35 km/hr. The first 60km of the CS is good, then deteriorates to corrugations off and on and quite a few wash-outs. Found another nice campsite and had a fire.

23 June - Slightly disorientated as we came out of the bush at a different place from entering and had to look at where the sun was to get the right direction. Stopped at Hanns Hill which we climbed for an amazing view across this vast, arid landscape. Up here there were caves, no sighting of any animals but there were marks/bones and dung.

Flat tyre – Dave repaired the tube, and we had just put the wheel back on again when Swiss Stan came along heading south in his Landcruiser. He had a beer with us, we chatted for nearly an hour. Interesting chap - he makes helicopter drones! Camped about 25km south of Warburton. Heard dingos in early hours so we crept out of bed and saw two about
Outback showerOutback showerOutback shower

At the abandoned Yeo Lake homestead on Ann Beadell Highway
20m away, slinking past as they checked us out.

24 June – Came off the CS track turning east onto Tjukaruru Road, (the Great Central Highway), a wide dirt road through aboriginal land, and stopped at all three roadhouses that service the aboriginal communities. All fuel pumps are locked in cages, tyre repair tools are chained to a post, and no photography is permitted. Another flat tyre to fix. It has drizzled on and off all afternoon. Camped on south side of GC Road about 50km west of The Olgas. Heard 2-3 vehicles pass in the night. Drizzly overnight but inside tent stayed dry. We stopped to help some locals who needed nuts for their wheel - they had only 3 wheel nuts on each wheel, some on the wrong way - couldn't help them, hope they got to Docker River.

25 June – Drove into The Olgas – huge domes of conglomerate rock, and walked the 7.5km Valley of the Winds walk. Cloudy and cool – cloudy and cool is good! Spectacular scenery and highly recommended.

Drove to Yulara and stayed at Ayers Rock Resort. – drizzly showers again overnight. Met Terry and Steph and their
Neale JunctionNeale JunctionNeale Junction

Visitors book at the junction
4 children from the Yarra Valley, Victoria, camping next to us. Dave tried a buffalo burger and I tried a combo – croc, roo, emu,buffalo, beef (at the restaurant, not having been great white gamehunters!)…Dave smacked his lips and said “crikey that was corka!” And I said “abit chewy”. And we were abit peeved as some over efficient bar staff person came and whisked away our half drunk drinkies before we could blink an eye at a wallaby! Oh, well, that’s what happens when you are in a civilised area.

26 June – Uluru Cultural Centre was exceptional. Very informative and gave us an understanding of the cultural/spiritual significance of Uluru, as well as physical. I know it sounds clichéd, but it is absolutely magnificent – beautiful and powerful. Now we understand why people come across the world to see this, along with the Sydney Harbour and Opera house. We walked the Lira and Mala Walks (6km). We were unable to walk up Uluru as it was closed for the day, as it usually is, but does open occasionally for 2-3 hr stints – weather permitting. The overall policy is to close the walk permanently, and we are not surprised. Cloudy and cool again with a 15 degree high. Stayed another night at ARR, going to the bar/restaurant to listen to noisy Aussies enjoying the State of Original match between NSW and Q’land. Also the Kevin Rudd/Julia Gillard debarcle.

27 June – Fueled up and stocked up food supply for 6 nights. Drove out to Uluru again and walked the waterhole walk, and drove around the rock before heading east. The sun was out so we saw the rock in sunshine – even better. Travelled to Curtin Springs Cattle Station free campground on 1.02 million acres, but it was beside the highway and a highway cattle grid. $3 for a shower. Oh, well, you get what you pay for. Nah, yeah, (they say that here too) it was fine and friendly, meeting Wayne and Judith from Melbourne, and also Terry and Steph again. Also met a young couple, John and Melissa, with their two children from Victoria who ran a beef farm. Because of the animal rights not as much beef is being exported to Indonesia, and so farmers up the top end have sent their beef south, which over the last two years has reduced prices, and
Magic campsiteMagic campsiteMagic campsite

Connie Sue Highway
now they have a drought down there, prices are even worse. This couple had sold their entire herd of beef cattle for less than half what they paid for them, as they had no other options available to them. Dairying is still going well, and prices are up.

28 June – Drove to Kings Creek, set up camp and then into Kings Canyon, and did the short Kings creek walk. Unfortunately we did not allow enough time to do the rim walk, and Dave’s knee is playing up, so gave that a rest. This is a place we need to return to. That evening we met David and Kath (easy names to remember), from Blue Mtns near Sydney and their 3 sons. After dinner we contributed firewood to a large firepit and enjoyed a piece of their son James, 16th birthday cake and a lovely chat. This camp was well spread out, although several bus loads of school camp arrived. Fortunately they weren’t too close and weren’t rowdy (Oh,, we are getting old!) This camp provided (as some do ) camel rides, helicopter rides. The baby camel was really cute.

29 June – Travelled north on the Mereenie Loop Rd (aboriginal land so need a permit). 200km with 50k of heavy corrugations, part of which we drove along the water table. There was a lovely drive into Palm Valley up the river bed. The 220km took about 6 hours. What do you know, Terry and Steph and the kids arrive as well.

(hey, everyone, this is so cool, I am doing important stuff like this on the laptop while Dave cooks kangaroo steaks and veges for dinner –… and look he’s lighting a campfire too).

Oh, and by the way, the flies are around abit during the day when the sun is shining and it’s not too windy, but they go to bed at about 5.30 when the sun and temp drops.

We did a 5km walk from the (DOC equivalent) camping ground up into the valley, with Terry, Steph and their kids. This valley has an ecosystem of it’s own, and there grows the Red Cabbage palm which grows only in this area. There are also cycads here (still surviving from the dinosaur era). The walk took us up onto the escarpment, then back down into the valley, to walk back down the river bed of palms to the carpark. ---- highly recommended.

In the afternoon Dave and I drove back out to the highway, then into Finke Gorge

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


Camel dungCamel dung
Camel dung

three camels passed here heading north three days ago
Just me and he in the desertJust me and he in the desert
Just me and he in the desert

watching the moon rise, Great Victoria Desert

6th July 2013

Hi Kathy, i really enjoyed reading your adventures. Seems like it\'s very social outback. The scenery and wildlife sure are interesting. x
6th July 2013

Great Blog
You do it so well Kathy, interesting and the photos are great . Tell the Bishop that if he took a small bite of the dung he would be able to tell us what they had eaten, Go well, cheers, Les.
7th July 2013

Great to read you travel blog..weather here is rubbish at present..went to Mike cannon's funeral..would be the biggest one I have seen around here. he got a great send off..not very nice calling Dave 'camel dung' though !!!! looking forward to your next blog
9th July 2013

Enjoyed the blog and the photos, though I do not envy you those corrugations! Not easy on the vehicle either. Luckily you can fix things Dave. Keep enjoying.

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