Tag: desert

Tanami Road

tanami road bitumen section

The Tanami Road starts as a nice bitumen road just north of Alice Springs but quickly turns into a typical dusty and corrugated outback track. There’s not much to see over its 1,000km length other than Wolfe Creek meteorite crater and the odd horse, but still is worthwhile to experience. There’s something relaxing and unique about travelling through the desert country.

It took us 3 nights to complete the track – two nights camping at gravel pits on the side of the road and one night at the Wolfe Creek camping area. We quickly checked in at Yuendumu aboriginal community on the way through to have a look at the art center.

The track condition deteriorates towards Halls Creek, becoming pretty rough as it passes through some rocky hilly country. A couple we bumped into a few times ran out of fuel, not anticipating the increased fuel use through the rough bit. There’s plenty of traffic and they didn’t have to wait long until someone with jerry cans stopped to top them up.

Back On The Road

empress springs descending ladder

Apart from the occasional short trip out of Perth, recently we’ve had a serious shortage of camping missions and outback exploring. The blame lies solely with our participation in the rat race. Fortunately this situation has been corrected and we’re back on the road for some proper long term travel around oz.

This time round we’ve made some improvements to our setup. I’m not going to list them all here, but the main change is to our solar panel arrangement, making it lighter, simpler, more aerodynamic and easier to deploy. Oh and our two person team has expanded to three.

hilux with new solar panels

Our hilux  keeping beer cold with the new solar panel setup.

new team

The new three person team.

We’re a bit behind on the blog and have already made it to Broome. This post covers from Perth to the WA border via Great Central Road.

Our route has taken us to Kalgoorlie, Menzies, the Lake Ballard sculptures, Kookynie, Leonora, Laverton and onto the corrugations of the Great Central Road. On the way we found some bush banana. Tastes like peas.

bush banana prep bush banana

We detoured off Great Central Road, heading north on David Carnegie Road to visit Empress Spring. This spring saved the lives of David Carnegie and his party whilst exploring the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts a few years ago. They were out of water and nearly dead, so captured an aborigine, fed him salted beef and held him hostage until he led them to a water supply.

empress spring descending ladder empress spring

After a night at Empress Spring the plan was to continue north on David Carnegie Road and then traverse the Gunbarrel Highway across to Warburton where we’d rejoin the Great Central Road. We made it easily to Empress Spring and then a further 100km north but our efforts were thwarted by some deep washouts on the track. With only modest ground clearance, the washouts were pushing the limits on our vehicle’s capability. Falling into a big rut could have us stranded since we were travelling alone with no other vehicles to assist in recovery. I believed that with some minor reshaping of the track with a shovel there was a better than 50% chance of making it through, and if not we had plenty of food, water and beer on board. Sharni on the other hand chickened out and ordered an immediate u-turn.

david carnegie road ruts

Although it doesn’t look it on the photo, these ruts were probably half a meter deep.

So it was back south down the slow, rutted and spinifex laden track where we again picked up the Great Central Road from where we left it a few days before.

david carnegie road spinifex

Continuing east towards the WA border was uneventful apart from the ongoing corrugations. One of the hilux badges fell off our car and the CB radio antenna broke off (this is the second time we’ve had this happen). Here’s a few more photos of the trip up to Lasseters Cave just inside the Northern Territory Border. From here we continue to Uluru and beyond.

Googs Track, South Australia

Googs Track, near Ceduna, South Australia

Googs Track is a 200km 4WD track that runs along the eastern edge of the Great Victoria Desert in South Australia that covers more than 300 parallel sand dunes before meeting the Transcontinental Railway Line at Malbooma.

We left Ceduna Friday morning and planned to camp 60km down the track at Googs Lake, a salt lake, which is a comfortable half day’s drive. As we pulled into the camping area we thought it looked like a pleasant place to camp along the shores of the dry, flat salt lake. As soon as we stepped out of the car our thoughts changed. The flies were ridiculous. A plague of the highest calibre. Never before have we seen flies of these proportions, even in the middle of summer in the Pilbara. Joe thought it could be tolerable, but less tolerable was the pain he’d receive from me! So we decided to head straight to Mt Finke, another 70km down the track and typically reached on the second day. Needless to say it was a long and arduous drive, arrival was well after dark around 7:30pm. The dunes increased in size and steepness after Googs lake, and they continued for what seemed like an eternity – up down up down continuously for many hours of driving. It was scary driving up the dunes at night with the headlights pointing straight into the air as we passed the crest of the dune wondering where the track was below us. The dune ascents were badly chopped up. We figured many before us had traversed the track with their tyres too hard. Overworking their motors and ruining the track, they forced their way through. We reduced tyre pressures enough to be able to crawl up the dunes so that our car and asses would not have to endure a severe pounding from the blowouts and hump-dee-doos on the track. With low pressure it was easy to idle up the worse dunes, the tyres performed well on the rough terrain.

Mt Finke camp area was nice, good clearings amongst some trees at the base of the mountain. The flies were also less, but still severe. We spent two nights here cooking up an impressive loaf of bread in the camp oven on the second night, the best bread ever!

I also climbed Mt Finke’s east peak. When I climbed the Mt Finke I didn’t know it was a twin peak mountain, I noticed at the top that there was what I thought a second higher mountain. It turns out that I just climbed the wrong peak of the same mountain. Having arrived at night the evening before I didn’t see the profile of the higher west peak of Mt Finke and it isn’t visible from the camp area. I’m sure many before me have made the same mistake.

A bit of Googs Track History

Googs Track (’00’ pronounced like book) was cut by Goog Denton a local farmer in 1973, from Lone Oak farm to Tarcoola which has an interesting story behind the creation of the road. In June 1973 Goog Denton with his brother-in-law, wife and three children began the massive task of building the road. The Denton family took two years to complete the track as they only cleared the track on weekends. Sadly his eldest son Martin died in 1993 apparently from a car accident along the Googs Track and Goog Denton passed away in 1996 . There is a memorial for Martin & Goog near the halfway mark along the track. 

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