This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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1999 Travels July 20

TUESDAY 20 JULY     GEMTREE

I went to the Office and booked us in here for another week. The trip to Alice and replenishment of some supplies meant we could stay longer here. I asked about the aquamarine that I’d read about, and was told that what they get out in these parts is a show of colour in a milky base – not something that is worth cutting. So we will not worry any more about that!

Whilst at the Office I succumbed to temptation and bought a Gemtree polo shirt – cost $30, but seems high quality fabric.

Took a packed lunch and headed off to do the full circuit of the Cattlewater Pass/Pinnacles Bore Track, this time.

We drove west, to the garnet fossicking area, and took the track to the south again, but continuing past where we’d been before. Followed a short side track to an old mica mining area, to the west of the main track, and poked about for a while. I feel frustrated that we are such novices and do not know more about what is good material and what is not.

07-20-1999 01 blackfellows bones mica mine on hill.jpg

Waste heap at Blackfellows Bones mica mine, seen from a distance

We continued on the track to the Blackfellows Bones mica mine site, which was quite extensive. Could see the waste heaps glistening from a distance. Had to drive across the Ongeva Creek flats to get to this. It is an attractive site, with mountains all round.

There were remains of bough shelters that had been used by miners. The prolific bird life out here indicates that there must be water somewhere fairly close by. This could possibly be cattle watering troughs, as we are on a station, after all. I spotted a Horsfields bronze cuckoo.

07-20-1999 03 ongeva valley from mica mine.jpg

Bough hut remains at the bottom of the hill, and Ongeva Creek valley

While John was pottering about with his eyes to the ground, I climbed a hill and took photos.

07-20-1999 04 ongeva ck valley

Ongeva Creek valley

The morning had disappeared quickly and we ate lunch at Blackfellows Bones mine.

07-20-1999 02 mica mine

Mica mine

Then it really was time to keep going, if we were to get round the circuit. Continued broadly southwards, though the track wound around a lot. Its quality varied, being quite rough in parts. There were a few places where we actually needed to engage the low range.

07-20-1999 05 view cattlewater pass tk

Outlook from the Cattlewater Pass Track

Yesterday, at the first gate, we’d seen a couple of camper trailer rigs setting off down this way. They would not have found it easy going at all, and would not have had much fun in some places.

Stopped at a prominent white quartz outcrop beside the track for a look around it. Found some shiny black stuff – didn’t know what it was except that it occurs in quartz!

07-20-1999 01 quartz hill at FA10 area

Another quartz outcrop

This really was a very scenic drive, through different types of rugged hills. Had to cross a sort of earth dam wall at one point. The track traversed river flats – the Hale River, then we crossed scoured, rocky plains to emerge out onto the Arltunga road at Ambalindum Homestead. It was about 5pm when we reached here.

07-20-1999 06 cattlewater pass tk

On the Cattlewater Pass track

Turned east on The Gardens road and once we reached The Gardens Homestead, it was familiar territory, from our previous drive. We turned north. The sun was almost setting as we passed the Pinnacles Bore. We were very pleased that we had the easier part of the circuit track to drive in the dusk. It was dark for the last part, and almost 7pm when we got back to Gemtree.

It was a long day, but a great drive – one we will remember as a highlight. We covered 215 kms today.

Tea was tinned soup, fried ham and cheese sandwiches. It was late, of course.

The moon was almost half full. It is beautiful here, at night. I love the sense of space.