This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2004 Travels April 16


After breakfast, drove into town and mailed daughter’s birthday card, cheque, and a Crossing the Nullarbor polo shirt.

Earlier in the week, when looking at information and maps of the area, had noticed Googs Lake, roughly to the north. This seemed an interesting destination for a day trip. I was able to buy a Westprint map that we could navigate, reasonably accurately, from.

The skies over Ceduna were overcast and rather threatening, but we didn’t want to keep hanging around Ceduna waiting for better, so decided to do this expedition today, hoping the day might improve a bit.

So, after the Post Office visit, set out, taking a packed picnic lunch with us.

The main Quarantine check point was just on the western edge of town, as we’d found the day we went out to Denial Bay. We had some fruit with us, for lunch and snacks, so stopped at the checkpoint and mentioned to the man that we would be returning in the afternoon and might have some leftover fruit with us. He was very pleasant.

Just past the checkpoint, we took a road to the north, towards Lone Oak Farm. Googs Track was built by the Denton family, from this farm, between 1973 and 76, working mostly at weekends. “Goog” was the dad. His idea was to link his farm to the Trans-Australian Railway, to the north, hence giving him access to wider markets than he had through Ceduna.

Lone Oak Farm was about 30kms from Ceduna. It was just a bit before we went through the new electrified Dog Fence – 6000 volts! I had to open and close the access gate, and was cautious about what I touched.

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After the gate, we were soon into the proper Mallee scrub of the Yumbarra Conservation Park. Very interesting – scrub on red desert sand – just the sort of country we love.

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There was much variation in colour and texture along the track. We saw no-one else.

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In places, there were sections of red sand dunes – up to 25 metres high. Most of these were quite straightforward driving and nowhere near as tricky as, say, the Simpson Desert. It would have been a challenge for truck to have pulled the van out here though.

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We stopped to look at some small pools of water that had collected in hollows in large rock slabs. These were water “holes” for aboriginals. Goog believed that he was the first white man to have seen them.

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Rock pools by Googs Track

At one point, there was a diversion in the track, to take it around a large mallee fowl nest area.

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Detour around Mallee Fowl nesting area

About 50kms from Lone Oak we came to the track junction where Googs Track continued north, but the side track from there to the Lake branched east. At this point, there was a memorial to Goog and his son. The latter died in an accident in 1993, and Goog died in 1996.

The lake was about 5kms from the memorial corner. There was a little water in the lake, which was salt. It was a fair size – about 1km wide and stretching off into the distance for about 15kms.

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Googs Lake

Surrounding the lake were scrub covered red dunes – very photogenic.

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It would have been a great place to camp for a few days.

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We ate our lunch at the lake, and wandered about on foot, exploring around the edge and taking photos.

The solitude was superb.

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All too soon it was time to commence the fairly slow trip back to camp, retracing our route of this morning.

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The Dog Fence stretching into the distance

The man at the Quarantine Station let us keep our leftover lunch fruit.

It was a great day’s outing – I loved it.

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1999 Travels September 1


Today was hot, with only a little cloud.

We chatted for a while with a Swiss couple, who we’d encountered at Birdsville, with a Bushtracker caravan. They’d then driven down the Birdsville Track to Marree, up the Oodnadatta Track, to Oodnadatta, then come across to here. We had a look inside their van – we have not seen one inside, before. I found it rather claustrophobic and closed in. She was not all that happy with it – found it uncomfortable. It looked very heavy to me, for towing.

I packed our lunch, then we drove to the Information Centre, collected some SA material, and bought a Breakaways Pass, for $4.

The Breakaways are to the north of Coober Pedy – about 35kms away. They are, basically, an area of erosion features – flat topped mesa-like outcrops and stony gibber plains. The flat tops of these and the nearby Stuart Range are because many millions of years ago, the region was an inland sea. After the sea receded, softer areas were eroded; the Range and its outliers were more resistant. Similar to Chambers Pillar, I guess. Because the erosion features look like they have broken away from the Range, they were called The Breakaways.

We drove out there – about 30kms north again, on the Stuart Highway, and then we took a dirt road to the east for about 5kms. From the highway, the Stuart Range appears as a low, flat topped plateau on the eastern horizon. There is no indication of the brilliant scenery to come, until one is right up close.

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First sight of the Breakaways

The dramatic starkness, and the brilliant bands of colour really stand out here. We parked Truck and walked for over an hour, following a walking track around the base of part of an  escarpment, and to some viewpoints on its top. It was hot going, on the bare, stony ground. I found it a battle to watch where I was putting my feet – kept wanting to gaze at the unreal formations around me. We did not meet anyone else on the walk, and only saw one other vehicle out here, at all. This is really a little-known attraction of the area – everything seems focussed on opals and the town.

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Back in Truck, drove a short distance to The Castle formation, admired different perspectives and ate our lunch there.

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We returned to Coober Pedy mid-afternoon, via a circuit route, that took us over the Moon Plain – flat, featureless and grey – and along the Dog Fence for a way. The Dog fence is a 2 metre high wire structure, that extends for over 5000kms, and is meant to keep dingoes out of the sheep grazing country of southern Australia. Unfortunately, domestic dogs gone feral probably do more damage to livestock than dingoes, anyway!

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The Dog Fence

That track eventually met the Coober Pedy to William Creek road (unsealed), and we followed that to the highway, and thence back to Coober Pedy.

We’d had a most enjoyable excursion to some fascinating country.

Went to the public water point and paid to fill our big container, then back at the van, emptied this into one of the van’s water tanks. This was not easy to manage, but we had help from a non-English speaking neighbour in a camper van. Much appreciated, and I hope we were able to convey that.

Had a couple of late afternoon beers with other neighbours – from Brisbane. Told them all about today’s excursion. They had not heard of The Breakaways, but I think we convinced them that it was a worthwhile excursion.

Tea was steak, fries, bacon, with eggs for John and mushrooms for me.

John’s sister phoned and they had a chat.