This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels June 5

TUESDAY 5 JUNE     OLD POLICE WATERHOLE

The morning was windy. Clouds were scudding over from the west, but there was more sunshine than yesterday.

The remaining two sets of campers who had been here last night, left, so we were alone again. But later in the day, two more couples came in.

John’s hip was sore, so he had a camp day. I suspected he might have overdone the lifting and toting yesterday, when playing mechanic.

M and I went walking. Headed down to our end of the waterhole, where it petered out enough for us to cross.

Google Earth view of Old Police Waterhole and the ridge we climbed – to the left
The shallowing end of the waterhole

From there, we bush bashed across to the far ridge, and climbed up onto it, then walked along the top.

Part-way up the ridge. The line of trees marks the Waterhole

There was no particular reason for doing this, except it was there, it was exercise, and we were curious to see what could be seen from there.

Still some way to go….

There were good outlooks from the top, back across to the Waterhole.

Saw a mob of wild horses in the distance. At least we presumed they were wild, but they could have been a mob of station horses, turned out. I think we were quite close to the irregularly shaped Park boundary here.

It was rather hard to find our way down from the ridge again, without back tracking, but we eventually slid and clambered down.

Picking our way down again

Then we angled across to the Old Police Station ruins and back around that end of the Waterhole.

It was a lovely walk, and a great way to finish up our stay here. The only down side was a lot of spinifex scratches and punctures on our arms and legs. Note to self: try not to go walking through spinifex in shorts!

Might look fluffy on top, but it is anything but! Flowering spinifex

Spent a final evening round our fire, after dinner was cooked and dishes done.

The sunsets over the Waterhole had been brilliant.


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2007 Travels June 4

MONDAY 4 JUNE     OLD POLICE WATERHOLE

I was up at 7.30am.

The morning was cloudy, but it was high cloud. There was a strong breeze – from the S-SE. The day remained quite cool, due to the wind, and remained cloudy. At one stage, I wondered if it might rain? The track back out could be a bit tricky in spots if it got really wet. But, I thought to myself, if the worst happened, this was not a bad place to be marooned for a while.

The track down from the loo….

Most of the morning time was devoted to man-work on a broken down Lexus. Yesterday, it had come up the rough Hatches Creek track from the south. The first we knew of any problem was when a couple of men came to our camp to see if John had a drill. He did. He also had the genset to run it with, so there was a considerable unpack of the back of Truck.

The Lexus was three camps back from us, but people from three  other camps ended up involved – us, and two lots who were packed up ready to go, as was the Lexus.

It seemed the tumblers in the ignition slot had collapsed, which meant the steering was locked and the airbag suspension was uneven.

One couple had a sat phone and they managed to get onto the guy’s Toyota dealer, and eventually got almost step by step instructions how to demolish the innards of the steering column. It was really convoluted – there was so much stuff packed in there! Wiring central…..

It took about three hours, and several sat phone calls, but the men finally got it pulled apart, to the point where a screwdriver stuck into something, would allow it to function.

How many men does it take to fix……….

M and I, having a functioning camp, made hot drinks for the others, and eventually I cooked some lunch for all  – savoury pikelets.

The woman from the Lexus was not at all well – it was not really made clear what was wrong with her.  They were intending, from here, to go north to Barkly Homestead on the Barkly Highway – some 150kms of very rough track. They did not leave here until 2pm. We hoped, for her sake, that they make it through with no more breakdowns. I thought they would have been much safer going out the way  we’d come, but the man seemed determined to stick to his original plan. I thought he was ill-advised to do so, particularly given that, of all the guys working on the vehicle fix, he’d seemed to know the least!

After that little demo, they could keep their fancy expensive vehicle – we would stick with the much less sophisticated, but more rugged, Defender!

With not a great deal of the day left, M and John fished in the waterhole. John had caught some crabs and water beetles, overnight, in a net. The fish proved totally not interested, so the crabs were let go, having failed as bait.

While they were thus occupied, I went for a walk – for two hours – down the road to the south of the campground, some of the very rough Frew River Loop Track.

The ranges were low and rocky….

The scenery was interesting and the walk was good exercise. M and John walked out and met me as I was returning. John did not have his Skins on, and his hip was playing up.

The Frew River marked by line of trees

Spent some time at camp admiring the sunset over the waterhole.

The progression of the sunset…….

We had the usual quiet evening by the campfire, and an early night.

A watched dinner never…… ?

It was very windy through the night.


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2007 Travels June 3

SUNDAY 3 JUNE     OLD POLICE WATERHOLE

The day was sunny and warm.

I was up early and sat in the sun, writing  postcards and my diary, until John surfaced.

After breakfast, we set out to walk around the waterhole, which was quite extensive. Although it is on the Frew River, the channel at either end had dried up, so we were able to walk right round, even though there were no real tracks.

Old Police Waterhole – taken from the “entrance” end of the camp area

The Frew River is probably better described as a series of water holes rather than a river in the traditional sense.

Across the other side of the waterhole from the camp area, we found the ruins – just some rocks and stone heaps – of the original Frew River Homestead, one of a couple of cattle stations in the area, which were abandoned in the late 1800’s, due to poor seasons and troubles with the local aboriginals. For these, the waterholes of the river were important places ,where they spent significant amounts of time, camping and hunting. Obviously, the arrival of a new source of meat was going to end in grief.

There were the remains of the Police Station, built in 1919 at the same spot, but abandoned later, when the tungsten (wolfram) mines at nearby Hatches Creek, begun in 1915, ceased working. Now, there were just some remnants of stone walls.

 Continued walking around the waterhole. It took us two hours to complete the circuit – a lovely walk. The low ranges in the near distance were intriguing.

Spinifex in bloom – grevillea too
The other end of the waterhole. Our camp visible as a small patch of white

During the day, three more lots of campers arrived, but the site nearest us remained empty – it was quite small. Not that we are anti-social, but we hoped it stayed that way! The lot that came in yesterday were leaving tomorrow, so there would be a nice site further back, to tempt any more arrivals. Maybe the place being empty when we arrived was an aberration?

I sat by the waterhole for the afternoon, watching the birds, and sewing. M did crosswords. John retreated into the van to play computer games.

Late afternoon at Old Police Waterhole

We had another pleasant evening by the campfire, and an early night.


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2007 Travels June 2

SATURDAY 2 JUNE   DEVILS MARBLES TO OLD POLICE WATERHOLE   175kms

I was up just after dawn. It was a chilly early morning.

The previous night’s full moon was just going down over the Marbles.

I wandered around, again, taking early morning photos of the sunrise over the rocks. M appeared not long after I went out. John slept in.

Early morning Devils Marbles

We got away from there at 9.15, by which time most of the other overnight campers had departed. We were not famed for early starts – something M just had to put up with!

The turnoff we sought was not far north of the Marbles. It was the dirt road east to Kurundi and Epenarra stations. From near Epenarra, we took the Binns Tracks south for 34kms, and then the track into Old Police Waterhole campground, in the Davenport Ranges National Park.

The road quality over the 160kms (about), was variable. At the start, it was “channelled” into multiple deep ruts by wet weather drivers – tricky driving with the van in tow – but after that, improved. The section south from Epenarra was sandy in parts, and it was rocky for the last 9 kms.

Location of Davenport Ranges National Park, showing our access route via Kurundi

It was a very pretty drive, especially from the highway to the Kurundi area. After that, it was open and flat, for a while.

It was into the afternoon when we arrived at the campground. The low ranges around the Waterhole were not visible until the last few kms.

First impression was that it was worth the effort we’d made to get here.

There was a long waterhole, with lots of grass and shade trees in the camping area, which spread out along one side of the pool. There were about eight fire pits/BBQ ‘s scattered through the camp area, and a couple of the Central Australian style ventilated pit toilets too.

With no other campers present we had the choice of camping sites and  set up at a distance from where the track in entered the camp area. There were not really any attractive sites beyond where we were. There was a toilet not too far away, with a track going up a small hill to it. There was a fixed low table and a fireplace.

Camp at Old Police Waterhole

Another couple arrived a while after us, and set up a good distance away, but that was it for the day. Magic solitude!

There was a whistling kite’s nest across the waterhole, with a baby in it. We could hear the kites “talking” to each other in a way that was reminiscent of when we camped by the Cooper Creek at Innamincka.

There were corellas and white-plumed honeyeaters galore – and huge spiders in hanging webs!

M came in here last year, on her way south from Darwin, and camped a couple of nights. She said it was bare and dry then, with much less water in the waterhole.

Old Police Waterhole, by our camp

Now, the holly grevilleas were blossoming, also some wattle species, and the spinifex was blooming. On the way in, we’d seen some bloodwood trees in flower.

This area  is, biologically, the divide between Central and Northern Australia, so there is much diversity.

John and I had not been here before, though it had been on the “one day” list for ages.

Now, seeing it, we decided to stay an extra three nights – four in all. Park fees cost us $6.60 a night – $3.30 each.

After setting up camp for an extended time, we just sat around, admiring the outlook over the waterhole, and enjoying the general peacefulness of the place.

We cooked dinner on the BBQ plate provided on the fireplace.

Not his best angle!

It was great to be able to sit round a campfire again. The night was pretty cool though! It was so quiet, with just the bush noises from the occasional night bird, insects and frogs. It is getting increasingly hard to find these really peaceful, solitary,  places.