This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

Leave a comment

2004 Travels September 1


It was the first day of spring. The morning was warm enough for us to go back to wearing shorts, which we hadn’t been in for days.

Through the day there was some fleecy cloud build up.

John had not set the alarm last night so we slept late. By the time we got up at 8.30am, the other campers that had been here, probably about six lots, had left.

Resize of 09-01-2004 01 Camp Warburton.JPG

Morning at Warnurton camp

Went to visit the Art Centre, which had been promoted in some of the literature we had. It had a very impressive gallery collection of a representative sample of the art from the Lands and its associated communities. It made for really interesting browsing.

We sifted through the unmounted canvas art works they had in a pile, for sale. Bought three acrylic on canvas works. All very different. One had an orange background, reminiscent of the desert sands, and showed shapes and patterns representing a water hole and people meeting there. A multi coloured one represented foods, with flowers and ants. A somewhat larger one of predominantly purple, pink and black tones had patterns of shapes – I really loved that one. All came with provenance about the artists. We parted with $480 – very reasonable prices, we thought.

Resize of 09-01-2004 art w.JPG

One of our new art works

Had a very interesting talk with the lady running the Art Centre. She was quite adamant that the people had to be organized by whites, or nothing was achieved. She said that the local CDEP scheme was being made into a “must work for 20 hours a week” rule. Otherwise, no benefit would be paid. She was rather sceptical that this would work – said it would mean that even more of the teenage girls would get pregnant, to get benefit money that way.

But she felt that there were some positive aspects in the area – the people still had much “culture” and connection to the land. But they steal. Her view was that, despite all the car wrecks, indigines never die by the road, even though they do not go out equipped for remote travel. But four white fellows had died – she did not say over what time span that was.

We noticed that the fuel bowsers at the roadhouse were inside really heavy steel cages. No self serve around there!

Resize of 09-02-2004 02 Petrol Bowsers Warukurna 2.JPG

High security fuel bowsers

There were notices on the roadhouse doors – “No Kimbie, no enter”. i.e. no little kids with bare bottoms were allowed in. The circumstances that made such a notice necessary did not need  much thinking about!

Today was a much more leisurely day and thus very enjoyable. I think that even John had concluded that yesterday was too much!

We were able to doodle along, actually stop to take photos and to have some walks around.

John emptied the jerry can into the fuel tank.

The road was more corrugated.

We “lost” 90 minutes today, by going east.

Ate our packed lunch beside the road, and walked around, looking at plants and the scenery in general.

Saw more camels.

Resize of 09-02-2004 05 Gunbarrel Camels 3.JPG

I tried to take a photo that would be suitable to enlarge for our wall at home – of Truck, van and the “desert”. Actually, said desert continued to have lush growth and lots of flowers!

Resize of 09-02-2004 11 On the Gunbarrel 3.JPG

Then, we came up over a low ridge and there in the distance was the Rawlinson Range. The country had changed from the dune type arid lands to a much more classic Central Australian appearance. It was wonderful.

Resize of 09-02-2004 08 Rawlinson Range 3.JPG

The ranges made the last section, coming into Warakurna, delightful.

Resize of 09-01-2004 more rawlinson range.jpg

Refuelled at Warakurna Roadhouse – $1.50cpl. Filled the jerry can too.

We set up in the roadhouse camp ground – $16 for the night. The campground was alright.

Resize of 09-01-2004 05 Camp Warukurna.JPG

Warakurna camp

This afternoon and evening was much better. We were able to relax before tea and I could take my time cooking it.

Travelling corrugated roads had become very tiring and we had an early night to bed.

Resize of 09-01-2004 to wr.JPG

Leave a comment

2004 Travels August 31


Another early start, on a cold but sunny morning. There was some cloud about.

Now we were embarking on the dirt road to the north west. The Great Central Road, loosely and erroneously called by some, the Gunbarrel Highway. It was pretty good quality though. We were mostly able to bowl along at 70-80kmh.

I had wanted for years to drive this road. It had been on the original plans for 2001.

Resize of 08-31-2004 02 the Great Central road.jpg

On the Great Central Road – at last!

The lush growth of bushes, grasses, mulga continued – and regular wild flowers in bloom, as were a lot of the shrubs. If I’d been driving and on my own, I would have stopped a number of times to photograph some of these – beautiful and unusual. But, unfortunately, John was in no-stop mode. So we missed many opportunities to stop and savour this different environment.

Resize of 08-31-2004 01 on Great Central rd at last.jpg

We encountered a group of aboriginals with a broken down vehicle. Stopped – cautiously – to see if they were alright. They had a car and trailer and there were problems with the trailer. There were four adults and three children. They had been broken down there since yesterday, they said. I could not work out why someone just didn’t take the car and drive for assistance! Maybe they just didn’t think of that? I gave them some fruit and fruit box drinks, for the kids. We took a message for them – to the next roadhouse – Tjukayirla – to be phoned back to Cosmo Newbury settlement to send out help for them.

Resize of 08-31-2004 on road to warburton.jpg

Stopped to eat lunch at the Beegull Rockholes/caves. These were natural depressions in the rock, which held water for a long time, and so were valuable wells for the traditional aboriginals – before cars and roadhouses!

Resize of 08-31-2004 04 Beegull Waterholes.jpg

Beegull Rock Holes

We had a bit of a wander around here, whilst eating. It was nice to have a break from Truck!

Resize of 08-31-2004 rocks at beegull waterholes.jpg

Cave at Beegull Rock Holes

The terms of our permit – WA stretch – had been quite adamant that we were not to stray from the road, make any side detours, or camp except at the roadhouses. So we were conscious of this limited access. However, the Rockholes were marked on the map we were following, and its notes indicated exploring here was alright.

Resize of 08-31-2004 stop at waterholes.jpg

Outlook to the north

There was very little other traffic on the road.

There were lots of abandoned vehicle bodies – burnt out and ratted for parts. Later, we were told that there was a major loss of face for the locals if they abandoned a vehicle that had broken down, only to have someone else get it going! So they burnt them, to make sure that did not happen! Face was a very significant driver of behaviour in indigenous communities.

There were so many car bodies that some humorist had attempted to number them, with white paint.

Resize of 08-31-2004 03 many derelicts.jpg

We stopped – too briefly – at Tjukayirla Roadhouse. Got fuel – $1.50cpl! The roadhouse appeared well run by the Blackstone community people.

I had planned that we would stop in the campground there, for the night. 300kms from Laverton seemed like a good day to me, on the unsealed roads. But John was determined to push on to Warburton.

Resize of 08-31-2004 05 more Great Central road.jpg

After Tjukayirla, the road was very corrugated for quite some time. That slowed us down and made for unpleasant travel.

There were some small herds of wild camels beside the road.

Resize of 09-02-2004 04 Gunbarrel Camels 2.JPG

We stopped again for another group of aboriginals, whose car was still burning. They were a ruffianly looking lot. They asked if we had cigarettes and Coke. Couldn’t help them on either count, but I went to the van to see what I could dredge up, as a gesture. They crowded me at the van door and seemed unduly anxious to get a look into the caravan. I suspected they were hoping to spot some alcohol – don’t know what might have happened had they done so! I gave them some water and a packet of rice crackers. I was sure that was not what they were hoping for – they did not look impressed! We agreed to take a message to Warburton for them, and were quite relieved to drive away from the group.

We were still driving when dark came, at about 5.30pm. That made driving harder.

We had been going through dune country for some time by now – but the road remained firm, if corrugated. The country was still interesting, even though I was totally fed up with the long driving day.

It was great to come over a dune and see the lights of Warburton in the distance. But it took ages to actually get there – one could see so far out there!

The roadhouse was shut when we got there. There was no answer when I tried what appeared to be the manager’s house.  So we proceeded to set up in the camp area behind the roadhouse. There was a big gate that we had to open.

After some setting up, I went to the toilets – only to discover they were locked. Made sense in a place like that. Luckily, I then saw the manager coming out of the back of the roadhouse, and he got a key for us. I passed on the message from the stranded group.

We paid $18 for the night – and had power.

We were even able to watch The Bill on TV, though the image wasn’t great.

The nearby community seemed pretty quiet, through the night. Some occasional raised voices and barking dogs.

It had been a very long day. Far too long to be enjoyable. I did not like sitting cramped up for such a long time, without much chance to exercise and get the blood circulating again. We had driven , in one day, what I’d intended would take two. It seemed a shame to rush, in this way, a route that we were unlikely to drive again, but I was, literally, not in the driver’s seat.

We were in bed by 10pm.

It was a cold night, but not as bad as the previous three nights had been.

Resize of 08-31-2004 to w