This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels September 18

TUESDAY 18 SEPTEMBER     NEWMAN TO LEONORA   750kms

We were away early, again, with another long day of driving ahead of us.

Stopped to refuel at Capricorn Roadhouse – $1.51cpl.

This was all previously driven country for us, but new to M, once south of Newman.

The country became flatter, south of the Pilbara range region. The scrub became saltbush dominated. Regular west flowing floodway crossings – all dry – were the most interesting feature, as the scrub was thicker along the waterways, and there were some trees.

We made a toilet and drinks stop at Kumarina Roadhouse.

About 90kms south of Kumarina, turned onto the unsealed Neds Creek road – the “short cut” south east, past Neds Creek and New Springs, to Wiluna.

Corner Neds Creek track and the Great Northern Highway

There were lots of wildflowers along this section, but for the most part it was flat and scrubby, with occasional crossings of dry waterways to liven things up.

The last 40kms or so of this road, before Wiluna, is actually the first part of the legendary Canning Stock Route, which heads N-NW to eventually reach Halls Creek in the Kimberley. This was on our bucket list, to drive, sometime soon – a trip of at least 21 days, from Wiluna to Halls Creek, and not a track on which to take the caravan! Except for the section from Well 2 to Wiluna, which we were doing now.

When the Canning Stock Route was established as a droving route, wells were sunk at regular intervals, to provide watering points. Some of these have been, in recent times, restored, to provide water for 4WD travellers doing the Route. Well 1 is near Wiluna, Well 51 is by Lake Gregory, south of Billiluna Community, where the Canning Stock Route joins the Tanami Track.

We turned off, briefly, to have a quick look at Well 2 and stretch our legs.

Stopped at Wiluna to refuel. $1.60 cpl. Apart from that, it was not a place that tempted one to linger.

From Wiluna south, the road was a good, sealed, one again. The country was increasingly arid and scrubby.

Country south of Wiluna (Google)

We did not call in to Leinster, just off the road south. We had seen it before – just the typical purpose built mining service centre.

Continued on to Leonora. Refuelled – 1.44cpl.

There, we stopped at the accommodation lodge that was owned by the NT construction company we worked for, last year, in the Pilbara. We wanted to catch up with a couple of our co-workers from RV1, who were now managing the lodge. Also, having heard so much talk about it last year, and having despatched my office supplies and other gear there, towards the end of the project, I was curious to see the place.

R said we could park our rigs in the grounds, and even hook up to a power point. We did not need a second invitation!

The Lodge was quite an impressive set up. There were lots of donga rooms, which M had looking really good inside – comfortable and clean. These were linked by covered walkways to give a more unified appearance than the separate units of the rail villages. The gardens were coming on and the pool looked inviting.

With all the recently renewed mining and exploration activity in the surrounding area, there was a real need for this type of short term accommodation.

There were not many guests in, today, so R and M were able to give us just about their full attention. Their 4WD had been stolen, very recently, by “locals”. They had broken a locked gate into the yard to get at it. It was recovered, quite wrecked, but R intended to try to rebuild it. There were big problems in the town, apparently, from the “local” element and their friends and relations from Kalgoorlie.

In the grounds, there was one accommodation donga building that had been brought down from RV1. It was somewhat cyclone battered. My old office donga from RV2 was also there. It had been rolled over by the cyclone, which had still been strong enough, some 250kms inland, to do that! It was a real mess inside – jumbled up desks and filing cabinets; obviously nothing had been done to clear it out after it had been trucked down here.

We talked about the company’s current projects, and got news of other people we had worked with.

Eventually, we retired to our rigs – R and M had work to attend to and it was time for us to cook our dinners.

A 10litre cask of water had shifted around inside the van, and worn itself a hole in the liner, and leaked onto the floor where it had been sitting. Fortunately, most of the water had been soaked up by the floor rugs, but some things on the floor of some cupboards and under the bed  had gotten wet. I probably should have carried the cask in a bucket or the washing dish. Hindsight is wonderful!


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2006 Travels December 6

WEDNESDAY 6 DECEMBER   NEWMAN TO LEONORA   730kms

Up early, while it was still relatively cool – and we were used to early starts. Quick basic breakfast. Hitching up again did not take too long, and away we went.

This trip was all about getting home, so we were not planning any sight seeing or side tracking. Just long days of driving.

It was soon really hot again, though. Going south was not making much difference. The Truck was not coping with both towing in temperatures well over 40, and having the air con on, so we had to manage with just the windows down and hoping the wind coming in was slightly cooling. Hope being the operative word.

Topped up the fuel at Kumarina Roadhouse. $1.62cpl. Bought cold drinks.

South of Kumarina, we stopped for a break at a Gascoyne River crossing. The river channel here – one of several at the headwaters of this large river system – had some water in it.

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Gascoyne River channel

We had decided to try taking the unsealed Neds Creek road, which went south east from the highway, through to Wiluna. Various tradies from Leonora and Kalgoorlie had told us this was a much better quality way than going via Meekatharra.

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Gravel section of Neds Creek road

We found this way pretty smooth, and could make reasonable speed on the red dirt road. There were few other vehicles on it. There were still wildflowers in bloom, in places –  pretty.

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We stopped part way along its length to stretch legs again and eat the sandwiches I’d made this morning.

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Road was a bit sandier here

Some 40kms north of Wiluna, the Neds Creek road was also the southern part of the legendary Canning Stock Route, so we could now say we had been on this – however briefly – as far as from Wiluna to Well 1. Not that we stopped to look for Well 1.

The Canning – originally pioneered to bring cattle from the Kimberley to southern markets – is the longest stock route in the world, depending on 51 wells sunk along its distance to water the travelling stock.  However, it was not used for any length of time and these days is a difficult 4WD track that takes about three weeks to traverse from Wiluna to Halls Creek. It was on our to-do list, but we had not yet managed to get that expedition off the ground. This was definitely not a trek that it was sensible to do alone and we hadn’t managed to find friends with a suitable rig that they were prepared to chance on it. We still hoped……

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At the small, mostly indigenous settlement of Wiluna, we were back on sealed roads. Topped up the fuel again here – $1.46 cpl.

By the time we reached Leonora, we’d had enough driving for the day. Refuelled truck – $1.45cpl.

Got a powered site at the Leonora Caravan Park – $20. We were able to stay hitched up.

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Leonora Caravan Park

I was a little curious about  Leonora Lodge – the accommodation facility being developed by the company we’d been working for, but this was not the time to be going to see it – we were weary. We had visited Leonora before, a couple of years ago, and seen its main sights then – principally, the Sons of Gwalia mine and historic display.

It was another night much like the last, except the place was much quieter. Shower, tea, early night.

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