Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback Itinerary
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Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week One
Leading up to the big event ………………
Sunday 7th July was the official starting day for the ‘2002 Tractors in the Outback’ tour. For the teams from Esperance and Albany however, their journey began sooner. These teams were already on the road a week earlier because they first had to travel up to Dongara and join the Midwest team.
Pre trek ‘activity’ was already happening 3 days before the start. On Thursday 4th, the Dongara crew arrived at the Greenough River around eight o’clock and set up camp with the 9G South group (formerly known as the “Albany mob”). An evening of hilarity prevailed as an initiation ceremony was held to initiate the new trekkers. Promises were made, belly buttons displayed and the sign of initiation was placed on the initiate’s forehead. During the night a big gust of wind arrived, bringing with it some rain, ominous beginnings.
Friday 5th and the two groups set out for the Murchison settlement. At morning teatime, Peter Nunn had a mishap when the lid on his toolbox came crashing down on his head. He received a severe cut on his skull. Luckily the registered nurse was in the vehicle behind, and came immediately to his assistance. He was cleansed, shaved, treated and bandaged by the nurse and the club fairy came with her magic wand and gave a super strength zap for speedy healing. The group lunched at the Murchison River, and finally arrived at the Murchison settlement at 3pm.
Most of the other trekkers had already arrived and settled into their campsites. The Esperance crew however was still in transit and arrived a few hours later. The contingent was now complete. The community at Murchison Settlement put on an evening meal and attended the bar at their Sports Club. An auction was held by the club to raise money for charity.
Sunday,7th July, the official starting day and everyone was greeted by a noisy “feral” Chamberlain 9G which had been trucked in to show the trekkers what a “real 9G” should look like. The ‘feral’ was flying the Chamberlain flag which the driver had paid $100 for at the auction the night before.
The tractors all lined up for a grand photo shoot (with the ‘feral’) in preparation for the official beginning of the trek. The Shire President, Simon Broad and CEO, Neil Warne of the Murchison Shire gave speeches and then the trek received a blessing from the outback travelling Presbyterian minister, David Hart and his wife Doreen. Life member, Ron Bywaters, flagged the tractors off in grand style with a bottle of champagne; each tractor receiving a small portion of the ‘bubbly’.
As the convoy travelled along the road, an unexpected surprise appeared by way of a roadside fire and table. Station Owners of Curbur Station and Mt Narryer Station had arrived with homemade scones, and were making billy tea on their fire, which was provided to the trekkers for a late morning tea. Country hospitality at its best.
That evening, camp was set up at the Wooramel River. A visit was made to Billung pool which was a beautiful big billabong with tall gum trees. Many lamented the fact that the campsite should have been there, the previous night.
On the road again, and it was a fairly full day trekking until arriving at the Landor Race track. The Landor Race track was an amazing scene. There were large pavilions, beer huts everywhere, stables, toilets and showers, and private shelter-cum-entertainment areas which would have been erected by all the different stations.
The next morning, Tuesday, 9th, it was time to pull up camp and head north again. After morning-tea the group stopped at the Jilgoo store and Burringarra aboriginal community. As the school holidays “were on” there were lots of young aboriginal kiddies who were excited about the tractors and climbed all over them to have their photos taken. Later in the day the group arrived at Mt Augustus Caravan Park. Mt Augustus is the largest rock in the world.
A quiz night was held in the evening which was preceded with music on the keyboard by Fiona Nunn and Susan Henderson. The quiz was organised by Vicki and Patsy Smith and included many questions about the Chamberlain 9G and some of the earlier model of other types of tractor. There were also games and competitions during the evening which provided lots of fun and laughter. Fiona Nunn (age 13) recited her ‘ballad’ which she wrote about her experience with the dunnies at the Landor race track.
Wednesday 10th was a rest day, but was mostly spent either climbing the rock, walking trails or exploring other areas. Some aboriginals at the caravan park were wearing gold nuggets around their necks and allowed the trekkers to hold and examine them.
The next day was a photo session opportunity with all the tractors lined up in front of Mt Augustus. After the photos, it was off again up north through the station country and set up a bush camp at Mt Vernon station. Driving along the dusty road and the group noticed it was being checked out by a light aircraft. It was the station owner from further back along the track, and he landed alongside the road so some of the trekkers stopped and chatted and caught up with some news.
Jeanette Siviour made 5 loaves of bread in the camp oven over the coals of the camp fire. Yum-yum. When Jeanette makes her lovely fresh bread, everyone wants to be her best friend, in the hope of being given some bread.
Friday 12th, was a lovely day on the road with many sightings of birds and kangaroos, including what looked like an albino joey. Whilst driving through Ashburton Downs Station an authentic message left for Cedar Armstrong on the boundary fence was spotted. It was a large woven polyester sack which had been written on with felt pen and tied to the fence. Cedar’s next door neighbours had heard about the trek on the radio and knew he was in the area. They said they camped for 5 days waiting for him to arrive, and left the note for all to see.
That night the group camped at Rocklea station which is owned by Hamersley Iron, the mining company. The station manager Rob, and his wife Amanda and two small children called in to visit and look at the tractors.
Now Saturday 13th, and it was off to an early start to get in to Tom Price to find the shops and stock up on stores. Most of the club set up camp at Thompson Oval, although a few trekkers made their way to the caravan park.
Next day, the group set out for the Karijini National Park which is about 50 km from Tom Price. The ranger found the group a camping area close to Dale’s Gorge which was another 45 km into the park.
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week two
Sunday, 14th July and Jimmy and Faye Cole had a major blow out on their rear tractor tyre. Arrangements were made by two-way radio along the convoy for John and Derek Henderson to arrive into camp, and take the rear-wheel off their tractor and to then transport it back to where Jimmy and Faye were. With the borrowed tyre now fitted, the Coles were able to drive into camp. At this stage, arrangements were made for a spare tyre to be transported from Perth. This took a few days to arrive, and by the time it came, the trekkers had already departed the Karijini National Park. The Coles joined back up with the convoy at Marble Bar.
The camping area at the Karijini National Park was a fairly basic affair. As the school holidays were still on, the park was filled to capacity, and trekkers were grateful that the rangers were able to find a suitable place for everyone to park and set up camp. There were toilets available, but no showers. The ranger came and inspected all the National Parks Permits, which were then recorded.
After a very cold night, the next morning had many in the camp woken by the sound of dingoes. Apparently the dingoes had wandered into the camp, and Margaret McLaughlin reported that her peg-bag had been dragged along, spilling pegs on the ground. Cedar Armstrong showed his group the ice that had formed on the surface of a tub of water, which had been left out overnight.
The trekkers went every way possible to see as many of the gorges as they could. Some of these included, Fortescue Falls, Dales Gorge, Joffre Falls, Weeno Gorge and Fern Pool. Some of these sights were only 5 – 10 minutes from the camping area, and others were about an hour away using the tractors.
Late in the afternoon Russell Morgan and his father Harry, who had driven up from Perth, joined the group. Russell had come to collect his daughter Bronte who had spent three weeks with the Southern 9G Group after having joined the trek at Pingelly. A film show was hosted that evening by a C.A.L.M. activities coordinator. An interesting evening was well attended by trekkers who took in the open-air theatre, complete with coffee and popcorn.
On Tuesday 16th some of the trekkers broke camp and headed off to the Auski Roadhouse, where they made welcome use of the showers and washing machines. The rest of the contingent stayed on and enjoyed the sight-seeing opportunities. The Southern 9G group challenged the Dongara group to a game of Softball. Unfortunately, the ground was gravely and very slippery and a number of injuries were sustained during the game. A draw was recorded, although further challenges are unlikely without a suitable ‘field’.
The next day the convoy re-grouped at the Auski Roadhouse and continued on to Hill Side Station for another bush camp. The hills around the station are a very unusual formation, and from a distance, the rocky outcrops resemble chocolate drizzling down the sides of a yummy cake. (Probably Chocolate Mud Cake)
There were a few sightings of the Sturt Desert Pea, in flower, although there were many more plants in bud quite a while away from flowering. Rock Wallabies could be seen from the campsite jumping over the rocky terrain.
Many of the sub-groups within the convoy carry demountable ‘bush showers’. Generally, these consist of a shelter, made from a poly-tarpaulin around a frame. Water is heated in a bucket on the campfire, which is then poured into a canvas bag with a showerhead attached to it. With the bag attached to the top of the shelter, a very welcome shower can be had. It is amazing, that when such conditions prevail, how little water one actually needs to get clean. This is a very good lesson to take home.
Thursday 18th July and most of the trekkers left Hill Side Station and proceeded on to Marble Bar. Max Smith was fortunate to ‘run into’ the station truck and ended up being taken in the helicopter to help with the mustering.
Hugh Campbell had ‘contacts’ who were involved in a gold mining operation, which could be accessed through a by-pass road through some very beautiful country. This detour took in about 240kms. The group travelled along flowing creeks, through some particularly handsome ranges with lots of lush growth, which tempted the travellers to stop. Undaunted they continued on (even though a couple of punctures were sustained along the way) and finally arrived at the site around mid-day. The miners onsite were well pleased to see some new faces, greeted the trekkers and offered a lunch consisting of pies and sausage rolls, kebabs, jelly cups and tea and coffee.
Many of the trekkers were looking forward to checking out the local hotel, which reminded them of other outback hotels experienced on the last trek like the Birdsville Hotel.
Friday 19th July, it was time to enjoy some local sights at Marble Bar including the Chinaman’s Pool, Marble Bar, the Jasper Mine and the Gold Mine. The group travelled on out to the banks of the DeGrey River. This was a very picturesque place, and the trekkers were happy to spread out right along the banks and under some lovely shady trees to set up camp. A good place for camp fires, an evening meal and lots of camaraderie.
Saturday 20th, another day on the road. A footy tipping exercise was held over the two-way radio, with everybody tipping the winner for the Derby between the West Coast Eagles and the Dockers. Kim Henderson won for his tip for the Dockers to win by 20 points. (They eventually won by 30 points!) Thankyou to Ken Ore and Foodland for the prizes for the football tipping exercise.
Brenda Dowsett set up a music corner in the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park, and entertained fellow travellers with music and song. As Brenda played her piano accordion Ivan Siviour accompanied her on drum, and Susan Henderson on the Keyboard. Fiona Nunn played her keyboard and sung a number of songs.
A photo shoot was held on the 80-mile beach with all the tractors lined up in front of the waves.
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week three
Sunday 21st, yet another fairly easy day on the road travelling some 252km to camp at Port Smith. A Bird Park was situated on site on the way to the beach area, which was really a tidal mangrove lagoon. The tide was right out at the time of the visit so the fishermen were disappointed.
The next day and the club was very fortunate to have secured accommodation at the Broome Caravan Park. Broome was in full ‘Tourist Mode’ with ‘wall-to-wall’ people. The overflows on all the caravan parks was already overflowing and people were being allowed to camp at the rodeo grounds and shooting club!
The camping space provided was very limited, and the trekkers were tightly packed, but once again, very glad to have showers and washing machines available.
Tuesday 23rd & Wednesday 24th was a time for either rest or sightseeing. Everyone did his or her own thing for the most part. Tractors lined up at the Mangrove Hotel in Broome where the management had organised a fabulous evening for the trekkers, locals and other visitors to town.
The club would like to thank and acknowledge the support of the owners and management of the Mangrove Hotel who provided the prize of airfare and accommodation for the raffle held by the club for fund raising. Also a big thankyou to the Broome Pearl Shed who generously donated mounted Pearl shells to the club to be raffled along the track at suitable venues. On Wednesday, the Broome Caravan Park had organised a sausage sizzle, which was well attended by trekkers and travellers.
Thursday 25th it was off to Derby. The residents of Derby promised to give the trekkers a time they would forget, and boy, did they deliver!
The convoy assembled at the entrance of the famous Derby jetty and proceeded right out and onto the jetty itself, which easily accommodated all of the tractors and support vehicles. Upon parking up, the trekkers were advised that this would be the campsite. This was a tad unexpected to say the least. The sea-rescue group (and others) organised our stay at the jetty and the club was able to leave their vehicles and property in the security of the port when they were bussed into town.
A fabulous BBQ meal was supplied with the help of the RFDS staff and supporters at the Derby Sportsman club. One of the pilots said that in all the time he had been stationed in Derby, it was the first opportunity he had to actually participate in helping at such a function, as he was usually on-call or away on a call. A local group provided live entertainment
On Friday 26th the Sea Rescue group arrived early and cooked the trekkers a fabulous breakfast, consisting of cereal, bacon, eggs, tomatoes and toast, tea & coffee all for a charge of $2. You lived up to your promise.
The convoy left Derby and arrived at Windjana Gorge mid afternoon. On the Gibb River Road the trekkers came across the Variety Bash tour who were on their way to Derby.
It was disappointing that there was so little water in the gorge, and what water was around was quite stagnant. However it didn’t seem to bother the local crocodile community, which was obviously thriving and unconcerned by the tourists who stopped to admire them swimming and sunning themselves.
Saturday 27th, time to leave Windjana Gorge and head onto Silent Grove Camping Area. Most of the trekkers went to visit Bell Gorge, which was a long and rocky walk to the gorge area. Once there, one could wade in the shallow waters at the top, or hike over the hilly area and down the steep descent on the other side. Many made their way down, to be rewarded with an idyllic swimming area where the waterfall cascaded from the rocks above.
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week Four
Sunday 28th July, most of the trekkers took the opportunity to fill up tanks and containers with the lovely fresh water available at the Silent Grove camp site. This water is reputed to be some of the sweetest water in Western Australia.
For those who stopped at the roadhouse for morning tea, a strange sight awaited them, in the form of a tame brolga, whose companion was an ancient fat black Labrador dog. The lady at the shop fed the brolga some bread, which it ate, untroubled by all the attention from the visitors.
The club acknowledges and thanks the owners/managers at Mt Barnett Station for allowing us to set up camp in a paddock close to Manning Gorge.
As all trekkers are fully equipped for all emergencies (including showers and toilets) they were able to be self-sufficient campers, close to one of the water holes. Manning Gorge and its surrounding tourist attractions were out of bounds, due to recent storm damage. The convoy rolled into camp over the afternoon, with some of the crew coming in quite late due to damage to trailers and flat tyres.
Monday 29th had trek participants enjoying the opportunity for some well-deserved rest and recreation. The campsite was a gorgeous oasis with a gently flowing stream around a little island, which was accessible by a very short swim. Repairs and maintenance for the tractors, support vehicles and trailers were also seen to. Kim Henderson’s welder and large generator were in hot demand as there were many heavy-duty repairs to be done. The badly corrugated surface of the Gibb River road had taken its toll, especially with some of the trailers.
Tuesday 30th and more time for rest & recreation, hand washing, and vehicle maintenance. Darcy Stevens and Paul Nunn (both aged 11) took every opportunity at rivers and waterholes to try their hand at fishing. This camp was no exception, and they managed to catch quite a few cherubim, which are small fresh water crustaceans, a little bit similar to yabbies, and good eating. Being enterprising young men, they sold their catch to the highest bidder. The first catch of cherubim they put up for auction at the “joke night” and donated most of the bid to the club for charity.
During the evening the whole camp gathered together for a joke night. The “Year of the Outback Flag” was proudly hung up, under a huge boab tree and set the scene. A “P.A.” system and floodlights were set up, which allowed the performers to be seen and heard easily.
Ken Taylor put forward a proposal for a small trek to travel the Holland Track to Rawlinna during 2003. The club was also asked their opinion about the future of the “Year of the Outback” flag. The group unanimously decided that it should remain the property of the club, rather than auctioning it off to the highest bidder.
Wednesday 31st, back on the road again to Russ Creek. There was a lot of traffic on the Gibb River Road, and it was very common to see vehicles traveling at excessive speeds (for the road conditions) of around 100 kph. In almost every instance, these speeding vehicles were seen to be hired four-wheel drives.
It was decided to travel on past the designated camp at Russ Creek, and the group continued on for another 20 km to a lovely shaded area along an old creek bed. A buck’s party and a doe’s night were held for Geoff Faulkes (Boris) and Suzanne Wood (Doris) who are both from Albany.
Thursday 1st August, most of the tractors and support crew were on the road, when the call came from the crew of “Scraggy” for the welder to do some urgent repairs to their tractor. The road was exceptionally rough along this patch up to where the graders were on the road, about 90km from Kununurra.
Donald McLaughlin took first prize, managing to get two flat tyres at the same time on the same side of his Nissan ute. A decision was made for the convoy to spend the night at Home Valley Homestead, and again the trekkers welcomed showers, a swimming pool and a little shop.
Friday 2nd August, had Ivan Siviour, together with brothers Gary and Stan Snook sneaking off early in the morning to go on a fishing trip with a man from the station. Stan Snook managed to catch a metre long barramundi. Congratulations Stanley! Ivan also caught a barra, which was just undersized and had to be thrown back. The trekkers were glad to have finished that section of road as they pulled into El Questro and set up camp along the river.
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week five
Saturday 3rd and there was great excitement and anticipation in the camp as the “real-life” wedding was to take place for Suzanne Wood and Geoff Faulkes, alias Doris and Boris.
All the tractors were given a good wash and decorated with white wedding ribbons, as they were to form a guard of honour. During the day, among other things, the bride-to-be spent considerable time giving haircuts to many of the male trekkers. This was a very generous and noble act.
The bride looked radiant, wearing a deep purple Indian pantsuit (Punjabi) complete with shawl. Two fairy girls attended her, Susan Henderson, (bridesmaid) wearing purple and Maddie Stevens, wearing aquamarine (flower girl).
The groom was transported to the ceremony by his Best Man, Kim Henderson, in Kim’s tractor ‘Priscilla’, while the bride travelled in Cedar Armstrong’s tractor ‘In Like Flynn’, which had been renamed, ‘In Like Boris’ for the occasion. Geoff DePledge drove the ‘fairy girls’ in his tractor ‘Ruff N’Tuff’’.
Just as the bride and attendants arrived at the scene, a helicopter flew overhead to take aerial photos. Thank you to Hugh (Cumber) Campbell, who arranged this at short notice. The alter was set on the lawn, with the beautiful river and overhanging trees as a backdrop, and potted plants placed to mark out the area.
The wedding celebrant, Teddy Birch, who had travelled from Wyndham, officiated at the ceremony. The Bride’s mother June flew from Perth to be with her daughter, Suzanne for the happy event, and stayed with the group for a week.
Cedar Armstrong gave the bride away, then the bride and groom exchanged vows. Champagne was served on the lawns, as Mr. & Mrs. Faulkes were presented to the wedding party, before speeches and photos. A lovely Smorgasbord was enjoyed outside the El Questro restaurant, around a huge fire.
On the following day, August 4th, on the way out of El Questro Station, many of the trekkers took the opportunity to stop at Zebedee Springs to bathe in the thermal springs. Then it was time to be back on the road again. Another stop along the way was Emma Gorge, which is also operated by El Questro. Emma Gorge is another picturesque and relaxing resort style restaurant and bungalow accommodation.
Some trekkers detoured to have a look at Wyndam, while others continued on to Kununurra and planned to do a day trip from there. Most of the convoy camped at the Show Grounds, while a few others found sites at nearby caravan parks.
Monday 5th, a day in Kununurra and many different tours were taken by the travellers, including river cruises, and scenic flights which flew over the Ord River, Bungle Bungles, Carr Boyd Ranges, Texas Downs station, Lake Argyle, and the Argyle Diamond Mine.
Hugh Campbell was fortunate enough to have a friend with a river boat, and took the Dongara crew for a sunset cruise up the river, and then skippered the boat for a repeat performance the following evening for the 9G South group. Kununurra was the last opportunity for the ‘big shop’ as most of the crew needed to stock up for the following 4 weeks and the Canning Stock Route.
A huge social and fund raising evening was held at the Hotel Kununurra. A special thanks you to the Managers/Licensee of the hotel, as well as the ladies from the Chamber of Commerce who managed to extract donations of merchandise from almost every business in town, or so it seemed.
These items were auctioned by Gary Snook and raised over $4,000 for charity. Even the food for the BBQ was donated. Another fun evening all round, as the karaoke machine was cranked up, and trekkers showed how well they could sing.
Tuesday 7th, a fairly unhurried start to the day, to pack and do last minute shopping before heading out to Lake Argyle which was about 80km to travel. The campsite at Lake Argyle was situated quite close to the dam wall, next to the pub/restaurant. All of the old buildings at Lake Argyle were built for the construction workers when the dam was constructed and were expected to have a life of about 5 years. They are still in constant use, but are looking very tired. There are a few new transportables, which house the offices for the tour operators.
Wednesday 8th and Geoff DePledge and Ivan Siviour were fortunate to have been contacted by Andy Scherell (ex Kendenup) who has a commercial fishing license to fish on Lake Argyle. They left with Andy around 4am to go out on the boat and watch the net fishing.
A tour of the pumping station and hydro electricity station was held during the morning. Later in the afternoon many of the trekkers took Lake Cruises which ran for either 3 or 5 hours, and visited the many islands to observe the wildlife. Some of the sightings included Short Eared rock wallabies, euros, bustards, crocodiles, ducks, egrets and many, many other bird species.
Drinks and nibblies were enjoyed on the cruises as they stopped for a while to view the sunset across the water.
Friday 9th August, we packed up, said our goodbyes and headed along down the road again. Gilly Ollerenshaw and Suzanne Faulk’s mother left the trek from Lake Argyle. Grace and Ian Steinert were there to wave us off.
Turned tracks up toward the Northern Territory and eventually reached the border, at the Timbercreek and Katherine signs. We turned south along the Duncan Highway – at one point; Lake Argyle was only about 18km from the road.
The scenery was more varied than the Gibb River Road – more shady trees etc. The road was a little rough in patches, but really quite reasonable.
Ivan Siviour, and the Snooks tried their hand at fishing at the little river where we pulled up for lunch. Ron and Jean Baird pulled in 3 big bream in a very short time, but no one else was successful. A few of the crew had a swim. The river was cool, clear and deep.
That evening the trekkers pulled into Spring Creek Station homestead and camped on the lawn. There was very good water available for us to use.
The station managers were known to Hugh Campbell (president) and Peter Nunn (vice-president). As usual Hugh was a delight to watch as he inspected the machinery sheds. He was able to get some of the old motors working in extra quick time for the station people, who were amazed and grateful.
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week six
Saturday, 10th we left Spring Creek Station for Nicholson Station campsite. Stopped for morning tea under the shade of a tree.
The ‘Esperance Hendersons’ had two flat tyres so it wasn’t a very good day for them. We went through two of Janet Holmes A’Court’s stations of which Nicholson Station was one – it was a big day. The designated campsite was nowhere to be seen so each group eventually sought out their own camping spots.
The Albany crew and some of the Esperance crew went on ahead and hoped to camp at Palm Springs, however it turned out to be little more than a “truck bay” although the springs were pretty. There were some aboriginal people there, fishing further up the creek. They told us to cross the road and backtrack a little bit to Saw Pit Gorge. We followed their advice and stayed the night there. Saw Pit Gorge is an extremely beautiful place and we all enjoyed swimming in the river there.
Sunday, 11th, an idyllic morning was spent at the Gorge, in paradise, eating a hearty breakfast and more swimming. Two caravans had already set up camp there and they had trouble trying to get out and back up the hill the following morning. So the tractors were put to work, towing them back out. One of the tractors had difficulty getting back up the steep incline. Wesley, driving ‘Priscilla’ pulled them over the top.
Many of the trekkers called in to see the “Great Wall of China” on the way to Old Hall’s Creek. It is a rocky outcrop resembling the wall. Very hilly country right into Old Hall’s Creek. We set up camp in the grounds of the lodge at Old Hall’s Creek. The weather was extremely hot, and many took advantage of having a dip in the ‘pool’ there. Not your average suburban swimming pool but more like a muddy lagoon, which was man-made, with a little island in the middle.
The trekkers congregated on the lawns after the evening meal for entertainment and fellowship. Ivan and Brenda, Susan and Donald played their accordions and drums. Later in the evening one or two of the locals played guitar and sang. Bob King gave a rendition of some of Roy Orbison’s greatest hits, much to the joy of the trekkers.
Some people got a bit of a head start and went in to Hall’s Creek during the afternoon to fuel up and get some food supplies before the big rush the next day.
Monday 12th and many of the travellers left early to start lining up for fuel in Hall’s Creek. David and Naomi McCooke left the trek at this point.
Hall’s Creek was the last opportunity for ‘real’ shopping on the Canning Stock Route. The only other place was an aboriginal community further down the track, but it was unknown as to what food items would be available. Some people had ordered fuel to be obtained there.
Most of the morning was taken up topping up stores and fuel. At this point, the trekkers felt that there was less need for ‘regimented’ organization and agreed to ‘make their own way out of town’, and head out to Wolfe Creek Crater National Park, which had mixed results! It is understood that a meteor impact a very l o n g time ago caused this huge crater.
The road into Wolfe Creek Crater had the worst corrugations experienced so far in the trip. The Dongara crew experienced more problems with their trailers and didn’t make it down as far as the camping grounds at the crater.
The committee discussed some of the problems that might be anticipated on the Canning Stock Route and decided to reorganise some of the groups. This resulted in creating 4 main groups. Esperance group, Albany Group, Bullsbrook and Dongara Group.
At the entry points on the southern and northern end of the CSR there were many signs warning people not to take trailers down the CSR. It was almost impossible to tow trailers without getting bogged over the dunes.
In July and August of 2000, the Chamberlain 9G Tractor Club of WA had trekked from the Most Western point of Western Australia to the most eastern point of Australia (Byron Bay, NSW), which included trekking over the Simpson Desert.
Many in the club felt that the Simpson dessert was the most enjoyable part of the trek, partly because of the feeling of being ‘alone in the outback’ and also because of the challenge. This challenge included the towing of trailers behind either the four-wheel drives or behind the tractors. There were some tractors that did not tow trailers, and these were available to pull the other vehicles through if they were having trouble.
With the experience of driving through the Simpson Desert 2 years earlier, it was felt by the club members, that they would manage the challenge of towing trailers over dunes of the Canning Stock Route. The club does not recommend or encourage anyone to follow their example, as many difficulties and great damage was incurred with the towing of trailers.
The club fully endorses the advice given to travellers NOT to tow trailers. It is extremely unlikely that any club member who had participated in the trek would ever repeat the act of towing trailers down the Canning Stock Route.
Tuesday, 13th once again, Kim Henderson and his trusty welder were on call for an early morning start for repairs at the Dongara camp. By the time the rest of the Albany group arrived there, they needed some running repairs as well. Most of the morning was taken up making repairs.
The Billiluna community supplied fuel to a “few” trekkers but the shops were closed, and generally not much activity there. Just outside the community we caught up with a party of 4 or 5 four-wheel drive vehicles who had just driven up the Canning Stock Route (CSR) from South to North. They were pretty sure we would do it quite easily with the tractors!
All the trekkers finally caught up together at Stretch Lagoon, and held a meeting. It was decided that the Dongara crew were ‘self-sufficient’ and would lead the way while the remaining crews alternated their ‘order of departure’. Travelled on until about 4pm. Already the CSR was showing that there would be limited camping areas for the whole group to assemble together.
The Esperance and Bullsbrook group made camp on a clay pan while the Dongara and Albany crew kept going until they found a large enough clearing to settle in. There was plenty of space and plenty of mosquitos.
This northern end of the CSR had received “way above average rainfalls” over the last two years, and had been closed for most of that time. It was only at Kununurra that news was heard of some four-wheel drive (without trailers) making their way through.
Wednesday, 14th. After a windy night, the Dongara group took off up to the ‘main’ track to meet up with the Esperance and Bullsbrook groups. Albany group was last with Stan and Noreen Snook acting as “Tail-End Charlie”. Warren (‘Rabbit’) led the contingent. However later on there was a bit of confusion as we reached Well 51 (now abandoned), as to which way we should go. Eventually, we all got on the right track and headed for Well 49, which was restored.
George Bass had two taps knocked off on the way. The dense scrub knocked the vehicles on the sides of the track, which was very narrow. Most of the trekkers filled their water vessels at Well 49, and some also had a wash.
The trek continued along the bush track, with some very precarious patches which were caused by the wash-outs, leaving large exposed rocks and deep gutters. The bottoms of these gutters had sandy bottoms, just to add to the interest! Several dingoes were sighted at various places by this time.
After Well 48, there was more confusion. Most of the trekkers had gone on into Beadles pool. The pool had dried up, and it was evident that there would not be enough room for everyone to camp there. It was decided to move on as it was only about 3pm, however the road was obscure and then seemed to completely disappear.
After a bit of reconnaissance the way ahead was discerned, and we proceeded on to a suitable camp. Two vehicles approached from the south, however they waited in a small “clearing” until we had all got into camp before they continued on their way. It was impossible for them to get past all of the trekkers, which were in convoy. All up, a total of 121kms were covered that day
Thursday, 15th and after travelling only approximately 40km from the previous camp, we came upon the first of the sand hills. Derek Henderson got stuck on the first big one, so he had to wait for a tow over. The tyres were all too tight to negotiate the incline, especially the ones towing trailers. Eventually after churning up some of the sand, making it difficult for the vehicles behind, they finally let the tyres down to a level which was suitable. There were some very rocky areas in between the sand hills.
Ivan Siviour sighted a camel during the morning tea stop, and the camel was kind enough to stay close by long enough for most of the trekkers to catch sight of him. We reached well 46 at lunchtime, – a restored well with winch and bucket. The water was a little cloudy and quite ‘hard’. There were big areas of magnesium on top of the ground further out. We “made hay while the sun shone” washing clothes and our hair, as long as the men were happy to winch up the water.
Time to move on, with the Dongara crew and ‘Rabbit’ Warren doing the reconnaissance. Like sheep, the rest of the trekkers followed until the cry went up ‘it’s getting boggy!’ ‘There’s water ahead’, and ‘don’t think there’s a track around.
A mysterious lake had appeared right through the middle of the track. There was no knowing how deep it was, but the lake was of considerable proportions and would easily have hosted and international water ski event! Eventually word reach back through the ranks, and people unhitched trailers, or simply hitched a ride down to have a look at the instant lake.
It was decided to set camp back at Well 46. This was a good place to finish off the washing, light fires to heat the water and have a decent “bush” shower. It was Derek Henderson’s birthday. ‘Big Max’ sent up a rocket as part of the birthday celebrations. The 9G South group presented Derek with a ‘birthday card’, which had all the trekker’s signatures onto an old discarded “Grid” sign. Gary Snook recited ‘My Boomerang won’t come back’.
Friday, 16th it was Dongara who led the way out of camp, back over the track we had gone in on the day before. On the way, they met up with two four-wheel drive vehicles from Victoria. They waited patiently for all of the convoy to pass.
Cumber ran into trouble a bit further down the track when the front chassis of his caravan broke. He called up for Kim’s welder. John Henderson offered some steel to help fix it. Stopped for lunch at Gravity Lakes.
The Bullsbrook and Albany groups camped in a burnt out area, with Dongara and Esperance camping in the dunes, not too far back. There were clear skies, but more wind, later in the night.
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week seven
Saturday, 17th we were ready to leave at 7am. Bullsbrook group headed off first, then 9G South (Albany), keeping in touch about the road conditions with Warren the Rabbit who was in the lead, together with Ron Baird. Continued along the sand hills going slightly east until we got stuck on Hill 4 after turning right.
The Esperance and Dongara crews were now nearly catching up with the front two groups. The sand hills became steeper and steeper. At the 20th sand hill, Jimmy Cole had to change his alternator as his pulley wore out.
Bill Taylor’s Rodeo caught fire on the exhaust of his car, due to the build-up of Spinifex. Bill had indulged in the ‘Three cardinal Don’ts’
1. Don’t lift up the bonnet
2. Don’t forget to switch off the engine and
3. Don’t drink all your beer until an extinguisher is found!!!
There was real trouble at Sandhill 31. Bullsbrook had difficulty getting over the hill using double snatch-straps and cables. Zandra, Vicky and Faye and others were seen trying to help push a vehicle and trailer up the hill, while it was being towed by a tractor.
Videos were taken on sand hills 31 and 36 as the sand hills became steeper and steeper. On sand hill 38, the Siviours tailgate came open on their Rodeo, causing their fridge to break the straps and it slid out, along with the esky and the boxes. Their torch was found in the sand by Wesley when he came on by.
The Bullsbrook group made it to Well 43 by lunchtime, the weather was pleasantly cool although a little windy. Many stopped to have a look at Well 43, but it was in ruins with a salt lake next to it.
The terrain became a little easier to traverse, but we had to skirt around a boggy patch where Warren had placed a tag and sticks to identify some stony patches. There were more flat areas and still a few sand hills. Bullsbrook made camp first and Albany group caught up with them.
A message was relayed from Esperance to say that Jock would need some repairs when they arrived into camp. When Dongara and Esperance arrived into camp, there were hoorahs all round, as the four groups had been separated for a few days. Joan Snook tried her hand at bread making, cooking it on the open campfire. Jeannette Siviour had been hand making her bread since the beginning of the trip, and now there was some real interest in the results of the baking.
Sunday, 18th saw Bob King, Warren (Rabbit) and Jock Sturrock lead an extra special Dawn Service to commemorate the battle on Long Tan. These men are Vietnam Veterans and damn proud of it. There was not a dry eye to be seen, as the group participated in the short service.
The second sand hill of the day caused a major challenge for all the groups. Around mid-morning, a message was relayed from Dongara that Shane Fordham was very ill, with stomach cramps etc and had gone into shock. Suzanne Faulkes, a registered nurse travelling with the Albany group drove back down the convoy to assess the situation and administer drugs if needed.
A very slow journey, with many delays towing vehicles over the hills. Stopped for lunch just south of Well 41. Apparently Well 41 was under water and not very good. Caught up with a South Australian vehicle just after Helena Springs road.
All afternoon, the hills were still very challenging, with many vehicles being towed over. Wesley did an excellent job in the lead and towing his group over. We met up with contingent of 15 vehicles in a Tag-A-Long tour.
We called in to see Tobin’s Grave. Tobin was a surveyor who was speared to death by the aborigines in 1907. There were also unknown graves of aboriginals at the same site. Salt lakes surrounded the area.
Shortly after this, an unusual sight greeted us. An Oka Four Wheel Drive small bus was bogged up past the top of the tyres. The Oka was part of a three vehicle Outback Trekking group.
No one could work out why they had made a short cut and driven into the salt lake at all. The Esperance group broke snatch straps trying to pull them out. No one really knew what to do to get them out, given the depth of the bog and the location being unsuitable for any other vehicle to drive on. Eventually the Dongara crew winched them out, when they came on by.
An urgent radio message came through on the two-way radio to say that a rented Hertz van was approaching at a rate of knots. We all pulled off the track. The driver was extremely impatient, and just ‘ploughed on’ through the tractor convoy without any concern for anyone else that was in the vicinity.
He had apparently told the Esperance trekkers that he was looking for a parrot! Later, he doubled back and drove back to where we were all camped, and just sat on the sand hill staring at the camp. Then he reversed out and disappeared again. Very strange.
The chassis on John Henderson’s caravan was in urgent need of repairs again that night, and it was welded up, while we all prepared tea.
Geoff Faulkes (a.k.a. Boris) proclaimed himself KING, and instigated a special ceremony to honour Wesley for the outstanding job he had done towing tractors and four-wheel drives over the sand hills. The King was wearing a crown and carried a sword (shovel) to initiate Wesley and made him Sir Wesley, Knight of the Canning Stock Route.
Much fun was had around the campfire as the ceremony proceeded. Another early night, (knight) as we were expecting another early start and another big day the next day.
Monday, 19th got off to a stumbling start for Donald and Margaret McLaughlin who got a flat tyre only a few metres after leaving.
A few in the groups picked up water from Well 38, water very close to the surface. There were many finches flying around. There appeared to be some Cabbage Gums on the scene for the first time; small and rough leaves, with a good (dense?) foliage, and a lovely white trunk.
Another group of four-wheel drives approached from the south. They were a group of three vehicles from Queensland. There were some very bad creek crossings with rocky ground in between. Some of the trailers had difficulty getting through them. Then later, there were more sand hills, with rocky parts in between. Finally made Well 37 where there were two graves.
There were a few very nasty sand hills. One that even Boris had trouble getting over and had to be towed! The Albany and Bullsbrook groups camped up together among some Desert Oaks and bulrushes.
Esperance camped just behind and Dongara camped about 12km further back. Ivan Siviour dug the ground among the bulrushes and found water not too far down. The nights became colder and the evening was quite frosty. A mere 90km covered for the day.
Tuesday, 20th August, it was decided to send help back to the other groups, especially to get over the last steep (and loose) sand hill, just before the clearing where Albany and Bullsbrook had camped. Gary, Warren (Rab) Cedar, Boris, Rosco, Max, and Donald rose at 5am to go back to the others with some tractors to help them.
Around 9:30 there was radio contact from Cumber (Hugh Campbell) to say they were about 6km from Well 37, and going nicely. “Scraggy” tractor tried unsuccessfully to pull them over. Kim in “Priscilla” went to the rescue, and eventually made a new track over the hill. The new track eventually caught up with the other track about half km further on.
Things got a bit easier after lunch, a few more steepish sand hills, before we got onto hard stony ground. We eventually reached ‘the highway’. From there to Well 34 the going was easy, but very corrugated. Albany Group caught up with the Esperance group and followed them into Well 34 to camp. A good opportunity for bush showers and more washing.
A few people drove into the Kunawarratji community for fuel and supplies.
Wednesday, 21st and the trekkers arrived at the Kunawarratji Community around 8:30am, most people needing fuel and water. The resources at the community were heavily overtaxed and it was bedlam for a while, trying to accommodate everyone.
The Dongara crew finally pulled in, late in the morning, quite relieved to have met up with everyone again. A meeting was held around lunchtime, some of the trekkers had decided to “call it a day” and left the trek at that time.
The Henderson family from Esperance left from the community. Also, Peter, John and Paul Nunn together with Geoff and Shane Fordham, and Connie and Terry O’Meara left to return to Dongara via Newman. The convoy headed out of the community, and back onto the Canning Stock Route.
After journeying about 17km, George and Anne Bass experienced trouble with their tow hitch. This was repaired, and then only another kilometre or so down the track the DePledge trailer experienced the same problem. This was also repaired, but by now, it was beginning to get dark. It was decided to drive on to where the rest of the trekkers had set up camp further on.
For those doing the repairs, and those who had broken down, it was another late arrival into camp, around 8pm. The nights were getting colder the further south we travelled.
Thursday 22nd there was more welding to be done first thing in the morning to ‘Scraggy’. Other general repairs and tyre pumping for other vehicles. The road was pretty rocky and rough until Well 30, where we stopped in pleasant shade for morning tea. There was plenty of camel dung around; maybe we had pinched their campground. Lots of different birds, some with blue plumage.
There was more corrugated road, and then the sand hills started again. The first few were quite easy and then some rough ones. We got stuck for a long time on a very soft sand hill, and we met some German tourists on the other side. They had to wait until we all got over.
At Well 28 we met up with Ron and Jean Baird and camped there the night in a burnt out area. Two light coloured dingoes came right up close to the fire and started circling around the camp. Jeanette Siviour cooked pikelets for everyone to share on a beautiful night without any wind.
Friday, 23rd and another vehicle approached from the South towing a trailer, it met us just before we left the camp. The Bullsbrook team made good progress, gaining a few kilometres every hour.
There were a few sand hills giving trouble, especially the ones with sharp bends at the top or the ‘double headers’. Some had S bends leading up the incline, which made it difficult to maintain speed with the trailers. Stopped at Well 27 for morning tea, and watched the finches ducking and diving around. They were probably nesting there because of the proximity of the water.
The 9G group replenished their water there and some washed clothes. The Bullsbrook group radioed back that there were four vehicles approaching; one Oka, two four-wheel drives and a maniac ‘going like the clappers’!
Wesley ran up to the top of one of the slate ridges and back, in the time it took most of us, just to have a drink and get ready to take off again.
There were a few ‘hairy’ creeks to cross on the way to Well 26. Cedar and a few others detoured slightly off the track to go up to one of the hills to appreciate the view. Bullsbrook’s Ken Taylor broke his steering column, which held them up for a while, but after that, they pressed on getting up near the 80km mark.
We arrived at Well 26, which was completely restored. The animal drinking troughs were also restored, and some of the trekkers hopped in and bathed in them as water flowed in. Some erected their bush shower, and others did their laundry. We stayed there and enjoyed a lovely, wet and refreshing break for about 2 hours.
After lunch, we moved on and shortly afterward we saw three camels on the left, standing on a sand hill, waiting “for all those strange animals” to get out of the way. There were a few more tricky bends and soft sand hills before we made it in to camp.
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week Eight
Saturday, 24th a day that the most memorable breakdown of the trek occurred. Kim Henderson was driving “Priscilla’ when the steering arm snapped and bent the A-Frame. This sent him out of control off the track. What could be done in the desert without parts or a workshop?
The men circled the tractor, scratching their heads, and rubbing their beards. How would they meet this challenge? It was a joy to witness the synergy of the “coming together of minds” where true endeavour exists without ego.
It was decided to dig a trench and light a fire in it, and to use it as a forge. As a result, the women were dispatched to get some firewood. However the light, spindly wood in the immediate vicinity was not very conducive to making heat! So Wesley and Darcy walked way over the hills and returned with some “serious wood”, which was used for the fire, with the remainder being taken into camp that night. Full marks to Joan Snook who made a great effort with gloves and her trusty axe.
George Bass took charge of setting up the forge and asked everyone for their BBQ hotplates, which were used to cover over the top of the trench to retain the heat. A chimney was set up by cutting a hole in a disc and putting the pipes into the centre of the disc and settling this in into the far end of the forge.
Cumber found an “exhaust fan” which he was supposed to have fitted to his camper van but had somehow not gotten around to it; He took the lead from the fan and hooked it up to Priscilla’s battery, and then ran it into the front end of the forge to blow the heat through, and then out the chimney. Ingenious!
In the meantime, some of the other men had jacked up the tractor, taken the wheels off and removed the A-Frame (axle). The bent part of the A-Frame was heated up in the forge. It was agreed that once the A-Frame was hot enough, there would only be a minute or two, to manoeuvre the steel back into shape.
Cedar Armstrong laid out some tow hitch bars onto the ground ready to receive the hot metal. Everyone got into position to secure the A-Frame between the tow hitch bars, while others straightened the bent “cylinder bit” with a crowbar and hammer. After it was straightened it was left to cool down (after first bending the crowbar in the process!!!). Phill Astill welded a plate onto the crack on the A-Frame, and then it was all reassembled.
This is a fairly simple account of what was really a feat in raw ingenuity. A major repair, without proper facilities, in the desert, leaving the tractor as good as new in less than 5 hours. If anyone had seen this event as it happened “Reality TV” on show like Survivor, they would say that surely this was a set-up. How could they possibly have done it? Who would just happen to have a spare fan lying around? Well it happened!
The main crew completing the repairs included: Cedar Armstrong, Phill Astill, Geoff DePledge, George Bass, Hugh Campbell, Gary Snook, Wesley Henderson, Kim Henderson.
After the women had assisted with the wood gathering and feeding the men, they took off to set up camp at Georgia Bore. Once again, many took the opportunity of the time and the water and caught up on the big laundry jobs like hand washing the bed linen and towels, as well as clothing. Showers were set up, and on this night there was no shortage of hot water, which had been heated up over the fire.
Some cooked roasts and other yummy meals in the camp-ovens to await the arrival of the men. There was great celebration around the campfire that night and congratulations on a job well done with the repairs on ‘Priscilla’.
Sunday 25th was good going for the first 40km of the day apart from a few bumps and corrugations. There were three camels on a sand hill to the right, and then a very sick, skinny camel at the 45 km mark.
By morning teatime, we had really only had trouble at one sand hill. Somewhere along this stretch we came across a group of about 40 camels grazing. We all stopped and climbed on top of the vehicles to get a better view and take photos.
Noreen and Stanley Snook premiered the opening of Canning Radio. The first item was an interview of Hugh Campbell. Hugh related the highly successful and interesting repairs to Kim Henderson’s tractor. About mid-morning we came upon Lake Disappointment, discovered by Frank Hahn (?) in 1897. It is a large, dry salt lake. The trekkers inspected the lake, looking for fossilised beetles and insects.
Then we stopped at a shady grove of Desert Oaks for lunch. The Esperance crew had kept travelling while the repairs were being made to Priscilla, and they arrived and set up camp at Durba Springs for some R & R. The Albany group, which had now grown, included the remaining Dongara tractors as well as the Snooks and the McLaughlins.
Bullsbrook had also gone on ahead and were now having trouble with some very bumpy and horrible holes, as well as crossing a swampy claypan. The worst crossing was at Savoury Creek, where the water was three times saltier than the sea. The vehicles bounced through it and a lot of water got in up underneath them.
At about 4:15pm we found a campsite on a saltpan. Some of the tractors were again experiencing trouble on the sand dunes.
Monday 26th and the sand hills were creating a few problems, but nothing that could not be overcome. Contact was made with the Bullsbrook group but there was some disagreement about all the groups connecting up again before taking off together. It was decided for all groups to wait until the second half of the convoy arrived at Durba Springs.
Well 18 was full of thousands of tiny brown frogs – a very unusual sight. There was a lot of rocky ground between FX18 and FX19, which made the going quite slow. A magnificent scenery of red gorges and rocky hills as we got closer to Durba Springs.
The camping facilities at Durba Springs were very beautiful, close to a stream and pool. Although the pool was too stagnant to swim in or to collect from. There was a composting loo and plenty of water.
Just on dusk, a group of young lads on motorbikes drove in and set up camp next to the tractor trekkers. That evening, there was a get-together around the campfire. Brenda played her accordion and sang, and the trekkers joined in.
Judge Judy (alias Ken Taylor, complete with earrings, wig and dress) fined individuals for various misdemeanours. We were told that Cumber ran out of fuel, half way up a sand hill!!!!
Tuesday, 27th had a bright and early start with Esperance leading the way off at 6:30am, the Bullsbrook team 20 minutes later and 9G South last away. The motorbike boys lined up with 9G South for a photo shoot before they all left.
The road was good in patches, however there were also a couple of washouts which were exceedingly bad, with rocky outcrops and boulders all around. We came across Murray Rankin’s trolley, which was abandoned on one of his walks heading north. That trip was unsuccessful, although he tried again later and did succeed.
There was water at Well 15, which had been restored in 1998 by a 4WD club, mainly from Victoria. Continued on further and came upon another 4WD going north, with 2 men occupying it. A few kilometres down the track there was yet another trekking mob of 6 x 4WDs. Four big sand hills to conquer then onto some clear running. A few water ruts on the way into Well 14, and we continued on to Well 13.
Wednesday, 28th. The day started off well, until Bassy broke a front left stubb axle on his tractor. Everyone went to the rescue. At first it was thought that it was an ‘action replay’ of what had happened to ‘Priscilla’. People turned up with blocks, axles, welders, grinding papers etc. plus the cameras. Luckily there was a ‘spare’ stubb axle and the repair was carried out in record time. (About 20 minutes)
Two junior trekkers, Darcy and Maddie Stephens were present for the whole trip. They decided to hold a fundraiser for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Each day they would go around to all the campers and ask for the ring-pull tops off their aluminium cans. (Soft drink cans of course!). They counted them all, and then held a guessing competition. They raised about $30.00 for the RFDS. What a fine contribution these two children made, not only to the RFDS, but also to the trek in general.
Wells 11 and 10 were generally bypassed as they were in ruins and with no water. Well 9 was an historical site, but now used as a station windmill tank, where cattle now “water” and lie around. There were also remains of an old fort.
Seemingly out of nowhere, we came upon some graded road, and then some more tracks, which had been badly eroded by water. There was plenty of wildlife in these areas, as we headed through station country. We saw kangaroos, lizards and emus.
We were amused to see a ‘Give Way’ sign, in the middle of nowhere. Of course, we all obliged!
Late in the day, Doris and Boris had a mishap with their vehicle, when one of the springs broke. Once again, the mighty ‘9G outback workshop’ was assembled and the ingenuity of the men prevailed. Someone had picked up an old spring from on old abandoned Mac truck near the Wolfe Creek crater the way, and it was welded onto the broken spring, which was enough to get the vehicle mobile, and to last the distance all the way back to Albany where the spring was replaced.
Thursday, 29th and each morning now, the wake-up calls were getting earlier and earlier, and louder and louder. Jock and Bob were the main culprits with early morning music, which was rather well received by the contingent.
Bullsbrook group headed off first, and like sheep everyone else followed, until it became evident that once again, we were on the wrong track. We picked up the right road at Well 8 and continued on.
We stopped at Well 6, (Pierre Springs) which was very beautiful with River Gums flourishing. The Geraldton 4WD club had restored Well 6. There was a cairn built there to commemorate the restoration as well as a toilet.
The road had been excellent for quite some time before we ran into some rough and rocky creek crossings with steep inclines as well as bull dust. Jimmy Cole’s tractor “Dusty” broke a spring around lunchtime. Later we pulled into Windlich Springs, a beautiful fresh water hole of immense length, which had formed into a river. The road became quite rough as we travelled over some “lake” country. It was amazing that all of the caravans and some of the unlikely vehicles all made it through.
As we drove through Cunyu station country, we met up with the station owner, who gave the trekkers permission to camp on the station, as long as rules were adhered to as far as removing rubbish etc. The camp set up in a big circle on some extremely rocky ground, as this was expected to be our last opportunity to camp out as a club. The ground was so hard that most people were unable to even get their tent pegs in. Well 5 was the deepest well of all.
Friday, 30th. The camp moved off early, with Bullsbrook in the lead then Esperance and Albany. The road had deteriorated in many places with washaways causing deep ruts. Then some places were almost like a freeway.
Just on lunchtime, Jock radioed back to say he was in need of the welder again. He had broken his trailer hitch. Kim to the rescue once again. We stopped in at Well 3, which was a restored well. The Foothills 4WD club were responsible for the restoration. Canning had carved his name into a tree at the site there.
Apparently, Canning and his men were without food or water, and so they blew a hole in the ground, large enough to catch water, now at Well 2A, which is also known as the granites.
Finally, we reached the corner of the Canning Stock Route and the built up road into Wiluna. All the trek vehicles assembled just out of town and waited for a police escort into Wiluna to celebrate the end of the trek.
Trek 2002 – Tractors in the Outback – Week Nine
Saturday, 31st the end draws near and at last we had an opportunity for a sleep in, for a change. A few of the trekkers went to the hotel for breakfast, many of them to help celebrate Charlie Gardiner’s 60th birthday.
The Shire of Wiluna put on a sausage sizzle for the club at midday and a bus was also made available to transport trekkers out to the gold mine site for a tour. A handful of members left for home, while others stayed on to enjoy a final night together.
The Dongara crew wandered home after calling in to visit the McCooks. They were on the first leg of the journey and managing a station not far from Wiluna.
Most of the Albany crew continued on east and spent a leisurely week taking in some of the goldfields. Phill and Shirley Astill (trekkers from Albany) hosted the group at the property they own at Kookynie.
The writer would like to thank Jeannette Siviour for the use of her personal diary, which has formed the basis of this report.
Photos by Stan Snook and Anne Bass