Trek Across Australia – 2000 Dispatch 3
After leaving the Warburton community, the Trekkers visited the Giles weather station and enjoyed an interesting tour of the most isolated facility in Australia.
Through country that has had between 500 to 700 mm of rainfall in the 6 months preceding Easter and thus colourful, vibrant bushland the Trekkers headed for the Northern Territory border.
A stop at Lasseters Cave, where the famous prospector sheltered just before he died in 1931, and a camp just prior to Docker River were made, before a long days haul onto the Olgas and Uluru National Park.
Being able to see the Olgas at the end of a long dusty road in the afternoon sun created huge excitement amongst the Trekkers, before they went onto Ayers Rock itself.
Two rest days for climbing, walking and exploring the Olgas and Uluru followed. The Dongara crew then started developing their party reputation and well supported the local pubs and bars till the wee small hours.
The Albany group moved onto the picturesque Kings canyon a day early, however the rest of the Convoy made their transit bush camp at the base of Mt Connor, which is an eroded volcano plug and some very unique microenvironments that would not be expected in such dry areas.
This was also repeated at Kings Canyon, which is similar geologically to the Bungle Bungles, and also contains the very unique ‘Garden of Eden’. This large water hole at the bottom of the canyon is almost a mini rainforest complete with bird life and animals.
On the way out of Kings Canyon Resort saw the first major mishap of the Trek with the Albany based tractor ‘Bits and Pieces’ being rolled on a gravel corner. However minor damage only was sustained and the tractor was righted and driven on. The occupants at the time suffered minor injuries, and though taken into Alice Springs hospital, they were checked out and discharged that afternoon.
A cold Alice Springs, especially with frosty mornings, was the venue for the 5th birthday of the Transport Hall of Fame and their attempt to raise funds to restore and house ‘Big Bertha’. This was first Australian commercial road train owned and operated by Central Australian transport legend Kurt Jorgenson.
A gala dinner for 1300 people, with Slim Dusty as the entertainment, a BBQ on the famous ‘Ghan train’ and a parade of restored and modern trucks and vehicles, including the tractors were all part of a successful week that raised $50,000
In interesting side note when the local paper ‘The Centralian’ reported the above success they used a photograph of a line of 9G’s under the headline.
Lots of things to see and do in Alice Springs , but by the end of 6 days everyone was ready to get moving again.
The Heavitree Gap Resort was the venue for a seafood and steak buffet for the Trekkers on the last night in Alice Springs. Enough prawns and crayfish was donated and airfreighted into Alice Springs by M.G. Kailis and set the scene for a great night of food, dancing and fund raising. A number of Chamberlain and trek memorabilia were raffled and auctioned and the funds raised for the R.F.D.S. and Children’s Hospitals is closing on $40,000
Two bush camps with a visit to Old Andado Station, which was built in 1922. Mrs Molly Clarke, who admits to being nearly 80, still lives in this example of outback pioneering.
A visit to Mt Dare homestead for fuel and refreshments before two nights at Dalhousie Springs. Originating in the Great Dividing Range, and taking around 3,000,000 years to travel to the desert where it re-appears as a 80 mt x 40 mt 28C hot mineral bath. Absolute luxury in the middle of the most unlikely spot. Also a visit to the ruins of the original Dalhousie homestead which has been long abandoned.
There was a brief stop at Purnie Bore, another mineral spring outlet, and then into the Simpson Desert National Park.
The Esperance and Jurien groups decided to travel south and take the Oil Rig and WAA tracks as they were reputed to be easier travelling, whilst the rest of the convoy continued through on the French line, named for the seismic exploration company that pushed the track through in 1956.
One thousand, one hundred and four sand hills and 4 bush camps later, over some of the toughest country tractors and trailers could be aimed at, the convoy regrouped at the base of ‘Big Red’ the final and highest sand hill before Birdsville.
There was a lot of frustration and waiting, until the crews established and practised systems of getting the heavier vehicles over the hills.
Getting a 4WD or a single tractor over first, to then assist the following vehicles and trailers over was the usual method used by the groups in differing variations.
There were concerns for possible damage to the tracks and the environment, however other tourists have reported that the tractors have packed the track down and actually improved the going.
Of constant surprise to all Trekkers were the lushness and the diversity of the vegetation to be found through out the Simpson Desert and its surrounds.
Gary Snook, from Jurien broke his camper trailer chassis on the WAA track which necessitated on the spot repairs, and Rod Copeland smashed his trailer hitch 2 hours from the end of the French line, and had another bush camp whilst waiting for Peter Nunn’s hitch to be ferried back to him.
However all the crews were convoyed into Birdsville for a BIG afternoon and night at the Birdsville Pub.