For communication we carried CB radios, a satellite phone & a Zoleo, GPS map apps (Exploroz traveller and 4×4 Explorer), Wikicamps and good old paper maps we also had many first aid kits and a defibrillator on board. Extra fuel and water were packed for the remote parts of the trip and we had prepared our vehicles with spinifex protection, but in the end that was not needed. We left on Saturday 11th September, spending our first night at Mount Palmer just out from Yellowdine. The track in was narrow in parts and several fallen trees were to be avoided. The first damaged tyre happened on this track when they drove over a large stick sending it high into the air narrowly missing the car behind.
This old gold mine town had a short life of 10 years from 1934 to 1944 originally named “Palmers Find”, a great history lesson. There are remains of the hotel and townsite to explore. Plenty of spaces for our convoy to set up camp. Travelled 431 kilometres.
Day 2 – After a brief stop in Kalgoorlie we made our way to our second night camp at Station Creek Pumping station which is on the banks of Station Creek approximately 12 kilometres north of Leonora. The campsite was almost full, so we camped right up the back. Quite a windy night and had a bit of rain too. Travelled 461 kilometres.
Day 3 – Spent the morning in Leonora for a few to visit Gwalia Ghost Town and museum, an amazing rebuild of the old miner’s cottages, single men’s camps, Guest House and Mazza’s store, great to wander through this historic time of WA. Moved on to Laverton to refuel, top up the water tanks and let tyres down before tackling the 700km tracks. Last chance to call home & check emails as no phone signal for next four days. Headed southeast to Merolia Road and on to the dirt roads, our first tourist stop was the Burtville cemetery before finding Rason Lake Road. The cemetery needs repair but since our visit, the Outback Graves group have recently placed plaques and done repairs to the gravesites.
The track to Rason Lake Road was hard to find as there were no signs and heaps of “no entry” mining roads due to the mining companies changing the layout of the roads. Once the correct road was found it was an easy drive with pretty wildflowers and scenery. Campsite that night was on the side of the road approx. 70 kms from Laverton. Travelled 214 kms.
Day 4 – Travelled approximately 50 kms and veered off the main road to have morning tea at Malley Hen Rocks, named by Frank Hann in 1902. A few of us climbed the rocks to get a better view of the surroundings. One of the Outback Jayco”s lost a shockie. All roads are still good but lots of camel bodies and bones by the side of the road and some to avoid on the road. A further 85 kms and we arrived at the 7 Millers Shack for the night (the camel shooters shack), along the side of Lake Rason. Worth a look in and around the shack and you can try your hand at teeing off some golf balls into the lake. The views overlooking the salt lake were superb. Tonight cooked up savoury and dessert dampers around a perfect campfire.
Day 5 – The weather had been cool the last few days but today it reached 33C plus, good thing our cars are air conditioned. Continued on Rason Lake Road following the contour of the lake then turned left onto Spackman Track. This was the first of many turn arounds and sometimes “Tail End Charlie” became the trip leader. There are many tracks off the main one and this was where our GPS tracking came into play. Around midday and 96kms from camp, stopped to find Frank Hann’s engraved initials on a rock face, with the help of Wikicamps eventually found it by one of us climbing to the top of the rocky hill. 63kms from Frank Hann’s landmark, camp was made amongst the spinifexes. No campfire that night as did not want to create a fire disaster. Travelled 159kms.
Day 6 – Finally saw a live herd of camels crossing the track and had to stop to let them pass. We haven’t seen a lot of wildlife apart from one kangaroo, one dingo and some birds. Continued on Spackman Track and turned left onto the infamous Anne Beadell Highway. The highway was named by surveyor Len Beadell for his wife back in 1962. Made a stop just 37kms from camp on the side of the road for a morning break after another 28kms came across a plaque commemorating Anne Beadell.
The highway is very dusty and a lot more corrugated than what we had been travelling on. Further along we arrived at a granite outcrop called Bishop Riley Pulpit, a great photo opportunity. 40kms on to Yeo Lake, an abandoned homestead for an early afternoon camp. Not long after setting up a 4WD support truck for a motorbike tour arrived. Chatted with them about our planned journey up David Carnegie Road and they advised us not to go! This was our first encounter of other travellers since leaving Laverton. Travelled 154kms.
Day 7 – The Parks and Wildlife rangers arrived this morning to check out the condition of the old buildings as they are in need of repair. The steps up to the homestead are a little dangerous to climb. An interesting campsite well worth visiting. Another 9am departure, back onto the highway and travelled about 24kms to turn right into Point Sunday Road towards the Great Central Road. Once onto the GCR we pulled into Minnie Creek Rest area for morning tea, approximately 80kms from Yeo Lake. The Great Central Road was in a fantastic condition and as wide as the Mitchell Freeway. A couple of tourist stops, first being the Eurothurra Rockhole, pretty much 2 holes and not very deep. A lot of old car wrecks were more of an interest to the guys. Stripped some parts to fix a broken drawer in one of the vans. Next stop was the giant White Cross erected by indigenous Christians in 1991 and rock caves for some photo shots of Lake Throssell, also located here is the original Paine and Barclay Surveyor marker which was placed by them in 1930 during the original survey route to Warburton. Next stop the Tjukayirla Roadhouse caravan park. The Park was a welcoming sight as we were all looking forward to hot showers, do lots of washing and WIFI available. Travelled 190 kms.
Day 8 – Rest day in camp for some and others drove out to the caves to explore. We discovered a geocache in amongst the rocks, so we opened it up, left our details and a crocheted daisy. Another tyre to change claimed by the rocky roads. Refuelled today ($2.25/l) as Sunday is only open for a short time. After discussing with the Roadhouse staff and much consideration we had decided that the best part of the trip would be the David Carnegie track so heading off tomorrow. Travelled 41kms.
Day 9 – headed west on the Great Central Road for 16kms then north onto David Carnegie Road. It is about 60kms to Empress Springs, on the way we visited Breaden Bluff, this was a very rocky track in and had to walk to the caves but was well worth the drive in. Back on the main road met a couple of travellers heading south and chatted regarding the track ahead of us. “She’ll be right mate” was the comment with a big smile on their faces and that there was a derelict van on the side of the road further up the track if we needed any parts!! 28kms on for lunch we stopped at Empress Springs (which was named by David Carnegie on 11th August 1896 in honour of Queen Victoria) where we checked out the rock well, for all we could see it was totally dry. One of us braved the climb down the well ladder and luckily didn’t find any snakes. The nights camp was on the side of the road. Travelled 156kms.
Day 10 – The “track” was challenging today with a lot of huge washouts with side-tracks, some rocky parts and overgrowth. Out came the chainsaw and handsaw to cut it back for the larger vans to get through without causing too much damage. It was very slow going and at one stage we were doing about 12kms an hour. One Jayco Penguin back wheel slipped down a hole in a huge washout that we had to manoeuvre around.
Another ditch claimed a van step now permanently up and a flat tyre on a trailer and a cable broken on another Jayco penguin’s roof were a result of today’s rough roads.
That night we had to physically lift it to jack it up. A very open area & windy on the side of the road for camp tonight. No campfire but a full moon so had a party with loud music & dancing and a music quiz. A fun night under the stars. Travelled 94kms.
Day 11 – Just approximately 10kms to finish the Davide Carnegie Road then onto the Gunbarrel Highway. Yay we did it! Gunbarrel Highway was in a reasonable condition but quite dusty so we kept a good distance from each other. A short stop at the “Oval” (MCG, WACA) to have some fun kicking a footy around and through the goal posts. This is a large claypan someone set up some steel pipe as goal posts in the 1980’s replacing the original tree trunks set up by members of Len Beadell’s Gunbarrel construction party in 1950/60s. There is some history of a footy game being played here back in the 1980s with players coming from Wiluna taking them 2 days to drive the 400kms.
Next stop at Mt Nossiter for morning tea then 105kms to where Carnegie Station was a welcoming site, the camp kitchen was a delight to use, the showers were a bit basic, but the water was hot and plenty of it. All had a few repairs to be made to vehicles and vans. The Station has a lot of history to read about in their little shop and there was a pleasant walk around the property. A friendly donkey visited us behind a fence, he liked the carrots we fed him. Another relaxing night around the campfire. Travelled 105kms.
Day 12 – Refuelled before leaving Carnegie from the gravity fed tanks ($2.50/l). The highway was still dusty and a few places to use caution. For morning tea called into Mingol Pool which was an important mustering point on Wongawol station and is still used today. The shelter was built in the 1960s close to the river which looked like chocolate milk. Travelled another 107kms and stopped for a lunch break just passed the Big Banjo sign where we had to repair another broken shockie.
A further 143kms and started to look for the night’s campsite. Unfortunately we took a fence line road thinking this was the correct track, but it wasn’t so we all had to turn around, being very careful not to touch the electric fence. Eventually found the camp in a great area with plenty of wood for a fire. Another van tyre claimed by a tree stake. Travelled 319kms.
Day 13 – Just 30kms into Wiluna, where we all refuelled and stocked up at the store. Visited the Tjukurba Art Gallery and looked over the town sites. This is the end of the trip for a few going separate ways.
The rest of us headed for Sandstone on the dirt roads, missed the turn off to the Magnet/Sandstone Road so we had an extra 54kms to drive but the road was better than the bitumen. Called into the old Gidgee mine and they were good enough to show us around. Camp for the night was at Lake Mason camp area which was established in 1906. It was a cattle station initially then changed to sheep and wool production for more than 80 years. All the old buildings are still there and a lot of work has been done on the roof of the shearers quarters a great place to explore. At the end of the day the donkey was lit for hot showers. Still very windy and cold.
Day 14 – Into Sandstone to refuel and coffee at the pub. Checked out London Bridge then onto Payne’s Find. The wildflowers were in full bloom and abundant. Found a campsite and was the windiest night ever, so we decided that it was time to head home. A great trip had by all and was sad to say goodbye, till the next trip ��
Travelled approximately 3500kms, 14 days
Damage – 5 tyres, 3 shockies, 1 cable, 3 van steps, 1 drawer, 1 strut & plenty of red dust!