The   mining   town   of   Newman   was   my   departure   point   for   my   planned trip   into   the   Gibson   Desert.      I   had   arrived   there   in   the   morning   and spent   a   few   hours   looking   around   some   of   the   local   sights   including Radio   Hill.      It   was   11   June   2007   and   I   headed   up   the   Marble   Bar   Road and    Balfour    Downs/    Jigalong    Road    to    take    me    to    the    start    of    the Talawana Track. This   would   be   my   first   big   trip   in   the   Ute,   a   Landcruiser   trayback   which was   about   a   year   old   now.      My   plan   was   to   head   alone,   east   along   the Talawana,    via    Rudall    River    National    Park    before    getting    to    Windy Corner.        I    would    then    look    for    Carnegies    Patience    Well    before attempting   to   visit   Nipper   Pinnacle   and   the   Alfred   and   Marie   Range to   the   south   before   coming   out   on   the   Gary   Highway   somewhere near   the   Young   Range.      Then   I   would   pick   my   brother   up   from   Wiluna t   take   his   place   in   the   passenger   seat   and   explore   some   of   the   area   in the   vicinity   of   Prenti   Downs   Station   before   heading   home.      That   was the plan!!!! The   roads   were   in   good   condition,   as   expected   and   I   soon   reached   the terminus   of   the   Talawana   Track   just   short   of   Balfour   Downs   Station.     From   the   junction   there   were   sandy   patches   frequently.      Just   beyond the   Talawana   Creek   I   stopped   to   have   a   look   at   Len   Beadell’s   plaque not   far   south   of   the   track.      Heading   east   again   the   track   was   fairly corrugated    however    the    pleasant    views    of    the    surrounding    sand sandridges made up for it. There   is   a   short   cut   track   to   Rudall   River   so   took   this   28   kilometre option.      It   was   a   rough,   rocky,   and   rarely   used   track   –   though   I   saw there   was   some   fresh   vehicle   track   marks.      The   track   went   down   an embankment   and   nice   views   of   the   countryside   were   afforded.      Nearer to   the   river   many   detached   breakaways,   conical   hills   were   to   be   seen, and   the   track   lay   on   a   flat   plain   making   the   hills   quite   striking.      I   made camp   near   Tjingkulatjatjarra   Pool   after   crossing   the   dry   river   though darkness   soon   overtook   the   camp   so   a   visit   to   the   pool   would   have   to wait until morning. I   watched,   from   the   inside   of   the   tent   to   determine   just   how   long   I   had to   wait   until   sunrise   and   then   arose   and   took   a   walk   down   to   the   pool.      I came   across   a   small   pool   in   the   mainly   dry   river   which   had   melons   growing   adjacent.      After   walking   about   100   metres   I   came   to   the   much larger main pool.  The northern bank and the surrounding granite slope presented a nice view and the mood for the day was set. After   packing   up   camp   I   recrossed   the   river   and   headed   along   the   track   that   runs   parallel   to   the   river,   to   the   east.      The   entire   length   of   the   30 kilometres   or   so   of   track   that   runs   by   the   river   was   scenic,   with   rugged   breakaways   and   hills.      Many   dry   tributaries   of   the   river   were   crossed though   I   saw   at   least   two   pools   that   would   have   contained   many   millions   of   litres.      I   passed   a   sign   stating   that   I   was   entering   a   Aboriginal Living   Area   which   I   had   anticipated,   though   it   didn’t   worry   me   as   I had   checked   with   them   prior   to   the   trip   and   they   had   confirmed   it was ok to come through. From   the   sign   the   track   deteriorated   somewhat   and   the   seeds   of spinifex   easily   penetrated   the   three   layers   of   flywire   I   had   earlier today   attached   to   the   front   of   the   vehicle.      I   swung   to   the   south   and passed   Mount   Eva   before   arriving   at   Cotton   Creek   just   after   midday.      I was   told   that   already   two   parties   had   been   through   to   pick   up   fuel today and I did the same the price being $2.65 per litre. The   main   access   road   headed   southerly   and   I   made   progress   down   it until   I   reached   the   Talawana   Track   again   and   headed   east.   Shortly,   I noticed    quite    a    few    smokes    of    fires    –    probably    the    locals    going hunting.         One   fire   was   seen   a   great   distance   to   the   east.      The   track now   was   very   much   corrugated   and   I   pitied   the   traveler   who   had   a poor   choice   of   suspension   as   harm   would   surely   result   going   down this   track.      Georgia   Bore   was   reached;   this   was   at   the   junction   of   the Talawana    Track    and    the    Canning    Stock    Route    which    will    continue merged   for   a   while.      There   was   three   vehicles   here,   organising   their camping   requirements   for   the   night.      After   a   quick   chat   I   headed   off   again   to   make   camp   at   Curara   Soak   (Well   24),   not   far   east   of   here,   which I   reached   before   dark.      I   was   happy   that   I   had   no   tyre   problems   so   far, the   new   set   of   tyres   I   had   bought   were   doing   their   job.      There   was nobody else here. Peace   was   shattered   in   the   morning   and   my   “sleep   in”   was   cancelled when   a   pack   of   dingoes   started   howling   from   what   seemed   a   position not   far   from   the   tent.      When   I   got   out   of   the   tent   not   long   after,   they were   gone.      Looking   at   the   well   it   was   full,   though   I   didn’t   need   any water at the moment. I   continued   on   my   journey   eastward   and   before   too   long   came   to   the junction   where   the   Canning   Stock   Route   heads   north   and   the   Talawana Track    veers    east    to    Windy    Corner.        Here    I    continued    to    follow    the Talawana   Track.      If   the   track   was   not   deteriorated   before   it   certainly was   now   with   the   track   overgrown   in   spots   and   spinifex   lining   the   way forward.      Fire   had   been   through   the   area   in   the   recent   past   and   vast areas of the landscape were clearly visible as a result. Stopping   to   clear   some   of   the   spinifex   debris   from   the   underside   of   the vehicle   I   thought   to   myself   just   how   remote   an   area   I   was   actually   in.      I pondered   this   thought   as   I   was   driving   along   alone   and   wondered   what it   would   be   like   when   I   reached   the   seriously   isolated   and   remote country   to   the   east   which   I   had   planned   to   soon   traverse.      What   if   I broke   down,   or   had   a   medical   emergency?      Help   would   be   many   days away   and   would   be   a   serious   embarrassment   if   I   had   to   call   on   it.     After   much   soul   searching   I   decided   to   cancel   my   planned   traverse from   Nipper   Pinnacle   to   the   Alfred   and   Marie   Range,   and   visit   the pinnacle   only   now,   and   perhaps   visit   the   range   after   I   had   picked   up my brother at Wiluna in twelve days time. That   decision   made,   I   was   much   happier   and   confident   and   went along    the    track    until    the    turnoff    the    Connolly    Basin,    an    ancient weathered   meteorite   crater.      The   centre   of   the   crater   was   only   a   few kilometers    south    down    the    track    –    There    was    a    wooden    pole supported   by   rocks   to   mark   the   centre   –   the   crater   rim   was   hard   to discern due to the sheer size and age of the crater. Windy   Corner   at   the   junction   of   the   Gary   Highway   was   soon   reached and   I   stopped   for   a   look   at   the   plaque   there.      In   this   area   I   would   have to   keep   an   eye   out   for   some   “Stoney   Banks”   that   explorer   David Carnegie   mentioned   before   he   went   on   to   find   Patience   Well.      If   I could   find   these   banks   then   the   search   for   the   well   should   be   made   easier.      North   from   the   corner   I   stopped   to   have   a   look   at   a   survey   mark off to the west of the track before camping in a rare clearing, free of spinifex, about twenty kilometers north. After   an   early   night   and   my   desired   “sleep   in”,   I   once   again   started   my   day’s   journey,   north   along   the   Gary   Highway   until   shortly   coming   to   a track   heading   roughly   south   east.      On   my   map   there   was   some   rocky   outcrops   marked   and   I   headed   down   this   track   for   a   few   kilometers until   I   reached   them.      I   briefly   had   a   look   around,   certainly   they   were   not   the   “Stoney   Banks”   that   Carnegie   mentions,   as   they   didn’t   fit   the description, were too far north, and there was no “view” to the east. Back   to   the   Gary   Highway   I   went,   and   then   drove   north   until   quite   a good   track   which   terminates   at   Patience   No.   2   Oil   Well.      Travelling along   this   track   I   stopped   for   a   deviation.      Carnegie   in   this   area   found two   dry   wells   and   I   had   calculated   that   some   breakaways   just   1500 metres   north   of   this   track   were   where   they   were   located   –   Time   to head    off    the    track    for    the    first    time    –    The    Landcruiser    and    tyres performed   faultlessly,   and   my   confidence   grew   in   them,   in   this   short test   of   travelling   through   virgin   bush.      Upon   reaching   the   breakaways   I had   some   lunch.      The   breakaways   are   comprised   of   two   it   seems,   at   an angle   of   about   60°   to   each   other.      I   drove   along   the   lower   section   of each   breakaway   looking   for   any   signs   of   the   no   doubt,   long   unvisited wells.        I    found    nothing,    however    it    was    a    good    experience    to    visit somewhere   that   had   no   signs   of   visitation   of   modern   man   and   more likely than not, was visited by Carnegie. I drove   through   the   bush   back   onto   the   main   track   to   the   Oil   Well   and reached    the    well    in    less    than    an    hour    later.        This    well    was decommissioned   now   and   the   whole   site   was   abandoned,   yet   the discarded   items   around   more   than   told   of   a   history   of   a   once   busy and   active   camp.      From   here   I   would   go   south   –   away   from   any   tracks for   a   long   while;   this   next   section   would   be   a   good   test   for   both   the vehicle    and    for    me,    I    hopefully    will    be    able    to    maintain    a    good presence   of   mind   and   composure   when   by   myself,   so   very   far   from any others or help. South    from    here    somewhere    is    Patience    Well,    visited    by    David Carnegie   in   1896   and   hasn’t   been   seen   since   by   civilized   man.      I   had had   a   look   for   it   in   2003   on   my   quad   bike,   with   back   up   4WD   support and   was   unable   to   find   it.      I   will   give   it   another   go   though.      Dr   William Peasley   had   given   me   his   best   predicated   position   for   it,   which   was about   fifteen   kilometers   south   west   of   here   –   so   to   that   location   I   first   travelled   towards,   deviating   and   stopping   at   a   small   dry   creek   to   have a   look   around   before   reaching   his   position.      The   country   was   spinifex   ridden   and   the   travel   was   slow   going.      There   was   nothing   around   that looked   like   a   well   here   so   then   made   for   the   popular   “approximate   position”   of   Patience   Well,   which   was   nothing   more   than   a   small   sinkhole in the ground and in no way fitted Carnegie’s description. There   was   a   jar   attached   to   a   tree   here,   with   names   of   others   who   had made   it   out   this   far.      I   added   my   name   to   the   list   –   and   then   proceed   to the   north   west.      I   had   seen   a   prominent   white   mark   nearby   on   aerial pictures   of   the   area   and   thought   it   was   worth   investigating.      Reaching the    place    of    the    white    mark    I    found    it    to    be    a    small    patch    of conglomerate;    brittle    white    marble    like    rock    measuring    fifteen    by fifteen   metres;   I   have   collected   some   samples.      There   were   no   signs   of anyone   else   being   there,   and   I   camped   there,   between   two   belts   of Mulga in a cleared area. Now,   in   the   morning   I   set   out   to   see   if   I   could   find   the   well   again   –   I tried   to   cover   as   much   ground   as   possible   in   the   vicinity,   covering   an area   of   about   fifteen   kilometres   by   ten   kilometres.      I   wasn’t   checking on   possible   points   from   aerial   pictures;   as   I   traversed   the   land   I   would stop   and   have   a   look   at   any   locations   where   the   vegetation   seemed different and there may have been a possibility of a well. There   were   plenty   of   birds   around   and   I   saw   a   couple   of   kangaroos.      I got   my   first   puncture   today   and   spent   some   time   trying   to   find   it   and repair   it,   as   I   was   unpracticed.      Towards   the   end   of   the   day   I   started   to   position   myself   for   a   south   easterly   run   in   the   morning,   the   well remaining unfound.  I drove 66 kilometres today, all offroad, at a speed of just over ten kilometers per hour. As   the   nemesis   of   spinifex   had   once   again   shown   its   face   I   spent   time   in   the   morning   clearing   most   of   it   out   under   the   ute.      From   here   I would   try   to   reach   Nipper   Pinnacle,   a   feature   I   have   been   eyeing   off   on   the   maps   for   some   years   now,   and   just   before   that   the   confluence   of 24°   Latitude   and   126°   Longitude.      The   confluence   was   about   71   kilometres   from   where   I   was   camped.      I   started   to   head   SSE   towards   it.      The country   was   fairly   open,   gravelly,   featureless   and   covered   in   spinifex.     Vast,   slightly   undulating   plains   lay   before   me   and   I   could   see   for   great distances   when   I   crossed   over   the   apexes   of   the   rises.      Most   of   my travelling was done in second gear, in high range. Occasionally   there   were   small   anthills   to   avoid   and   importantly   large dry    creeks    in    which    extremely    thick    vegetation    grew    in    the    low points.        These    patches    of    vegetation    could    be    seen    from    many kilometers   away   so   I   had   plenty   of   time   and   distance   to   divert   my course   around   them.      Eight   kilometers   from   the   confluence   a   nice breakaway   presented   itself   to   the   immediate   west.      Arriving   at   the confluence   I   wasted   no   time   in   taking   a   few   photographs   before   I headed west to reach the Pinnacle, less than ten kilometres away. Reaching   the   pinnacle   I   noticed   that   it   was   a   three   tiered   monument, and   made   of   sandstone.      I   climbed   the   short   distance   to   the   top; McPhersons   Pillar   was   the   only   feature   I   could   identify   over   to   the south   west,   however   there   are   not   that   many   features   in   this   area anyway.      There   were   some   small   caves   on   the   pinnacle   and   in   the adjacent   breakaways,   and   I   shortly   made   camp   40   metres   east   of   the feature.      This   was   a   fairly   isolated   spot   in   the   Gibson   Desert,   the   Gary   Highway   now   70   kilometres   due   west   –   Hopefully   I   don’t   get   bitten   by a snake or a scorpion.  The days travel was 81 kilometres distant averaging ten kilometres per hour again, slow going across the desert. Awaking   to   find   the   front   left   tyre   flat   I   started   the   day   repairing   the puncture.      I   hauled   some   stones   from   the   base   of   the   pinnacle   and made   them   into   a   small   cairn   at   the   summit.      I   left   a   note   in   a   container within   the   stones   saying   that   I   had   passed   by.      Now   I   started   to   drive around   to   the   breakaways   on   the   eastern   side,   the   side   of   the   cliff faces.      There   were   a   considerable   amount   of   animal   tracks   around   the rocky   terrain.      I   looked   in   a   few   caves;   I   found   no   water   anywhere.      As the    breakaways    merged    with    the    northern    rise    I    drove    a    long anticlockwise    arc    to    take    me    around    to    the    top    side.        There    were similar   animal   tracks   on   top   and   I   drove   more   or   less   parallel   to   the edge of the breakaways until I reached the pinnacle again. Now   it   was   back   to   the   Gary   Highway,   and   I   would   try   and   get   there before   dark.      I   will   aim   for   McDougall   Knoll,   a   small   rise   next   to   the highway   about   70   kilometres   distant.      The   route   was   almost   directly west   so   I   head   off   again.      An   hour   and   a   half   later   I   arrived   at   an unnamed   group   of   hills,   marked   on   my   map   as   a   cliff   or   breakaway.     The   terrain   here   was   tough   due   to   the   vegetation   and   it   was   slow going.      I   passed   a   creek   presenting   a   dangerous   two   metre   drop   off   and I thought how lucky I was to be paying attention. Only   500   metres   from   the   hills   and   I   got   the   vehicle   stuck   on   a   sandridge,   or   should   I   say   part   of   an   extended   sequence   of   ill-defined sandridges.      The   vehicle   was   “coat-hangered”   and   I   was   unable   to   get   traction.      Luckily   I   had   three   planks   of   wood   with   me   and   I   had   to   jack up   the   three   wheels   with   no   traction   twice,   before   I   then   freed   myself   and   made   my   way   onward   some   45   minutes   later.      Time   was   against me   now   with   still   over   29   kilometres   to   go   and   the   sun   was   getting lower   on   the   horizon.      There   was   a   very   thick   section   of   bush   a   few kilometres   from   the   knoll   and   this   was   fairly   annoying   as   it   was   dusk   I arrived at McDougall Knoll fifteen minutes after sunset. I   spent   some   time   working   out   my   plans   for   the   rest   of   the   trip   that night   and   had   hoped   I   could   get   a   bed   at   Wiluna   in   a   few   days   time.     The   days   were   long   and   hard,   and   I   slept   in   the   cab   that   night,   not having the energy to set up the tent. The    Stoney    Banks    I    were    seeking    a    few    days    ago    should    be    30 kilometres   or   so   to   the   north.      I   thought   it   would   be   good   to   “give   it another   crack”   whilst   I   was   in   the   vicinity,   as   I   do   not   know   when   I   will be   back   in   the   area.      So   I   travelled   up   the   Gary   Highway   until   my search   area   was   to   the   east.      This   was   about   ten   kilometres   south   of Windy   Corner.      I   cleared   all   the   spinifex   out   again   before   I   left   the track.      I   veered   east   and   drove   for   a   while   the   plan   being   to   head north   after   a   few   kilometres.      When   I   reached   my   planned   location   to head   north   there   was   a   huge   area   of   thick   vegetation   in   the   way   so   I decided   to   keep   going   east,   to   the   south   of   the   vegetation.      On   the other   side   I   noticed   a   very   wide   and   distant   view   to   the   east,   meaning   I   was   in   an   elevated   position   even   though   the   country   was   relatively flat.      Carnegie   said   there   was   a   good   view   to   the   east   from   the   banks.      To   the   north   I   could   just   make   out   what   appeared   to   be   a   low   rise   of stone,   though   it   was   hard   to   tell   –   I   drove   there   immediately   to   have   a   look   and   the   stoney   rise   could   be   described   as   a   Stoney   Bank,   and   the view   to   the   east   was   magnificent.      The   area   conformed   to   how   Carnegie   described   his   camp   of   5th   September   1896.      Interestingly,   there were   some   reasonably   new   wheel   tracks   passing   the   banks   and   actually   crossed   over   the   bank   as   well   –   Perhaps   I   am   not   the   only   one interested in the banks!! I   departed   the   area   and   continued   on   a   bearing   of   NNE   for   a   while   before   deviating   to   cut   the   Gary   Highway,   which   I   did,   right   at   Windy Corner.      The   discovery   of   these   banks   should   make   it   easier   to   locate   Patience   Well,   as   Carnegie   gave   directions   to   the   well   from   them; however I had decided to leave the area, so any further attempt to find the well would have to be at another time. Now   though   I   made   my   way   south   along   the   Gary   Highway.      My   plan   was   to   now   visit   Ngarinarri   Claypan   and   Karrarinarri   Rockhole,   or   soak.     My   brother   was   to   fly   in   to   meet   me   at   Wiluna   in   seven   days   time.      I   camped   near   the   junction   of   the   highway   and   the   eastern   most   section of   the   Eagle   Highway.      I   would   endeavor   to   travel   this   track   to   the   soak in the morning. This   section   of   the   Eagle   Highway   is   very   rarely   used.      It   ran   westerly   in a   straight   line   for   66   kilometres.      There   were   many   bushes   growing   in the   middle   of   the   track,   so   sometimes   I   would   deviate   off   the   track   a bit.      I   saw   five   bush   turkeys   together   in   this   section.      These   birds   mate for   life   so   I   did   wonder   who   was   the   unlucky   one   as   they   all   flew   off.      It took   me   2   hours   and   10   minutes   to   get   to   the   turnoff,   where   the   Eagle Highway    continues    southward    towards    the    Gunbarrel    Highway    and another   track   continues   north   to   the   Talawana   Track   running   past   the Traeger Hills, and through Connolly Basin. Once   again   I   needed   to   clear   the   underside   of   vehicle,   before   I   turned to   the   south,   then   south   west   to   visit   the   Warri   Site   and   Ngarinarri Claypan.      The   track   went   across   part   of   the   claypan   to   the   soak.     Some   of   the   last   nomadic   people,   Warri   and   Yatungka   were   brought from     here     to     Wiluna     in     1977.          There     was     a     plaque     here commemorating   the   event.      No   soak   was   visible   however   the   plaque stated there was water at twelve feet. Leaving   the   claypan   I   rejoined   the   Eagle   Highway,   my   plan   to   head south   to   cut   the   Gunbarrel   Highway.         This   stretch   of   the   Eagle   Highway was   good   as   I   would   imagine   most   visitors   would   either   come   from   the Gunbarrel   Highway   and   then   return   along   the   same   path,   or   use   the northern   track   as   an   alternative   entry   or   exit   from   the   Talawana   Track.     I   saw   two   cats   in   different   locations   on   this   track,   and   an   Emu   and Camels as well. I deviated   to   have   a   look   at   Mungilli   Claypan   and   then   arrived   at   the Gunbarrel   Highway   at   about   4:30pm.      Camp   was   just   off   the   track about   five   kilometres   west.      It   has   now   been   a   full   week   since   I   have seen another human being – Tomorrow I should arrive in Wiluna. It   was   Wednesday   20th   June   and   I   arose   at   daybreak   and   set   off   to the   west.      I   passed   two   groups   of   people   before   I   got   to   Carnegie Station   where   I   stopped   to   make   a   phone   call.      Although   Wiluna   was my   goal   for   today   -   and   a   nice   hot   shower,   I   decided   that   as   I   had already   driven   the   Wongawol   Road   (Wiluna   to   Carnegie   Road)   ten years    previously,    I    would    take    the    Carnegie    Glenayle    Road    and Sydney Heads Road for something different. The   Carnegie   Glenayle   Road   was   in   excellent   condition   and   passed   Mount   Moore   and   Kalijahr   Pinnacle.      At   the   turnoff   there   was   a   sign stating   that   access   to   the   Canning   Stock   Route   was   available   for   a   fee.      The   Sydney   Head   and   the   Wiluna   Granite   Peak   Roads   were   in   good condition.  I stopped at the lookout at Sydney Heads Pass before arriving at Wiluna about 1:30pm.
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