Carnegie   left   Helena   Spring   on   11   October   1896   and   went   eighteen   miles   at   a   bearing   of 34°   magnetic   north   and   camped   on   top   of   a   high   sandridge.         At   exactly   this   position using   true   north   on   one   of   the   maps   purchased   for   the   retracing   there   was   a   native   well marked.      Perhaps   it   was   put   there   by   an   over-enthusiastic   cartographer   who   didn't research   correctly,   as   Carnegie   did   not   mention   a   well   there   and   Alan   had   a   look   at   the exact   location   marked   and   did   not   see   a   well.      It   highlights   how   important   it   is   to distinguish between true and magnetic north. From   Carnegie's   high   sandridge   he   saw   tablelands   and   square-edged   hills   to   the   north.     Between   them   and   his   current   position   were   low   detached,   tabletop   hills   and   conical mounds.      These   he   called   Forebank   Hills.      He   headed   towards   a   point   he   called   Cornish Head,   beyond   these   hills,   in   the   tablelands   to   the   north,   before   crossing   the   tracks   of   a native   and   following   them.      The   tracks   were   followed   easterly   until   they   came   to   some low   outcrops   between   two   sandridges.      Here   they   took   an   aboriginal   prisoner   to   help them   locate   more   water.      The   aboriginal   appeared   quite   insane   so   he   was   nicknamed "Mad Buck". Alan   found   some   outcrops   (left)   that   were   in this     area     [Lat     21     08.042S,     Long     126 42.422E]      and      they      fitted      Carnegie's description,   though   no   well   was   found.      This area   is   absolutely   pristine   and   has   no   signs of   European   contact.            There   are   some   rocks   which   are   precariously   balanced   on   top   of   others; the   natives   certainly   were   no   vandals.      An   anthropologist   would   be   delighted   to   work   in   this   area; artefacts are in abundance.  Perhaps this is where Mad Buck lived! Carnegie   had   Mad   Buck   lead   him   to   water   in   the   adjacent   area   to   the   north.      He   was   led   to rockholes,   but   they   were   dry   after   some   digging.         It   seemed   as   if   the   captive   aboriginal   was playing   some   sort   of   joke   on   the   party   as   after   the   next   rain   the   wells   would   be   able   to   contain   so much   more   water   after   being   dug   out.      Perhaps   Mad   Buck   wasn't   as   mad   as   they   thought.      The extract   from   Carnegie's   exploration   map   shows   two   native   wells.      The   most   southern   well   is   at   the outcrops   where   Mad   Buck   was   found.      The   northern   well   is   mentioned   as   being   dry   but   in Carnegie's   diary   it   is   mentioned   as   having   some   water   in   it.      In   his   book   he   mentions   the   well   (or rockhole)   but   does   not   mention   whether   or   not   it   had   water   in   it,   only   that   it   would   contain   a   fair amount of water when full. Carnegie   gave   fairly   good   directions   as   to   the   northern   wells   location.      There   are   a   number   of prominent   features   in   the   area   that   he could     have     used     to     pinpoint     the location.      From   his   book   he   states,   “...is situated   on   the   shoulder   between   two   low   table-tops.     To   the   south,   about   two   miles distant,   are   three   conspicuous   conical   hills,   close   together,   and   about   the   same distance   to   the   north-west   a   hill   that   at   once   calls   to   mind   an   old   fort   or   castle.”      A similar description for the location of the well is given in his diary. Alan   left   the   outcrops   he   had   found   and   headed   a   little   west   of   north   until   he reached   the   Forebank   Hills.      He   saw   three   hills   in   the   distance   and   headed   straight for   them.      They   were   the   three   hills   that   Carnegie   mentioned.      Alan   stood   on   the central   hill   [Lat   21   05.806S,   Long   126   42.639E]   and   admired   the   view   of   the surrounding   hills   that   made   up   the   Forebank   Hills.      He   then   looked   for   the   two   low tabletop   hills   that   have   the   well   in   their   shoulder.        There   were   some   flat-topped   hills to   the   north-north-east   so   Alan   headed   in   their   direction   hoping   they   would   contain the   well.      Upon   arrival   at   the   hills   he   came   across   a   line   of   stones   carefully   placed on   the   ground   (above),   the   significance   of   which   was   not   known.      They   perhaps indicated the position of water somewhere. Whatever   the   case   these   stones   had   been   put   there   a   very   long   time   ago,   perhaps before   a   white   man   ever   set   foot   on   this   continent.      Alan   searched   these   hills   on foot,   taking   over   an   hour,   then   circumnavigated   them   on   the   bike,   but   in   vain,   as   no water   was   found.      He   then   headed   for   a   small   hill   to   the   west   close   by   to   have   a further   look   and   found   a   rockhole,   too   small   to   be   the   one   Alan   was   seeking   but significant   (picture   left).      It   was   dry   so Alan   dug   its   lowest   point   down   about   two   feet to   see   if   there   was   water   further   down.      There   was   no   water,   but   a   hornet   started   to circle   around   the   rockhole,   a   sure   sign   that   water   was   nearby.         Perhaps   this rockhole   [Lat   21   04.900S,   Long   126   44.115E]   is   one   of   the   dry   rockholes   that   Mad Buck took Carnegie to. Carnegie   camped   at   the   large   rockhole   then headed   in   the   direction   of   Cornish   Head   again,   towards   the   tablelands   he   saw   previously.     Alan   followed the   same   route   and   saw   to   the   west   the   hill   that   looked   like   an   old   fort   or   castle   (picture   right)   before settling   down   for   the   night   in   amongst   some   sandridges about ten kilometres to the north. After   Alan   had   left   for   Helena   Spring   John   and   Howard waited   until   about   11:00am,   then   headed   up   the   Canning Stock   Route.      There   was   no   particular   destination   for today   as   long   as   they   met   Alan   at   Mount   Romilly   in   three   days   time   all   would   be   well.      There were   the   usual   many   bumps   and   bends   and   John   hurt   his   back   at   some   stage   and   was   in   pain for   a   good   many   days   after.      They   passed   Well   42   and   then   Guli   Lake,   which   was   not   unlike Tobin   Lake.      Heading   on,   they   passed   the   turnoffs   to   Wells   43   and   44   but   did   not   go   to   the   wells as they were a fair way off the track, especially Well 44. They   visited   Well   45,   a   ruin   which   did   not   have   any   water   in   it.      Here   the   track   veered   east   so there   were   not   as   many   sandridges   to   cross,   as   these   mainly   ran   east-west,   but   the   track   became   very   indistinct   and   quite   slow   to   travel   over.     At   around   4:30pm   camp   was   made   near   Mount   Ford   (picture   above).      Here   the   wind   was   very   strong.      They   made   sure   the   tent   was   securely anchored.      A   telephone   call   from   Alan   saying   he   had   reached   Helena   Spring   was   welcome   news.      Tea   was   had,   and   after   washing   up   and chores John and Howard relaxed. In   the   morning,   1   May   2003,   John   and   Howard   slept   in,   as   they   were   still   weary from   the   weeks   of   constant   travel.     They   took   a   walk   to   Mount   Ford.      John   is   having trouble   with   his   back,   and   was   in   pain   just   standing   up   straight.      After   heading   off again   it   was   noted   that   the   track   was   still   overgrown   and   hard   to   follow.         At   the turnoff   to   Well   46   they   stopped   and   talked   to   a   man   and   his   wife   who   were   in another   4WD.      They   were   at   the   rear   of   a   group   of   five   vehicles   and   eleven   people who   were   heading   for   Well   46.        These   were   the   first   other   people   John   and   Howard had   seen   since   leaving   Kunawarratji   four   days   ago.      These   folk   had   heard   that   there was   a   party   heading   up   the   track.      It   is   probable   that   the   manager   at   Kunawarratji   had   informed   someone   at   Halls   Creek   that   a   group   had passed   through.      Soon   they   were   west   of   Point   Massie   (above),   a   feature   of   Carnegie's,   and   stopped   and   admired   it.     Alan   would   be   heading to   Point   Massie   from   the   east   tomorrow   if   all   went   to   plan.      John   and   Howard   pressed   on   for   Mount   Romilly   and   had   a   puncture   just   kilometres from   there,   the   first   puncture   since   before   Kunawarratji.      They   climbed   the   hill   and   saw   the   Southesk   Tablelands   dominating   the   horizon   in   the north-east.      John   and   Howard   then   settled   in   for   a   relaxing   afternoon,   doing   crosswords   and   reading   about   other   explorers   who   have   roamed these parts. The   next   day   was   to   be   a   day   of   waiting,   as   Alan   was   not   due   there   until   that   afternoon   or   later.      Before   lunchtime   they   were   caught   in   the outskirts   of   a   duststorm   that   came   from   the   west.      There   were   great   clouds   of   dust   everywhere,   and   the   decision   was   made   to   drop   the   tent and   shelter   in   the   shadow   of   the   4WD.      There   were   flies   everywhere   and   despite   the   fact   that   both   men   were   smothered   in   fly   repellent   it seemed to have no effect.  Time dragged somewhat. Carnegie   mentioned   that   he   crossed   an   open   plain   of   spinifex   some   ten   miles   wide as   he   was   heading   for   Cornish   Head.      The   tablelands   to   the   north   were   visible   from the   southern   edge   of   the   plain.      He   and   his   party   camped   after   crossing   three sandridges   beyond   the   plain.      During   the   night   they   noticed   a   fire   in   the   hills   to   the north   and   noted   its   direction,   as   the natives    who    lit    it    should    be    able    to guide   them   to   water.      Carnegie   mentions   in   his   diary   that   the   fire   was   along   the   face   of   the   cliffs running   south-west   from   Point   Cornish.      It   is   not   known   why   Carnegie,   at   his   last   mention   of   the headland, called it Point Cornish as opposed to Cornish Head which he originally called it. Alan   crossed   the   open   plain   first   thing   in   the   morning   as   he   was   camped   just   south   of   it.      The picture   (above)   was   taken   from   the   approximate   location   that   Carnegie   would   have   camped   and seen   the   fire   on   the   northern   edge   of   the   plain.         Point   Cornish   is   the   headland   at   the   far   right   of the picture, being the eastern end of the broken tableland. Alan   then   headed   for   Point   Cornish   for   a   closer   look.      The   cliffs   to the left of the picture run south-west, as Carnegie had said. Carnegie,   on   14   October   1896,   the   morning   after   he   had   seen   the fire,   approached   the   cliffs   to   investigate,   only   to   have   the   frightened natives   hide   in   some   caves   in   the   sandstone.      He   found   the   natives’ wells, “held in a cleft in the rock.” Then   Godfrey   Massie,   one   of   Carnegie's   companions,   and   Warri went    into    the    caves    and    brought    out    two    natives    described    by Carnegie   as   “two   of   the   finest   men   I   have   seen   in   the   interior”.      The photo   shows   a   closer   view   of   the   cliffs   running   south-west   with   the caves.      Alan   climbed   Point   Cornish   and   erected   a   small   cairn   there,   to   show   future   travellers   that   civilised   man had stood on top of it. Alan   then   walked   along   the   base   of   the   cliffs   and   noticed   there   were   quite   a   few   caves   there,   some   which   he   could   not access   as   they   were   very   high   and   out   of   reach.      He   wondered   from which of the caves did Carnegie's companions retrieve the natives. The   picture   shows   three   of   the   caves.      Note   how   at   the   base   of   the leftmost   cave   there   is   a   pile   of   rocks   to   help   the   natives   get   up   into   the cave.         It   is   probably   a   long   time   since   somebody   used   them.      Alan climbed   into   the   cave   for   a   look.      This   particular   cave   is   quite   large   and has another entry at the other side of the cliffs. Also,   near   the   caves   was   found   a   grinding   stone,   used   by   natives   to grind    seed    for    flour,    still    sitting    where    it would   have   been   last   used.     Alan   thought   it a   bit   eerie   as   it   almost   seemed   like   that whoever    lived    here,    had    just    left    at    a moment’s notice. To   the   west   from   the   top   of   the   cliffs   Carnegie   saw   what he   called   a   “remarkable   headland”   which   he   named   Point Massie. Carnegie   took   one   of   the   natives   and   made   a   pact   to release   him   if   he   guided   them   to   water.     First       they       headed       west       to       a neighbouring     tableland.          Then     they headed   south,   before   returning   to   the north   and   arrived   at   a   rockhole   about one mile west of Point Massie. The   rockhole   that   Carnegie   was   led   to was   said   to   be   able   to   contain   15   000 gallons   when   full   and   is   mentioned   on his    exploration    map    (pictured    above).      He   said   it   was   about   one   mile   west   of   Point   Massie,   at   the   head   of   a   deep   little   rocky gorge.  On the map he also mentions a peculiar conical mound nearby. Alan   had   also   seen   Point   Massie   [Lat   20   43.266S,   Long   126   30.278E]   from   Point   Cornish   and   started   to head   in   its   direction.      On   the   way   he   passed   numerous   detached   outcrops   that   shone   brightly   in   the   sun.      He arrived   at   Point   Massie   in   due   course.      It   is   obvious   that   Point   Massie   had   suffered severe weathering. Alan   then   headed   to   the   west   past   Point   Massie   to   have   a   look   at   the   “peculiar conical   mound”.      He   found   it   easily   enough   as   it   was   visible   well   to   the   east   of Point   Massie.         He   found   it   to   be   made   of   shale,   a   huge   pile   of   it.     The   pictures   of   it above compare Carnegie's sketch of the area. Alan   then   started   to   look   for   the   rockhole.      To   the   south-west   was   a   crescent-shaped   range   of   hills   so   he   thought that   he   would   start   from   one   horn   of   the   crescent   and   look   for   signs   of   a   gorge.      He   looked   in   most   of   the   drains   of the   range   but   did   not   come   across   the   rockhole.      He   did   find   a   small   gorge that   would   surely   have   pools   of   water   following   rain   (right),   but   it   was   not what   he   was   searching   for.      It   was   about   2:30pm   and Alan   had   to   meet   the others later at Mount Romilly over 20 kilometres away. He    rounded    the    other    horn    of    the    crescent    and found    another    crescent    similar    to    the    first.        It seemed   that   this   rockhole   was   fairly   elusive   when Alan   saw   to   his   joy   a   well   worn   kangaroo   track.     Alan   followed   the   track   southward,   noticing   some kangaroos   amongst   the   hills,   a   sure   sign   that   water would   not   be   too   far   away.      Soon   he   reached   a point   where   a   creek   was   coming   out   of   the   hills   heading   in   a   northerly   direction,   just   as Carnegie had written.   He soon found the rockhole at the head of the creek. Near   the   entry   to   the   rockhole   was   some   aboriginal   artwork   (above   left).      Other   engravings included   that   of   the   defence   force,   and   that   of   an   early   stockman,   Ben   Taylor,   who   visited the   rockhole   in   1942.      The   picture   (right)   shows   the   view   from   the   rockhole   looking   north.     Alan’s   bike   is   visible   to   the   east   of   the   creek.      This   rockhole   is   not   shown   on   any   civilian maps,   but   will   inevitably   be   visited   by   many   tourists,   as   it   is   less   than   ten   kilometres   from   the Canning Stock Route. From   here   Carnegie   headed   towards   Mount   Romilly   passing   between   two   salt   lakes   on   the   way.      These   salt   lakes are   on   most   maps.      Alan   could   see   Mount   Romilly   in   the   distance,   where   the   others   were   waiting   for   him,   but decided   to   strike   west   to   the   Stock   Route   and   follow   that,   as   it   would   be   quicker.         When   he   reached   the   Stock Route,   he   let   the   others   know   by   telephone,   and   asked   if   they   could   meet   him   there   and   then   travel   to   Mount Romilly   together.      Soon   Howard   arrived   in   the   4WD,   and   after   transferring   most   of   the   bike’s   load   onto   the   4WD, they   headed   north   to   Mount   Romilly.      Alan   couldn't   believe   how   much   easier   it   was   to   ride   the   bike   with   a   reduced load.      John   and   Howard   had   set   up   camp   at   the   base   of   Mount   Romilly   and   Alan   and   Howard   arrived   shortly   after sunset.
Point Massie Rockhole
Discoveries in an untracked wilderness
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