Meanwhile   John   and   Howard   were   not   idle.      They   had   a   lot   to   do   today.         The   original   plan   was   to   take   the   Lake   Wells   road through   the   De   La   Poer   Nature   Reserve,   but   as   the   roads   to   the   north   were   fairly   wet   and   boggy   yesterday,   they   decided   to go   to   the   next   meeting   point   via   the   town   of   Laverton   and   the   Great Central   Road,   Laverton   being   75   kilometres   to   the   south.      They   found the   road   to   Laverton   very   good;   it   was   probably   graded   every   couple   of years.      On   arriving,   it   was   off   to   the   local   cafe   for   a   quick   and   early   lunch.     Then   the   fuel   tanks   were   topped   up   and   it   was   off   again   along   the   Great Central Road to Cosmo Newberry, an aboriginal settlement. It   was   already   obvious   that   the   satellite   telephone   they   hired   had   a   faulty or   old   battery   and   could   not   hold   its   charge   for   very   long.      They   asked   at Cosmo   Newberry   if   they   could   charge   it   up.   The   local   folk   obliged.      To pass   the   time   they   drank   cold   drinks   and   ate   chocolate.   Then   after   the phone   had   been   on   charge   for   an   hour   they   headed   north   about   43 kilometres,   near   where   Carnegie   had   his   tenth   camp   on   1 August   1896.     They   would   wait   here   for Alan   to   arrive   later   on   in   the day. From   Carnegie's   book,   “...the   same   miserable   country   until   the   evening,   when   a   sudden   change   brings   us   into   a   little   oasis enclosed   by   cliffs,   a   small   creek   running   through   it.      Here   we   made   camp,   the   camels   enjoying   a great   patch   of   feed—could   find   no   water...”.      The   picture   (above)   is   Howard   by   the   creek   most likely   to   be   the   one   Carnegie   mentions,   [Lat   27   39.788S,   Long   122   54.700E]   obviously   with water   in   it   this   time.      Carnegie's   camp   is   likely   to   be   several   hundred   metres   to   the   west.     Howard   tried   to   ring Alan   a   few   times   on   the   phone   but   the   battery   ran   out   again   so   they   just   had to wait for him. Alan   was   on   his   way   to   the   others,   riding   most   of   the   day   through   very   thick   bush   well   into desert   country,   the   Great   Victoria   Desert   in   fact.         He   had   crossed   two   sandridges,   the   first   of many   to   come.      Thirteen   kilometres   west-south-west   of   the   others   he   came   across   some sandstone   outcrops.      Here   there   was   a   damp   patch   of   sand   where   a   kangaroo   had   been   scraping   for   water.      As   Alan   had neither   the   time   to   dig   out   the   possible   soak   nor   take   an   accurate   position   he   had   to   leave   it,   probably   never   to   see   the   spot again.      It   is   worth   a   mention   though.      Alan   saw   several   clumps   of   grass   trees   in   between   the   outcrops   and   the   next   camp.     Grass   trees   are   common   throughout   the   Darling   Escarpment   near   where   he   and   the   others   were   from   but   seemed   strange out   here.      He   ended   up   riding   in   the   dark   again,   eventually   coming   into   camp   just   after   10:00pm,   the   third   day   in   a   row   he   had come   into   camp   after   dark.      The   last   few   kilometres   were   very   rocky   as   well   as   comprising   thick   bush   so   it   was   very   slow going.      He   was   extremely   tired   and   sore   after   a   very   long   day.      Howard   was   very   anxious   for   his   brother;   the   satellite   phone situation   was   not   good   at   all.         There   was   one   more   chance   to   charge   the   phone.     After   that,   conservation   of   power   would   be a   priority.      It   would   have   to   be   SMS   messages   only,   at   designated   times   only   or   risk   loss   of   communication   between   the parties.
Meanwhile Alan   had   to   stock   up   with   adequate   supplies   to   last   two   days   on   his   own.      The   bike   was   going   to   be   really   tested now   with   the   extra   weight   of   water,   fuel   and   food.        The   bike   had   only   been   ridden   1   540   kilometres   before   the   start   of   the   trip.     The   others   were   to   meet   him   185   kilometres   away   in   a   straight   line.      If   you   take   into   consideration   the   extra   distance   going around trees, rocks etc you could easily add another 40 or 50 kilometres to that. He   headed   on   a   bearing   of   53°,   towards   a   creek   that   Carnegie   wrote   of   in   both   his   diary   and book   “...following   down   the   little   creek   we   came   on   a   shallow   native   well,   quite   dry;   crossing the   grassy   flat   in   which   it   was   dug,   winding   through   a   thicket,   we   again   reached   open sand...”. Four   kilometres   short   of   getting   to   the   creek Alan   came   across   some   granite   rocks   stretching over   100   metres.         At   the   lowest   point   of   the   outcrop   he   thought   it   might   be   worth   seeing   if there   was   water   about.      He   dug   and   came   across   water   at   about   50   centimetres.      The   soak [Lat   27   36.068S,   Long   122   59.811E]   was   named   on   the   spot,   Heather   Soak,   after   his   mother.     He then went on towards the creek. The    creek    Carnegie    was    referring    to was    shortly    located    [Lat    27    35.146S, Long   123   01.554E].      Alan   followed   it   a few   kilometres   to   the   south-east.      It   had water    in    it    in    places    but    it    was    not flowing    (right).        No    native    well    was located; perhaps it was underwater. The   next   stage   was   to   try   and   locate   a   “single   rock   of   red   granite   on spinifex   plain”   that   Carnegie   mentioned   on   his   expedition   map   (left)   and in   his   diary.      There   was   a   hill   nearby   on Carnegie's   route   called   Nichols   Knob   so Alan   headed   there   to   see   if   he   could   get a better clue to the rock's location. After   about   four   kilometres   heading   for   Nichols   Knob   [Lat   27   34.068S,   Long   123   04.871E]   a red   outcrop   appeared   about   one   kilometre   to   the   south   of   the   Knob.      Alan   headed   in   its   direction   arriving   shortly   after.      This outcrop   is   still   unnamed.      There   is   a   small   cave   on   the   eastern   side.      It   would   be   the   red   rock   that   Carnegie   was   referring   to.     Nichols   Knob,   which   was   named   by   Frank   Hann   in   1908,   is   the   only   other   outcrop   in   the   vicinity   and   is   a   white   conglomerate.     It   is   also   difficult   to   see   from   the   south-west,   the   direction   Carnegie   was   coming   from.      This   is   the   outcrop   (below)   as   seen from Nichols Knob. From    the    “lonely    rock    of    broken    granite    cropping    out    of    sand”    as Carnegie   described   it   in   his   diary   he   noted   that   he   saw   a   range   to   the east,   which   he   called   Hubbe   Range.      Alan   took   the   picture   (below)   from Nichols   Knob   looking   towards   just   south   of   east   and   the   range   is   just visible,   though   on   current   maps   it   still   has   no   name   for   some   reason.     The   slight   bump   in   the   horizon   towards   the   right   of   the   picture   is   Mt Feldtmann. Carnegie   said   he   set up   his   next   camp   two   miles   beyond   the   rock   on   the   afternoon   of   2 August 1896.      Alan   headed   for   about   this   distance   when   he   came   across   a   belt of   gum   trees,   separating   the   sandy   country   and   the   scrubby   country ahead.      There   were   large   gum   trees   all   around   and   it   would   have   been   a great   place   to   camp.     Alan   rode   around   for   about   half   an   hour   looking   for any   signs   of   the   explorers,   to   no   avail.      He   thought   that   given   a   whole   day to   look   around   there   would   be   a   good   chance   of   finding   something   as   the belt   of   trees   was   only   about   100   metres   thick   and   a   few   kilometres   long.        Good   pickings   for   the   keen   eyed.      A   picture   of   a   section   of   the   area (below) shows the terrain. Alan   next   searched   for   another   creek   that   Carnegie   mentioned,   this   time with   a   sheer   face   of   cliffs   on   the   western   side   where   one   of   Carnegie's   party,   Joe   Breaden,   found   a   litter   of   dingo   pups.     Alas, although   a   creek   was   found   [Lat   27   30.613S,   Long   123   13.828E]   by   Alan,   he   suspects   another   tributary   of   the   creek   about one   kilometre   to   the   west   has   the   cliffs   by   its   side.      Riding   a   motorbike   all   day   long   drains   the   energy   of   the   rider   and   Alan thought that the cliffs would have to be rediscovered some other day, perhaps by others. Carnegie   camped   nearby   amongst   the   sandridges   and   Alan   did   the   same,   his   first   night   alone,   with   the nearest person being probably over 80 kilometres away. The    following    morning   Alan    had    a    huge    first    stage    to    conquer,    over    65    kilometres    to    the    next    of Carnegie's   features,   this   one   being   a   bluff   [Lat   27   13.225S,   Long   123   53.275E]   to   the   south   of   Ernest Giles   Range.      He   didn't   see   the   bluff   until   he   was   almost   north   of   it   about   1:00pm,   and   it   surprised   him with   its   sheer   size,   such   a   big   hill   shining   brightly   red   in   the   sun.     The   country   was   very   unforgiving   so   he   didn't   stop   to   further admire   the   unnamed   bluff   as   he   still   had   over   75   kilometres   to go   until   he   reached   Empress   Spring   where   the   others   were hopefully waiting for him. Carnegie    had    found    a    dry    rockhole    at    the    southern    end    of Ernest    Giles    Range    to    the    north    and    Alan    tried    to    find    it.      Although   he   thinks   he   found   a   nearby   feature   of   Carnegie's,   “an   open   patch   of   rock on   the   side   of   a   low   ridge”,   the   rockhole   was   not   found.      Alan   then   made   a   beeline for   the   others   as   it   was   getting   very   late   and   he   was   sure   to   get   to   camp   after   dark again.      This   he   did   arriving   two   and   a   half   hours   after   sunset,   the   last   hour   being very   slow   as   it   was   rocky   country.      The   others   were   waiting   for   him   near   Empress Spring as planned.
The   next   morning   John   and   Howard   could   rest   easy   in the   fact   that   they   now   had   two   days   to   drive   less   than 300   kilometres   on   fairly   good   tracks.         They   would   meet up    with    Alan    hopefully    the    next    afternoon.        Cosmo Newberry   was   the   first   destination   for   them,   about   40 kilometres    away    to    the    south.       After    reaching    Cosmo Newberry   John   and   Howard   headed   east   along   the   Great Central   Road,   stopping   for   lunch   in   a   cave   at   Beegull Waterholes   then   on   towards   Tjukayirla   Roadhouse,   194 kilometres   on   from   Cosmo   Newberry.      From   there   they were   to   head   north   along   the   David   Carnegie   Road,   a road   that   would   eventually   take   them   to   the   Gunbarrel Highway.      The   manager   of   the   roadhouse   warned   them that   the   road   further   north   was   impassable   due   to   heavy rains   a   few   weeks   before   and   that   they   would   need   a   good winch.           After    again    charging    the    satellite    phone    they    went    on    their    way    and    camped    about    40 kilometres along the road. It    was    the    morning    of    17    April    2003    and    John    and Howard   drove   on   to   Empress   Spring   [Lat   26   46.000S, Long   124   21.966E],   a   place   David   Carnegie   first   visited   on   10   August   1896.     Howard is pictured (right) climbing down into the cave surrounding the spring. The   plaque   pictured   sits   adjacent   to   the   spring   and   has   incorrect   information about   the   date   that   Carnegie   visited.      Carnegie's   own   drawing   of   Empress Spring   (left)   has   the   incorrect   year   mentioned.      In   Carnegie's   diary,   the   correct date is written. Spending   some   time   at   the   spring   they   camped   500   metres   back   along   the road to await Alan's arrival.
I t   was   15 April   2003   and   everybody   was   getting   used   to   the   routine   of   rising   around daybreak,   putting   on   the   billy   for   coffee   and   attending   to   other   duties   of   camp,   like mending   punctures   and   repacking   the   4WD.      They   were   now   on   the   outskirts   of pastoral country, with the desert looming very close now. Alan   started   out   on   the   day's   journey   backtracking   about   three   kilometres   to   the west   to   have   a   look   at   some   interesting   features   seen   by   Carnegie,   which Alan   had not   been   able   to   see   in   the   dark   the night   before.      Carnegie   camped   near here   on   29   July   1896,   “on   an   open   flat of   good   feed   near   a   dyke   of   ironstone and   quartz   standing   up   like   a   great   black   wall”   (pictured   left)   [Lat   28   00.735S, Long 122 17.969E]. In   his   book   Carnegie   writes   “Two   rather   curious   ironstone   dykes,   standing   square and   wall-like   above   the   ground   occur   in   these   hills,   some   seven   miles   apart, running    nearly    north    and    south    and parallel;    between    them    a    deep    but narrow   creek,   a   saltbush   flat,   and   a   ridge   of   diorite.”      The   picture   (above)   is   taken from   the   peak   of   the   southern   dyke   looking   towards   the   northern   dyke.      The   creek and   the   ridge   are   clearly   seen.      Carnegie,   although   he   was   the   first   white   man   to see   these   dykes,   did   not   name   them.      They   were   named   South   Pinnacle   and   North Pinnacle by surveyor J.H. Rowe some two years later in September of 1898. The   picture   (left)   shows   the   view   obtained   looking   to   the   south-east   from   the   peak of    the    southern    dyke.        Carnegie mentions    in    his    diary    “a    fair    size range     visible     to     the     south-east.”       There   is   a   range   of   hills   there,   but   it doesn't   show   up   very   well   in   this   picture.      The   picture   (right)   shows Alan   on   top of   the   south   dyke   with   the   camera   facing   east-north-east,   the   direction   in   which he was generally travelling.  Alan   was   to   meet   the   others   some   67   kilometres   away,   and   as   usual   in   this expedition   so   far,   he   was   behind   time.      For   the   first   time   now   there   would   be   no fences   or   tracks   to   follow.      He   would   be   riding   straight   through   the   bush   and would have to ride quickly if he was to meet them before dark.
 Into the Great Victoria Desert
MENU