The   next   morning   everyone   got   up   around   6:30am.      With   all   the   things   to   do   like   preparing   breakfast,   packing   up   and   route   planning,   it   was over   two   hours   later   that   the   group   got   under   way.      Now   they   would   travel   in   convoy   north   along   the   Gary   Highway   until   the   turnoff   for McPhersons Pillar. Carnegie   headed   north   from   Warri   Well   until   he   crossed   the   tracks   of   a   man and   his   camels.      He   followed   them   to   the   east   for   about   twenty   kilometres.     Carnegie   presumed   them   to   be   that   of   Gilles   McPherson,   a   prospector   who followed   Ernest   Giles'   route   across   to   the   east   to   the   telegraph   line   in central   Australia.      Amongst   the   nearby   hills   Carnegie   found   an   interesting hill   that   he   called   Mount   McPherson   but   later   changed   it   to   McPherson's Pillar. John,   Howard   and   Alan   got   to   the   turnoff   and   headed   east.      The   track   was not   used   very   often   but   was   in   good   condition.     After   about   15   kilometres   it was   decided   to   leave   the   bike   and   everyone   would   go   the   rest   of   the   way   to the   pillar   in   the   4WD.      They   headed   off   and   soon   sighted   the   pillar   amongst the hills.  First though they would try and find Mulgan Rockhole. This   was   a   rockhole   (picture   below)   that   Carnegie   had   found   to   be   quite filthy.      Even   one   of   his   camels   would   not   drink the   water   from   it.         The   picture   (above)   shows Alan   in   the   rockhole   with   a   handful   of   wet   soil which indeed was quite filthy and smelly. They   then   proceeded   on   to   McPhersons   Pillar.   It   was   very   striking,   contrasting   the   summit,   sky   and   spinifex.      It was   an   easy   climb   to   the   summit.      Magnificent   views   were   obtained   to   the   east   including,   but   not   limited   to, Nipper   Pinnacle   and   the Alfred   and   Marie   Range.      To   the   east   of   the   range   is   where Alfred   Gibson   became   lost, and   perished   whilst   helping   explorer   Ernest   Giles   try   and   cross   the   desert   from   east   to   west   in   1874.      Giles   later named   the   desert   after   him.      This   section   of   Western   Australia   is   still   particularly   isolated   and   it   would   be   very surprising   if   many   people   alive   today   had   ventured   into   the   area   to   the   east which the group was viewing.  Good luck to all those who try. They   all   then   proceeded   back   along   the   track   to   where   they   had   left the    bike    and    once    again    in    convoy    headed    back    to    the    Gary Highway.      There   were   lots   of   large   anthills   around   and   Howard   is pictured    (left)    next    to    a    particularly    tall    one.            From    there    they headed   north   until   a   suitable   camping   spot   was   located   as   it   was nearing   the   time   to   stop   for   the   day.     The   group   camped   just   south   of Lake   Cohen.      It   was   noted   there   were   no   signs   of   wildlife.      The familiar   call   of   birds   was   missing   and   was   replaced   by   an   eerie silence.  There was obviously a severe shortage of water out here. Both   vehicles   had   punctures   that   had   to   be   repaired.     After   a   dinner of   pancakes   and   the   completion   of   a   few   minor   chores everyone   was   in   bed   by   8:00pm.      They   were   all   again very tired. It   was   24   April   2003.      The   group   was   about   two   days behind   schedule   now,   which   did   not   matter   a   great   deal   as   they   were   always   seeing   new things   every   day.     Alan   had   planned   to   keep   to   Carnegie's   route   as   much   as   possible   but the   Gary   Highway   did   more   or   less   follow   his   route,   so   they   moved   in   convoy   again   for the time being. In   1996   the   southern   portion   of   the   Eagle   Highway   was   renamed   the   David   Carnegie   Road.      It   passes   Empress Spring   where   Carnegie   crossed   the   route   of   the   road.      A   far   better   choice   of   road   to   name   in   honour   of   Carnegie would   have   been   the   Gary   Highway   as   about   two   thirds   of   its   length   very   closely   follows   Carnegie’s   route.         Carnegie was in the area long before Len Beadell, the maker and namer of the highway. The   next   feature   to   visit   was   a   creek   that   Carnegie   mentioned   only   on his   exploration   map   (above).         He   made   no   mention   of   it   in   his   book   or diaries.      There   is   only   one   creek   in   the   vicinity   heading   west   next   to   a hill   that   is   on   current   maps.      The   hill   is   called   McDougall   Knoll   and   the creek   is   unnamed.         The   knoll   is   one   kilometre   east   of   the   Gary Highway and the creek runs across it. The   group   travelled   just   over   fifty   kilometres   north   to   this   hill   and stopped   for   a   break.      The   knoll   is   seen   from   the   road   as   a   small sloping   hill.      There   is   a   track   which   leads   to   the   summit.     Alan   went   for a   ride   along   the   creek   to   its   end   and   back.      The   picture   (right)   shows the   creek.      On   Carnegie’s   map   it   says   that   there   is   good   feed   (for the   camels)   when   the   creek   runs   into   a   bloodwood   flat.      The picture   (below   right)   is   the   scene   where   the   creek   eventually spreads out into the flat. The   group   had   some   lunch   of   peaches   and   rice   and   a   coffee.     Alan   then   took   some   bearings   of   the   country   to   the   north   (below).     He   was   ultimately   trying   to   find   some   high   banks   of   stones   which   Carnegie   mentioned before setting off to the east to find a well he called Patience Well. If   the   banks   were   not   found,   then   this   location,   McDougall   Knoll,   would   probably   be   the last      identifiable      feature      of Carnegie's   before   the   next   presumably   known   feature,   a   low   stoney   rise,   some   80 kilometres away. Between   McDougall   Knoll   or   the   high   banks   and   stones   and   the   low   stoney   rise was   Patience   Well   which   the   group   had   hoped   to   search   for   as   it   has   never   been re-discovered. After   lunch   they   continued   to   the   north.      The   track   became   worse   with   many bypasses   as   it   was   cut   up   by   water   and   overgrown.      Alan   stopped   the   bike   as   it was   overheating   again,   and   Howard   pulled   the   4WD   up   alongside   him.      After some   quick   chatting   Howard   suddenly   yelled   “Fire”   and   was   out   of   the   4WD   in   a flash.      The   bike   was   on   fire.      He   grabbed   the   4WD’s   fire   extinguisher   only   to   find that   it   didn’t   work.      He   then   went   around   the   other   side   of   the   4WD,   where   the water   was   stored,   and   after   untying   the   ropes   of   the   tarpaulin   grabbed   a   jerry   can of   water.         The   fire   was   out   in   seconds   after   the   use   of   about   fifteen   litres   of   the precious   fluid.      The   cause   of   the   fire   was   obvious.      Sticks   and   spinifex,   mainly   the seeds,   had   accumulated   on   top   of   the   underbody   protection   and   had   banked   up   against   the   hot   exhaust.      Upon   careful   inspection   there   was found to be no damage.  The incident gave the group a heightened sense of the need for caution. The   group   headed   north   again   along   the   highway.      The   track   ran   through   a   small   forest of   bushes   some   two   to   three   metres   high.      The   bushes   had   to   be   continually   brushed aside   to   get   through.      There   was   no   clear   view   for   many   kilometres.      This   possibly   was the   worst   country   traversed   so   far.     At   about   an   hour   before   sunset   a   survey   mark   on   a slight   rise   about   three   kilometres   south   of   Windy   Corner,   the   junction   of   Talawana   Track and   Gary   Highway,   was   reached.      No   high   banks   of   stones   were   found.      Near   the survey   mark   they   set   up   camp   and Alan's   34th   birthday   was   celebrated   with   biscuits   and dip, fruitcake and some red wine. The   descriptions   that   Carnegie   gave   for   Patience   Well   are   limited.      That   is   probably   not his   fault.      In   the   surrounding   area   there   are   so   few   prominent   features;   one   area   looks much   the   same   as   another.      The   next   four   pictures   verify   this   statement.      Carnegie's   5 September   1896   diary   entry   reads,   “Camp   on   slope   of   high   banks   of   stone   and   spinifex where   good   view   is   obtainable.”      He   describes   these   banks   in   more   detail   in   his   book   including   that   there   were   one   or   two   large   flat   boulders on   the   summit.      The   next   morning   he   headed   east   for   eight   miles.      From   there   he   went   on   a   bearing   of   approximately   17°   for   at   least   three miles   and   stopped   before   the   end   of   the   day.      They   had   come   across   some   tracks   of   natives   and   in   the   afternoon   Warri   found   the   natives, but they left them in peace for the night. In   the   morning   Carnegie   and   his   party   went   on   a   bearing   of   157°   for   three   miles   and   came   across   the   natives,   and   consequently   the   well which Carnegie called Patience Well, because they had a hard time digging it out. From   his   diary,   “...Well.      In   bed   of   ill-defined   watercourse,   running   down   between   two   slopes   of   gravel   and   spinifex.      The   course   of   water marked   by   a   clump   of   tall   mulgas   and   above   it   to   the   north   by   high   anthills   and   green bushes.” From   his   book,   “The   well   itself   was   situated   in   a   belt   of   mulga   scrub   and   surrounded   by a   little   patch   of   grass;   growing   near   by,   a   few   good   camel   bushes,   such   as   acacia   and fern-tree;   enclosing   the   scrub   two   parallel   banks   of   sand   and   stones,   with   the   well   in   the valley   between.     Above   the   well,   to   the   north,   high   anthills   and   tussocks   of   coarse   grass appeared.  The whole oasis covered no more than three acres.” It    would    be    a    stroke    of    luck    to    find    the    well    107    years    later    with    such    minimal descriptions.       The    current    group    had    an    aerial    photograph    of    the    region    and    had selected    twenty    possible    locations    for    the    well    in    an    area    stretching    ten    by    fifteen kilometres. The   locations   on   the   photograph   were   accurate   as   the   photograph   was   imported   and   calibrated   into   some   mapping   software.      Then   the locations were uploaded into both Global Positioning Systems carried by the group. On   the   morning   of   25 April   2003   the   group   split   up   again.      They   were   to   meet   at   the   most   likely   position   of   Patience   Well   [Lat   23   30.755S, Long   125   26.193E].      John   and   Howard   continued   up   the   Gary   Highway   until   an old cleared line, passing Windy Corner on the way. From   here   they   travelled   about   25   kilometres   easterly   down   the   cleared   line, which   was   almost   fully   overgrown   and   very   slow   going,   in   contrast   to   what   was supposed   to   be   a   reasonably   good   track,   according   to   one   recent   up-to-date map.     The   last   part   of   the   journey   took   them   south   overland   about   five   kilometres until they got to the location, there discovering that they had another flat tyre. Alan   took   off   on   the   bike   heading   more   or   less   directly   for   their   destination arriving   some   ten   minutes   after   the   others.     There   was   an   ill-defined   watercourse 50   metres   away   proving   the   accuracy   of   the   aerial   photograph.      However,   no sign   of   the   well   was   found.      That   left   another   nineteen   possible   sites   to   look   at whilst they were here this time. Over   the   next   24   hours   another   seventeen   of   the   sites   were   visited   and   none   had   any   signs   of   the   well.      Only   one   had   artefacts   nearby.     The country is so featureless and it is difficult trying to locate a well that might not even exist anymore. Around   midday   the   group   left   camp   and   together   travelled   to   the   cleared   line   five   kilometres   to   the   north.      John   and   Howard   went   west   to the   Gary   Highway,   then   north   to   Veevers   Meteorite   Crater   some   42   kilometres   away   which   had   been   decided   on   as   the   next   place   to   camp. Although un-researched, it wasn't too far off the highway and provoked interest. Veevers   Crater   is   about   60   metres   across   and   about   six   metres   deep.      The   sides are   gravelly   rock   with   a   few   larger   rocks   showing.      It   is   in   a   vast,   flat   landscape with no other features in sight and is most isolated. Alan   headed   north   and   visited   the   two   remaining   possible   well   sites.      He   then headed   towards   what   could   possibly   be   Carnegie's   “low   stoney   rise”   [Lat   23 12.155S,    Long    125    25.051E]    which    had    two    native    wells.       This   Alan    never reached   as   he   thought   it   would   probably   be   dark   by   the   time   he   got   there.      He then   decided   to   head   due   west   to   cut   the   Gary   Highway   instead.      Alan   realized he   was   going   to   be   late   so   Howard   was   telephoned   and   asked   to   meet   him   on the   Gary   Highway.      It   was   very   dark   by   the   time   Alan   was   in   the   vicinity   of   the Gary Highway and he had great trouble in finding it. Alan   had   accidentally   left   the   scale   ruler   with   the   others   so   could   only   estimate his   current   position   in   relation   to   the   map   he   was   carrying.      He   rode   back   and forth    a    few    times    thinking    he    may    have    crossed    the    track    without    noticing.      Howard   saw   the   lights   of   the   bike   as   he   travelled   south   down   the   highway   and   stopped   at   the   closest   point   to Alan   without   leaving   the   track.     Alan,   who   hadn’t   noticed   Howard,   turned   away   from   him   still   searching   for   the   track.      It   was   only   because   Alan   happened   to   glance   back that   he   spotted   the   lights   of   the   4WD   and   the   flashing   beacon.      They   met   about   an   hour   and   a   half   after   dark,   to Alan’s   enormous   relief,   still with a 40 kilometre night drive remaining to reach Veevers Crater. The   bike   was   left   by   the   side   of   the   highway   and   they   both   travelled   back   to   the   crater   in   the   4WD   where   John   was   waiting   for   them.      The constant travelling and exploring was taking its toll on Alan who was very weary and run down.
The Gibson Desert Carnegie’s Wretched Country