On the way to Murchison House Station I called into Hardabut Rapids. The turnoff is not marked and the narrow track is closely edged with scratchy vegetation. Close to the river the condition of the track requires one to slow to walking pace but overall it is no great challenge to get to the Rapid.
Hardabut Rapids was the scene of a near disaster on our 1995 boating expedition downriver from Galena Bridge after Cyclone Bobby dumped enough rain to create record floods. The full story of this remarkable trip is here.
We arrived at Murchison House Station at 1600, signed in, and made a visit to the Western Patrol Club on the way to our camp at Tutula Well on the northern bank of the Murchison River. While our campsite was not the best we had ever selected once darkness fell and a campfire was lighted the perception of any shortcomings receded.
Tutula Well to Beach Camp (Friday)
Andrew and Steve arrived next morning and we got away on time with Joe Natoli as Trip Leader for the day.
The first challenge on the track north was a fence blocking the way. On closer inspection it was clear that it was part of a goat trap. We had passed the detour around it so it initially presented a challenge. Those further back in the convoy located the detour and we were back on track.
The first diversion off the track was Tiddies Hole – an access point to the beach.
On the way back out to the track north the F250 got a puncture. While Matt changed the wheel those at the front of the convoy took the opportunity to collect wood – it being a safe bet that there would be no wood at our beachside camp.
About 1245 we found a campsite behind the dunes, out of the wind. The sea was only marginally safe for swimming and, as the wind picked up, the chance of fishing receded. With fishing not being an option there was time to set up a comfortable camp. It was interesting to see all the various shower set ups.
Our protected position allowed a campfire.
Most were in bed early. It was windy all night.
Beach Camp to Wilgamia Pool (Saturday)
Trip Leader for the day was Matt Hall.
Our Route showed a turnoff to the south that would be tricky to find but the bulldozer had been through and turned it into a gentle, easy to locate sweep down into a claypan and goat trap. The exit was also easy to spot.
We worked our way south towards Gie Gee Camp. Matt caught a kid and after photographs he released it back into the nursery.
Heading south from Gie Gee we detoured into Culcurdoo.
Further south our Route turned onto a track to the north-east I thought would be difficult but it had been upgraded 18 months ago and was now a high speed but very dusty track.
After our coffee break we turned into Hidden Valley.
Matt led the way cross country up a bluff until we were stopped by boulders. From there we walked to the edge of the escarpment. Magnificent views.
We found our way back down the bluff, out of the valley and onto the main track.
The track into our planned overnight stop at a cave was narrow and overgrown. We were way ahead of time so this became the lunch stop instead of the overnight stop.
Because we were so far ahead of schedule Matt adjusted the planned Route to make the overnight stop at Wilgamia Pool.
Our convoy departed the cave, turned right and headed toward the river. Once we hit the river track we decided to get closer to a pool we could see in the middle of the river bed. This part of the Murchison River is a ‘braided stream’ with numerous pools, a totally uneven stream bed and a multitude of magnificent red river gums across the full width of the river.
Matt led the way. Our trips wouldn’t be what they are without an episode of what then ensued. Five tonne of Ford’s Finest hit a bog hole and went straight down.
The Effy was retrieved and we pushed on to Wilgamia.
Wilgamia Pool to Army Camp (Sunday)
Joe was Trip Leader today.
Even a cursory inspection made it clear that we were unable to drive to Mt Curious on the planned Route so we had to back track north. Joe found a shortcut through an overgrown track to the main Mt Curious track.
Surveyor/explorer Augustus Gregory (after whom Mount Augustus is named) noted Mt Curious as ‘’a very remarkable sandstone hill’ when he bivouacked to the north of the feature in 1848 but it wasn’t until 1883 that Surveyor H.S. Carey showed in on a local map.
Leaving Mt Curious we headed north to the Pipeline Track.
The first obstacle soon presented itself.
This track is flat and hard but along the way throws in a few obstacles.
Joe spied a piglet and fleetfooted Grace chased it down. What an effort! I cornered it and Matt caught it. An interesting interlude not experienced since the Darling Descent ’82.
While looking for the track to the Lookout we found another goat trap. Eventually we located the track leading into the Lookout. Lunch.
After lunch we continued south-west on the Pipeline Track
Continuing along the Pipeline Track we caught up with the Western Patrol Club. They had stopped at a point where a tree branch blocked the track. They moved off the track, allowing us to pass, and returned the way they had come. Joe and I removed the branch and our convoy drove on and dropped down into a remarkable gully.
The creek bed was part of our planned Route but I was concerned that it would drop off steeply as it got closer to the river and become impassable. The only way to find out was to drive it.
What a fantastic drive. Twisting, turning and interesting.
We were again ahead of schedule and decided to relocate to a site on the river known as Army Camp, quite close to the MHS homestead.
Jon found a felled tree, attached it to his Patrol with a snatch strap, and towed it to camp. What transpired was an hilarious event when the Patrol went one side of a tree and the towed log went the other. Jon’s vehicle came to sudden stop as the rear of the vehicle went skyward. No damage.
Joe constructed a spit from star pickets. A fire was lighted. The piglet was prepared. Dinner was started.
The ‘official’ trip finished at Murchison House Station and participants made their own way home.
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