Friday, 21 April 2017

It's 50 in the Desert, part I

April 2 to April 17

Well, how's that for uncanny. I chalk up my 50th blog post with a trip report on how I marked my 50th birthday. At the time of starting to write this post, The blog has had 95K hits. Wouldn't it be nice if I could  hit the 100K mark with this post. This blog entry is all about milestones....

Milestone 1: marking my half century with a solo desert crossing
Milestone 2: celebrating my long lost mates 50th birthday
Milestone 3: returning across the Nullarbor by roads less travelled
Milestone 4: Getting enough geocaches found to get my tally to 200 or above

Mid February, I received a text message from the partner of a mate I grew up with. He was turning 50 and they were throwing him a surprise party for him in Adelaide. I haven't seen him in over 25 years. I wanted to go. Not only to see him, but also because I turn 50 the day beforehand. And if I'm going to do it, I will do it in style, with an epic trip to celebrate my half century.

So I applied for short notice leave and was knocked back. All was not looking well until 6 weeks prior to departure, when I eventually got the nod. Then the plans were on in earnest. I have decided to go to Adelaide the long way, with a solo crossing of the Great Victoria Desert, via the Anne Beadell Highway. A highway in name only, certainly not in structure. Near 1400Km's from Laverton in WA to Coober Pedy in SA, very remote and very few people (If any). To be in Adelaide on time, I will need to cross this desert in 4 days. No mean feat in itself and no time for smelling the roses.

It would be an injustice not to mention the work of Len Beadell at this point. This "highway" was named after Lens wife. Len spent numerous years out here, ploughing tracks through central inland Australia.


Once in Adelaide, I will have a few festivities to attend to, then head off for a fleeting visit down the Eyre Penisular, to finish up with some roads less travelled across the Nullarbor for home. A 16 day solo adventure to mark my half century.....Nice one.

Day one:

Finishing work at 2300 the night prior, I hit the road at 0600 for the 1000 Km drive just to get to the Western side of the desert. A long day on the blacktop, I dropped in on Chuck for half an hour when I refuelled in Kalgoorlie -see CIILR -, but had to push on. I wanted to be the other side of Laverton tonight, to give me my best chance of crossing the AB (Anne Beadell) in 4 days. But time was dragging on, no doubt hindered by long 40Km/h sections of road works in the Boorabbin area. And on this it was a mission fail. Great - first day in and I'm behind schedule already. I may have bitten off more than I could chew here. As the sun dropped below the horizon and still being 50 odd Km's short of Laverton, I had to pull up for the night. Just a station track, opposite the Mt Morgan mine.

What concerned me the most, was that Laverton had received 5" of rain the week prior. Such unusual circumstances for such an arid landscape. If this rainfall made the desert, I could well be in strife. 4 days to cross the AB is a mission in itself, let alone in poor conditions. As I went up the station track, looking for a suitable clearing, a mob of wild donkeys crossed the road a few hundred meters in front of me. That was different, I don't ever recall seeing wild Donkeys before. A suitable clearing was  found and I parked up for the night. Time now being 1750, it had been a long day, and the next 5 days until I hit Adelaide should be no different.

First task, to get some firewood. Dragging a fallen log back to camp, the issue of all this water being around came to task. Mozzies. And I mean a freakin black cloud of them. So bad in fact, I had to drop said log and run back to the car for insect repellent. Biting me through all my clothing even. But either the DEET or the campfire did the trick.

With the fire now going, I couldn't be arsed with culinary delights, having just spent 12 hours on the road. Baked bean, Jarlsberg cheese and onion jaffles were called for. And here I hit my first snag - I forgot the bloody onions...Grrrrr. So I settled for a two component jafffle instead, leaving some melted cheese in the beard for Ron (later on that is), and chilled by the fire for a couple of hours, knowing I had to get an early start the next day - I had some ground to make up.

Day one finished: 932Km for the day.

Day 2:

With ground to make up, I decide to skip breakfast - sans coffee of course - and get into it. On the road at 0720. I take on fuel at Laverton and push on up White cliffs road. Its easy going, except some wandering cattle has me reduce my speed. And there are some sections of water covering the track, which worries me somewhat as to what the AB will throw up at me. At about the point I expect the AB to start, I meet a cross road. This leads to a mining operation, so I push on a little further to arrive at a bore and some cattle yards of Yamarna Station - and the start of the AB proper:

I am now in desert country. The red sand, the spinifex and the vegetation makes for one happy little solo traveller. Its now the point of no return. At 1040 I turn East and poke my nose into the long desert stretch. 1300 odd Km's to Coober Pedy, the only source of civilisation now will be at Ilkurlka, some 400 odd Km's away. Not for the feint hearted, nor recommended for the unprepared solo traveller.

And I find the conditions to be great. The occasional rough patch, I am happily ploughing along, in all my solo desert glory, at speeds up to 90Km/h, that could easily be done higher, but common sense prevails here. I reach Yeo homestead at 1145. So I have made average speed over ground of about 70Km/h. Fantastic. With another 160Km's to get to camp, at this rate, I will easily make up for my lost ground from yesterday.

Yeo homestead, an abandoned homestead, in the Great Victoria desert:

And it also has a well, with water and a working pump. I have no idea on the quality of this water though so Caveat Emptor:

Unfortunately, I can not find a lot of information on the history of this place. At 1230, after something to nibble on, I continue Eastwards. I am still maintaining my average speed and marvel at the sights of the Morton Craig Range, where I met my first mob of camel:

And then I get to the landmark known as Bishop Rileys Pulpit:

But the further I push on, the more slow going some of the sections are, interspersed with 70Km/h stretches. I cross into the Neale Junction Nature Reserve, and I'm having a ball out here. The vegetation has thickened and I'm now miles from anywhere, arriving at my pre determined camp site at 1545. I have made good ground today, one can only hope the remaining 3 days are as good. With stops, I have averaged 50Km/h since Yeo. A good day.

Until that is, when I unload a couple of logs I had collected earlier. My Right hand rear tyre looks a bit flatter than I had let it down to. And the pressure gauge confirms this, I am 20PSI down. Grrrrrrr. So I put some air in and will wait and see what the morning brings. I decide to check out the Junction before setting up camp, as I may have some repair work to do in the morning. Here I fill out my first visitor logbook:

A few pictures taken and I note the camel prints everywhere in the sand. Then its back to the campground for a well earned beer and to settle in for the night:

The first of the Geocaches on the AB is located here ( GC4KX30). Unfortunately, it was a DNF for me, same as the last log, back in 2016. I note the owner has since disabled the listing for the time being, but together, we are putting steps in place to confirm it is actually missing, and to have it replaced if this is so.

With dinner done, it was time to sit back and relax with a glass of red by the fire. The weather being warm through the day at 31 degree's, the night was a crisp, easy sleeping 12 degrees.

Day 2 finished, 424km travelled.

Day 3:

Up before sunrise, I have this deflating feeling I may have some tyre issues to attend to. And, my gut instinct was right. Overnight, the tyre had lost the 20 pound I put back in  it. Seeing as it appears to be a slow leak, I'm hoping its just a tread puncture that can be plugged. But first, coffee. I don't function without coffee. I found a little visitor that came by during the night:

Then its onto the tyre:

Pulling half the gear out of the back of the Paj, I remove said tyre and find I have staked a sidewall. Bugger. So I have a couple of options here: Try to repair said staking, or go through the arduous process of getting a spare out. I opt for the former. Only being one day in, if I have any more tyre issues, then a repair could have to be done anyway. The risk being, that here I have nice, flat open ground to work in. On the track, I may not have such luxury. I dig a stick, about 5mm in diameter and an inch and a half in length out of the tyre and insert a few plugs. But will it hold air ????

I can hear no leak so I put the wheel back on. Then proceed to pack up, another day on the road without breakfast. I will have to do regular pressure checks for a bit to ensure my repair is solid, something tyre pressure monitors would alleviate. More gear to buy.

I hit the road at 0815, which, with the tyre repair being done, wasn't too shabby in my book. The country now a series of long, undulating sand ridges to climb. Very impressive scenery, but I am longing for desert dunes:

At 0830, I come across a mob of camel. Instead of getting of the track, they decide to run down it. Its the Great Victoria Desert camel marathon. I cant get past them for 6 minutes/3Km's. They are lumbering along at about 25km/h. The bull, at the rear, keeps blocking my path on the left. But he makes a mistake, I take the chance to get up beside him and he ventures off into the scrub, taking his 2 harem with him. It was funny as buggery, watching their weird sideways rolling motion as they ran - or jogged in this case.

Back to business and I am making great speed, up to 80Km'h in this stretch and all is a toddle. Time being 1025, I have averaged speed over ground of 55Km/h. Best of all, my tyre is holding pressure. I come across a vehicle wreck and elect to put my sand flag on.

I am about to turn off, into dune country, for the site of another cache ( GC5020), last found in 2014. After the last DNF, I do not hold a lot of hope of a successful find. This is the site of a plane wreck which went down, due to pilot error in 1993. All 4 occupants were seriously injured with major back injuries. The ATSB report makes harrowing reading:

ATSB investigation

Now we get into real dune country. 9km's in, tight and twisty, overgrown in places and steep dunes. A couple catch me out on their crests as the sand disappears from view as you summit and you don't know where the track is:

Even though I only have 4 days to play with, I have to go in. The wreck site is incredible. I look to the dune behind the aircraft and suspect, with a double engine flame out, non feathered props, his glidescope would mean he had to have hit this dune before landing in the swale. A hard landing. Its blood curdling to think about and I cant imagine the despair they would have felt once they came to a stop - if their severe injuries allowed them to do so:

I finish off my photographs here with a piece that haunts me every time I look at it:

Goldfields Air Services stripped the engines, avionics and other items of value. Since then souvenir hunters have had their go, and typically as one finds in the bush, shooters show their marksmanship by hitting a target, the size of the proverbial "side of a bus". Good one guys. Just a note: there is a visitor book in the right hand wing pod to sign. Be careful when opening that there are no surprises in there.

I go and have success by finding the cache. 3 years since last found and all is in great condition. A quick bite to eat, and I hit the dunes again, making it back to the AB at 1140. So I have spent nearly an hour and a half on the detour, but glad I did so.

10Km on, you come to the campsite, set up by the Spinifex people. A shelter, and a tank. Typical of the other 2 found to the East of Ilkurlka.

But its Ilkurlka I need to get to. Another 60km of the same, good going, undulating sand hill country and I arrive at 1245. So average speed over ground was about 70km/h. If I can do this for the remaining 2 and a half days, I'll be a happy chappy.

Ilkurlka Community

I summons Phil, the roadhouse manager on the radio and he comes to greet me and give me the diesel I will need for the remainder of the journey.

We chat for a bit and I go inside thinking I might be able to grab a frozen pie or something. Unfortunately on that point, I was mistaken, but I did leave that suggestion on a feedback form he asked me to fill out. So I'm struggling to find what I can do to help support the community here. I opt for an Ilkurlka sticker. We then go outside and I introduce Phil to geocaching. He has been managing the place for 18 months and never knew one existed here. So I show him what its all about, and would you believe, he finds it before me..... He assures me, he will become a custodian for its safe keeping, now that he knows it exists ( GC4KZCN):

Phil also informs me I will meet a party of two, in two vehicles coming from the East, most probably tomorrow. A travel writer from Melbourne. Great intelligence to have. I will have to report my position more frequently tomorrow then. I spend an hour here and hit the road, still with 160Km to go to make camp at Tjintirkara Rochole, about 10Km West of the border. At 60Km/h average, like I've been making I should be in camp by 1600. Nice one.

However, 100m East of Ilkurlka, conditions change. Corrugations appear, rutted and rocky sections slow you down and vegetation starts to encroach on the track. It takes me an hour to travel 60Km's to get to Tjutatja tank campground, where I spot 2 small, scrawny, malnourished Dingoes, trying to obtain what moisture they could from a seeping pipe on the tank. I am now falling behind and hold fears of making my camp on time:

Small dunes to ascend now come into play, soft and sandy, but no drama to negotiate.I have to mention that if you see white rock/Dolomite, you need to slow down. You can be assured this generally means washed out sections of track. If you see black ironstone/Laterite, you also need to slow down because you can be assured there will be corrugations and/or washed out sections of track. My focus is now solely on the road. gotchya's appear from nowhere and more than a few times I've had to hit the skids. The vegetation now very close to the track, makes it a little disconcerting in regards to wildlife jumping out in front of you in the late afternoon sun. All I can say is thank god I'm heading East with the sun on my back.

I pull into camp at 1715, about 10Km's from the border. The sun has gone down (due to being so far East in the Western time zone), I am pretty well flogged and need to get dinner sorted before dark. There will be no fire for me tonight with not enough time to get everything done before dark. Again, just a basic campsite with a water tank, shelter and drop dunnies. To me, that is just perfect. Another beautiful night in the clear, crisp desert air and I retire for the evening.

I note the sign post in the morning that there is no rooting to be had in Spinifex country, which is lucky because I was solo and I was also pretty well rooted when I got in last night.

A 9 hour day, I made 340 odd Km's with probably 2 hours of break from driving. So average speed over ground was about 50Km'h, with the section East of Ilkurlka slower. Half way through now, I wonder how tough the second half will get. I expected a challenge and I may just get it.

Day 3 finished, 344Km travelled.

Day 4:
I'm on the road early again today at 0750, not knowing what to expect and by 0810 I'm signing the visitor logbook at the border:

Then its into MT land and unknown conditions:

After a high speed run across Serpentine lake (up to 70Km/h), the speed drops off again on the other side. Some very rutted track slows my progress and I make about 25Km's in the first hour after leaving the border.

2 hours in and I've made about 75Km's, entering some nice sand dune country, interspersed with rough rocky stretches in between. After the camping exclusion zone in Mamangari conservation park, there are numerous cleared sites suitable for camping if needed. be aware though, if camping in this park, camp fees are required and can be purchased with your permit fee to transit MT land. I got a copy of the "outback travellers guide -Anne beadell highway" booklet and for $16 I thought it was good value. Its 8 years old now since published, and some of the corrugated/rocky stretches notes don't seem to align very well, but on the whole I reckon its a good companion with moving map in the vehicle.

Expecting to see these opposing vehicles today, I've been calling out my position approximately every 10km's since leaving the border, hoping to avoid any vehicle conflict. Ilkurlka are monitoring Ch40 and  the strip map I am using says the same. Every now and then, I go to scan, but seem to be picking up spurious interference on Ch31 occasionally, which gets to the point of annoying after a while, so I revert back to Ch40.

I'm only hitting a top speed now of about 50Km/h. The vegetation has closed in and my sandflag is copping an absolute beating. I expect I wont have one come the other end, or I wont have a flag on it, the over hanging vegetation bashing into it quite frequently. But it does serve another purpose. the sand flag is cutting timber into nice 2ft long logs and delivering it straight to my roof basket. Every so often, when I spot a less watered plant and stop to help it out, I have to put my flag back on the stick.

Numerous track markers layed by Len Beadell are passed. There are hundreds of them. If you stopped at every one, not only would it take you 2 months to complete the trip, you would be bored witless:

Slow going as it is, I push on and finally make Volkes Hill Corner at 1330. It has taken me 5 hours to do 170km's, so an average speed over ground of around 35km/h. With yet another 160Km's to go for tonight's camp, I'm expecting a late finish unless the track improves. I measure my Dobinson remote res shock temperatures and they come in at 38 degrees  on the front, 58 on the rear. You have to be happy with that, pushing on in rough ground for extended periods.

 Turn South at this Junction and you will get to Cook, on the trans Australian railway line. I plan to cross this same road on my return journey, only South of Cook, about 370Km from here. I have a quick bite to eat and push on, having about a 20 minute stop over. I'm starting to think I wont meet these guys tonight, as I doubt they would push on for 5 hours from here tonight. Its about 9 hours to Ilkurlka, where they expect to camp tomorrow night. But I continue my intermittent scan and position reporting.

Conditions improve a little East of Volkes Hill, my sand flag isn't being beaten into submission and I'm reaching speeds up to 60Km/h. At 1500 I finally meet the traffic I've been expecting all day. I've done about 50Km since Volkes Hill. Unfortunately, against my best efforts to avoid an unexpected approaching vehicle, I met these fella's as they rounded a blind corner. The lead vehicle, towing a trailer, hits the skids and crosses it up. I'm off in the spinifex in case he doesn't pull it up.

Then I loose my crumpet. I've been expecting these guys all day and have done my best to make sure everyone knows I'm out here and heading East. The first thing I ask is if they have a radio, to which they respond in the affirmative. When I learn they are on Ch16, unfairly in hindsight, I let Glenn have it. Stuff like "don't you know Ch40 is the go here". It's in my guide, used by Ilkurlka and I'm sure its both signposted and on the permit literature.

Well, upon investigation it appears I'm wrong. There is no assigned channel, signage or conditions on the permit sourcing a dedicated channel. So Glenn, I owe you an apology. I hope you understand my frustrations were just born of the fact I knew you were coming and I couldn't let you know I was too.

We wish each other safe travels and push on. At 1620, I have made Anne's Corner. In 8 hours I have only made 225km's since the border so therefore only 30km/h speed over ground. the sun is getting low in the sky as the times I write are still Western Standard time. With another 50 odd Km's to go, that will bring me into camp sometime after 1600, so you can be sure it will be dark. Not ideal, but I need to stick to plan.

The Mt Davies road at this junction looks very overgrown (indicated by the arrow) and would be a pain to push a decent vehicle through that:

Yet another opportunity to push my flag back on the stick. Bloody vegetation.....Grrrrr
And I find that I've had a very lucky escape. The bushskinz slider saving me another tyre no doubt:

But push on I must. Entering Emu, more sand hills appear and I make good speed. 10km's or so from camp I had to put lights on and arrived at Emu at 1740 Western time, in the dark. the one thing I notice in the dark....rabbits. Quite a lot of them. Welcome to South Australia. But I am in luck. I find Emu has a shelter and picnic table to use for the night and a fellow traveller has left me about a 2 hour supply of firewood, so I can rest my weary bones with a glass of red after dinner. Thank you kindly, that was very appreciated.

Another big day now done, on the road for 10 hours today but still on plan.

Day 4 finished, 336Km travelled.

Day 5:
With luck (only because I have a schedule to attend to), I should be across the desert today. Again, not time for breakfast, just the morning coffee. Packed and ready to go, I note the 3rd of my AB caches is located here. So before I leave I have another successful find (GC1AJF9) and hit the track for the last time at 0730 WST (which btw equates to 0900 SA time). I struggle the whole time I am here to adjust to SA time.

Driving out to totem 1, I spot a Sturt desert pea that I will have to photograph on the way out.

I was forewarned by Kingbrown on the paj forum about staking hazards here. I didn't see them on the way in due to facing the morning sun, but surely saw them on the way out. If you are heading for totem 1, just after the totem 2 turn off, you will find a line of broken off star pickets on your right, just waiting for you to add to the profits of the local tyre dealer. you have been warned. Stay left on the way in, stay right on the way out:

And the desert pea as promised. The only one I saw:

Conditions were pretty good up to Tallaringa conservation park. At Tallaringa well I had made about 100Km in 3 hours, including the side trip to totem 1. A sign post from Len Beadell directs one to the well. Well, I couldn't find it, neither could Glenn, the fella I passed yesterday. So I didn't waste much time here. However, I read in my strip map, that the original well had been moved by Len. I wonder how one moves a well???? My map shows a well a little further East and South of the AB, I'm guessing that's the "original" one?? Anyway moving on and I find a track heading down that way, so I poke my nose in for a look. It ends up a maze of tracks, but I follow my nose trying to get my pointer centered on the dot on the map representing the well. I reckon if I had time up my sleeve, I could find something. But as time was my enemy this trip, I decided the remnants of an unmaintained well, first found by white man in 1908, with no maintenance, just wouldn't be worth the effort in the end. if I come back (which I reckon I will), I'll do a bit of research first.

The next 55Km's again are pretty easy going, occasional corrugations but all short lived. I make the Dingo fence in an hour and10 minutes. So nearly 50Km/h. Better going than the last 2 days since Ilkurlka for sure. You cant cross the fence here, you have to detour South for 3Km to the gate, then come back on the other side again, to re-join the AB. Whilst here, I pick off the last of my AB caches (GC42KFR).

Coming into Mabel Creek Station, you pass a bore, tank and yards on the right. From this point, until you get to the next windmill, the track is very washed out and slow going. Nothing too challenging, just slow. Obviously a place where a lot of water runs whenever this place ever gets any decent rain.

After that, the road improves considerably and once you veer North of the Homestead, you realise you have reached the end of the AB going by all the signage. Success, my 4 day challenge to cross the AB, sans a tyre stake, and badly beaten vehicle from all the Vegetation after Ilkurlka is done.

Like the demtel add, but wait, there's more. No steak knives here, but I'm still 50km's from Coober Pedy, I need fuel, a wash, somewhere to camp and I still have another 900Km's to get to my destination in Adelaide. And there is yet another cache I want to pick up on the way into town. However, I can make road speed from here.

I pass Eight Mile (one of the richest opal fields of Coober Pedy in its hey day) and I drop in for the last cache on my trip to Adelaide (GC3PWGP). 

The town of Coober Pedy in South Australia is a major source of opal. The world’s largest and most valuable gem opal “Olympic Australis” was found in August 1956 at the “Eight Mile” opal field in Coober Pedy. It weighs 17,000 carats (3450 grams) and is 11 inches (280 mm) long, with a height of 4+3⁄4 inches (120 mm) and a width of 4+1⁄2 inches (110 mm). It is valued at AUD$2,500,000

Found here:

As I drive in, and hone in on the GPS, I get a very bad feeling. I have rocked up into an old mining camp, squatter shacks everywhere and I feel like I'm about to go ferreting in someone's back yard.

A vehicle pulls up to a shack about 50 meters away, so I go over to introduce myself and why I'm here. Turns out, he is the "rabbit" - you would have to pull up the cache page to understand. He helped me find the cache, cause the clue doesn't make sense now the old truck is no longer and then I spent an hour chatting with him in his shack. Seriously, If I thought I had just enjoyed the desert, the conversation with this man was nothing short of spell binding. If it wasn't for the fact I had to get out of town for a wash, I think I would have stayed the night.

Rabbit, I know you wont get to read this blog, but hopefully someone can relay my thoughts about my visit here to you. You sir, are a true gentleman.

You see, that's one thing I love about this country. Its full of such wonderful characters in the most strangest of places.

Fuelled up in town, I can do some fuel calculations for the crossing. I used 194L from Laverton to Coober Pedy (about 24L more than my tank capacity) over a distance of 1408Km. An average of 13.77L/100. you have to be happy with that.

But I need to push on. I find a bit of an average roadside rest area about 50Km from town, Ingomar rest area. No one is here, its 1745 local time, the sun is not far from sinking below the horizon and I need a wash. Job done I reckon. The Ab now conquered, Adelaide tomorrow. Pity the flies were so friendly here though, I never saw one in the desert, another most excellent point of being out there.

I had to wait until the sun went down to cook dinner, due to said fly issue. Afterwards, sitting back, sipping a red, I hear a vehicle on the highway slow down. he is pulling in. Bloody great, back in civilisation and here goes my peace and quiet. I get a bit alarmed, a landie pulls in, camper trailer in tow. Thinking I'm now going to be swamped with a hoard of kids, I'm surprised to meet Frank. he is travelling alone, apart from a young kitten he picked up along the way. A bit of an eccentric fella, a bit of a conspiracy theorist (must have been that alien abduction and anal probing) but a nice fella all the same. turns out, he is going to Cactus Beach for a week, before making his way to Esperance WA. Seems I will meet him there when I pass through. Anyway, a pleasant night with frank and my goon, we retire for the evening.

Day 5 finished, 340Km travelled.

Up again before sun up, and Frank, I hit the long road for Adelaide at 0815 local. Frank follows for a bit, but he isn't carrying my speed and we eventually loose radio contact. See ya at Cactus mate!

I marvel at the scenery out here. It is less treeless then the Nullarbor. Bloody amazing to see. I make Port Augusta about 0130 local and refuel. Stopping in a carpark opposite to update the world on what's been happening, I see a challenger heading my way. No it can't be. yep, Kingbrown from the Paj forum has come to make sure I get my now black fella feet well out of town. cant have that sort of riff raff hanging around. thanks mate, it was a pleasure to see you again, after we first met at Windich Springs on the CSR last year.

But push on I must, reaching the outskirts of Adelaide around 1900 local. Its now dark, and I really don't know where I'm going, so that presents another challenge in itself. A mate in Perth calls me and he guides me in to my base camp via google maps. Mind you, he gave me a few wrong turns, but his assistance was appreciated and I rocked up at my mates mum's place around 2000 local. Now its time for a rest, and tomorrow, meet my long lost mate I haven't seen in over 25 years.

Day 6 finished, 830Km Travelled.

Over 6 days, on completion of part 1 of my quest, I have knocked one milestone off my bucket list.

I have used 390L of diesel up to Pt Augusta, costing me $675 over 2885Km's.
For an overall average consumption of  13.5L/100

I used the grand sum of 3.5L of water (+ 2 for showering) - I took nothing from tanks located on the way.

Apart from my love of the desert country out here, my next best experience was the lack of rubbish from fellow travellers. Thank you. Same cant be said for part II.

Part II, the return Journey across the Nullabor coming soon. 

Trip Videos:

Permit Information and contacts:

For travel on the White Cliffs/Yamarna Rd to Yeo Homestead:

Ngaanyatjarra council 

For Travel from the WA border into SA:

Note: additional camp fees to a transit permit apply if you wish to camp in Mamungari Conservation Reserve

I hear often that MT can be slow to process permits. However, I will list the way I went about it. Download the permit application in the link on the page above. Pay the required fee by EFT, copy the receipt and email to both receipt and application to: 

Follow this up with a phone call to let them know its coming. I followed this process and had my permit approved 2 days after I started the ball rolling. Thank you Manisha.

For access into the Woomera Protected Area:

Importantly, I would apply for this permit first, because the Dept of Defence regularly close this down for operational reasons and this will make any other permit worthless.

Download the Tourist Application Permit W005 available here:

email the form off and once you have that approved, then continue with the others required.

For Access into Tallaringa Conservation Park:

I note just about all my research shows you need a SA Desert Parks Pass for entry into Tallaringa. This is incorrect. A DPP will cost you $160, valid for multiple desert parks for a period of 12 months. Which is fine if you plan to hang around for 12 months and visit multiple parks.

Information you will find hard to find with out a bit of effort is that you can just pay a vehicle entry fee if transiting. A more economically acceptable method if you are just passing through.

NOTE: additional camp fee's apply if you plan to camp here

Tallaringa entry fee

Tallaringa camp Fee

Please email me and I will provide banking details. We can split the $150 saving 50/50 :)

And of course there is Ilkurlka:

Everything you need to know is on their site. But don't ask Phil where the geocache is hidden. That is your task

And finishing off,

The Anangu Communities request that visitors do not not leave the Anne Beadell Highway as there may be sensitive areas nearby.

Respect their culture and wishes, and we get access to country. Simples!


  1. a great read an pic. cant wait for more

  2. Nice one old fella.

  3. awesome! congratulations on your solo crossing, no mean feat, and a great job with the text and pics

  4. We really enjoyed reading your trip and seeing all those places we've been too. Made us keen to go back again but we broke a spring just out of Volkes Corner and had to chain the axles together and limp out through kilometres of wild flowers, it was September. Look forward to the return journey. Markndee

    1. Thanks Markndee. Now that sounds like one of those nightmare trips one should avoid. Sorry to hear that. I think you will find, currently, the track is in much better shape than when you busted a spring. What a bugger that'd be.

  5. Great report as usual thank you

    1. Hey, thanks Ron. Glad to see you are still around and getting access to my adventures. I hope you have been getting out there!

  6. A great trip report and fab pictures as well.
    Looking forward to my trip across the ABH now more than ever.
    Many Thanks Shane,
    Matt, aka: Lostmonster & Co.

    1. Thanks Matt. I'm sure you will just love it. Just don't do it in 4 days like I did or you wont appreciate the serenity of the place.

  7. What a fantastic trip report
    You have given me a great idea for my 50th next year.
    Sounds much better than going to the old haunts like Abercrombie and Hill End .
    Look forward to part 2
    By the Happy Birthday

    1. Wow, how awesome to hear from you mate. Best you let me know your plans if you head outback for your 50th. As for Abercrombie and Hill End, I miss those days dearly, but new adventures await. Cheers!

  8. What a great trip can you tell me what time of the year you traveled the Anne Beadell me and the wife would like to do it but we only get January off.

    1. The date is at the top of the post - April 2017. To my mind, you'd have to be nuts to do this in January with temps potentially exceeding 40 degrees. Bom historical data shows Warburton (closest station I can find) has an average maximum of 37.9 degrees and it is in fact the hottest month out there. Each to their own, but I'll stick to the South Coast that time of year.

  9. What a great write up, sat here on the other side of the world your pictures and write up have almost made me feel I'm there. One thing the write up has done is made me very envious of that amazing country you have.
    Met up with Peter and Willie about a month ago, here in Chester UK, you did the CSR with them last year, great couple and so nice of Peter to hunt me down when he was near Chester. What a great down to earth couple, it was great talking to them about your journey on the CSR over a pint down by the river Dee.
    Cheers Graham (gta1898 on the Paj forum)

    1. Thanks graham. Yep peter and Willie are real champions. They type of people you wish to be stuck in the desert with. You are correct, it is an amazing land mass indeed. Mind you, the old dart must have some special places too, and history we can only dream of over here.

  10. A good remote trip which I intend to do my self alone in may 2018.I think that the deserts are a great place to visit.They are part of Australia.

    1. Very good Brian. if you go solo, make sure you prepare accordingly. Have a great trip.

  11. I'm glad I found this blog and your videos as my wife and I are going from Coober to Neales Juntion, north on the Connie Sue, Gunbarrel and then the CSR starting in two weeks time. Good to know what we are in for along the AB. A great rundown. Graham

    1. Cheers Graham. Well I'm a bit slow on the reply to the comment, so I guess you are well out there at the moment. Have a great time and I would love to hear of your journey when you return. Save travels.

  12. Snatchem & Shackle6 February 2019 at 10:57

    Well done Sharkeaver. Captivating reading.Still deciding whether to do CSR or AB in 2019. CSR was badly flooded in 2018 - inland sea I believe, so AB may be the go! Note you are on Dobinson's - Did you carry spares? Please also advise what is the preferred Channel.Thanks again.

    1. Thanks Snatchem. Yep, the CSR was well flooded in 2018, but a large diversion was in place, adding many Km's to the journey and missing wells 25-31 IIRC. For that matter, the Western edge of the Great Victoria Desert also suffered from some rain events in Jan/Feb 2018. I went through in April 18 and it was dry(see mowing the spackman - April 2018)but there was some track damage done. 2019 has been a low rainfall event year, so at this point in time, both should be good to go. I was on Dobbo at the time, yes. I am not no more. I need to update my Dobbo post (keeping your cool). In a nutshell, I just suffered too many failures and the agent and Dobbo themselves are not interested anymore. I contacted them in November, letting them know I have failed front struts again, and I have heard nothing back from them - some 3 months later. I have moved onto Lovells/Bilstein. I Carried a spare set of rear shocks for the journey. Carrying spare front struts is not really practical. Unfortunately, there is no preferred channel on the ABH, unlike the CSR. Having a vehicle rounding a bend at high speed with a trailer on and putting me into the spinny to avoid a head on drew my ire and I make not of that in the writeup. The worst part is I knew 2 days ago he was coming. It grates me that a head on could have been well avoided had their been a dedicated channel, as on the CSR. Dedicated channels work extremely well - if everybody adheres to the protocol. As I said, this is not the country to be having medical emergencies.

  13. Hey great blog! I look forward to going along the CSR one of these days once the old man has passed as I am stuck here looking after the old fella... I first heard about it watching one of Ronny Dahl's videos. Sadly the Maralinga to Emu road is closed as visiting Maralinga is a priority on my bucket list.

    1. G'day Rob. Ronny went across the ABH in March 2018, I went in April 2017. To be honest, I'm not sure on the permit requirements for Maralinga these days, I believe you have to have a "guide" in tow and no permit allows you access from the ABH. Google is your friend. I hope you get out there somewhere soon. Cheers.