Gibson Desert - Sandy Blight Junction Road - Sir Frederick Range & on to Mt Ebenezer Station

Friday, Jul 25, 2008 at 00:00


Friday the 25th July, 2008
Mt Ebenezer Station Camp Area
Lassiter Highway NT

We were up before the sun to another bitter morning of zero Deg C! I couldn’t feel my fingers as I packed the roof top taj (RTT) away. It was a cuppa for breakfast and on the track early, our game plan being to try and be off the Sandy Blight and at Yulara by the end of the day. The track continued to be in shocking condition but we still averaged 29km each hour. We rolled on through groves of desert oak. spinifex covered sand hills, arid rocky plains and then eventually reached the Sir Frederick Range turnoff. There, discretion being the better part of valour, we dropped both trailers and then drove the three kilometers east along the narrow winding track to the summit. The range appeared to be a small rocky group of hills that whilst outwardly appearing smooth, rounded and benign, proved a lot more difficult to ascend than thought. Just what provoked LB to grade a road up these hills escapes my. The entire range had been burnt bare by recent fires so every rock was visible. On reaching the hills, it became apparent that the entire range was covered in round rocks like smooth river pebbles ranging in size from few centimetres up to boulders the size of a microwave.

The track climbed the first hills to the first turn out in reasonable fashion, steep but not a great deal to worry about. The rise to the summit proved more difficult, for the Toyota at least. The track had been dug into large mogul type holes filled with the round rocks making it difficult to negotiate. It took Scott several attempts, a tyre deflation to 22 psi and a sound thrashing of the 4.2 engine to make it to the cairn. It was an imposing view to the White Range to the east and of all the countryside around. The wind was fairly brisk though and an urgent call had to be answered. Thankfully the Toyota having some difficulty in making the summit, negated the lack of adequate cover!

There is a very large cairn on the summit to which we added our contribution as tradition dictates. Near the base is an old tin containing a notebook and cards. Some of the messages dated back to the 1980’s. Both vehicles descended in orderly fashion and we re-hooked trailers to continue south. There were pPlenty of camels in the sand country and it was very picturesque at times. While winding through a picturesque desert oak clad countryside we ran into two cars load of coppers out of Tjukurla (“Chuke-la) heading to a sports carnival at Kintore. The section of road between the top and bottom access routes to Tjukurla was better condition and we got a shock to find the hall road heading south from the main turn into the community, was a super highway allowing us to make good time from then on. We called in at the impressive Bungabiddy Rockhole, a hole at the base of a mighty gorge. There were plenty of finches and birdlife about. The finches flew out of the gorge like tiny missiles, their large numbers making a rushing noise that was amplified by the surrounding rock walls.

We reached the Great Central Road and then headed east to Docker. Crappy road as expected. Called at Docker for Gaby who wanted to see the place. The local kids had an infant camel as a pet in the main street so we were soon heading out of town and onto the main track again. On taking a wrong turn in the town I ended up at the original roadhouse and store, now long disused. Certainly bought back memories of the trips in the early 80’s.

From here on east, every kilometers was a nervous wait to see if the trailer would make it to the bitumen. It did, Kata Juta being reached at about 5:00 p.m. Being near sunset we sped to Yulara in an effort to nbeet the viewing area traffic and fuelled. Their compressor was broken so we had to set up in the bus parking area and use the bushranger. We did two hours east in the dark dodging cattle and roos before calling it a night at 9.30 p.m. at the free campsite at Mt Ebenezer Station. In the dark I managed to set the car and tent on an angle to the left, the situation further exacerbated by the deflation of the slow leaking passengers side tyre. Not even this or the noisy galahs affected my sleep. I was buggered.

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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