Carnegie Expedition 2013 - Day 14 Exploring Wilson Glen and the Stansmore Ranges.

Tuesday, Aug 06, 2013 at 19:00


6th August, 2013 - Wilson Glen, The Stansmore Range WA

"The hills we found to be of the usual character, barren sandstone, from which numerous rocky creeks have torn their way through the sand. Following up a little glen, terribly rough and steep for the camels, we came at length to a fine pool, hemmed in by almost sheer cliffs sixty feet high. Climbing to the top of these, I could see that the same rough country extended for a considerable distance to the westward, and that further travel up the glen was impossible;"

David Carnegie; Spinifex and Sand Ch IV (1899)

It was again a cold night leading to a bit of a sleep in today, getting up at seven. First order of the day were chores.Al had picked up a puncture on the back right hand tyre, probably facilitated by the low tyres in the sand country. I started with the sidewalls figuring that’s where it would most probably be. The shoulder lugs had dragged the spike inwards probably when the tyres were at their lowest. It was the tiniest sliver of timber and the hole was soon plugged. Then there was a general look around the vehicle. The passenger window and door locks no longer worked so I blew out the controller on the drivers door and this seemed to do the trick. Then it was the air cleaner and finally underneath to see what had been knocked about.

Securing a couple of buckets of creek water, warmed on the fire I washed out the last few days clothes. The amount of dust coming out of them left a residue of mud in the bottom of the bucket, my trousers must have been almost capable of standing up by themselves. Al McCall and Massie scaled the southern hill mind you they had to scout a place to climb it from the back (western side) as the walls are far to sheer and loose to attempt it on the eastern or northern faces. Alan’s now famous “pose” was struck from the heights.

As a group we decided to take a walk along the glen to locate Carnegies water hole, the actual “Wilson Glen”. We left at 10:45 a.m. and made our way past the pools at the mouth of the glen and into the sandy creek bottom. The initial stages of the glen are quite open with a wide valley that bells out once passed the entrance. The creek bottom was brilliant white sand, becoming progressively more rocky as we moved deeper into the glen with other creeks joining it at regular intervals along its course.

The first pool is located at the end of this wide pound area where the surrounding hills starts to close in on the creek. It was quite a nice little pool surrounded by some large boulders and trees.John Mac decided to stop and enjoy the serenity for a while whilst the main party pushed on. Continuing on we crossed some incredible slabs of fossilised sea floor. The sandstone layers having captured the wavelets of an ocean floor hundreds of millions of years past. You could see layers upon layers of sediment captured in the rocky cliffs of the creek edge as it knifed its way towards the plain. Occasionally the sandstone would change to what looked like ironstone and also layers of a white stone of a type we didn’t recognise. Pool two sat at the confluence of two gorges. It became evident that you would really need your wits about you when trekking in here as it would be all too easy to stray into another gorge. Pool three is fairly rocky, the surrounding hills hemming the creek in. This made it a little more difficult to negotiate our way around the pool but we managed it without anyone taking a dunking.

At one of these pools, Peter intended to take some photos and video and to facilitate this, he had carted in his boom arm for his camera. This allowing him to pan the camera smoothly and produce some amazing looking video. In the midst of production there was a muted cry of horror and shock when one of the boom’s support arms gave way and the whole camera tilted backwards and made to fall into the dark water. Thankfully the remaining arm held or it might have been a very expensive outing!

By the time we reached pool four, the gorge had narrowed significantly and the creek had a sheer wall some 30 metres high. At pool five, the gorge was just a narrow rocky cleft twisting its way into the rough surrounding hills. Only 100 metres passed this was pool six and it was here that I decided to take a break. I’d slammed my knee into a large rock the previous evening and it was not providing me with the support I needed. I thought I’d lie back, enjoy the serenity and have a swim in one of the pools along the way. When the others headed on, I climbed the rocky walls of the gorge locating a cavern. Nature is still doing its work at the top end of the gorge believe me. It is very reminiscent of the Hamersley and Pilbara country and perhaps even Karijini to a lesser extent.

The water here was quite dark in colour. It wasn’t brackish so whether the colouring may be leeched tannins, I’m unable to say. There was a lot of water around and overt signs of a tumultuous flood in very recent times. You had to really watch your footing with all the jumbled boulders and the sides of the gorge are very unstable. There are some huge pieces of rock on the gorge floor (think lounge room size) that have fallen from height, so you also have to be very cautious if you climb.

I enjoyed the walk back out. It was a long walk as we’d managed to get a good 2.5 kilometres into the glen. It gave me the opportunity for a dip and a chance to take a few photos of the quiet pools. I arrived back at camp around 3:00 p.m. with Alan arriving not that long after me. I finished off the washing and got it hung out. Alan McCall and Petey climbed the northern hill. Frying off Chorizo and Haloumi on the hotplate for dinner signified the end of the day’s activities. I was in bed by quarter past seven...a late one!

''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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