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Beadell Tours Updates from 2011 to 2016

Beadell Tours Updates from 2005 to 2010

Desert Updates from 2000 to 2004

Plaque History

Other News

 

DESERT UPDATES   by Connie Sue Beadell

FROM 2017 to NOW

 

February 2020

    Firstly, for anyone hanging out for my brief report for 2019 I apologise for its tardiness. 2019 was a very busy one for us, not the least of which being our move up to New England, NSW, in September/October. We had a short deadline with which to evacuate our old house and within a few minutes of arriving home from the desert we were hard at it. Our great thanks go to my brother Gary and sister Jacqui and her husband Russell. Equally important were travelling friends Bob Taylor and Russell Chick for all of their help (as well as Russ's partner Fran for looking after us for so long between trips back and forth). We were positively blessed to have such willing help.

    Back to the bush. Our touring season was a mixed bag this year. We ran 4 practically full tours in 2019, which was wonderful, but we did have a few unexpected problems. For the 3rd and 4th tour our pre-trip dealings with the Permit Officer for the Ngaanyatjarra were exceptionally difficult (she wasn't familiar with where we wanted to go even though I sent her maps and spelled it out for her over and over again). This does happen from time to time, unfortunately. Also, despite a good & very long-standing relationship with the Warakurna Community suddenly a few, but not all, of our special permit applications were refused, the reason given rather vague. Giles Weather Station is still worth a visit but it is obvious that the Met. staff now have no time, and/or have been instructed not, to interact with tourists, so is up to you to make the most of what there is too see, a sad reflection on past visits. In the plaque department, as I mentioned in our "Len Beadell Publications" Leibig Post Blog, we stumbled upon the Leibig post lying on the side of the road just west of Alice Springs, instead of in the bush where it was supposed to be. More very annoying vandalism at work. We found the time to respray the Tallaringa Well post though and we cut back & repainted the Ghost Gum blaze near Warakurna, time and bird poo having taken its toll. There is still plenty to do and we would especially like to thank those who have extended generouse donations to the plaque fund. It will be put to very good use! Otherwise, flowers were rather sparse this year and Camels were about but the largest group we saw were drinking from a pipe off the derelict Kurlkabara bore at the abandoned outstation on the east end of the Old Gunbarrel Highway near Warakurna. They were not perturbed by our presence at all.

Ghost Gum pre upgradeGhost Gum postCamelsCamels

    As some of you already know, we had a bad run mechanically on the 3rd tour which resulted in many phone calls, a change of itinerary and some hanging about by participants waiting for Mick & I to go off for spare parts (twice). We did finish the trip alright but we once again apologise to those affected for the change of itinerary. Mick's vehicle report will be one for the books, so wait for it. When it is completed I will put a link here; it shouldn't be too long, hopefully. We have not had a run like it before and sincerely hope never to again!

    On the bright side, our thanks go to the friendly co-operation of Mark Vegera, the CDA of Wingellina community and Sara Twigg-Patterson at the Papulankutja Arts Centre at Blackstone. Sara went above and beyond in organising for us to visit the Arts Centre given that she was expecting to still be away at Desert Mob in Alice Springs. As it turned out she arrived the night before our visit (delayed by our vehicle troubles) and looked after us magnificently. We also had another excellent round of special tours organised through the Central Land Council in September. The Connolly family led our tour to the wonderful Walka rock art site ($100 per person), an extensive area of paintings south of Docker River, and the James family once again took our group to the Lasseter's Grave site ($200 per person). On both occasions we were accompanied by Patrick Hookey from the CLC (contact details below in the 2018 report & Handy Links), once again helping us with arrangements and his store of knowledge. We were all very grateful to have had the opportunity to see the very special places they showed us as well as hearing their stories. Their eagerness to share their country with us was enlightening and very much appreciated by everyone.

Our Walka guides with Patrick Hookey
     Our Walka guides with Patrick Hookey
Marleen's Honey Ants painting
         Marleen's Honey Ant painting
Sidney talking to the group
        Sidney James talking to the group

    And now a few brief updates on the roads -:

Thank you everyone and safe travels.
Regards, Connie Sue Beadell.

 

November 2018

Sidney looking over his country
A wonderful view
Lasseter's Grave in 1931 - John Bailey collection
Lasseter's grave in 1931
Photo from the John Bailey collection,
link to story State Library of NSW

    Hello again everyone. Thanks as always must be extended to our friends who travelled with us on our tours this year. The year was busy and eventful, with Mick and I at least having a wonderful few months of exploration and discovery. We hope everyone else did too!

    As I mentioned on our Permits page (Permits), the start to our 60th Anniversary Gunbarrel Highway tour had to be altered at the last minute due to the denial of the APY Lands to issue permits to us. Instead we went up via Yulara and west to the border, on the way enjoying a very exciting detour led by Docker River Aboriginal local Sidney James (that is Sidney on the left in the photo). Sidney and Stephen Accompanied by his quiet but enthusiastic cousin Stephen, helper and guide to Sidney whom he called his "malpa", they led us to the site where stockman & bushman Bob Buck found the body of Harold Bell Lasseter in 1931 and buried him (Lasseter was later re interred in the Alice Springs Cemetery). The site is now marked by a cairn and plaque, the latter placed in June 2003 by a party that included Harold's son Bob Lasseter (a fascinating fellow and a good friend of ours). Our trip covered spectacular country that included open plains, water holes and rocky ranges. The tour took about 24 hours in our case, with an overnight camp along the way. As an aside, prior to our meeting up with Sidney, both parties succumbed to flat tyres with Sidney replying to our apology for running late by remarking that their own flat "tyre never said sorry"! Sidney told stories of his grandfather who shook hands with Lasseter, keen to relate stories with as much accuracy as possible, very serious about the process of teaching and learning. Both men were very respectful of Lasseter. Later he passed on his own interpretation of the current state of Aboriginal affairs around the campfire that night, an enlightening appraisal of Sidney's ideas of how the two cultures should work together. Tours such as these are something the Central Land Council is keen to promote, so if this type of tour interests you then you can email the Aboriginal Tourism Development Officer, Patrick Hookey, at Patrick Hookey for more information and advice on applying for permits. The current fee for the guided tour, which requires "Special Interest" permits with CLC, is $150 per head with another tour on offer nearby for $100 per head, that one visiting a special rock art site. More details will be given to you on enquiry. Here is true Aboriginal enterprise at its best.

    The remainder of the trip went off very well, our paid tour of Surveyor Generals Corner occurring just 2 weeks before the ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the placement of the original plaques on June 4th. Accompanying us was local Linda Eddy with 2 of her grandsons (one of whom is a member of the well-known Aboriginal Irrunytju Band. Linda took us to the nearby grave site of her Traditional Owner husband Lance Eddy, who knew Len as a young man, an area out of bounds for unguided tourists. After paying our respects we were back at the Corner, the stolen plaque on the far plinth to be replaced at the coming anniversary ceremony. Later that day we moved on for an interesting and productive tour of the Papulankutja Arts Centre at Blackstone, as usual our group purchasing some excellent paintings as well as locally made soap, greeting cards, bags and t-shirts. At Jackie Junction we finally replaced the deteriorating pointers with steel, made up by Mick at home, hopefully to stand the test of time (and white ants) for longer than the wooden ones. The tour concluded at Carnegie, the end of the Gunbarrel (not Wiluna !!!).

New Jackie Jn pointers Watery Midway Well June 2018 Goog's Track
The new Jackie Junction pointers Historic Midway Well under water,
June 2018
Goog's Track

    Our second tour started at Nullagine and finished at Coober Pedy and was during one of the busiest times in the desert that we have ever seen. Travellers detouring around flooding on the CSR flocked to the Rudall River National Park and later on dozens of vehicles were passed on the Anne Beadell Highway. It was good to see people appreciating the bush but this was something out of the box! The expedition this year was customer-free so Mick and I completed our final official expedition off-duty. We were saddened to close this chapter of our touring although we plan to continue to try and get permission for these very rewarding, challenging and informative trips.

    We finished the year with a shorter tour along the Anne Beadell, down to Cook then up Goog's Track to finish at Kingoonya. All in all, the deserts were fairly busy, the flowers fair to middling, the weather mostly quite camping-friendly and the roads were in not too bad an order, even the Gunbarrel and Anne Beadell Highways!

Next year's tours are now set, so roll on 2019!

 

 

Safe travels, everyone
Best wishes, Connie Beadell

 

 

December 2017

new plaque on ABH border
New Beadell plaque on Anne Beadell Hwy border
graffiti at the border
Annoying graffiti

    After another successful year in the desert we would like, as usual, to thank everyone who accompanied us on our little trips as well as those who gave us much appreciated assistance, including those involved with the granting of our permits. We replaced three of the Beadell plaques this year, one on the border of SA & WA on the Anne Beadell Highway (we have the original for safe keeping), at Everard Junction on the Gunbarrel Highway (this one replaced a replica of mine that was stolen last year) and the last on the eastern Gunbarrel at the northern end of Kintore Avenue as my replica from 2000 was badly scratched and the post looked dodgy from weathering and white ants. Mick shaved the post and I repainted it then we replaced the plaque. It looks much better now but it is one that we plan to eventually replace with a steel post for longevity. I have tried over the years to preserve historical accuracy in regard to maintaining Len's posts and blazes but for the future we will lean towards longevity. It is disappointing that the plaques continue to be a target for thieves and vandals (for example, who was the idiot who, many years ago, scratched "K" over many of Len's original plaques for all of our future "enjoyment" ????).

    Our first little trip was another in the series involving Series Land Rovers, in this case four Series 1's and a Series 3. Once again the plucky little vehicles did a grand job up & over breakaways and sandhills in country near Coober Pedy. Well restored by their owners, they were in their element with only a few minor issues dealt with by the well organised owners, their spare parts and a little know-how. The dedication and co-operation from all those who participated was inspirational. Series tourIn particular we would like to pay tribute to Mike who died of cancer shortly after the end of the tour; his courage and determination was truly remarkable.

    The second tour included the complete Anne Beadell & Connie Sue Highways. The eastern end of the Anne Beadell had been scraped a year or two before our trip and was in good condition with a marked reduction in the size of the corrugations that usually made for a rather rattly trip (the scrape continued to Vokes Hill Corner then south). There was still some close scrub and wheel ruts with the usual windy bends west of Emu. West of Vokes Hill still had close scrub and light corrugations, the usual potholes and wheel ruts requiring attention to avoid, mainly in the shade of Mulga. The worst section of road was on the east side of Ilkurlka with very bad patches of corrugations (Ilkurlka was very busy with a Rangers conference). Continuing on to Neale Junction were the usual rocky patches, washouts, areas of sand and odd corrugations. The road to Laverton was pretty good where we had a welcome day off. The Great Central Road had major roadworks north-east of Tjukayirla Roadhouse but all in all the roughest bit was nearer Warburton. South on the Connie Sue was its usual picturesque self with areas of soft sand and moderate corrugations / washouts and rocky ledges around the breakaway country. We had permission once again to do a few detours off the main road which included lovely breakaway country, the whole area historically interesting for those aware of the exploits of the old explorer Frank Hann, Ernest Giles, the Elder Expedition of 1891 and oil & gas exploration of the 60's and 80's. The south end was slow as usual heading down through the Nullarbor, the Haig road south to Cocklebiddy very slow indeed, taking us about 4 hours or so to navigate the potholes and limestone, a few wet & muddy puddles included in the mix.

breakaway country

    The expedition was another exploration of "free" areas of the Great Victoria Desert. It was successful in regard to the finding of many water sources and rockholes, many long forgotten and filled with rocks and dirt. Mick's slow and painstaking pre-trip research paid off once again and all found the experience very satisfying, a learning experience for all in regard to managing off-track travel and what the deserts have to offer (which is a lot if you know how to observe). water on the GunbarrelOur final trip was another Gunbarrel Road Construction Party odyssey along the Windy Corner, Gary & Gunbarrel Highways. We included a trip up into the picturesque Rudall River National Park, Desert Queens Baths still an idyllic spot to camp and explore. The south end of the Gary Highway is alright but does have much close scrub, rocky ledges and detours around washouts and corrugations. The Gunbarrel Highway is excellent west of the eastern Wiluna Shire boundary, the rest to Everard Junction not bad after an old scrape but still with quite a few slow rocky ledges which continued, with the odd pothole, east towards Warburton. We had permission travel spectacular country through to Blackstone (the latter in the midst of a severe dust storm) and were made very welcome at the Arts Centre where a few of us bought some wonderful artwork from the very friendly Emma who had just arrived as Arts manager. Wingellina was bustling with a National Remote Indigenous Media Festival being held there but we managed to get a detour organised to Surveyor Generals Corner. From there we continued east on the Gunbarrel through APY Lands, Liane at Ninuku Arts also very welcoming, finishing the trip at Kulgera in the midst of a few days of heavy rain .

    For more detailed information about the ins and outs of the vehicle problems click here for 2017 Trip summaries , the  2017 Vehicle Problem Report & for links to tyre information and the ongoing tyre repair experiments that Mick is currently running.

 

Roll on 2018; we wish everyone a safe year of travel and exploration.
Best wishes from Connie Beadell.

 

 Please send any comments to Connie Sue Beadell


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