Friday, December 9, 2016

The journey home

We left our camp on the the Tanamai road at sunrise, and headed into Hall's Creek.  The Tanamai road was pretty corrugated in sections, but compared to what we had been through, it was great.  We kept to around 60kph on the rough bit, but on the smooth bits got up to 90kph.  It was nice to be able to cover reasonable distances again   We filled up with fuel at Halls Creek, and found we still had 110lt left on the main tank.  This meant our fuel consumption over the whole 1300km trip from Newman to Halls Creek was only 28.4lt/100km.

We were hoping to spend a couple of days relaxing in Kununarra,  so we headed up the road we had done three times already.   When we got closer to Kununarra, we phoned up the caravan park, they were full.   We called all the other ones, and also all full.   We had to head home, so we decided to head out to Katherine and then to Mataranka.  We re-supplied our ice cream stash, and bought a hot chicken from the Coles and filled up with fuel.  With no room anywhere, we decided to head east and left Kununarra just as the sun was going down, and drove until around 9:00pm then pulled off the road into a small side track and went to bed. 

We were going to take the Buchanan Highway on the way  home, but the weather forecast was for rain, and we didn't feel like driving almost 600km on wet dirt roads,    We decided to head for Mataranka, so we could spend a couple of days at Bitter Springs before the rain caught up with us. 

The next day we headed up to Katherine,  got all the supplies we needed, and then down to Mataranka where we stopped in at the Bitter Springs Campsite for a few days of relaxation.  This time the campground was packed, and whilst we found a spot and it was nice to relax and just sit around.    We spent a fair bit of time in the hot springs, and like the camp ground, it was quite busy, but late in the afternoon or early in the morning it was quiet.  

The water was clear in the morning, but in the afternoon, it got a lot murkier with all the visitors stirring up the algae and sand.   There were so many people sitting on their pool noodles that we found is difficult to swim upstream, the herds wallowing around would jam up at any of the narrower points.

We were going to stay for three days, but the weather forecast showed the cold front was catching us up and it was going to be raining.  We packed up in the late afternoon, and it started to rain heavily around 4:00am.   With nothing but cold and wet weather happening for a week, we decided to head east. 

We drove almost non stop for three days, heading towards Townsville and hopefully better weather. 

After almost 30,00km without incident on some of the worst roads in Australia, we managed not only to get a chip on the windscreen, but also a cracked spotlight  on a section of sealed road 100km west of Townsville.   We decided to get the chip on the windscreen fixed, so called up a few windscreen places and early on Saturday morning, got the chip fixed.  We then headed down the coast to Bowen for lunch - Super large Coffee and Milo thick shakes.  The weather was still bad, light rain most of the way.  We were going to stay at Bowen for the night, but no used spending $50 for a night when it is raining when we can stay in a Roadside stop for free.

We headed down the coast, and decided to spend a few days at Airlie Beach.   We found a great place for the night at Hideaway Bay.    There are some great beaches there, but unfortunately the weather was not that good.    We got time for some photos between the patches of rain.

We found a great place to stay on Wikicamps, a couple who let people with self contained trucks stay in their property.  It was great, and and most importantly, nice and quiet.  We had spent the day in Airlie Beach, and a cruise ship was in town.   There were so many people, it was a mad house.  :).  We looked at all the day cruises to Whitehaven Beach, but they were expensive and almost all booked out.   No way we are going to pay lots of money to walk on a beach with a couple of hundred other people in the rain.  

We decided just to explore around the area.  

We had about an hour of sunshine

and then the clouds came back again.

The next day we headed down the coast to meet up with Steve and Crissy. 

We spent two days on their boat, it was great.  The weather improved, and finally we got some sunshine. 

Steve and Chris took us around Great Keppel Island, and there were some wonderful spots.

I took a video of the their boat for them, they are selling it.  

We headed home, stopping of at John and Di again, repeating the outward leg of our trip again.  

We now have about 32000km on our truck, and  it is still going great.   All the upgrades we made to our truck have made it the very comfortable to drive, best of all, we have enough power on the highway to keep up with the traffic, and even overtake the occasional truck or two.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Canning Stock Route

We left Newman on Friday after  stocking up on food, water and fuel.  It was pretty miserable weather, cold and raining.  The weather over the past few days had not be great, and we were looking forward to  some sunny weather as we head north.  The Talawana track was a typical outback road, a bit corrugated but we could easily hold 70-80kph.  I drove slower than normal, trying to save as much fuel as possible, as we knew it would be expensive out on the track.   We had filled up all our jerry cans in Newman, and had 90lt of fuel on the roof.   We knew that we could fill up our fuel tanks at Parnngurr Community on Saturday morning, and then top them up again at Kunawaritji for the 900km trip to Halls Creek.  

We drove until sunset and spent the night in the Rudall River National Park,  originally I was hoping to go up to the Desert Queen Baths, and spend a day there, but since we could not get fuel on Sunday, we would have to spend at least two days there, but we had a timetable to keep, as Trish needed to be home in three weeks time.  We were surprised to see a grader working on the road up into the park, and drove about 10km up the road and spent the night at the White Gums Bore.   It was a great place, and so quiet and peaceful.    We definitely need to go back and spend some time exploring the park.

 We headed off the next morning , the grader had been through again and the road was very smooth and the sand very soft.   I suppose that's why the camel preferred to run up the road.

 We used our Sat Phone to contact the Community Coordinator at the Parnngurr turn off to make sure it was OK to enter the community, we didn't want to drive 20km only to find it was closed.  The Coordinator said it was fine to get fuel, just go to the second house on the  left as you drive in, and he would be there.   When we go there, we found the house, and his little son came out on his bicycle and escorted us to the fuel bowser.  Parnngurr was really clean,
and the people very friendly.  Fuel was expensive, $3.40 per litre, and we needed almost 80 litres to replace what we had already used in the 430km trip fromNewman

On the way out we were passed by a ute, who then pulled over and flagged us down.   It turned out to be the local school teacher, who was interested in the truck and where were were from.  We chatted to him for about 10 minutes, it was really interesting learning about the various customs and views of the local Aboriginals about outsiders.  In the past they didn't want anyone from outside into their community, but now the encourage people to stop in.  Both the school teacher and the Coordinator were not Aboriginal, but with the support of the local Elders, they have turned the community around, banning alcohol, getting the kids into school and cleaning up the place.   We continued back down to the Talawana track, and from the Parngurr turn-off the road changed quite a bit, turning from a graded road into  two wheel tracks going through the bush.  We were now going on one of the most remote roads in Australia. 

We drove for another hour or so  to the Georgia Bore, which has a fully functional pump.   We had to test the pump, but neither of us were keen on testing the water.  We have almost 200 litres on board, which should be more than enough for the 10 day trip. 


Georgia bore marked the start of the of the the Canning Stock Route for us.   By starting at Newman we had skipped the lower part of the Canning, about 1/3 of the total length. We were just using this a shortcut home, rather than "Doing the Canning" .   We are too big for the first part anyway, and would have to join after Well 5.   We skipped about 400km of the section to Wiluna, maybe one day we will head down the CSR just to see what we missed.  

It was raining lightly for most of the way, and the track was pretty slippery in places, but the rain mainly stopped the dust. and within a hour we were at  Well No. 23, and the fuel dump.   This is where the Outback Centre send fuel for people doing the whole of the track.   You have to book and pay for the fuel a few weeks in advance and they drop off a drum with your name on it.   There we met some very rude Prado drivers.   They were busy filling up with fuel from a 210lt drum, I walked over to say hello, and they just turned their backs and ignored me.  Trish got the same response from their wives.  We had a look around, took a couple of photos and headed up the track. 

The road was still pretty good, a bit corrugated , little did we know but since it was part of the Talawana track it was a lot better than what was to come.     We stopped at each well on the way, took a few photos.  The history behind some of the wells is not good.   What Canning and his men would do is capture one of the local Aboriginals, then hold him without any water, then give him some salty water and let him go.   Being close to death from lack of water he would make for the nearest water hole and they would follow him to find it.       

The light rain kept the dust down, but did make a few of the sections a bit muddy.  We drove through a couple of clay pans where there was quite a bit of surface water, and we did leave a few deep wheel tracks for those behind in places. 

We stopped off at Tiwa Well, this had been fully restored,  along with the cattle trough.

This was a manual well, with a bucket on a rope to get the water about 10m down.  Imagine having to haul water up for a few thousand cattle by hand.  They must have had a better way of doing it. 

We drove until sunset, and then just pulled off the into a clearing.  It was quite cold in the evening, but we were nice and warm,    The next morning after checking everything on the truck, I took the drone up for a quick look around. 

We were on the road about an hour when, we got a call on the radio.  A "Party of Three" were right behind us and could we please pull over to let them  pass.     We had been announcing that we were a "Unimog heading north on the Canning Stock Route" just in case we met someone coming south, as  the track was very narrow in places and we didn't want to risk driving off the track into the "Mulga Scrub" where iron hard sticks could puncture our new tyres.    Hearing that they were right behind us was a bit of a surprise, since they should have responded to our radio calls long before that.   I replied that we will find a place and pull over  to let them pass as soon as we can.   There were no side tracks for about 10 minutes and the scrub was very tight, and I could see the lead car getting really close to us in the rear camera, only a couple for metres behind us.  The scrub thinned out and they seemed in an aweful hurry so I stopped on the track and asked them on the radio if this was a good enough place for them to get past.  I heard one of the other drivers ask if we were going to pull off the track to let them go past or not.  I replied that if they wanted me to pull off, they would have to wait for the next well or a side track.   I was just about to carry one when the  first Prado came past, cutting back in front of us and shot off up the track.    The other two shortly followed an  sped off, no thank you or anything.   They wanted me to risk my tyres just so they could get past us, and were not prepared to wait.

We trundled along and I turned the radio from Channel 40 to "Scan" and  heard them complaining to each other on the radio about us on another channel.  Everyone is supposed to use Ch40 to warn other vehicles on the single lane track.  They were risking a head on collision on a dune.  

We drove sedately for the rest of the day, not wanting to catch them again, and even took the drone up at lunchtime.

Unfortunately, they seemed to be having a hard time on the dunes, and we caught up with them.  They had switched to Ch40 at least, and we could hear on the radio they were having problems getting up the dune.  We stopped and watched the last one get over the dune, by taking a long run up, and with the engine screaming, bounced their way to the top.    The end result was a series of deep holes in the dune. 

Unfortunately for us,  the holes were spaced just far enough apart the both the wheels on one side would fall in them at the same time, and being around 200-300mm deep, this made our truck wallow pretty uncomfortably unless we crawled up really slowly.   They were basically destroying the track with their terrible driving style, and if they had only let their tyres down a bit more, they could have driven up slowly with a lot less effort and less risk of breaking their cars.  We had had no  problems on any of the dunes before they passed us,  we could cruise up in 3rd or 4th gear,, so  we can be pretty certain it was their driving that had caused the damage.

 I was a bit frustrated at first, but then realised that crawling up in low range was actually very easy, and since the ruts were pretty deep, I didn't need to touch the  steering and could actually just relax and take a sip of coffee or each a biscuit whilst the truck idled up the dune. 

We drove until the sun went down, and pulled up just of the track and watched the sun going down,  It was nice and warm now, and I took a few photos of the sunset. 

It did not take long for it to cool down once the sun had gone,  and we decide that as long as it was cool, we would cook inside, so have very little packing or unpacking to do.  

We start to get into a routine, Trish would make the bed and do the dishes in the morning, whilst I could check the truck,  checking all the oils and water, looking for things that were rubbing or coming loose.    Each morning I would take the drone up for another flight for a few photos and to look around the area.  


This guy should not have bought a Jeep.  

Not sure what happened here but there are quite a few burnt out cars on the track.   The spinfex grass seeds build up on the low exhausts, and they give off a type of resin that coats the underside of the car, and when enough builds up on the exhaust, it catches fire.  Also people pull off the track into the grass, and the hot exhaust sets fire to the grass which burns very hot, and soon the underside of the car is one fire.  There is not much you can do after that.  I checked out truck every evening, but we were so much higher than all the other vehicles so we had no build up.  Our exhaust is also routed high up  between in the chassis rails, almost a metre off the ground so I think we should be good for most tracks. 

The weather was strange it was fine in the morning, but it seemed we were being chased by a cloudy front.   and it became quite cloudy in the afternoon.  It did make for great photos though.  The recent rains in the area had made the desert bloom, and it was magnificent.

We took the opportunity to do another photo shoot amongst the spinifex.   I got a few photos and things were going well until Trish decided not to wait for me to bring her shoes back, she walked around a bush but got a whole load of thorns in her foot.  Some of the sandy patches were just covered in thorns. It too her a while to get them all out, so no more walking around on the sand without shoes. 

 Later on that morning, after passing under some trees which could hear were hitting us,  I could suddenly smell diesel.  We stopped and saw some fuel dripping from the roof rack.  The branches must have snagged the lid on one of the jerry cans, and despite the safety clips, it had come open.  I cleaned the fuel up with a rag, and turned the cans around so the caps faced inwards.  This seemed to work as we had no more problems.   We seemed to be hitting a lot of overhead branches, so it must have been a while since any truck as tall as we were had been through here.    The extra tyre on the roof made us 3.6m high, but most of the branches were riding up over the steel bars that protect the windscreen and the solar panels.   I was pretty glad we fitted them, as I doubt we would have had a windscreen left given the amount of trees we were hitting. 

The next well as just a muddy hole in the ground,  if it were not for the rain there would not have been any water. 

The track too us past "Thring Rock"  not sure what a "Thring " is , but  this is what it looks like. 

There were tracks going up and over the hill.  They were very steep, and the gravel was  very loose.  They didn't go anywhere except over the hill.  We have driven up worse tracks but only to get to where we wanted to go.  We both wondered why anyone would take a risk going up the hill given we were such a long way from any help, given it just went up and over the hill and you then have to either turn around or go the long way around the hill. 

We soon got into the higher dunes again,  we soon caught up with the "Party of Three" again, from what we could hear on the radio they were stuck again, and where winching themselves over.    I was looking out for the "massive dune" that they had  gotten stuck on, but we just chugged up the dunes without any problems at all.  I wanted to send the drone up to take a video of us going up some big dunes, but by the time I realised that the one we were on was what they go stuck on, we were over it  The only signs being the broken tree. loads of footprints and the bigger than normal holes in the track.   We could stop on the steepest slope, and then pull off again.  Only on a few did we slow down a bit, but I just switch on the diff locks and we just idled up

We decided not to catch them, so we stopped off for lunch  at a three way intersection and I took the drone  for another flight.  

and for a few "selfies"


This shows how really insignificant we are in this vast landscape. 

One thing about the landscape is that it was constantly changing,  We would go from red dirt and spinifex to grassland and trees. 

After Well 32, the track got very corrugated, this section is where various roads from further each join up and head to Kunawaritji.  

Our truck did a fair job of flattening out the corrugations.  It tried to drive so that our tyres would span across two sets of corrugations, this worked great but often the corrugations lined up, and we were left bouncing around like everyone else.  I had lowered the tyre pressures already, and decided to let a bit more air out to take the edge off the vibrations. 

Even the bypass tracks were pretty corrugated.  It was real slow going, the 10km took us about an hour, and it was dead straight and very boring. 

We arrived at Kunawaritji around in the early afternoon and joined the queue of six other vehicles filling up with fuel.    They had come down the Gary Junction road, and were heading up the Telfer road/Kidson track.  They said the Gary junction road was good going, without many corrugations until they joined up with the CSR.

Kunawaritji was our decision point as to whether we were going to continue up the CSR, or head out east towards Alice Springs along the Gary Junction road.   The weather was pretty cool still, and from what the people who had just come from Alice Spring, it was freezing over there.   That made our mind up, as apart from the distances, driving up the track so far had been fairly easy, so we decided to carry on up to Halls Creek and find some warmer weather.

When it came our turn to fill up we had a problem, our truck was too tall to fit under the shed, and the hose would not reach the main tank.  The only way to get fuel in was to put it into the secondary tank and use our transfer pump which sends the fuel into the main tank.   This was a slow process, and it took us a while to fill up.  

This community was no where near as friendly as Parnngurr, and was also pretty scruffy as well.  We paid the rather grump lady in the shop for the fuel and head up the track. 

The road out of the community was just as corrugated, so for the next 5km we were reduced to driving about 10kph.    Once we got past the turn off to the airfield, the road went back to being a track and it got a bit smoother one were were in the dunes again.    We drove until the sun was going down.


 I was pretty happy when we pulled over for the evening, driving slowly in a straight line for hours on corrugation is not fun.   

As the sun was going down, I took the first of the jerry cans off the roof and topped up the tank.  It is better to keep the weight lower down.   I would do this every evening until the fuel on the roof was gone.   The special filler nozzle we have on the secondary fuel tank makes if really easy to pour in the fuel out the jerry can.   It still dripped a bit, but we used a rag to catch the drips, we didn't want to leave any trace of us being there at all.

The next day the track really started to get narrow.   We found we just fitted in the wheel tracks.  As you can see here, if our truck had been the same wheel track as a normal U1300 which is 150mm wider, the sidewalls would be in the spinifex and mulga bushes.  If we had the same track as a U1700, then one tyre would be always out in the bush and with the amount of sticks there, it would be only a matter of time before you had a flat tyre.  I have head of people getting 10 or 13 punctures on their trucks  when driving up the CSR.  We were prepared to this, with our new tyre irons, patches and tubes, but in having a narrower wheel track width saved our tyres and we didn't get on puncture. 

The track took us onto the salt pans, this was the one place where I was worried, the salt pans are just a thin crust of dry material with just endless oozy mud underneath.  I have heard of trucks getting stuck for over a week or more to get out.  It would take something bigger than us to get us out, and a lot of digging and dry branches.  When we got back we saw photo of a Unimog and Zetros truck that had gone slightly off the track and had sunk into their axles.  It took them a week and some heavy equipment to free themselves, even the big loader that came in to help them ended up getting stuck. 

There was plenty of evidence where the people had broken through the crust and gotten stuck. with massive holes and loads of tree branches used to get themselves out.   We stopped in one salt pan and the ground seemed very spongy underfoot just off the track. 

We made it through the salt pan without incident, and the scenery changed again, from salt pans to grass lands and trees.  The weather was also changing, with clouds coming in rapidly from the west, but they would burn off an hour or so later. 

There a lot of were clay pans as well,  these were great, as we could get up to around 40kph.  It was a welcome break from the corrugations.

We decided to get in another photo shoot in the middle of the clay pan in the late afternoon sun, it was a pretty surreal enviroment.

After a while, we came up to this strange rock formation on the side of the track.   It was a proper cave, but the roof looked very fragile, so we didn't go in.  There was some Aboriginal rock drawings there, but they were in poor condition and there was some graffiti next to them as well. 

  There must have been some water around, but we could not see any. 

We did another photo shoot near the rocks, and drove for another hour or then stopped for the night just off the side of the track. 

The next morning the clouds had caught up with us again.

We left a lot later than usual, it was great watching the sun come up and being in the middle of such vast empty plain. 

The rest of the day was pretty boring, with just a salt pans and grassland. Late in the afternoon, we were  had just finished crossing a another salt pan, when we heard some voices on the radio, they had reached the start of the salt pan, and one was saying they were up to 100kph.  We recognised the voices, the "Party of Three"

At the next well, a natural waterhole, they caught up with us.  This time there were five of them, they must have picked up some friends at Kunawaritji who had come down the Telfer Mine Road. 


They ignored us, and despite all the guide books and signs say to stay away from the edges and out the water as the waterhole if pretty fragile, they let their kids climb all over the place and jump in the water.   I pointed out to one of the parents that they should stay away from the edges, and he just looked at me and to his kid to go pose for a photos,   This is probably one of the only sources of water for all the creatures for miles around, an they just didn't care that they could have damaged it.    These type of people should not be allowed out here.  We got in out truck and drove away disgusted.

A few minutes I could see them in the rear camera, and found a side track and pulled over.  The sped past us again without a word of thanks.   I was just glad they were in front of us, and we would not have to deal with them again.     I was wrong , they stopped at the next well even though it was still early and were setting up camp when we drove past.

The sun was going down as we started onto a large salt pan - Lake Tobin.  It was pretty dry and I stopped in the middle of it to take some photos.   The ground was pretty firm underfoot, so I pulled off the track for the night as there was was still another 10km to go on the salt pan and I didn't want to be doing it in the dark, just in case I missed a soft spot. 



We left at sunrise and just as we cleared the end of the salt pan, we saw a whole herd of camels.   We had seen a few footprints, but these were the first ones we had seen on the CSR.  They seemed quite fat from all the grass, there was loads of food for them since the rain. 

A bit further up the track we drove through a patch of trees, we broke off a few branches, and one was flapping around in front of the camera.  I pulled over and Trish climbed up to get rid of the branches. 

We wandered around the well site, and were going to do another photo shoot when Trish leaned up against a tree and got a big splinter in her leg so it was back to the truck again.  

At the next well, we announced on the radio were turning off the track heading to Well 40.  It was around lunchtime, and and we were going to stop and have lunch there but heard on the radio that the "Party of Five" were  turning off to Well 40 behind us.  We decided to take another side track and head up towards the grave site of one of Canning's men who had been killed by Aboriginals.

We were there about 10 minutes when they came into view and despite us parking right off to the one side, away from the track, they parked all around us, so close that we could just open our side door. They had to drive off the track to do this, I could not help but wonder why.  They were looking all of the truck and taking photos of it.  Normally we don't mind as people are usually interested, but this lot were just plain rude. 


 We decided to just wait for them to go, so headed back to the truck.   We had made a loaf of bread in our bread maker, and had a corned beef   we had cooked in the Ecopot overnight.  The bread had just finished baking as we got to the well.   We enjoyed having coffee, corned beef  and hot bread.  We could hear them commenting about it outside, I think it made them pretty hungry.

We waited for them to go, then walked back into the dunes for another photo shoot.

We went back to the well we had passed  for a few more photos.  It was a dry salty lake bed, but very soft underfoot.  It seemed like a natural soak, and I'm sure if you dug down there would be some muddy water there somewhere. 

The next well  was also crumbling, just rotting timber holding it up.  You can see the tyre tracks where people had driven right up to the edge though, only a matter of time before someone collapses it completely.  There were loads of tiny birds, all lining up for a drink.  There were also a lot of bright orange and black hornets around as well, so we didn't  go to close.   

Billowaggi - Well No. 43  is now nothing more than a shallow depression with a rusty bucket, it has completely collapsed.

We were pretty cautious approaching the wells, as you never know if there were snakes just waiting for you.

We were traveling only 80-100km per day, this translated to around three wells per day, less if the wells were far off the main track.    We would find a campsite next to the track each evening and watch the sun go down.  We tried to park so that the sun would come up directly in the rear window, but never quite got is perfect.  Since it was pretty warm in the early evenings, I would set up the outside kitchen and Trish would cook up something.  We had made quite a few frozen meals, and it took no time at all to heat up the food.   We would relax under the stars until it got cold, then pack up and head into the truck. 

I climbed up on the roof and got all the jerry cans down, whilst Trish poured in all the dregs into the tank, it might have only been a litre or two in each jerry can, but it was better in the tank than on the roof.  

We never got over the scenery in this section, climbing over each dune revealed different landscapes each time. In the mornings we could see the tiny footprints, probably from feral cats, but we never saw one.  The bigger footprints were from dingoes we assume, but we didn't see any either. 

It varied from dune to salt pans and then back to dunes in only a few kilometres.

The salt pans were great, as it allowed us to make up some time, but there were not that many of them now. 

The weather during the day was nice and warm, it was so much better than the cold weather we would have gotten had we headed across to Alice Springs. 

Bored travelers had made some interesting "art" at some of the wells.  This one was a camel jawbone nailed to the marker post.

We had not met many people going southbound on the track, but we did meet our first fellow traveler.  We were in a section where the scrub was very tight, and after announcing our presence on top of a sand dune, got a response from a south bound vehicle.  We started looking for a place to pull off the track, and he said he would look as well.  We guessed they were about 5km in front of us, and as soon as we found a clearing, we pulled off.   I got the drone out and sent it up the track to look for them, but after 3km I could not see them, and the drone was running out of battery, so I turned it around and headed back.  I had just gotten it back in the air with a new battery, when we saw them.   It would be rude to just fly around so I landed it and we chatted with them for a while.  It was good to meet some nice people for a change. 

I decided to get the GoPro out and shoot some video.  We ended up with a couple of hours of video, which I will eventually edit into something more watchable.   On the advice of a friend, I tried a hyperlapse video, it was fun, and very easy, so I took one of the clips of and made a short Hyperlapse video of us crossing some of the dunes.  

We were still only doing about 80-100km per day, so we thought it would take us 9 days for this leg of the trip.  The sand dune were getting pretty soft, it was quite windy and the wind would create a loose layer of sand just at the crest of the dune.  

It was pretty slow going, and one day we only got 80km despite driving from sunrise to sunset.  It was pretty hard going, when we were out of the dunes, the corrugations were bad, and we had to slow right down, the best going was when the track had a few twists in it, as there were no corrugations.  The sand was pretty soft though, and the strong winds had blown away all the tracks. 

 The long straight section where we drove parallel to the dunes were the worst, just endless corrugations.  The best sections for me were the parts where we drove on top of the dunes.  It was hard work, took a lot of concentration and by the end of the day, I was quite tired. 

We stopped at each well on the route, and any other places that looked interesting.   We would stop on top of a dune and get out and just look around.  We had a supply of ice creams, and would have one  for morning tea every day.  I bet we would have been the first to eat ice cream in some of the places we did. 

The flies in some places were pretty bad, but for the most part, there were a lot less than in other places we had been. 

Most of the well were no more than rusty piles of part in the middle of the desert, there were a some that were over 10km off the main track, especially the native wells, and we skipped a few of them. 

We met our second group of southbound people on a very tight section of the track.  They answered our call on the radio, and they were pretty close.  We were both looking for a place to pull off, and we found one first.  Only a minute or so later the first of the vehicles came into view.   This group were a lot of fun, the were all over 70 years old, and one of them was 80, he was the lead car, and the others were telling him to slow down.  They were only doing about 50km a day, taking it really easy even by our standards.   It looked like they were having a lot of fun, great to see them out there. We chatted for about 20 minutes, before they headed off. 

It was alway pretty cool in the mornings, often enough for me to wear a jersey whilst I was doing all the checks on the truck.  It was still shorts weather, and  once it got to about 10:00am, it was nice and warm.   Trish dressed appropriately for the heat in the afternoons.    

We would stop and call out whenever we got to a high dune, the track was almost always very narrow with very few passing places.   

We heard this group on the radio as we were approaching a well.  One of the party had a broken roof rack, and another of the party had a welder.  When we got to the well they were busy welding the roof rack.  The design of it was wrong, it had a heavy solar panel on the front, which cantilevered over the cab.  The corrugations and bouncing from the dune caused it to flex.  This was their fifth day on the CSR, so they had a long way to go. 

This rocky outcrop had a cairn on top, we climbed up for the exercise and to get a look at the great view.  It was a lone hill in the middle of an otherwise flat grassland.  There were vehicle tracks up this hill as well, seems like some people like to live a bit dangerously. 

Looking at all the stones on the cairn, people had written their names, and it looks like there was another Unimog owner up here last year, most likely Jim Curtin with his U5000

We realised that we were not getting much exercise, so each time we stopped we would do a minute or so of step up on the side of the truck, so get the blood flowing again.  I was at least getting some exercise driving the truck, but Trish just had to hang on.   I would stop and let her out on some of the dunes, and she would run up to the top and take some video or photos of the mog. 

We passed a few bunt out wrecks along the way, this guy should not have bought a Jeep. 

Most of the wells were just some rusty ruins, but we stopped at each one an took photos anyway.  

There are a few that the  books say you can get water from, but we didn't need any, and I think you would have to be pretty desperate to drink for this one, the rusty bucket does not instill much confidence.   I think this type of pulley system was how they got the large amounts of water up, most of the well has something like this, others had A-frames.  

There were a few wells with big steel structures over them,  most had some sort of pulley system which I think would enable them to pull the water out using a horse or something, I can't see them winding up a bucket on a rope for a few thousand cattle.    We met another group at this well, a professional tour guide with three passengers.  he was very impressed with the Unimog.     They complained  about a group of five heading north, and how rude they were.  Looks like they made a great impression on all the people they passed. 

The next day we saw a mountain range in the distance, little did we know what it would take us the whole day to get past it.   The road varied from very corrugated to rocky outcrops, either way it was pretty slow going. 

Almost an hour or so later.

Later on in the day, we heard some fellow travellers on the road.  This was the Outback Spirit Tours group.  They were going a lot faster than us, and they caught us pretty quickly.  We found a place to pull off and let them pass, there were six vehicles.   We heard on the radio the lead vehicle telling the others to fold in the mirrors for Ilene Creek.   We thought it was weird, but  we soon found out what he was taking about.  The track went through a creek, but it was one quite a camber.  Trish took this photo was we were starting to straighten out.  At one stage we were close to 30 degrees.   We would not have fallen over, as the walls of the creek would have stopped us, but it would have done some damage.   I think we can lean over  a lot more, especially when we don't have a heavy tyre on the roof.  As long as we go very slowly, we should in theory be able to go to about 35 degrees, but I would be much to scared and Trish would have jumped out a long time ago. 

The trip into Breadon's Pool was really tight,  with another couple of off camber areas

and when we go to the end, there was just enough space for us to park.   

The Outback Spirit guys some fancy vehicles.  Two six wheel drive Land Cruisers, two G-Wagons and two trayback Land Cruisers towing big trailers.  In total there were 20 paying passengers, and at $16,000 per person, they got 5 start luxury, or a best you can get out in the bush.  

We had just gotten our bread out the machine and were making lunch when  another group of five cars arrived.  We had a traffic jam in the middle of the desert.  The other group were going southbound, and were stopping for lunch as well, but there was no space for them to park, so they parked on the track. 

Since we could not get out until almost everyone had left, we decided to go up to Godfrey's Tank, about a 10 minute walk up the hill, it was well worth the effort. 

The view from the top of the hill was fantastic.

One of the tour guides was up on the hills shepherding his flock.   We chatted to him for a while, they drive the whole of the CSR in 16 days, and do it for 7 months of the year. He offer to take a photo of both of us.    He told us that the track really improved after the next day, and that they will spent the next night at a camp near Halls Creek, then be in Broome the day after.  They have a couple of days off, then start all over again. 

Godfrey's Tank was pretty impressive, only a little bit of water in.  There were loads of butterflies and birds around.  In the most part, we did not see many creatures on the trip, very few birds and only around the water holes.  In areas where there is some semi permanent water there was some wildlife, but apart from the flies and bugs that came out at night and the occasional lizards scurrying off the wheel tracks, we did not see that many critters. 

The was clear evidence of old Aboriginal settlement there, with a number of carved out bowls in the rock.  It must have been a hard existence out here, we didn't see any large animals, no kangaroos or any big creatures at all, and there is not much vegetation out here.  I wonder what they used to eat out here.


There must have been a ledge for them to carve in the rock, or they were very tall .

We waited until everyone had gone before doing a photo shoot in the  rocks in the area.

We headed back down to see the last of the cars heading out, so we had the whole place to ourselves again.  We walked down to Breadon's pool, but it was also pretty dry but nice an peaceful.  I'm sure there are loads of other places to explore around the area, but we decided to head back to the truck and move on. as it was getting late. 

The mountains continued for miles in either direction, looking very much like the Wild West. 

We were heading out to Well 49, and Trish spotted our first dingo.   It looked pretty healthy, so there  must be a fair bit of food out here. 

Another burnt out car,this one is a Ford Explorer, and even features on the maps.

The next well was fully functional, and the Outback Spirit guys used it to fill up their water tanks so their  clients could have an extra long shower on their last night on the CSR.

We spent our last night in a small clearing a couple of kilometres from where the Outback Spirit group was.  It was so quiet, we could hear them talking and laughing, even though they were far away.    

The next morning,  we headed out at sunrise.  We met up with the Outback Spirit guys again.  They told us their clients walk along the track each morning and they pick them up after packing up the camp.    We drove carefully along the track, and counted off the people.  It was surprising how far some of them walked, with one lady being  almost 6 km along the track.   They caught us about an hour later at the turn off to the last well.   We let them pass again, and followed them into the well.

As they were leaving I took the drone up and go some video of the convoy leaving the well,

When they were I took the drone up high for more views of this unique landscape.

We also did another photo shoot on the dry lake bed. 

The road improved a lot, and soon we were traveling over 40kph, first time in over a week.   There were a few corrugations but no where near what they were earlier on the track.

This is Well 51, the last of the wells.  The windmill doesn't work, but it is very impressive.  YOu can see it from miles away. 

After Well 51, the track continued through the grassland, and it was pretty smooth, apart from the occasional washout and creek crossing.

It was not long before we got onto a proper road, were doing 60kph.  I stopped and pumped they tyres back up and soon we were traveling at normal speed and by mid afternoon we had finished the Canning Stock Route. 

We turned onto the Tanamai road, and it was great, after almost 1500km of pretty rough roads, we had a nicely graded road to drive on.   There were a few places with corrugations, but we were still doing 80-90kph.  

I had always wanted to go see the meteor crater at Wolf Creek, and since we were driving past, we just had to take the 30km long track off the Tanamai road.  It was worth the trip.  I flew the drone up and around the craters as well.

We were both tired for the trip, and needed a couple of days to recover.  

We spent our last night just off the Tanamai road, and as the sun was going down, a large eagle perched in the tree behind us.