Monday, 28 September 2015

Great Central Road stats

Kilometres travelled


Time it took us from Kata Juta turn off to Leonora

Day 1: 6.5 hours driving
Day 2: 11 hours driving

Average speed

up to 90 kilometres an hour on the freshly graded roads

down to 20 kilometres an hour on the road on the NT side of the boarder. This section of the road was near impassable and was by far worse than any road conditions seen on Gibb River road or Cape York Peninsula.

Fuel price

$2.50 per litre for diesel. (opal fuel available but No unleaded)

Fuel stops on the road

BE CAREFUL as these stops have limited opening hours. And they are not places you would want to camp for the night waiting for fuel.

Docker River General Store (9am-5pm m-f, 9am-2pm s-s)
Warakurna Road House (8.30am-6pm m-f, 9am-3pm s-s)
Warburton Road House (9am-5pm m-f, 9am-3pm s-s)
Tjukayirla Road House (9am-5pm m-f, 9am-2pm s-s)
Cosmo Newberry (10am-12 noon then 3pm-5pm m-f, 10am-12 noon s-s)

Fuel consumption per 100 litres: between 13.7-14

Permits Required

WA: Department of Aboriginal Affairs

No costs

Police station check in

Laverton Police station (08) 90311202
this is non compulsory if you have purchased your permits, but as we travelled alone we chose to check in. They take your details and write in their register. We also gave our estimated travel times to my mum, with instructions to call police if we didn't text her in three days.

Other traffic

3x cars with campers heading Westbound
1x hire vehicle heading westbound
2x cars heading east bound
2x cars parked at Lasseters cave
2x cars with campers at campground
3x road trains fuelling up at Warburton

Matilda's backseat Tally

268 abandon vehicles
15 Camels
2 Donkeys
1 dingo
1 wedge tail eagle

Great Central Road part 2

road conditions in WA

Once we had crossed into Western Australia the road, like magic, became a lot smoother. 

Some damage had already been done on the 100km of rough road behind us. We did an anderson plug, a spotlight and had loosened some bolts in the bull bar. The most damage we had done on the whole trip was done in this 100k of road.
We were able to increase speed on this better road conditions and we made it to the Giles weather station at the town of Warakurna about 4pm. 

Giles weather station, see the white balloon on the left of the photo, its a weather balloon that gets released every morning at 8.45am

A piece of 'space junk' from an Apollo mission way back in the 1970s. Very cool!

A tribute to Len Beadell, the guy who first graded these outback roads including the Great Central Road, Gunbarrell highway, and the road he named after his wife, the Anne Beadle Highway.

We had a look at the camping at Giles, but realised that camping in a lockable caravan is one thing, but setting up a camper was not wise in this community. So we decided to press on and drive to a camp spot allocated 131km up the road.

we pulled in on dark and were happy to see two other people already set up camp. because this is Indigenous land you cannot camp wherever you want, you must stay in the marked camp areas only. So here we were, at our very last bush camp for the trip, the Yarla kutjara campground. No toilets, no power, no water, no nothing. Just a patch of land a little off the road. 

It was very quiet, very dark and may I say a bit eerie that night!

The next morning we woke and packed up. We were 89km east of Warburton so looking at the time we thought we would get there just as the fuel opened at 9am. 

Then, when we got there we realised that we were still on NT time as we forgot to change our clocks! So we had an hour and a half to kill before the fuel opened! And there were already road trains lining up to fill their tanks too!

The community is closed and the only camping that can be done is in a locked and barbed wire compound. We decided to get some breakfast so opened up the camper then and there and heated up some beans on toast! Two stray dogs come hungrily sniffing around us and we had to shoo them away. People drove past and stared at us but we had no problems with anyone in the time we were there. 

After breakfast we lined up with the truckies to get our fuel. Craig then took the morning shift and we had an uneventful drive to Tjukayira roadhouse where we fuelled up again. Something really gross happened here. Poor Matilda was busting for a wee. We tended up till this point on the GCR to only use our porta potty when we did bush stops for morning tea and lunch. But here we were at the roadhouse and there were two toilets that looked cleanish. I wiped the seat for her and left her to her business. A man was already occupying the second toilet and I heard him finish and flush. As I took outside Matilda's toilet I heard a gurgling sound.... it was vibrating through the ground and I suddenly realised what was happening. I opened her door and grabbed her off the loo just as the mans SHIT he had flushed gurgled up and bubbled out matildas toilet!!!!!!!!! oh my god it was so disgusting. She did not get one drop on her thank god. But I scrubbed her with that hand sanitiser gel and I said to Craig we are not putting our bums on any more toilet seats this trip. Its porta potty all the way. 

So gross. As I sit here and write this a week on Im still squirming and wanting to wash my hands!!!!!!

Anyway back to our GCR adventures......

I took the afternoon drive. The road from the bad piping road house to Laverton was long and rough. We had sort of planned to just stop wherever and camp. But there actually isn't really anywhere to. And we were making good time so decided to press on to Laverton. The kids are used to long distances. And we have colouring books, iPads, DVD players and games of eye spy on hand! 

Then a few hours up the road we see the man who had done the shit at the road house. He had stopped and shot a camel by the road. His rifle sitting beside the freshly killed beast. And he had a knife out cutting into its hump. It freaked me out actually. Matilda in the backseat saw what was going on and asked 'should I count that camel in my tally mum?'


During this stretch of the road we saw camels, dingos, donkeys and so many dead abandon cars. 

The ladies from 'Follow the Sun' some fellow travellers, had counted 270 abandon cars on the GCR. Matilda decided to count them too and she ended up with a total of 268!!!! So we either missed two cars or they had been moved in the weeks between Follow the Suns trip and ours! 

Get on the bitumen at Laverton and still have to watch for Cows!

I don't normally drink Coke, but I had a can on that stretch of road, to keep me going. We ate dry crackers for lunch and pressed on and after passing through the community of Cosmo Newberry we finally arrived in Laverton. We decided to fuel up then push on to Leonora, where we did our final set up for our around Australia trip. We cooked our final dinner in the camper and then put the babies in their camper stretchers for the final time. 

I felt a bit sad that night. A bit relieved we had done the trip. A bit happy we would soon be in a house. A bit nervous about going home. A bit anxious about the kids going back to school. A bit lost that this time tomorrow it would all be over. 

Sure we will do lots of little trips here and there but our around Australia trip would be over. 

Three little people in their camp stretchers

Great Central Road part 1

The Great Central Road (GCR) is a stretch of approximately 1,200km of dirt road that spans from Yulara, Northern Territory right through to Laverton, Western Australia. The road runs through Indigenous communities and reserves and because of this you must obtain a permit to travel this route. You need two permits, one for Northern Territory land and one for Western Australia.  Permits available online (current in September 2015) from the WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Territory CLC 

We left Yulara mid morning after a pack up in the warm sun. As we were driving past Uluru to go out  to start the GCR Matilda requested one last drive around the base of the rock. So we put on John Williamson 'Raining on the rock' as our sound track, and we did a lap, each of us staring out the windows at the enormous landmark and each of us contemplating that we would in fact be back here sooner rather than later. 

As we pulled onto the road to take us out to kata Juta and the start of the GCR we saw the most massive eagle who stared at us and then took flight. Watching him soar high in the sky and into the distance was a memorable and a slightly emotional moment as we pulled away from Uluru and headed to Kata Juta, which is Indigenous for 'Many Heads'. It is a rock formation that is made up of several large structures that do indeed look like 'heads'. 

The walk to the Kata Juta lookout was easily accessable as it has been made into a board walk. Nevertheless I still had my hiking boots on! 

The little flowers that made a carpet, at kata Juta

We then turned west and onto the Great Central Road

As we turned west at Kata Juta and onto the dirt road I felt a little uneasy. Almost like we 'shouldn't' be on this road. We stopped to let the air down in the tyres and I jumped in the drivers seat to do the first leg of the trip.

The first part of the road

Bored selfies as craig sorts the tyres

And off we went. We hoped to make it to Giles Weather station as our first over nighter as some fellow campers had said they had camped here the night. 

The first 50 or so kilometres were lovely. Well as lovely as a dirt road can be. I sat on about 80km and we wondered what all the fuss had been about the rough road conditions. Then up ahead we saw a grader. 

Once we passed the freshly graded road and onto the un graded road it started to get rough. Like really rough. I slowed down somewhat and had to keep two hands on the steering wheel, making it hard to get a drink! 

Our first stop on the road was to see Lasseters Cave. In the 1930's Lewis Lasseter headed out this way in search of an illusive 'Gold Reef'. He had first discovered this reef when he was 17 years old and he made the trek back out here several years later to find it again. Unfortunately for him, his camels (with all his tools and supplies) ran away from him. Starving hungry he made his way to this cave and sheltered from the hot sun for 25 days. His diary was found in the cave several years later with a quote saying 'what good is a gold reef I would trade all the gold in the world for a loaf of bread'.

This was the view from the opening of the cave, I took this pic to remind myself that this would have been Lasseters view for 25 days while he sheltered and waited to see his fate. 

Little miss with a screwed up face. At Lasseters cave walk.

 From the cave we drove into Docker River, an Indigenous Community, to fuel up. I would have taken photos but there are signs everywhere requesting no photos be made. So I will have to use words to describe it and you can choose to believe me or not. 

As we pulled into Docker River we could feel the poverty oozing from the pores of the community. Gutted houses sat abandon as gatherings of people had made camp in the front yards instead. The streets were lined with rubbish, soiled nappies, soft drink cans and hot chip boxes. Old car wrecks sat in front yards. There were no gardens, no grass, no trees. A general store sat at the T intersection of the road. parked out front were cars with no windows. More occupants than the seats allowed for. The petrol bowsers were locked in big steel cages. There was no signage on the store. Just bars covering the window to make it look and feel like a prison. 

We pulled in and both agreed our children were not getting out of the car. An Asian lady, an unexpected sight, appeared from the shop and pulled a set of keys from her pocket to open the fuel bowsers. She told us she was working here on her visa for three months. I asked where she lived and she pointed to a small house nearby.

Dark eyes from the parked cars peered at us before looking away so as not to make eye contact. 

As craig disappeared into the store to pay, I pressed the central lock button on the door and waited. I knew I was unwelcome here. I was not wanted. I was a stranger and I was a symbol of another world. A world in which these people wanted nothing to do with. 

Craig emerged from the store and got in the drivers seat. He proceeded to tell me about the sight inside the store. Of a young girl wearing nothing but her underwear, standing behind her mother. A baby sitting on the floor with a jar of nutella, scooping the chocolate spread from the jar with her bare hands. 

The fuel was our most expensive to date $2.50 a litre. 

It was a relief to pull out of Docker River and continue on the road, not far west of Docker River we crossed the boarder and all of a sudden we were back in our home state of Western Australia. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015


A special and memorable place. This really is the heart of Australia.

Here is the rock and its many colours as the sun goes down...

I was so proud of all three kids when we did the 10.6km walk around the base, viewing paintings from thousands of years ago and seeing the rock in all its glory. Although they are only young I think they felt the significance of this site.

I only took a few photos of the rock from the specially allocated place. It is the wishes of the Indigenous people who own this land that we take only memories with us. There are signs up in most places asking for people to not take pics. And I fully respect this. I also feel that photos just don't do it justice. You must visit yourself for full effect. 

One of my favourite photos from our trip. I snapped this on my iPhone and its blurry but it captures my daughters enthusiasm and enjoyment as she is taking photos of the rock at sunset. 

manditory 'selfie' darn I forgot the self stick!

If I could recommend only one place to visit in Australia I would say you must come here. To see and feel the soul and culture of the people who lived here long before us white people.