On the Gunbarrel at last

P1000677The road trains rolled through Meeka all night, not that they kept us awake. Thursday morning I went into the town to get a few items for Vicki’s birthday tomorrow. Vicki phoned the Wiluna Shire Office to check on the Gunbarrel and they said to call in and they would have a five day forecast printed and ready for us. So after filling our water tanks we headed the 180 kilometres to Wiluna.

Did you know that Charles Kingsford-Smith (before he became Sir) had a mail run from Carnarvon to Mount Augustus, not by aeroplane but by truck? He was one of the “outback mailmen”.

We have been seeing flocks of green budgerigars for the last couple of days. It is great to see these birds as in some parts of the outback feral cats have wiped them out. Unfortunately they fly fast and are difficult to photograph.  About 40 kilometres after we left Meeka we met a couple towing a Goldstream Explorer van the same as ours so naturally we stopped and had a talk. By the time we got to Wiluna Vicki had counted 185 tyres by the side of the road, Bob had counted 14 wrecked cars and we had seen two graves. For us it was a pretty good road as it looked like the grader had not long been through.

Wiluna is a town on the edge of the desert and of course red dirt is everywhere. Called into the police station and filled in a travel form as per the requirement on our permits. Then it was to the shire office to pick up the weather report. Weather looks good for the next five days, if a little cool with no rain forecast. Learnt at the shire office that Carnegie Station does not have EFTPOS and we would need cash for the diesel we required there ($2.50 per litre). The fuel bowsers at the general store are kept locked and only unlocked whilst your vehicle is being filled. Went to the Post Office to get some money out but they had run out of cash as it was benefits day and residents wanted money to go to the pub so the only place we could get money was to go to the pub where it was all being spent.

Felt sad to see so many indigenous people sitting and lying around the pub intersection, all drinking. The pub was very rundown with bars and mesh over every door and window. Anyway Vicki and Heather went in to see if they could get some money out. As soon as the barmen heard their request he took them to a private room and the transaction was processed. Despite the staff at both the police station and shire office being very helpful I felt glad to leave Wiluna.

The shire office building at Wiluna was a reminder of a bygone era. Originally a hospital built around the 1920’s it was extensively renovated to become the shire offices when the hospital closed down.

We headed off down the Gunbarrel H’way about 100 kilometres where we have made camp for the night. Just pulled off the road into a cleared area and set up camp. There is plenty of dead gidgee wood around so we will cook over a fire tonight. There is a cold southerly wind blowing and we have all had to put warm clothes on. We put our extra blanket on the bed. In fact the weather forecast is for 2C to 18C.

P1000697P1000716Friday, Vicki’s birthday we broke camp and headed for Carnegie Station. The Gunbarrel is graded as far as Carnegie because of the stations along it and in fact the grader has not long been through. Whilst the road is in good condition it is easy to imagine Len Beadel signalling his dozer driver from his next high point and the dozer driver making the road straight towards him. Hence the name Gunbarrel H’way.

Heather had baked a birthday cake in her camp oven last night and at morning tea we put birthday candles on it and sang Happy Birthday to her. She reckoned it was a memorable birthday.

Whilst at Meeka the guy who replaced our ruined tyres recommended we carry more tyre rope plugs than we had as due to sharp stones the Gunbarrel was very hard on tyres. We found this out for ourselves during the day as Bob had two flat tyres.

Made Carnegie Station about around 4:00PM which gave us around one and a half hours of remaining daylight to repair the tyres. I carry a full tyre repair kit including bead breaker to remove the tyre from the rim and this was required as one of Bob’s tyres had about a 15mm L shaped puncture. Anyway we got a patch inside the tyre on this one and a rope plug in the other. Vicki and Heather meanwhile had the fire going and we had a great birthday supper of saveloys and pizza. They cooked the pizza in camp ovens and it was a great success.

This morning was very cold but we were heartened to find that both puncture repairs had retained their full pressure overnight. We only really came into Carnegie to get fuel so will leave this morning for the “real” Gunbarrel. Carnegie charge $15 per person per night for their campground and considering the facilities that is rather excessive, even if they are in the middle of nowhere. However after changing and mending two tyres the hot shower, from a wood fired donkey boiler, was great.

Carnegie Station, Gunbarrel Highway  – Saturday 6 August 2011

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One Response to On the Gunbarrel at last

  1. Amanda says:

    Happy birthday Vicki!!!!

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