From our camp site at Jupiter Well it was only 240 kilometres to our next fuel stop at the community of Kunawarritji. We left camp around 8:00AM to avoid travelling in the heat of the afternoon. After around 160 kilometres we came to the junction of the Jenkins Track heading west, the Gary H’Way heading south and the Callawa Track heading north west. There was a “ visitors book” at this intersection which Vicki signed. We noted that no one had signed the book for two days and that there had been very few travellers on the road in the last two weeks. Connie-Sue Beadell had signed the book last month. She and her partner lead tours along her father’s roads. It was around 100 kilometres south of here that in 1997 the last two nomadic aboriginals, an old couple Warri and Yatunga left their traditional lands and way of life.
We took the Jenkins Track which would bring us out onto the Gary H’Way ten kilometres before the Canning Stock Route. This track was in really good condition. Not far into this track we saw the supply truck that last night had passed our camp headed west. This time he was parked headed east. He had just finished changing a tyre, it looked like he carried around six spares. I have enough trouble changing our 16 inch wheels so goodness knows how he manages to change truck tyres on his own. He said that yesterday he had done the wheel bearings in on the second last axle on his trailer. He had had to remove the wheels on that axle (see photo) then chain the axle up as it was part of a dual wheel suspension system. Didn’t seem to think much of it, just part of operating in a remote and harsh environment. He does the 2,100 kilometre round trip to Kunawarritji every six weeks and the 1,400 kilometre round trip to Kiwirrkurra every two weeks.
Crossed the Canning Stock Route just south of well 33 then it was only 4 kilometres to the community of Kunawarritji. New signs up showing where to go for fuel ($3.20 a litre) which you could hardly miss as a new fuel facility was being installed. We were then directed to the store to pay for it. The store is just after the fuel and you have to turn at right angles to get to the store, which is new. Directly in front of you then are new accommodation units being built, about eight I think. The thing is there is hardly any room to turn around. We had to drive through narrow fences into the accommodation area to find enough room to turn around. It seems remarkably stupid to design such a complex and not allow enough room for cars towing trailers and caravans. It would have even been difficult to turn a car around if there had been more than two parked. Probably the community makes all its money from travellers on the Canning and very few tow anything on that track. Travellers are only allowed into this part of the community. There are signs up prohibiting entry into the residential area of the community. According to the lady in the store travellers had been few in the last couple of weeks as the temperature had really started to climb.
We met a couple who had been staying in one of the new accommodation units ($80 per day) for a week as they waited for a new torsion bar for their Series 100 Landcruiser. They had been part of a tag along tour on the Canning and had snapped the torsion bar 80 kilometres north of the community. They had been able to crawl into the community under their own steam. Today was the day it should arrive, it was hopefully on the weekly plane from Newman. However the community had been advised that some freight had been left behind as not all could be accommodated. As we were leaving the plane buzzed the community in preparation for landing. I hope they got the part as there is only one plane a week. This couple had had their car “ modified” by a 4×4 company to supposedly better handle the Canning.
Talk to people who sell and fit vehicle modifications in the city and they of course want to sell you all types of modifications that you just must have if you are to travel in remote and difficult country. Talk to the people who repair vehicles in such remote areas and they say stay right away from such modifications as they make the vehicle more susceptible to faults and more difficult to repair.
Whilst we could have apparently parked our van in front of the accommodation units for the night we decided to move on. Despite all the new buildings it did not appear to be a very friendly community and offered us no reason to stay.
We have made camp 40 kilometres west of the community at another microwave repeater tower. It was 40C in the car just as we made camp and 35C in the caravan, even with a cooling breeze blowing. Mind you it doesn’t take long to heat the solar shower in this weather.
40 kilometres west of Kunawarritji – Tuesday 30 August 2011