Madigan Trip 2008

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 20 [23rd JUL]

The day started out with a VKS message on the sked for Pat & Perry luckily it was just the kids informing them that everything was OK, we had asked them (and our kids) to leave a message so they were familiar with what to do if needed. What we would be able to do about it was another matter entirely, with around another 5 days to get out of the desert to a phone and then a couple of long days to get home from there, but we knew the system worked.

Just past camp 8 we turned south and headed for Geosurveys hill (25 03 04S, 136 48 04E for anyone that wants to google it). At first we were following some indistinct wheel track but they turned onto a dune and we weren’t able to find them again. Now it was just a GPS heading towards a Waypoint, every now and again we would come across a bit of wheel track but not anything that lasted long. We suspected the previous weeks storm had obliterated most as we were sure others had been through about 10 days prior.
It wasn’t long before we spotted a couple of camels, our hunter gatherer was on the job but to no avail, a couple of shots went wide and he decided unless he could get a clean shot then it was a no go until the rifle was sighted in again.

We were taking it in turns to lead as the travel across the spinifex mounds where there was no track was tiring as well as demanding on the vehicle, going from max flex one side straight to max flex the other side and the same front to rear for 48km.

The lead vehicle would spend most of its time in 2nd low while the following were able to stick to 3rd low. Around 15:45 Geosurveys hill was now well in sight and we reached it some 40 minutes later.

Day 20 - 64km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 21 [24th JUL]

After breakfast and packing up camp it was up to the top of Geosurveys hill for a group photo,

the sense of isolation was immense, everywhere you could see was just rolling sand dunes and to think the closest link to civilisation was 2 wheel tracks 45km to the north. We pondered over what we would do if a breakdown was to immobilise one of the vehicles as we couldn’t really imagine towing it out to say Birdsville from here. The track could be seen heading off to the NNE towards camp 9 and this was our proposed route.

Heading off following the 2 wheel ruts it wasn’t long before they vanished on top of a dune and we couldn’t relocate them. We had already made the decision that once they were lost we would head direct to the camp 9 waypoint, so once again it was off cross country. We do think that we could be running parallel to a good track say 100 – 150 metres away but we would never have known.
The morning consisted of running diagonally across the swales, weaving in and around the spinifex mounds, up and over or getting stuck on dunes (at least we didn’t have to resort to any winching, and only limited snatching) but it was more difficult than the previous day when we basically ran the whole way down a swale. We ran a combination of across the swales and over or onto the dune then along the top as far as possible (it was the smoothest).

It was one of these days that the quote of the trip came out. Over the CB came “these dunes are rough and lumpy at the start and then end up smooth” to which the reply “just like my morning ablutions” came back straight away. After having lunch on the top of a dune we headed of again, this time intersecting a saet of tracks that looked as if they were from a truck of some type, they didn’t last long however before they to vanished. Later we came into a wide swale with claypans and decided to run up this until we hit the Madigan line. Heading east again we stopped in depression on top of a dune to camp the night, firewood was at a premium.

?Geosurveys Hill?‏ - YouTube

Day 21 - 53km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 22 [25th JUL]

Just as we were finishing breakfast a group of camels came heading over the dune immediately to our west, they headed along the top of the dune straight toward us.

When they were about 100m they must have picked up our scent but weren’t sure what it meant to them as they seemed unsure what they were going to do. Our hunter gatherer was on the case, but they wised up real quick and broke into run heading back the way they came – no camel for us today – we saw the last one heading east again maybe 800 or so metres to the south.

We reached camp 10 in time for morning tea and set up the duelling eco-billies,

then headed off to camp 11 to sign the visitors book, at camp 11 I noticed a plaque left by SWAG from the “Principality of Sandy Point” there is a Sandy Point just west of where I live and wondered if they were from there. It was now only a relatively short drive to madigans Claypan where we decided to camp for the night.

An early camp was made at lunch time amongst a plentiful supply of gidgee for the fire. It provided an ideal time to air bedding etc.
Bread was baked during the afternoon and preparations for our “black tie dinner” got under way.

During the night the dune flags were savagely attacked by a Southern Boobook owl, it must have mistaken the silhouette of the flag in the moonlight for a tasty bit of prey.

Dinner was roast pork, roast beef, roast veges, Champagne, red wine, beer and port followed by after dinner mints.

We had so far crossed 400 dunes

Day 21 – 27km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 23 [26th JUL]

We were on our way after cleaning up the camp ovens and gear from last nights dinner and loading Shortys roofrack with gidgee, it was to be known from now on as Jabberwocky.

Late in the morning we saw a camel and calf on a dune to the north but too far away to take a shot. At this point we made sure our hunter gatherer was in the lead and it wasn’t long before he saw a single male and was after him on foot.

Edjits 1, camel 0.

Now the camel was 1 ½ to 2km from the track so I drove along the top of the dune to pick hunter and hunted (part) up. Madigans camp 14 wasn’t too far away it was here that we pointed our bare arses at the place, to commemorate Shortys misfortune here 2 years previous. This time was different though.

The dunes seemed to be coming progressively softer the further east we went, maybe they had missed out on the rain a few weeks earlier and were just drier. None of them caused us too much of a problem although I could see it being a totally different story from the east.

We took up the opportunity of camping in a claypan for the night and enjoying a meal of lamb pasta courtesy of Vince and Jan.

Day 23 - 61km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 24 [27th JUL]

Today was to see us reach camp 16 from here most people head down to beachcomber oil well and then along the K1 line to poeppel corner, we however were going to continue on along the Madigan Line and cross into Queensland and the Simpson Desert National park. The trip down the Hay river was very pleasant even allowing us into high range for a while, and we ate up the miles We reached camp 16 for morning tea and as we had to erect a plaque to go with all the others we spent a bit longer here than at most other spots along the way.
Also located here is a plaque erected by a mate of mine during his attempted 1981 east – west Madigan crossing, the trip was aborted at camp 16 after a transfer case/centre diff failure, I’m not sure the comment that someone has punched onto the plaque ‘all failed’ is totally correct.

Looking through the visitor book I was also able to confirm that SWAG at camp 10 was in fact from the local Sandy Point and I knew two of the people that had signed the book (it is a small world).

We erected our sign supplied by Vinces mate ‘Shrek’ and crossed out the names of those that weren’t with us although no doubt the texta will fade and the names will become visible again.

A group photo and we were off again towards camp 17. I suppose I should add that this section from camp 16 east into Queensland is actually closed, but we had obtained permission from Queensland National Parks. The dunes were definitely drier and larger now and some had very rough spinifex covered approaches so a run up generally wasn’t available, however there were few that presented any significant difficulties.

At camp 17 we thought we had stumbled upon an ‘Al Qaeda” training camp, but it was just one of Vinces alter egos.

?Madigan line - camp 17?‏ - YouTube

Setting the GPS to mark the 138 meridian we crossed into Queensland at roughly 14:30, we camped in amongst the gidgee at Mudloo Well and feasted on Beef marinated in red wine.

Day 24 - 75km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 25 [28th JUL]

We started the morning by trying to find any evidence of the well at Mudloo but to no avail.

From here east the country started changing with much more timber (Gidgee) to be found in the swales, this is obviously one of the reasons it is being preserved as a National Park. With Shorty in the lead he soon came across a lone camel also heading east along the track, we followed it for quite a distance along the track before it decided to head off along one of the dunes, I don’t think it realised how lucky it was, but we were in a NP. Stopping for morning tea we watched it slowly ambling along the crest of the dune.

Roughly 3km before we passed from the Simpson Desert NP onto Adria Downs, a voice came over the CB asking where we were, and did we have permission to be there.

By a one in a million chance we had been intercepted by rangers with QNP. The ranger in charge was from Birdsville and was aware that we had sought permission to cross the park, so all was OK. Shortly after we stopped for lunch and then passed onto Adria Downs where we had also got the OK from David Brook to traverse the property. We then turned east across the Mulligan creek floodplain and came across the first surface water since leaving Kulgera.

Madigans camp 20 at Kuddaree waterhole was also to be our camp for the night although we were camped on the southern side of the waterhole. The shower we had here, was probably the second most appreciated after the dust storm and the one at east bore.

At this point the Madigan line crossing was basically complete, from here we would be running down Eyre Creek

?Madigan Line camp 19?‏ - YouTube

Day 25 - 73km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 26 [29th JUL]

When we departed Kuddaree after some morning photos, breakfast or Bacon, eggs and baked beans, we were only intending to go as far as Dickerie waterhole and spend the night there.

The track to camp 21 took us past the old Annandale homestead which was abandoned prior to Madigan coming through in 1939, however there is still plenty to look at with old steam engines the old yards and what’s left of the homestead. I took plenty of photos here some of which came out very nice.

We had lunch by the side of Annandale waterhole and then headed off towards Dickerie. Dickerie waterhole was dry when we arrived, and not looking like a good place to camp so after a bit of exploring around the area and checking out the bore, we headed back to Annandale waterhole for the night.

Given we had arrived early the decision was made to have a camel Tika Masala, with plenty of veges. Before was our version of happy hour by the water.

That night lying in the swag watching the stars, I thought someone had set of a camera flash, but it was a shooting star – I don’t think I had seen one that bright since I was a kid, it left a green/white streak about ¾ of the way across the sky, absolutely stunning.

Day 26 - 58km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 27/27 [30th/31st JUL]

We departed Annandale and headed for Birdsville, we had been asked by David Brook to head down Eyre Creek and out onto the QAA line and then into Birdsville via big red rather than past Adria Downs homestead. A short detour off this track took us to the second last of Madigans camps that we were able to visit, being camp 22.

When we reached the QAA line it was left and towards Birdsville. As we headed east we could hear others on the track and it wasn’t long before we caught up with them. It turned out to be a group from Land Rover Australia, waiting for some journalists to arrive the following day and then they were to head off towards Broome, with the first stage being across the Simpson to Alice Springs.
They had the full range of vehicles with a Freelander 2, a few Disco 3s, Range Rover Vogue, Sport, a defender 110 and 130 after having a quick chat,

Amanda took over the driving for the last few dunes including big Red, (admittedly the easy track) as none of us could be bothered with letting tyres down further and then pumping them back up on the other side, after all dune were something we had been doing for quite a few days now.

On arrival at Birdsville it was straight to the pub for a beer (at camp 25),

followed by showers and washing at the caravan park before more beers then heading out of town to set up camp on the banks of the Diamantina. Dinner was to be at the pub, where we met up with the LRA guys, talked our way into a drive of the Vogue while they fixed the ABS/TC fault that was up on Perrys Td5.

The following day was the drive of the vogue, meeting back at the pub at 0930 and off we went, sitting on 120 over the corrugations the only sound was bit of a rattle from the parcel tray, you’d hardly know it was a diesel, from 80 km/hr it pulled like a 14 year old.

Once finished with the test drive we left all the landies parked out side the pub and headed off to the working museum.

John who operates the museum has some great old stuff on display.

From here it was to the bakery for a meat pie lunch, then a couple more beers before heading up to the old hospital for a look around.

Picking up a few last minute supplies we again checked out ‘Shell shop girl’ a most attractive young woman named Eve from Germany (IIRC).

Back at camp , Shorty repaired a tyre that had a slow leak, Vince repaired his water bladder that had a small leak due to chaffing and I tried in vain to rectify the fault with my indicators that I discovered as we pulled into Birdsville.

Dinner tonight was Roast Pork and veges.

Birdsvill 1985 - Again the street was full of Landies

Day 27/28 - 138km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 29 [1st AUG]

With camp packed up some went to refuel and to post off a postcard or two before we headed out of town, a wind change came through just as we were packing up and its strength was building we had the feeling it was going to be a bit different to the 35? degree the day before.
We headed east out of Birdsville and I couldn’t help comparing the road now to what it was like 23 years previous or even 8 years ago, the roads are certainly improving. We were heading towards Cordillo Downs with the idea of camping somewhere around Montkeleary Creek. On the way we stopped at Cadelga ruins, which was a welcome change from battling the very strong headwind.

The Cadelga waterhole was full so things were looking good for camping next to a waterhole for the night.

From Cadelga we headed down to Cordillo for a look around the shearing shed. On the way someone spied what they at first thought was an old blitz in a paddock, so we were off cross country for a looksee, turns out it wasn’t a blitz but an old Thames Trader obviously with a terminal problem abandoned where it stopped with the keys still in the ignition.

When we first came through this way the road was much further away from Cordillo Downs homestead and the shearing shed wasn’t open to the public so this was to be my first visit.

Heading off towards Montkeleary creek we crossed Marianna waterhole, with nice clear water and looking rather green around the area so a stop was made for the night.

Just to the west was a large sand dune that needed exploring. Little did we realise but just south of us was an operating oil well and there were a few trucks heading in and out through the night which began with a blood red sunset.

Day 29 - 157km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 30 [2nd AUG]

Once we left Marianna waterhole we headed towards Arrabury,

from here it was through the Cook oil fields, through the Barrolka Oils fields, before turning south towards Durham Downs, across the Cooper Creek floodplain and onto Bundeena outstation where we were back (temporarily) onto the bitumen.

Some 30km prior to the bitumen a stray stone shattered the rear sliding window, so a makeshift cover was taped over the opening.
By 16:30 we were at the Noccundra pub for a welcome beer and a very welcome hot shower, in a nice clean shower block – for the price of a donation to the RFDS.

Day 30 - 329km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 31/32 [3rd/4th AUG]

After heading back to the pub for fuel, and having to wait for the bowsers to open we headed for a quick look around at the cemetery, which is 1km out of town. Not having a fuel gauge I ran out of fuel as we turned off the road into the cemetery, not being able to access the fuel in the aux tank easily was becoming a real PIA, a quick top up from a jerry had us mobile back to the bowsers.
After a short meeting we changed our original plans to head to Hungerford via Tikilara and Bulloo Downs and instead head to Curawinya National park for a couple of days. We headed back through Thargomindah and Eulo then down to Currawinya.

The 4th was Amandas birthday so everyone sang happy birthday to her and I was charged with cooking for the day. Bacon and egg for breakfast and Pepper Steak, veges and champagne for dinner with more of Jans date scones for desert.

Currawinya NP is littered with relics from its past as a sheep station with a number of abandoned and derelict homesteads,

Curawinya is also the site of an ambitious project to save the Bilby with a 20km vermin proof fence enclosing some 25 square km, where the Bilby has been re established, mainly with the help of volunteers.

Day 31/32 - 382km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 33 [5th AUG]

Heading off from Curawinya after paying the park camping fees we visited the shearing sheds,

had a look around at the old steam engines

as well as the Bilby project

before heading down the road to Hungerford pub for lunch.
While we were at the pub a group came in and asked if they could have one of the “best steak sandwiches in the world”, the answer was “no – we are out of eggs”. A trade was brokered by Shorty , ½ dozen eggs for a meat pie, we then ordered some of the best steak sandwiches in the world – they now had eggs. After lunch and quick chat to the local copper we headed of through the border gate,

where some state rivalry is on display.

We headed for Fords Bridge to camp on the Warrego River for the night, and a few beers in “The Warrego”. We spent a very entertaining couple of hours talking to Andrea Rudd the publican and her dog 'bare arse' about her time touring the country in a caravan pulled by two camels. Back to camp for our last night in the swag, waking the next morning to a covering of frost before we headed of to Louth for the races.

Day 33 - 225km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Days 34/38 [6th - 10th AUG]

We were heading to Louth on the Wednesday to secure a good camping spot hopefully in the NE corner of the racecourse grounds, alas it was not to be when we arrived the spot was taken. This were the 50th running of the races and they were expecting a big crowd.

We were to meet up with Wash, who had left us at Finke, and bets were being taken on a) what time he would show and b) whether Lynda would be with him. Shorty won half the money, for his bet of 17:00 but without Lynda. Wash arrived at 16:30 complete with Lynda after touring the Territory and western Queensland.
Again we hit the showers for another welcome scrub. Phil and Robyn arrived on the Thursday with Shep, Luke and Josh on Friday while we were on a day trip to Tilpa pub and weir.

The races on Saturday saw Louth swell from a population of 37 to around 7000.

For the races we did something slightly different this year and the dress was black jacket and tie, shorts boots and hat.

This year Sir Les graced us with his presence

We celebrated Phils 50th with a camel vindaloo, tomato and herb pull apart bread, naan bread, White schocolate mud cake and a selection of peppermint and dark chocolates.
Sunday morning was the traditional big cookup with plenty of bacon and eggs, before heading down to the river mid morning for a spot of fishing and champagne.

Sunday morning the race course empties very quickly and the organisers move in and clean up.

Days 34/39 - 384km

Edjits Madigan Line Tour 2008 - Day 39 & 40 [11th/12th Aug]

After Louth we were resigned to the fact that the trip was over and we just had to make our way home, we did this in two hops first to Dubbo for a night in a motel and a meal. Then heading from Dubbo via Goolma and Mudgee to home where the kids had a baked dinner waiting for us.

An absolutely fantastic trip with a great bunch of people, thanks to Pat & Perry, Vince and Jan and Shorty for making it what it was, and for sharing a truly memorable trip with Amanda and I


Day 39/40 - 890km

Thought I'd put up a few details about fuel used etc

Just a quick capture out of another document, shame fuel prices didn't start dropping a few weeks earlier :( :(

Great trip report Bushie, awesome dune photo's, well all the pics really. We are crossing Madigans in a few weeks time departing from Adelaide and the Riverland, can't wait.