02-May-2006 -- These photographs of the 23°S 131°E confluence were taken on the 2nd May 2006. This conference is located on the southwestern corner of the Newhaven Pastoral Lease, which at the time of visit was operated by the government as an environmental/ecological sanctuary.
The confluence would best be accessed from the ‘Dunes Tour’ track which is signposted from Newhaven Station campsite. Newhaven itself is located by driving north from Alice Springs, up the Tanami Highway past Tilmouth Well and taking a signposted track to the west for approximately 140km along a graded dirt road.
Mick Summers and myself, Luc English, decided to approach the confluence from the southeast via the Papunya-Kintore Road (a well graded dirt road). We left the Papunya-Kintore Road approximately 35km west of Papunya and followed an old water tank track for 7km to the northwest. At the end of this track we continued cross-country in a northwest direction, towards the confluence and into sand dune country. The dunes are longitudinal dunes running west-north-west and ranging between 2m and 8m in height. We took two Landcruiser utes and crossed the dunes obliquely, following the interdune swales as far as possible and then, when too far off course, crossing over the dune to the right (north) by charging up the shallowest slope we could find in 3rd gear low range four wheel drive and usually making it over the crest. Driving was slow over the bumpy, spinifex covered ground, typically 15-20km/h, but progress was good until the final dune (7km from the confluence) when I managed to overheat my ute and Mick got stuck on a log at the top of the dune. However, a couple of hours digging and a pull from my ute and we were free to make the confluence at 17:20 and camp nearby.
We exited the next morning by making the cross-country drive to the ‘Dunes Tour’ road, only 13km to the north, and were back in Alice Springs by early afternoon.
Luc English, Exploration Geologist