15-Feb-2004 -- This confluence point is located at a sparsely populated area to the south-west of the Little Sandy Desert. The nearest towns are Wiluna, (70km to the south-south-east) and Meekatharra (160km to the west-south-west). The closest mine is Jundee (a medium sized gold producer) located 75km to the south-east.
The Canning Stock Route runs 30km to the east of this confluence point. This track runs north - south, and starts in the south from the nearby town of Wiluna and finishes in Halls Creek – a journey of over 2000km. The Canning Stock Route was first surveyed in 1906 by Albert Canning. It was established to allow the pioneer cattlemen of the very isolated Kimberly region of North West Australia, get their cattle to the meat hungry south, particularly the new gold rush area around Kalgoorlie. The Canning Stock route is now regarded as a one of the premier long distance four wheel routes in Australia. A more detailed description of the history of this route can be found at http://www.canningexpeditions.com.au/history.htm
The confluence is 93km south east of Plutonic Gold Mine where Shane and I work. We left the mine office at around 4:00pm and travelled along some of the mine roads in south-easterly direction – travelling past some of the open cut pits which were no longer being mined. We were heading for the Wiluna North Road. This headed in a south westerly direction, and we were aiming to travel on this most of the way to the confluence point. However, even though it was only about 12 km from the end of the well maintained mine roads to the Wiluna North Road, we managed to spend about an hour getting lost following temporary tracks that had been made to allow drill rigs to access the area. We eventually got to the main road after driving along a rough track beside an abandoned fence for about 5km. So we had managed to get partially lost in just getting from the mine roads onto the one maintained by the shire. We saw a lot of kangaroos on this section of the journey. A photo of one is attached. Most were too fast to get close enough to get a reasonable photo.
Once reaching the Wiluna North Road we travelled along it for about 70km in a south westerly direction. This was reasonably well made gravel road, but as there had been around 30mm of rain during the previous three days, there was a lot of water on the road. We were frequently driving through stretches of road covered in water. Thankfully it did not get much deeper than about 20cm. From the Wiluna North Road we turned off onto a series of minor roads until we reached a fence line with a track beside it. We followed this until we crossed the Yarraloola to Kalgoorlie Gas pipeline. This is an underground gas pipeline carrying natural gas from the North-West Shelf offshore gas field (near Karratha) to Kalgoorlie. This pipe is 400mm diameter and 1,380km long and buried to at a depth of greater than 750mm. The main purpose of this gas line is to be used to produce electricity for the mining areas of central and southern Western Australia. These are predominantly gold and nickel mines.
After crossing the pipeline, we continued along the fence line until we were adjacent to and about 1.8km to the east of the confluence point. Fortunately at this point there was a gate through the fence. We went through the gate and travelled on a rough track beside an abandoned fence. This track took us through open Spinifex country to a point about 500m to the south of the confluence point. We walked for about 5 minutes to get to the confluence point. We reached the confluence point at around 6:35pm. This gave us enough time to take some photos and have a quick look around before the sun set at 6:45pm.
The confluence point itself was in the middle of a treed area –which was different from the surrounding Spinifex grassland. The ground surface was flat with some Spinifex grass in clumps. There was little evidence of any animal life near the confluence point – apart from some abandoned rabbit burrows. We found our way back to the car and headed back the way we had come. By the time we got back to the car it was dark enough to have to use the headlights. From here the trip back was relatively uneventful. We got back to the mine shortly before 9:00pm.
Whilst travelling to the confluence we saw a lot of kangaroos – probably in excess of 100. However on the entire journey we did not see any building of any sort, no other vehicles, and no people. In total we travelled 250km to reach this confluence. The main road (the Wiluna North Road - which was a muddy gravel surface) that we travelled on looked as though there had not been any other cars on it for some days. This is a sparsely populated part of the world.