08-Jan-2004 -- We set out from Paynes Find (population 3 people and a number of dogs) at 4.30pm on the 8 December after driving 410 km from Perth.
Before leaving, we fuelled up with petrol, knowing that this was our last chance to do so. We had filled up with fuel in Perth earlier in the day and it was 92 cents a litre. We discovered that the price was $1.19 per litre at Paynes Find.
We drove 46 km north along the Great Northern Highway and turned off to the east along the Narndee West Road and travelled along this dirt road for 9 kilometres.
There have been two previous attempted visits to this site. Chris and Karin Weight who made the first attempt suggested: “this confluence would be easy with a mountain bike, a dirt bike or your brother’s car. 4wd not needed.” We took their recommendations, and as I don’t have a brother, we took my wife’s car along with two mountain bikes for the final assault.
At around 5.00pm we turned south off the Narndee West Road along an overgrown dirt track following the advice of Chris and Karin.
We then set off on our two mountain bikes knowing that we had two hours until sunset and thinking we had plenty of time to reach the Confluence Point, take the photos and get back to the car.
We cycled eastward along a fence line, along a rough track, until we came along the Narndee West Road again after about a kilometre. We cycled along the road for a kilometre before we decided to cycle across country, as it appeared relatively easy going at this point beside the road. We headed directly to the confluence, 8 kilometres away to the south east. We found the terrain extremely rough. Though flat, there were fallen trees, rocks and soft sand making our progress slow and arduous. The scrub was quite spiky and we were frequently scratched on our legs, arms and Kate’s lip was cut. Even though late in the day, the temperature was still 35 degrees. We were thankful that we were carrying plenty of water.
We reached the confluence point at 7:15pm with dusk descending fast. (Sunset was 7:11pm, and moonrise was not due until 8:00pm.) We stayed for about 15 minutes, took the photos and started back. Altitude was 390m. The confluence point was located in low scrub on what appeared to be part of a flood plain – there had obviously been rain recently as there were some small ponds near the CP. There wasn’t much grass around, although this was clearly cattle country – we didn’t see any cattle, only their dung. We saw no other animals (or people) on the trip after Paynes Find, apart from numerous ants.
At the start of our return journey, Kate became concerned about cycling back through this inhospitable terrain, in the dark, “with no torch”. [Comment from Kate: “concerned”???? – I was fearing for my life!!!]
After starting to cycle back we came across a disused windmill about 500m to the north west of the CP, which had been fitted with a solar-powered pump. This puzzled us because there were no tracks around except for a very over-grown one heading north but visibility was an issue at this point!
We decided to follow this overgrown track. We estimated that it would meet the Narndee West Road as it was straight, heading north and at right angles to that road. We thought an overgrown track would be easier than no track at all. After ten minutes, I had a flat tyre and realised it was a slow leak so we stopped and I pumped it up. I was carrying a spare tyre but it was too dark to be able to change it easily. We then had to stop every ten minutes to pump the tyre up.
The moon had not risen, we were having difficulty with branches and old fencing wire across the track, it was very soft sand and morale was a little low! After a while, the full moon appeared but because of the tree cover, did not help much. An hour later, we eventually arrived at the Narndee West Road which is unsealed but it seemed like a super-highway to us.
We cycled west along this road for about 5 kilometres and turned along the track reaching the car at 9.15pm. We then drove to Paynes Find and arrived just after 10.00pm where we had a room booked – basically a refrigerated box with a couple of beds.
It had been fairly exhausting day but with this confluence point (29°S 118°E
) it was a case of third time lucky. If we had arrived at the CP five or ten minutes later we would not have had enough light to get the photographs. It was my third confluence point and Kate’s first.