25-Aug-2001 -- Finding my fourth confluence in northwest Queensland was a little more arduous than the first three were. It was just down the road from Century, the biggest zinc mine in the world, and the World Heritage listed Riversleigh fossil site, one of the few places in the world where complete fauna collections have been preserved as fossils.
The confluence was situated in low hills where the Gulf lowlands join the Northwest tablelands. Both are parched by the tropical sun and the vegetation is stunted gumtrees and spikey spinifex grass. I’d been distracted by the cool oasis of the Gregory River all morning and started confluence hunting quite a bit later than I intended. My planning showed a track that would take me to about 1.5 km from the point. How difficult could that be?
The track appeared right where the GPS said it should be and I took that as a good sign. But following it, I found that it hadn’t been used for years. That left me with 3.3 km to walk. That still didn’t seem too much but I forgot to include:
- The return distance
- The pain of walking in spinifex which is like a pincushion with the pins all sticking out
- Extra distance walking around steep hills
- Extra distance staggering, stumbling and slipping on loose rocks hidden in long grass
- Sunstroke factor
- The increasing weight of the flies that decided to join me for the trip.
Factoring in these details seemed to bring my 3.3 map kilometres up to something closer to 17 real kilometres. It was interesting to note that the compass I was using appeared to be magnetically attracted to hilltops. By the time I got to the confluence on yet another line of stony hills, I was completely buggered (to use an Australian colloquialism). After resting a while the return trip was just as tough.
That’s 19°S 139°E and now that I’ve been there you don’t have to.