03-Aug-2003 -- This is my second confluence visit in the southern Pilbara/Ashburton region associated with my ongoing geology fieldwork - in fact my previous visit last year was one the same line of latitude (23°S 117°E). This year I drove up the western side of the region via Gascoyne Junction and the magnificent Kennedy Ranges (a well kept secret of Australian scenery) before hitting the rocks at Maroonah Station just to the west of the Barlee Range Nature Reserve.
From there we headed back north toward the North West Coastal Highway, with a quick stop at this confluence within a few kilometres of Nyang Station. Either by good planning or blind luck the confluence is about 20 metres from the Towera Road, near a fence and cattle grid (aka cattle-stop) and took only a few minutes to find and wait for the numbers to settle (pic #2). This is probably the most accessible confluence in the region and a stark contrast to the challenge most of the other confluences will afford future adventurers.
The countryside is the floodplain of the Yannarie River, hence it is flat, red and sandy (pic #1), and like 23°S 117°E it is not exactly a good example of the stunning scenery that can be seen elsewhere in the region. Being arid and sandy in this particular area, the groundcover is dominated by the infamous spinifex grass (Triodia mitchellii), which forms dense clumps up to a metre in size and is heavily protected by very fine and very sharp spikes at the end of the leaves (pic #3). Wading through spinifex is not for the light-hearted (or bare-legged) and falling into a clump is to be avoided at all cost. There is some thought that the kangaroo's hopping ability evolved as a response to the evolution of spinifex - jumping over the spikes is a far more practical idea than going through.
This was a fairly uneventful stop. The only point of non-geographical interest being a chat with a charming couple of "Grey Nomads" in a Rangerover (pic #4) who stopped to see what we were up to (traffic is a real rarity on some of these outback roads, but almost invariably passersby will stop for a chat). They were in search of a nearby pool on the Yannarie River if only because it was marked on their roadmap - such is the laidback curiosity of many of these retired folks roaming the Australian outback. Given the often hectic pace of fieldwork I am often very envious of these folk and their time to roam about as whim takes them.
But, it was back to the road and more rocks. Not sure when I'll be back this way again. There are plenty of confluence points, but looking at the topo maps some of them are going to be real adventures (but probably more scenic…)