20-May-2000 -- On July 18th 1999 a team consisting of
James Nicholls (Map Geek), Ryan Connor (Camera Geek) and Justin Alloi (Driver
Geek), after a long and arduous journey through a cold and
damp winter’s day finally reached their sacred goal, 116 E, 32 S, the first (as far as they
knew) confluence visited in the southern hemisphere under the auspices of the Degree
Confluence project. With the light failing fast they took their photographs, and joyfully
returned to the Justified, their ex-army land rover Geeksmobile, guided by the cheerful
orange glow of a merrily burning plastic rubbish bin. They got a bit lost on the way home,
driving the wrong way down a freeway for a good fifteen minutes, which resulted in James
having to get home by train from Justin’s work, but they quite jubilant nonetheless. The film
was put in for development.
They got the prints back.
With the exception of one, they were all blank, and that one photo, being a dramatic shot of
the nearby peaks of the Darling Range wreathed in cloud completely failed to show the
They weren’t happy.
Immediate plans were drawn up to return, but several factors (one being James finding
useful employment and another Justin going to Italy to study fencing) intervened. The
months slipped by....
Someone took a photo of the South Pole.
Again, they weren’t happy. But at least they could still be the first in Australia...
Someone bagged a confluence in New South Wales.
They were practically livid.
Again the months slipped by. Then Justin returned from Italy, dangerous sword skills in tow.
In a mad dash for the glory of the first West Australian confluence James dragged him out on
a mild autumn day with his new GPS unit (purchased for the very purpose of confluence
hunting, the previous attempt having been made with judicious use of topographic maps). On
the 20th of May 2000, they set out.
The main differences between this journey and the previous one were twofold. Firstly it was a
quite warm, unlike the damp and miserable afternoon of July. The second was that Ryan,
being unavailable, was not present. Justin retained his position of Geek Driver, although this
time the vessel was a step up from the venerable Justified in that it actually had air
conditioning and a tape deck. James was promoted to GPS Geek, and camera duties were
shared between them.
The journey was uneventful, unless you consider GPS Geeks leaning out a moving car
window on a major highway to get a better satellite fix eventful. Which most of the rest of the
motorists probably did. The tracking capabilities of the cheap unit were quite impressive
however, it’s speedometer matching that of the car for most of the journey.
This time a parking spot was obtained much closer to the golf course that harboured the
confluence, right next to a large football field that unaccountably had it’s lights full on in the
middle of sunny afternoon. After a quick check of the GPS, which indicated only 720 meters
to the confluence the Geeks decided to take a small animal track leading through a strip of
bushland separating them from the fairways.
A short way into the bush, the path opened out onto a wide sandy vehicular track bordered to
the south by a tall chainlink fence. Behind this fence was a steep drop down to a bizarre
landscape of holes, mounds, turves and burnt tree stumps, obviously the rubbish tip for the
course. There was some quick geeky debate over whether to head east towards the gate
they had used to enter the course last time, or west to find a new accesway. West won out,
and soon enough the chainlinks gave out, allowing a quick slide down into the strange
Scrambling over mounds and tussocks followed, accompanied with much paranoia over
snakes. The fact that any self respecting snake would have fled for it’s life at the noise they
were making never crossed the Geeks' minds. At the far side of the dump another track
materialised, and since the GPS pointed in roughly the same direction a decision was made
to take it. Golfers and their buggies paraded in the background.
The track soon began to twist and turn wildly. before very long it came to a dead stop on a
promontory sticking out into a small lake. On the wrong side.
Back in July, despite the general aura of dampness, this lake had been empty. Now it was
full. Very full. Small shrubs around the edges were inundated. The Geeks waded around it’s
edge and were finally on the course.
It was at this point that the inevitable happened and they started to attract the attention of the
golfers. In order to minimise their impact they stuck mainly to the strips of bushland
seperating the fairways, but still had to scuttle across dodging balls from time to time,
drawing disapproving stares from middle aged men with motorised golf carts. The Geeks
started to get nervous. Lips would soon be wagging at the clubhouse.
They followed the GPS. There was general rejoicing when they hit 32 south, but then they
wandered north while trying to wander east and lost it. Recovering it proved little trouble.
They dashed across the 13th fairway, and glancing at the GPS on other side James was
amazed to see it displaying exactly 31 59.99 S 115 59.99 E.
They walked slowly south in stunned silence until the numerals ticked over to 32 S. They
stepped carefully east. 116. Success!!! They cheered out loud and capered around, much to
the consternation of a small group of passing golfers.
Looking around for a convenient marker they spotted a small blackboy (grass tree) with a
prominent spike on top a few metres away. Checking with the GPS ensured it was valid, and
ceremonial photographs were taken. Then, with nothing else to do, and visions of golf course
security sweeping down on them like birds of prey, they decided to scarper.
But then they decided to get confirmation that their attempt of the previous year had been
valid. A quick hunt around, aided by a confused golfer who directed them to the 14th green,
located the much taller blackboy they’d used as a confluence marker a year before. And sure
enough, the GPS indicated it was within 100 metres of the confluence point. It was valid!
Happy that their claim to the first southern hemisphere confluence was technically (if not
*actually*) valid, they decided to scarper for real. Which they did, retracing their steps around
the lake and through the junkyard. In a sudden departure Justin insisted they go under the
fence rather than over, and they returned to the car.
The rest of the story doesn’t really need much elaboration. They sang "Viva Las Vegas" in
the style of the Sensitive New Aged Cowpersons on the way home, and a few days later
James got the film developed. Then months passed, and he finally got around to submitting it
to the project website. Obviously.
Coordinator's note: I visited this confluence on 1 September 2003, and it looks like this visit used AGD84, giving an actual location about 200m northeast of the WGS84 confluence point. Checking this narrative with the photos and pics from visits 2 and 3 and against the map of the course (see visit 3) appears to confirm this.
Coordinator's Note: Potential visitors to this confluence are welcome, but MUST ask permission of the Managers of Hartfield Country Club BEFORE going onto the course. Flying golfballs can be dangerous!