16-Jul-2001 -- Camping in a tent in below zero C temperatures is NOT recommended, particularly with WA-type lightweight sleeping-bags. After a fairly sleepless night, Sarah and I decided to pack up and chuck the tent in the car at 5am - at least the car has a heater!
We headed back to Bruce Rock, then southeast to Narembeen in the dark and in very thick fog. Even with headlights on, visibility was down to about 10 metres which made it rather spooky - although sealed, the road had no markings and lots of tight bends, and both of us had our fingers crossed that we'd avoid meeting any roadtrains coming in the opposite direction. After Narembeen the road is unsealed but wider. There's been no (or very little) rain throughout most of the wheatbelt and southeast of WA - bad for the farmers but it means that the dirt roads are hard and good to drive on even in a non-4WD, with little chance of getting bogged.
The early start was well worth it, as there was a really magical feel about day-break with a pale sun through fog over the salt lakes 43km west of our target.
We headed east along Soldiers Road, then north on Grays Road and back west on Sloss Road. According to my GIS map, Burracoppin Road should have then taken us to 619 metres away from the confluence, but we ended up at a dead end on Sloss Road with 872 metres to go. With no farm in sight and as the paddock had a new crop (probably of wheat), we decided to count this one as an attempt. Although it would have been fairly easy walking over the paddock, farmers out here are in for a rough year and are likely to be pretty upset at anything that could affect their chances of harvesting anything less than a maximum yield. We'll return after harvest.
On the way back along Soldiers Road, we stopped at a cairn we noticed on the way in. It had been erected by the Narembeen Historical Society and marks Captain John Septimus Roe's Bivouac II in 1836. He was a surveyor - I guess that's as good a reason as any to have been out here nearly 150 years ago. Roe's report of the country out here was not encouraging and this stifled further development of the region for more than fifty years. Harvesting of the Sandalwood trees and small sheep farming was the only development for some time.
The next leg of the Great WA Confluence Hunt took us due south to 33S 119E, and we detoured to Wave Rock, an unusual granite formation and one of WA's natural landmarks. We also passed Dragon Rocks, but will visit there on our next attempt.