the Degree Confluence Project

Australia : Western Australia

4.6 km (2.9 miles) NW of West Holleton, WA, Australia
Approx. altitude: 374 m (1227 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 32°N 61°W

Quality: good

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  32°S 119°E (visit #2) (incomplete) 

(visited by John McKenna, Melissa Challenor, Teik Oh and Duncan Sargeant)

29-May-2003 -- What a disaster.

We did get there, honest.

But you'll notice that we didn't get many photos. There's a reason for that.

Wednesday night, we're having dinner, chatting, having a few drinks. John had recently found the StreetSmart Travellers Atlas of Western Australia, and commented that this was exactly what we needed for our confluence visit last year. It's like a city street directory, but it covers the entire state. Lots of detail, and longitude/latitude markers in the margins. Anyone doing confluences in WA should have one. I assume they exist for other states too.

So we decided to give the nearest unvisited confluence a try. Dunc and Teik decided that motorbikes were the way to go. Melissa and John were much more sensible, and went by car.

Being us, there was no way we were going to head out before 11am. And being us, we had to stop for a leisurely lunch and browse through a furniture shop in York. We reached Narembeen around 4 or 5pm. It was late autumn, and the sun sets early. Not much time to waste.

The drive out to and along Soldiers Rd was uneventful. There was a gate just before the GPS started pointing at right angles, so we went through that and drove along the track at the side of the field. Not far into that, the bikes decided that it wasn't a good idea for them to go any further, and everyone piled into the car.

We drove along the edges of the fields for a while, heading roughly the direction that the GPS was pointing. And then it happened. "I'm not driving through that. We'll get bogged. Oh, we are bogged". Half an hour or so of valient digging and pushing, and we hadn't really got anywhere. Fortunately the nice people from Narembeen Spraying who were working nearby saw us and came to our rescue.

What we hadn't realised was that we'd driven all the way to Reids Rd. It was just on the other side of the trees and fence, and running almost exactly in the right direction. So we got onto the road and followed it until it turned. Right on the corner was another gate, with a track on the other side that continued heading directly to the confluence.

After a while the track turned, but we were by then only 800m from the confluence. So we got out and walked. The sun had set, but there was still a bit of light. Cross a fence, then the corner of a field, then another fence, and then a long walk into the middle of yet another field and we were finally there. By this time, it was getting hard to read the GPS. John had forgotten his tripod. We weren't entirely sure which direction the car was. It was dark.

So the camera got set up on top of the camera bag, pointed in what was hopefully the approximate direction of the horizon, the button was pushed, and fingers were crossed. The exposures were around 5-10 seconds. Not a good sign.

Then back to Perth. We figured there was more chance of getting food and petrol if we returned by the highway, so we went back through Merredin. It was about midnight by the time we got back to Perth, and the bike riders were frozen solid.

Now John is back in England, and has got the photos developed. And you guessed it - lots of dark blurry photos of sky, with maybe a little bit of very blurry horizon cutting the corner. The GPS display is visible in one photo, but it's not much use without any photos of the view from the point.

So all that for nothing.

My advice to anyone else who fancies giving this one a go:

  • Leave Perth before 11am.
  • Don't drive motorbikes.
  • Don't get your car bogged.
  • Don't get your hire car bogged. (Did I mention that? Did I mention the "not to be driven off sealed roads" hire car?)
  • Get the Travellers Atlas (the map shop near 78s in Hay St sells them).
  • Turn off Soldiers Rd onto Reids Rd, then just before it turns go through the gate and onto the track. You'll end up very close to the point. Holleton Rd might be a better approach, but we didn't have the time or the light to find out.
  • Bring a tripod.
  • The Shell roadhouse just before Merredin does nice burgers.