24-Jun-2004 -- As part of our two-month trek around Australia, my friend Phil and I are traveling the entire Stuart Highway from Darwin to Port Augusta. While back in the States we tried to find some confluences in the Northern Territory that would be relatively close to the highway, and found that no one had yet attempted this one. We chose this particular point because our tour bus, Adventure Tours Australia, has a night camp in the nearby cattle station homestead of Banka Banka. Since the confluence point falls on Banka Banka station, (NT cattle stations could easily swallow two or three counties back home in KY), the homestead was a good staging place.
We mapped out our plan for the confluence point while in Darwin. We found topographic maps at the Northern Territory Library in Darwin; we arranged for the Adventure Tours Australia bus both to drop us off and pick us up in Banka Banka (something usually not done for southbound buses); and we contacted the Moorish family that run the Banka Banka homestead. Ross Moorish offered to drive us to the closest approach to the confluence point for a dollar a km -- this is very reasonable considering that our hike was going to tie up a considerable amount of his morning.
On Wednesday evening (June 23) we arrived in Banka Banka. Although only the Moorishes permanently live at the homestead, the campground attracts quite a few people -- mostly Aussie retirees. At night Splinter Lawson, a really interesting man from Western Australia, shared some traditional "yarns" and bush poetry. It was one of the best nights I've had on my trip so far.
In the morning Phil and I woke about 8 AM, met Ross with his ute about 9 AM, and drove the 10 km south on the Stuart Highway to the turnoff for the unpaved road to the small center of Kalumpurlpa. I had out my GPS at this point and we drove until the distance to the confluence was minimized. This turned out to be 1.7 km.
Phil and I got out and told Ross that we would meet him back at his ute in an hour. We hiked southeast from the dropoff through spinifex grass and turpentine bushes. A couple of times we walked into some very large spider webs made by the kind of spider pictured in Photo 9.
We made it to the confluence at 9:40 AM without much trouble. The sun was low enough that it was still about 25 C when we reached the confluence. When I went to take the directional photos I couldn't find my compass -- I thought Phil might still have it. Phil said he couldn't find it either -- "Wait a second, what's that around your neck?" Indeed, in my frantic search I hadn't seen that I hadn't remembered I put the compass around my neck for that very purpose. I can be most absent-minded at times.
The hike back was considerably warmer than the hike in. Ross was waiting in his ute and we drove back to Banka Banka.
This was our first confluence point, and it was comparatively easy to reach compared to other confluences in the Tanami Desert. I really want to thank both Adventure Tours Australia and the Moorish family because it is very difficult to get to these imaginary points when you do not have your own transportation.