10-Jan-2004 -- The plan was to rendezvous at The Palace Hotel in Southern Cross with my husband Peter and daughter Kate on Friday 9 December. They had been confluence hunting further north for the two previous days in rather hot and isolated conditions (29°S 118°E and 29°S 119°E).
After driving the 369 kilometres from Perth along the Great Eastern Highway, we reached Southern Cross around 8.30pm. Peter was sprawled out on the bed, not moving much, so Kate filled us in on all the finer details of their expedition. Our intended confluence site visit to the south-west of Southern Cross the next day, was looking pretty tame by comparison.
The Palace Hotel was built at the height of the gold rush last century and was once a grand and thriving establishment. But times have changed, and on this occasion, we were the only guests in residence with a solitary patron at the Public Bar.
In the morning our group, Peter, Susan, Sarah and Kate Allen and Jenni Holden, set forth at 8.00am in two cars. We followed a sealed road to Marvel Loch for 34 kilometres after which the road surface changed to gravel which was in excellent condition.
There was not a lot of traffic around (we passed 2 vehicles) perhaps this was why the road was so good – it was not a popular route. A black snake slithered onto the road and I was glad that I missed it. Further along a large skink waddled out in front of us and luckily I missed that one as well.
The country began to open out into a wheat farming area and we turned towards Mt Walker and the confluence point. After following a few minor roads and noticing some rather impressive haystacks, the final track lead us to within 950 m of the point.
We parked and walked the final distance across a fallow wheat field to the exact spot. The confluence point is in the middle of a wheat farm and is surrounded by undulating countryside. Though barren looking, it has been a bumper season with all the silos in the area filled to capacity.
We then made our way back to the car and noticed some scattered and bleached animal bones and the hallmark of any Australian bush experience – a broken beer bottle. We then drove home through the prosperous wheat growing belt with a stop at Wave Rock 50 kilometres SSW from the confluence point.
It was a most enjoyable trip but on our return to Perth, we were a little disappointed to discover that an initial visit to the site had just been posted. We were pipped at the post!