Waterhole east of Tjingkulatjatjarra Pool - Discovering the amazing Rudall River for the first time.

Saturday, Jul 29, 2006 at 00:00


Saturday 29th July
Waterhole east of Tjingkulatjatjarra Pool
Rudall River N.P.

Up a little later this morning. Could have been something to do with the cotton wool feeling bought on by excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages the previous evening. So much for “Just a sip” of port. A bottle and a pack of Tim Tams later. Need I say more. Thankfully the litre of water I put down before going to bed negated the need for a Panadol. It’s been a good day full of excitement, camel chasing, trekking, swimming and exploring. I’m bloody exhausted.

The day began with a leisurely breakfast by the fire. The promised bacon and eggs didn’t materialise as neither if us felt like it anyway. Our campsite is a real gem of a find. Having a bit more of a look round this morning the water hole extends a good distance through the red loamy cliffs. When pack-up was complete, I had a swim and soap up on the bank. Chilly but suitably refreshing and invigorating. The road south was again in fairly good nick although there were some patches of very deep sand and rocks that had to be kept an eye out for. We were taken by the arid beauty of the plains and low ranges and often stopped for photos. After one stop at a claypan, we had only just gotten going when we encountered our first wriggle stick crossing the road. He was a King Brown about 5 feet long and despite being early in the morning, he was bloody fast. We opted (wisely I might add!) not to pursue him for photo’s and John contented himself with taking art shots of the snake trail left in the sand of the road.

We’d been following heaps of camel tracks on the road and it wasn’t long before we encountered a mob of 10 or so wandering quietly down the track in the same direction as us. With a favourable wind, we were able to drive right up behind them for photo’s before they galloped (if that’s the word), no trotted off into the scrub on our left. The rest of our first leg went without further excitement and we reached the hand-pump where we replenished our water. The bees also hung about in profusion gathering water from a small dish at the base of the pump. The water was crystal clear and sweet so our drink bottles were filled also. From here it was only a further 8 km to the Desert Queen Baths (DQB) turnoff. This crossroad was marked by writing on an old 5-gallon oil drum.

The 18 km into DQB was a tight track twisting through the bush and over rocky scarps and washaways. The road had suffered from abuse by the cyclones of a couple of years back so there were many deep ruts and washout rocky sections. The scenery was magnificent though and many photos were again taken. Once again the ubiquitous camel were evident this time a big male and his harem of 8 cows. No matter where they ran, the track seemed to cross their path again and at one stage we were in the middled of the group as we all headed down the track with dad and a senior cow chasing us!

Talk about laugh. At least JT got to experience the smell of them! On reaching the DQB camp area, the track splits and one branch leads off a kay or so across the valley to a cave perched up on the hill. We did this side trip first. Nothing too impressive although a good vantage point for photos.

On arriving back at the DQB gorge, we had a quick lunch and a cuppa before departing for the walk up the gorge. We encountered our first stretch of water almost immediately, a sizable pool just inside the gorge. After passing this you have a walk of over 1.5 km across the rocky creek floor jumping from boulder to rock until you get to the first of the series of pool that forms the DQB. Once reached the only way forward is to swim each rock hole in turn. This we did being the foolhardy and fearless adventurers we were. Unable to find my shorts, I went in my jocks. We’d neglected to bring a plastic bag so we had to leave the cameras behind. The first pool was long and deep and shockingly cold. We managed to traverse it and clamber out the other side. The second was shallower and a fair bit Warmer. The third, you had to push the ice aside. It was deep, shadowed and friggin freezing. To make matters worse, the far side exit had to be gained up a sheer wall and drop off of a couple of metres. Believe me the cold water spurred you on. Above this there was another pool of equal size but a bit more survivable temperature. We spent 10 minutes or so lying on the warm rocks to get the circulation back before heading back.

The gorge itself whilst not particularly high, like many of those in the Kimberley, was spectacular none the less. Its rough red walls looked like they’d been hewn by some cataclysmic explosion rather than erosion. The ghost gums lining the creeks also added a contrast to the deep reds and blue of the sky. It was great stuff. We were very tired and cold boys by the time we reached our clothes back at the first pool. I made some terrible footing choices due to fatigue on the way home but made it without any damage.

We decided to head back and head down to the Tjingkulatjatjarra Pool to camp as this gave us an opportunity to set up for two nights and explore the west of the park tomorrow. On our way out, the spectacular gorges and cave lined cliffs that were evident to our north became too much of a distraction and we decided to investigate. This necessitated some two kilometres of scrub bashing. We had to traverse a small creek bed several times and thick spinifex and shrubs before we found ourself within coo-ee of the range. We then did the last several hundred metres on foot climbing up the walls of the range to the cave first. It was more of a cavern formed by wind and water eroding a huge pocket of chalklike stone. We named it Bee Cave after the several nests of native bees in the cracks in the ceiling. Near disaster on the trek down with me slipping and taking a tumble. Thankfully I manage to stop myself from falling to far and only lost a bit of bark from my fingers and knees. Bloody spinifex hurt though.

The gorge was also not what we had expected being a rough and high slash cutting roughly up the face of the range. It didn’t have a deep floor that you could access. It’d be a top spot in a million years though. We headed back and retraced our steps and tracks through the scrub to the main track and continued on.

The trip south was a further 30 odd km. The track into Tjingkulatjatjarra was very indistinct and rocky but by sheer chance and good choice at track intersections (and no small amount of luck), we found our way there. Only problem was there were four vehicles camped already. We had a quick chat and backtracked, finding a secluded waterhole some km back.Camp was set and showers taken. Dinner was steak (again) as we had to get rid of it.

Some handy GPS notes for the day:

Coolbro Creek (campsite from last night)
S 22.09.918 E 121.58.654
Hand pump
S22.17.005 E 122.06.420
DQB turnoff
S 22.21.769 E 122.08.376
DQB camp area
S 22.27.769 E 122.15.715
Our campsite tonight
E22.31.098 S 122.05.491
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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