The Gary Junction Road & Jenkins Track - The Curse continues at Kunawarritji!

Saturday, Jul 06, 2013 at 05:00


Friday 5th July, 2013 - Well 33 Canning Stock Route (K-Mart)

We were into it early this morning and finished the 110 kilometres of rough track up to Kiwirrkurra arriving to arriving just as the town store opened at 09:30. We found that Larry had moved on towards Kunawarritji having been there a day and being worried about us. This surprised us, as our early starts and long days meant we were only four hours behind our original schedule. We were pleasantly surprised to find the price of diesel at $2.80, the same as last year. The caretaker was also the same bloke as last year but he and the wife were off to Cairns for a few weeks and were breaking in some, novice caretakers.

We didn’t waste any time and after paying homage to the Beadell Ration Truck, were soon on our way to Kunawarritji (Kmart) racing past various landmarks and scaring the odd bustard and ubiquitous ‘ship of the desert’ along the way. We stopped here and there including Jupiter Well. While most travellers in the desert knows of Len Beadell’s road team, few people have any idea of National Mapping’s work apart from the name on the maps that we often use. In 1960, Beadell's team had pushed the GJR to a point 100 km west of the Pollock Hills, the vicinity of the actual tree and plaque photographed herein. This was where the grader suffered it's catastrophic gearbox failure and was still some 18 kilometers short of the current Jupiter Well site. Len did not return to the area until 1962.

The original Jupiter Well was dug in 1961 by a National Mapping survey team charged to recce, mark and observe a traverse in Western Australia from Mount Tietkens to the Canning Stock Route in the vicinity of Well 35, as part of the geodetic survey of Australia. To avoid the need to truck water 480 km from Mt Liebig, the team spent four days between the 20th to 24th August 1961 digging the well. The well was named after the planet reflected in the waters at the bottom of the well late on the night of the 22nd.

"On Tuesday 22/8, we were joined by several other members of the party and set to cutting timber to shore up the shaft and taking it in turns to work at the digging and hauling the buckets of soil to the surface. We had to timber up as we dug as some of the ground was quite unstable, but we were into water!

There was a lot of discussion around the campfire that evening about a name for the place. Moonlight Well was proffered as the moon was about three quarters and quite bright. Also the name Pintubi Well was bandied around as we believed that to be the name of the local aborigines.

About 11pm, overcome with curiosity, we went to see how much water our new well had made. There, reflected in the bottom, was the planet Jupiter. So there was no doubt about it, “Jupiter Well” it was, from that moment. Had we looked down the well at a slightly different time it may have become Saturn Well as the two planets were keeping very close company."

Source; "The Digging of Jupiter Well" by Ed Bourke - Mr Bourkes full recollections can be found by visiting the National Mapping Website HERE.

160 kilometres west of Jupiter Well, the intersection of the Gary Hwy and the Gary Junction Road technically signifies the end of the GJR and the start of the seventy kilometre ‘Jenkins Track’ that completes the run to the Canning. Here we entered our details in the visitors book and revisited our entries of previous years. It was all down hill to the Canning and Kunawarritji from here, arriving into Kmart at 3:00 p.m., finding Larry riding around the community grounds on his quad. He’d left the UniMog out at Well 33 and was using the quad as his daily commute about Kmart.

What a difference a year makes with a raft of new buildings and a fuel shed being constructed at the community. For a change we were first in line at the bowsers with no long line of refugees streaming in from the Canning. A new couple, Bill and Raylene Johnson of Tatura, were managing the place having been there 7 months. A decent set of bowsers meant we were fuelled up in no time. Checking out what was on offer at the store, we moved down to the Canning to meet Larry and commence our journey south to Well 32.

Bugger me, the Canning corrugations were frightening. I’d only gone a couple of kilometres when a very loud squeaking noise, emanating from the front of the vehicle, urged me to stop. It was a squeak from god! Wandering about the vehicles while we analysed what had caused the squeaking on my car (Dust in the front shocks), we found that the rear winch and spare tyre assembly on Larry’s mog had fatigued, cracked and was about to fall off.

Knowing we'd be progressing no further, Al and I went north east to secure some firewood, while Larry and Jaydub headed back to Kmart. Al and I arrived a half hour later to find Larry and John hard at it under the watchful gaze of Alby, the town mechanic/engineer/handyman. They had removed the winch and wheel mount assembly and were effecting repairs and reinforcing. Feeling very much a fifth wheel, we opted to head out to Well 33 and secured a camp site for the party before the evening rush. And lucky we did! Our nearest neighbours limped in with a badly cracked chassis and within an hour numerous vehicles had arrived, the last finding no room at the inn!

Our crew arrived back on dusk, so the fire was lit and dinner commenced. (steak for Larry and rissoles for us). Alby and Johnno arrived later and were well fed and watered. Plenty of bulldust flew around the fire during the evening.

''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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