Outback Trek 2020 – Gus Luck Track

Day 8 Gus Luck Track

From the now-non-existent town of Goongarrie on the Goldfields Highway to Goongarrie Homestead, a DPAW Conservation Reserve about 14 kilometres west,  the track is wide open and good travelling. It deteriorates after the turnoff to Davyhurst. The way we went.

We emerged at the boundary of Goongarrie Starion about 30 kilometres later and the track I wanted to take wasn’t visible. After a bit of consideration we headed west on a good track that we hoped would eventually get us to Siberia.

We had arranged to meet Scott Wilson, well known Kalgoorlie prospector and President of the Eastern Goldfields Historical Society, at Siberia. He would join our Trip for a couple of days.

I was hopeful that the track that we were ‘forced’ to take would eventually connect with the Daveyhurst Ora Banda Road, however, halfway to that expected junction, we arrived at a pipeline and powerline access road. It looked to be a good track and I was reasonably confident it would intersect with the Daveyhurst Ora Banda Road. It did – seven kilometres south. We continued on to our rendezvous with Scott at Siberia.

Scott gave us a guided tour around Wangine – a place he has been familiar with for most of his life. The breakaways here are spectacular and extensive.

After lunch we tried to find the Gus Luck Track leading west from what, in the late 1890s, was an important depot and stopping place. Despite a concerted effort by at least six vehicles the way west remained elusive.

We speculated on the course of the Track entering and leaving Wangine. Clearly the Track from Goongarrie accessed the hotel and other facilities below the breakaway. It would appear that it was on top of the breakaway before continuing on its westward course. Did the Track kept high on the breakaway with a spur to the depot and lodgings below or did it dip below the high ground and then make its way up to the high ground. Difficult to know.

As we determined during a follow up Trip in late October, the Track to the west exists but passage for motor vehicles is not possible. We made the decision to skirt the impassable country by going south to Siberia and then west across former pastoral country (ex Credo). As we were heading west Scott recognised some mining exploration tenements that he held in this area many years ago.

We were not certain that the track would connect with Coolgardie North Road but it did eventually bring us out to our destination on that road. A short drive to the north on this major dirt road brought us to the track to Coonmine.

Although it was getting late in the day I figured we could get a few kilometres along the track towards Coonmine. We eventually found a great campsite a couple of kilometres in.

Day 9 Gus Luck Track

This day we would cover most of the Gus Luck Track.

First stop was Coonmine Rockhole, also known as Frost Soak.

The next soak/rockhole along the Track is Turturdine. The location of the water at this rock is not immediately obvious, however, an arrangement of rocks in the shape of an arrow points to the soak.

Throughout the day we were fortunate enough to have Scott share his knowledge of the geology and history of the area, among a number of other subjects. We stopped a few kilometres before Udardanging and Scott explained the process of coppicing.

Next stop was Udardanging Rock where there is a covered soak with plenty of water and a grave 100 metres distant. This rock and Turturdine were often confused in official records. Urdardanging was also known as Dookie Rock.

Pilarning Rock is 1.7 kilometres further on. We didn’t stop.

A huge fire had devastated the country last season. A seven kilometre swathe of bush was gone.

Ten kilometres before the Mount Walton Road we lost the Track – without realising it. It was only after a few hundred or so metres that I realised we were not following the planned route. But there was no turnoff or junction. Very deceptive. I radioed to Scott at the rear of the convoy and he was able to pick up the faintest of tracks off to the left – the real Gus Luck Track. We turned around and retraced our route. Clearly most, if not all, travellers would follow the good, open track to the Mt Walton Road turn left, drive south for five kilometres and pick up the Gus Luck Track  again. And the situation is little better for those doing the Track in the opposite direction, from Yellowdine. As we discovered on our follow up Trip in October travellers are led away from the real Gus Luck Track to this more open roadway. Very few, if any, travellers are driving the actual Gus Luck Track for the 20 kilometres east of the Mount Walton Road – as evidenced by the lack of tyre marks and the overgrown condition of the real Track.

Apart from the navigational challenges in this stretch of the Track, there is a 100 metre washaway that could present a few challenges in the wet.

Not far west of the Mount Walton Road is 71 Mile Rock – an important stopping place in times past. Today’s track does not led directly to the rock and well. The narrow, rough, and overgrown offshoot, while not obvious, does lead directly to the base of 71 Mile Rock.

Wallangie is 15 kilometres further on. This was a large and important water point on Juardi Station.

We were approaching the Trans Australian Railway. Since the Mount Walton haul road we had been travelling through what was once Juardi Station, now a DPAW Conservation Reserve.

At the Trans Line the dirt track parallels the rail track for 200 metres before crossing over and then continues alongside it for a further two kilometres before turning away to the south. Darrine Soak is a couple of kilometres further on. Signatures/graffiti on the lid of the soak roof at Darrine date back to 1939.

We came across some potentially boggy parts of the Track after Darrine and took to the (burnt out) bush to get around it. Except for Brad and Scott who were determined to demonstrate Toyota exceptionalism.

The afternoon was wearing on and it was time to start looking for a campsite. Though there was sufficient time to reach Weowanie Rock I knew there would be insufficient wood there so I determined to stop just short of that feature.

By this time in the Trek, responsibility for campsite selection had devolved to Mushy and he soon found a clearing only 50 metres off the Track large enough for all vehicles and replete with plenty of firewood. In addition it was on high ground – away from the low lying Eva Lake and eastward portions of Lake Seabrook.

The weather was starting to look threatening. We were coming into range of broadcast radio stations and the weather forecasts for later in the night and early the next day were dire.

The evening passed as usual and everyone went to bed reasonably early. Some made preparations and packed their camp that night. The rain arrived about 1.00 a.m. It rained and rained and rained.

Day 10 Weowanie to Yellowdine

Without any urging, everyone was up before first light, packing away a sodden camp. The rain kept coming. There was no time for a cooked breakfast – just grab whatever was available. By 6.00 a.m. everyone was ready to leave.

The 50 metres from our campsite to the Track was looking problematic. Soft, sodden mud although it appeared as if the base was firm. I walked out to the Track. Water was flowing down it eastward towards Eva Lake. At least it was reasonably firm under the rivers of water. Maybe we weren’t going to be stuck here for a week.

I asked the lightest crews to drive out first and those with diff locks to come out last. As all made it to the Track without too much stress I suppose it was anticlimactic, however, there was still another 13 kilometres of potentially flooded track to get through.

Just over two kilometres along the Track we came to the Yellowdine Vermin Proof Fence at which point the track, obviously, T junctioned. After some hesitation and discussion over the radio I decided to head to the right. Within 700 metres we arrived at a gate through the Fence, a sign opposite the gate displaying ‘Juardi Station’, and the track clearly continuing on the other side of the gate.

I was pretty confident I knew where I was, having been here once previously – but on the other side of the Fence. We passed through the Fence and within a few kilometres arrived at Weowanie.

Track conditions had improved remarkably but I was still very concerned about the next seven kilometres (including a part that traverses a section of Lake Seabrook) before we would get to the (virtually) all weather Marvel Loch Road. While rough, rutted and torn up in places it was passable and did not present any real issues. We stopped at Duladgin Well.

The drive to Yellowdine was sloppy but without worry.

Cheap diesel at the roadhouse was a bonus. Mushy and Ray, Paul and Andrew, and James and Tim decided to head home down Great Eastern Highway. Kim, Aaron, Brad and Jane, and Steve continued on with the remainder of the Trek – the Mount Palmer Track.

Go on to Outback Trek – Mt Palmer Track

Go back to Outback Trek – Goldfields

 

© Cockburn 4WD Club 2020 and Kim Epton
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Kim Epton

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Kim Epton
Jane Dooley
James Hay
Michael Orr
Ray Dowinton

Posted in Extended Trips.