Russ and I have bucket lists within bucket lists, and and a trip out to Mt Augustus from Carnarvon has been on one of our obscure ones since we first drove past the sign telling us it was 490ks inland from the highway.
We’ve driven up and down the coast, in and out of Carnarvon, passing that sign, reading about Mt Augustus and wondering how we could get out there and see it-the biggest drawback being our on-road van vs the mostly dirt roads leading to it.
About a month ago, after discovering we could get accommodation at the Mount Augustus Tourist Park we decided to bite the bullet, leave our van in a park in Carnarvon and go see “the rock”. It’s apparently the largest single rock in the world-at 8km LONG and 710 metres high it’s way bigger than it’s more famous Aussie rival Ayers Rock/Uluru, but much less known.
When we arrived at the Big 4 caravan park in Carnarvon, we hoped we’d find some nice neighbours happy to keep an eye on the van and boat the three days we were to be away. Better than that, we had Yarpturk (just near Warrnamool) couple Roz and Graham, and Geelong couple Maureen and John (Graham’s brother) beside us. They were more than happy to keep an eye on things for us including putting the boat motor in their annex and covering our generator with a tarp when it rained. Such a great stroke of luck for us.
I booked us twin share accommodation-at $88 it’s half the price of the “fully self contained” units . I wrote an e-mail (or two) to the current manager to ask what we would get/ should expect for our money and was told we would get a room, single bed (including linen and an extra doona for the cold) and a towel each and that was it. The ‘tea room” had a small fridge, kettle and microwave, the park had free bbqs. So no fridge, tea and coffee making facilities in our room, no TV (actually no reception). It’s like camping with no need to bring the tent.
We took crockery, cutlery, hotplates, a pot and pan, knives, chopping board and precooked dinners for our two night stay. We loaned our hotplates, pots and pans, dishwashing liquid and tea towels to people who hadn’t asked management what they’d need.
It was about 190ks of sealed road, then 300ks of dirt-a bit rough and rocky in the creek crossings, but you could definitely take a 2WD out there if you weren’t too fond of it. Having said that, two 4WDs arrived on night one having done tyres in the creek crossings. It took us 7 hours to get there but we did stop for lunch and to take lots of photos. I overtook two vehicles in the two hours before Gascoyne Junction, then one vehicle passed us in the next 5 hours it took us to get to the rock. It’s remote!
We arrived around 4.30 made ourselves comfortable, then grabbed a drink and the camera and wandered to a spot in the park where we witnessed maybe the most spectacular sunset we both reckon we’ve ever seen. It was amazing. When it faded and the sky turned to dark, we were then treated to a million stars in the crystal clear night. We had a lovely couple from Sydney in a room a few doors up and sat and watched the stars with them until about 10pm then headed to bed.
Our full day was spent driving the 49k circuit of the rock, stopping in at various walks and lookouts along the way. My favourites were the peaceful, pretty, Cattle Pool (Goolinee) where we walked about a kilometre along it’s banks, and the Pound where we walked up about a kilometre for views back into the pound and out over the Lyon’s River Valley.
Back at the park we were hoping for another beautiful sunset (that didn’t eventuate), but the clouds cleared at about 7pm and we had that big starry sky to enjoy again. We had a nice chat to a couple of Australian Electoral Commission workers who were out visiting the nearby Aboriginal Community of Burringurrah. Their accommodation had been booked by an agency who didn’t know/tell them they’d need to take food. They could buy baked beans, eggs and microwaveable pizza from the shop, the manager loaned them cutlery and crockery and when the elderly microwave in the tea rooms gave its last gasp and died, we loaned them our hotplate, pot and pan to cook their dinner in. We had a lovely chat with them over heating meals and doing dishes, then sat out til around 10pm again looking at the stars.
On Thursday morning we headed home, choosing to go back a different way for 230ks until we met up with the Mullewa Road again. About 15ks from the park, an Aboriginal family (maybe grandmother, grandfather and little grandson) waved us down and told us they’d run out of petrol (we only carry diesel). They asked if we’d take them into town but honestly, the back of the car was jam packed with our gear to save it getting dusty in the tub again. I said Russ and I would go back, get the petrol and bring it to them. The woman (who did all the talking) gave me her debit card, pin number and jerry can and off we went. The little boy (about three) had just clung to her looking at us until I asked if they had water (no, so I gave them a bottle of ours) and would he like a banana. YUP!Back at the park, Mr. Doom and Gloom (the fuel bloke), reckoned the card would have no money on it and the fuel wasn’t going out the gate if it wasn’t paid for. I said fill the jerry can and we’ll give it to the kid if that’s the case. But I knew it’d be fine and it was. We got back to them, they grabbed an old coke bottle and started funneling the petrol into the tank. We went on our way home once again stopping to take heaps of photos, for lunch and arrived back in Carnarvon at 4.30.
Back in Carnarvon today, we’ve put the boat back on the roof of the car, shopped for fruit and veg down South River road, been to Woolworths and the doctor so we’re ready to go to Denham tomorrow.
If you ever find yourself in Carnarvon with a few days to spare and your car’s not to precious, go out and see Mount Augustus-it’s well worth the 1000k drive!