Lake Gairdner to Kingoonya

From Lake Gairdner (which we have now discovered is actually pronounced Gardner) we pressed north along 200km of gravel road to the relative bustle of Kingoonya (permanent population 13).

on the trackon the track 2

There were no major attractions along the route.  However there was subtle variation in the arid scenery, varying from 2 to 3m high shrubs with scatterings of gums along creek beds through chenopod plains to salt pans and dunes.     Chenopod is a general term used for the sparse low greyish plants like one sees along the Nullabor Plains.     I’m no latin expert, but I suspect that cheno means scratch and pod is foot as these plants generally scratch your feet and ankles when walking through them (it seems that the actual meaning is goose foot!).

Variations in the road itself also provided a source of distraction going from smooth red  slightly boggy sand patches to bone jarring white corrugations with the odd bull dust holes along the way to churn up great clouds of dust which swirled around the caravan seeking out the smallest cracks and holes to try find their way inside.

bull dust and chenopod.JPG

Also along the way were occasional station homesteads and some historical stock route watering points.    These consist of a roughly 30m x 30m area covered with corrugated iron to serve the dual purpose of providing shade and collecting water from the occasional rainstorms in tanks.   We stopped near one for lunch which was still in a reasonable state and actually contained water, but on stepping out of the car, we realised that like many water sources and shady spots in these areas, it is also a place that kangaroos come to die and the stench from the 5 to 8 rotting carcasses was awful.     So after a quick look and snapping a photo of a common bronzewing we drove about 200m up the hill behind to a beautiful spot overlooking a small salt lake and some dunes.

The dunes were some of the highest classical looking dunes I have seen so far in Australia so it was hard to resist a bit of a dune walk after lunch.   The weather was still relatively cool – probably about 28 degrees – so relatively pleasant.  S

stock water point
An old stock route water point.   These were set up along routes there cattle could be moved from one region to another (or to the markets).   Today this is normally done by road train, so most have fallen into disrepair and become places that kangaroos go to die. 

We arrived in Kingoonya in the late afternoon and parked the caravan in what is probably the best free (donation) camping area we have come across.    The town itself is the typical outback outpost consisting of a pub, some run down houses, some ruined houses and a whole lot of discarded junk at an intersection of 2 or 3 dusty roads.   However the camping area was beautifully set up about 200m out of town (away from the dust) with firewood piles at the ready and clean flushing toilets with milk crates full of books and magazines to read.   We just had to take a picture.


kingoonya residence
A Kingoonya residence – note the bed outside under the tree.   The next morning we noticed that it was actually being used as such
kingoonya scrap heap
Some scrap cars on the edge of town
The Kingoonya Cricket Ground.   A bit of concrete on a dusty oval with a bit of artificial lawn at one end.
kingoonya pub
Entrance to the Kingoonya pub. Highlights: Ugly Barman, gold drinks (of course) and schnitties that are “to die for” according to one comment on Wikicamps.   So I had to try one that evening – it was pretty good. 
trainworkers dongas
A collection of modern railway workers cottages on the southern edge of town.   Although Kingoonya has a permanent population of 13, there are about 50 temporary workers working on the line about 30km to the west.   Despite the fact the town has a pub and it was a Friday night, we hardly saw them.    The only thing that gave them away was when about 20 utes drove through town that evening churning up the dust and headed straight to the camp.    Only 2 or 3 came to eat at the pub and ironically one of them was the camp’s cook.
Kingoonya free camp toilets
The camp site toilet with reading material.   We were told at the pub that the camp is maintained by a volunteer and the barman mentioned where he lived.  Sure enough, his house was the most immaculate in town, well maintained with few neat trees, a raked yard and none of the usual junk lying in the yard.

Another highlight of Kingoonya (apart from the schnitties and toilets) were that it lies on the trans Australian railway line.   This gave us both the chance to watch the Ghan Train go past (at 11:30 PM) and Telstra phone coverage providing Internet to keep us distracted until that hour.   Our campsite had a nice railway view, however in the middle of the night I was not able to get a good photo of the moving train, but got a shot of a freight train the following morning.    Fortunately, after the Ghan passed through, only one other train passed, so we were not too disturbed at night.





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