Burringurrah-Mount Augustus

We left Exmouth and the coast and the school holidays makers and headed back “outback” via the “Wool Wagon pathway” and Kingsford-Smith Mail run. There was a time when sheep’s wool was carted along these remote outback roads to the coast to be sent to England. This route goes from Geraldton to Exmouth but inland on remote dirt roads with very little traffic on them. Our first day out we lowered our tyre pressure again and hit the dirt and saw only one vehicle all day. It was such a quiet road, we just stopped on the side of the road and free camped where we had nice views over the plains. M

This is not the time of year to head outback and we knew it would be hot but also a bit quieter over the school holidays. We were also heading to Mt Augustus and the Kennedy Ranges. M

wool wagon pathway sign

woolwagon
The only vehicle we passed all day on the “wool wagon pathway” happened to be a road train full of sheep. We saw no sheep anywhere on this road though and it looks like we are now in cattle country.
free camp wool wagon pathway
Having passed only one other vehicle in 4 hours of driving we wondered how close the closest human was to us that night. No doubt there was a farmer 50-100 kms away but it felt like we had the outback to ourselves. We had bright blue skies all day and a stunning starstudded night sky, which you just can’t beat anywhere. We heard stray cows around “camp” at night and feral donkeys “honking” in the night. M
gascoyne shire sign
The sign made Upper Gascoyne Shire  look green and lush. The reality was drought dead trees everywhere.
roadside camp inthe middle of nowhere
Steve climbed the nearest peak to our “camp” on the side of the road, where there was nothing but outback for hundreds of Kms.
blue tree wool wagon pathway
In the middle of nowhere we found this blue painted tree on the side of the road. The paint could not have been too good for the tree but it wasn’t giving up!
old sheep shed wall
Iron patchwork on an old sheep shed no longer used. Many farmers changed from sheep to cattle in these dry dingo filled areas.
cobra station danger sign
We were willing to take the dangerous structure risk and explore this old farmhouse on the road but they had fenced it off from risk takers like us!

Most people only know Charles Kingsford-Smith as an aviator. He was also a transport pioneer who did the mail run from Carnarvon to Meekatharra via Gascoyne Junction and he was a bit of a character. Part of our route followed his old route.

emu hill lookout
Emu Hill lookout with Charles Kinsford-Smith on the sign as part of the old “mail run”.
mt augustus and keddie
The view of  Burringurrah -Mt Augustus, the largest rock in the world and we were here to climb it.

The reason we were out here in the first place was to climb Mt Augustus.  Mt Augustus is an “inselberg” or island mountain. It is 2 and a half times bigger than Uluru- Ayers Rock and it is the supposedly the world’s biggest rock! With these stats we just had to climb it.

burringurrah sign
Burringurrah is asymmetrical rock layers that have been folded into an arch like structure about 900 million years ago.
burringurrah
I was thinking it looked pretty big and it was going to be 38 deg c tomorrow on climbing day! Uggh!

mt augustus sign

a gloomy start up mt augustus
To beat the heat on this 5 hour hike we hit the trail at 04:45 am with head torches. It was already 25deg with a warm wind in blowing on our faces!
ascending by torchlight
It was nice walking as the sun came up on the other side of the mountain.
shadow of mt augustus
Most of the time we were walking up, we were in the shade of the mountain. While it was still quite dark it looked like the plains below was the sea.

approaching mt augustus summitaeroplane view from mt augustus

mt aug summit cairn
We made it to the summit cairn by 710 am. We were the first on the top. From the top of the cairn you could see 360 degrees.
mt augustus summit table
Filling in the visitors book with the big drop to the surrounding plain 715 metres below, behind me.
mt augustus caravan park
We stayed at Mount Augustus Station, which had a caravan park and the only place to stay in the area with nothing but large cattle properties out this way. With the drought there are not so many cattle around on the properties these days, as the land will not support so many of them.
mt augustus descent
On the way down with the sun on our back.
petroglyphs at mt augustus
Steve looking at some Aboriginal petroglyphs on the way down.
cooling off
We made it back down by 10am but it was already 35 deg. We stopped at nearby Goolinee or Cattle Pool to cool off which was true to it’s name with cattle hanging around there. It is the only permanent water in the area with large white gums lining this very welcoming spot. By the end of the day it got to 38deg so we swam in this pool three times

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