Sandy Blight Junction Road

Last updated

Sandy Blight Junction Road

Western Australia
Sandy Blight Junction Road v116.svg
Sandy Blight Junction Road
Sandy Blight Junction Road
General information
Type Track
Length331 km (206 mi)
Built by Len Beadell
Major junctions
NNE endSandy Blight Junction
SSW end Great Central Road
Location(s)
Region Central Australia
Restrictions
Permits2 required
Fuel supplyNone
FacilitiesBore water
( 23°45′06″S128°54′28″E / 23.75167°S 128.90778°E / -23.75167; 128.90778 (Bore water) )

The Sandy Blight Junction Road is a remote outback track in Australia joining the Great Central Road, Western Australia and Gary Junction Road, Northern Territory. It was built under the direction of legendary surveyor Len Beadell as part of a network of roads for the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera, South Australia. It is located approximately 500 km (310 mi) west of Alice Springs. [1]

Contents

History

Following construction of the Gunbarrel Highway (completed in 1958), Beadell and the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party were tasked to survey and build a road connecting it with a proposed east-west road some 300 km (190 mi) further north. The requirement was related to future National Mapping Council surveys for the Woomera Rocket Range. [2]

On 31 March 1960, Beadell selected a stand of desert oak trees 30 km (19 mi) south-east of Giles as the commencement point for the road. [3] From there the road steered north-east past Schwerin Mural Crescent (named by Ernest Giles in 1874) then veered north towards Walter James Range. When examining this area Beadell discovered a small rock basin containing crystal-clear water, Bungabiddy (or Pangkupirri) Rock Hole. He ensured that his new road passed close by the water hole for the benefit of future travellers. [2]

A problem confronting Beadell was to find a way around Lake Hopkins, a large salt lake consisting of many muddy patches linked by narrow connections. His preference was to head north-east towards Sir Frederick Range, but after much trial and error, he was forced to the west, and it took until mid May to bypass the obstacle. On reaching Sir Frederick Range, Beadell had his team bulldoze a side track to the highest point as access to the site for a future Trig station.

Just beyond this point, Beadell discovered a series of Aboriginal petroglyphs on a smooth rock surface located in a creek bed. Neatly carved spirals, concentric circles, shapes of animal and bird tracks were revealed to him, the only ones of this type he had seen. [2] The track then veered to the east, passed south of further obstacles (Lake Macdonald and Bonython Range) and headed towards Davenport Hills. It was on this section that the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory was crossed. Beadell determined the latitude and longitude using his theodolite for astronomical observations, and marked the border with four desert oak poles and associated aluminium plates on 10 June.

Construction of the track continued past Davenport Hills (22 June) and the Tropic of Capricorn (25 June), which was marked with a pole and aluminium plate. The team arrived at Mt Leisler on 29 June. Beadell had spent some time near Mt Leisler looking for a tree which had been blazed by the explorer William Tietkens in May 1889, and when he discovered its position, made the road pass nearby, marking the location with his trademark signpost. [4]

By 4 July the road had passed the northern end of Kintore Range to the present position of a T-junction with the future east-west Gary Junction Road, and continued north for another 26 km (16 mi). Up until then, the road was simply known as the north road, and on 7 July work was halted while Beadell was recalled to Adelaide. During his trip to rejoin the crew he was smitten with a severe eye ailment known as Sandy blight (Trachoma). Despite concerted efforts by the doctor and padre at Woomera to persuade him to rest, he continued on. The condition caused him great difficulty with star observations, so he decided that the T-junction would be called Sandy Blight Junction. [5] On 27 August 1960, the precise location of the junction was fixed, and the name Sandy Blight Junction Road came into general use. The section to the north was never used. [3]

As soon as it was finished, Beadell and team began work on their next assignment, the Gary Junction Road.

Points of interest

The Sandy Blight Junction Road is considered to be one of the most picturesque tracks in outback Australia, and was Beadell's favourite. [4] Its present-day southern terminus is 27 km (17 mi) west of Kaltukatjara (Docker River) and 77 km (48 mi) east of Warakurna Community (Giles). [1] The original start point has been bypassed by more recent construction of the Great Central Road. Beadell placed eleven signposts and one large rock (200 mile mark) at significant points along the road. Most of the signs have since been replaced with replicas, as many original plates have been taken as souvenirs.

At Bungabiddy rockhole (of which there were two pools) he was unable to touch the bottom when in the water, so he presumed that it was deep enough to be permanent water. [2] Beadell may have thought he was the first European to sight this feature, but a notorious dingo bounty hunter named Paddy de Conlay had carved his name and the date "1936" on a rock nearby. [3]

During a reconnaissance in the Davenport Hills vicinity, Beadell sighted an animal he had never seen before. He was a fairly accomplished artist, so when he returned to his Land Rover, he drew a sketch of the animal from memory. When the sketch was shown to zoologists later, the animal was instantly recognised as the Black-footed Rock-wallaby, Petrogale lateralis. [3]

The dirt road can be heavily corrugated, there are no food or fuel facilities along the track, but there is a bore water hand pump available for passing travellers. A turnoff to the community of Tjukurla is marked by a giant stiletto shoe, brightly painted in indigenous motifs by local artists. Tietkens' blazed tree is visible near Mt. Leisler, however it has fallen over. When Beadell rediscovered the tree in 1960, it was still standing with leaves on its branches. [4] Just east of Kintore Range near Sandy Blight Junction, Beadell discovered a pile of huge granite boulders, reminiscent of the Devils Marbles south of Tennant Creek. Photographs he took appear in his book Beating About the Bush. [2]

The nearest available fuel to the southern end is at Kaltukatjara (Docker River) on the Great Central Road, and to the north is at Kintore near Sandy Blight Junction. Two permits are required to travel on the road, one for the Western Australian section and one for the Northern Territory section, with prescribed travel conditions for both. Additionally, a permit is required for travel on the Great Central Road. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

Connie Sue Highway Track in Western Australia

The Connie Sue Highway is an outback unsealed track that runs between the Aboriginal community of Warburton on the Great Central Road and Rawlinna on the Trans-Australian Railway. It lies entirely in the state of Western Australia, crosses the Great Victoria Desert and Nullarbor Plain, and is approximately 650 km (400 mi) long.

Gunbarrel Highway Track in Australia

The Gunbarrel Highway is an isolated desert track in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. It consists of about 1,350 km (840 mi) of washaways, heavy corrugations, stone, sand and flood plains. The Gunbarrel Highway connects Victory Downs in the Northern Territory to Carnegie Station in Western Australia. Some sources incorrectly show the highway extending west to Wiluna. The road was built as part of Australia's role in the weapons research establishment called Woomera which included Emu Field and Maralinga, both atomic bomb testing sites. The name comes from Len Beadell's Gunbarrel Road Construction Party so named as his intention was to build roads as straight as a gunbarrel.

Len Beadell Australian explorer

Leonard Beadell OAM BEM FIEMS was a surveyor, road builder, bushman, artist and author, responsible for constructing over 6,000 km (3,700 mi) of roads and opening up isolated desert areas – some 2.5 million square kilometres – of central Australia from 1947 to 1963. Born in West Pennant Hills, New South Wales, Beadell is sometimes called "the last true Australian explorer".

Anne Beadell Highway Australian outback track

The Anne Beadell Highway is an outback unsealed track linking Coober Pedy, South Australia, and Laverton, Western Australia, a total distance of 1,325 km (823 mi). The track was surveyed and built by Len Beadell, Australian surveyor, who named it after his wife. The track passes through remote arid deserts and scrub territory of South Australia and Western Australia, which often have summer temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius. Sand dunes predominate for most of the track.

Great Central Road

The Great Central Road is a mostly unsealed Australian outback highway that runs 1,126 km (700 mi) from Laverton, Western Australia to Yulara, Northern Territory. It passes through a number of small communities on the way.

William Tietkens English born Australian explorer

William Harry Tietkens, known as "Harry Tietkens", explorer and naturalist, was born in England and emigrated to Australia in 1859. Tietkens was second in command to Ernest Giles on expeditions to Central Australia in 1873 and on a journey from Beltana, South Australia to Perth, Western Australia in 1875. In 1889 Tietkens led his own expedition west of Alice Springs to the vicinity of the Western Australian border. This expedition discovered Lake Macdonald, the Kintore Range, Mount Leisler, Mount Rennie, the Cleland Hills, defined the western borders of Lake Amadeus, and photographed Uluru and Kata Tjuta for the first time. The expedition collected new species of plants and rock samples allowing the South Australian government geologist to compile a 'geological sketch' of the country traversed. Tietkens was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society on his return. Specimens of 250 plant species were collected, although only 8 were new to science, and in 1890, Ferdinand von Mueller and Ralph Tate named Eremophila tietkensii in his honour.

Gary Highway Track in Western Australia

The Gary Highway is a remote unsealed track in central Western Australia running through the Gibson Desert and the Great Sandy Desert. It was built by Len Beadell's Gunbarrel Road Construction Party in April and May 1963 and named after Beadell's son, who was born in February that year. It connects the Gunbarrel Highway from Everard Junction in the south, to the Gary Junction Road at Gary Junction in the north. It is one of only two north-south tracks in the central deserts of Western Australia, the other being the Sandy Blight Junction Road, also built by Len Beadell.

Giles Weather Station Western Australia

Giles Weather Station is located in Western Australia near the Northern Territory border, about 750 kilometres (470 mi) west-south-west of Alice Springs and 330 kilometres (210 mi) west of Uluru. It is the only staffed weather station within an area of about 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) and is situated mid-continent and near the core of the subtropical jetstream. This means it plays an important role as a weather and climate observatory for the country, particularly eastern and southeastern Australia, and particularly for rainfall predictions. The station is on the Great Central Road and the nearest township is the Warakurna Aboriginal settlement, 5 kilometres (3 mi) North. Giles is within the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku and is in the foothills of the Rawlinson Ranges.

Gunbarrel Road Construction Party Team of Australian road builders

The Gunbarrel Road Construction Party (GRCP) was the name bestowed upon a team of road builders by Len Beadell in 1955, after which the well known outback track Gunbarrel Highway was named. Over a period of eight years, Beadell and the GRCP built more than 6,000 kilometres of dirt roads in remote areas of central Australia for the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera, South Australia. By the time they had completed their work in December 1963, the GRCP had built eleven major roads in twenty-four separate stages across South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Gary Junction Road Track in the Northern Territory and Western Australia

The Gary Junction Road is an outback unsealed road in Australia built by Len Beadell in the 1960s as part of a network of roads for the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera, South Australia. In its original form, the Gary Junction Road ran from Liebig bore in the Northern Territory to Callawa Station in Western Australia. On present day maps, it is depicted as running from the Tanami Road to Gary Junction, just east of the Canning Stock Route, a distance of 852 kilometres. The road was named after Beadell's only son Gary.

Talawana Track

The Talawana Track is a remote unsealed track that runs between Windy Corner on the Gary Highway and the Marble Bar Road in Western Australia, a distance of 596 kilometres. The majority of it was built by Len Beadell and the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party in 1963 as part of a series of connecting roads for the Woomera rocket range in South Australia. It was the final road they built.

Mount Davies Road Track in South Australia

The Mount Davies Road is a remote unsealed outback track which runs from Mount Davies (Pipalyatjara) in the far north-west corner of South Australia to Anne's Corner on the Anne Beadell Highway 397 kilometres to the south-east. It was built during 1956 and 1957 by the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party (GRCP) surveyed and led by Len Beadell for the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera, South Australia.

Carnegie Station

Carnegie Station, or Carnegie pastoral lease, is located north of Laverton and east of Wiluna in Western Australia and is the most eastern of pastoral leases found on the Gunbarrel Highway.

Jackie Junction

Jackie Junction is a remote location in Western Australia on the Gunbarrel Highway. It was named by the road builder Len Beadell after his youngest daughter and is at the junction of the original Gunbarrel Highway and the road to Warburton. It is 69 kilometres (43 mi) north of Warburton.

Giles Airport

Giles Airport services the Warakurna Community and the Giles Weather Station in eastern Western Australia. The airstrip was built during April and May 1956 by a team led by Len Beadell as part of establishing the weather station for the British nuclear tests at Maralinga and the Woomera Test Range. It is adjacent to the Gunbarrel Highway and the more recently constructed Great Central Road.

Mount Beadell

Mount Beadell is a mountain located in the Gibson Desert region of Western Australia. It is named after surveyor and explorer Len Beadell, builder of the Gunbarrel Highway. The location is very remote being 155 km (96 mi) west of Jackie Junction and 295 km (183 mi) east of Carnegie Station, the western terminus of the original Gunbarrel Highway.

Maralinga to Emu Road

The Maralinga to Emu Road is a remote unsealed outback track that links Maralinga to Emu in the western region of South Australia. It was built by Len Beadell for the Weapons Research Establishment of Salisbury, South Australia in 1955.

Vokes Hill Corner to Cook Road

The Vokes Hill Corner to Cook Road is a remote unsealed outback track that links Vokes Hill Corner on the Anne Beadell Highway to Cook on the Trans-Australian Railway in the far west of South Australia. It was built by Len Beadell for the Australian Government's Weapons Research Establishment in late 1961.

Mount Leisler

Mount Leisler is the highest point in the Kintore Range in the south-west of the Northern Territory of Australia. Its elevation is 897 metres (2,943 ft) AHD .

Lake Hopkins Salt lake in Western Australia

Lake Hopkins is a salt lake in the east of Western Australia very close to the Northern Territory border. It is located to the west of Lake Neale, which together with Lake Amadeus forms part of a chain of salt lakes that stretches about 500 km (310 mi), from Lake Hopkins in the west to the Finke River in the east. This drainage basin is known as the Amadeus Basin. The lake is usually a dry salt pan, and only holds water for short periods after heavy rainfall. Lake Hopkins has an elevation of 441 metres above mean sea level. The lake proved to be quite an obstacle to progress for Len Beadell during construction of the Sandy Blight Junction Road in 1960.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Hema, Maps (2006). Australia’s Great Desert Tracks NC Sheet (Map). Eight Mile Plains Queensland: Hema Maps. ISBN   978-1-86500-163-0.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Beadell, Len (1976). Beating About the Bush. New Holland Publishers(Australia). ISBN   1876622156.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Bayly, Ian (2009). Len Beadell's Legacy. Seaford Vic 3198: Bas Publishing. ISBN   9781921496028.CS1 maint: location (link)
  4. 1 2 3 Shephard, Mark (1998). A Lifetime in the Bush:The biography of Len Beadell. Adelaide: Corkwood Press. ISBN   1876247053.
  5. Beadell, Len (1983). End of an Era. New Holland Publishers (Australia). ISBN   1864367334.
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  
Download coordinates as: KML