Gus Luck Track

The Gus Luck Track ran from Southern Cross to the 90 Mile as Goongarrie was known at the time when Gus Luck pushed through his track in the 1890s.

Luck asked Warden Finnerty at Coolgardie for assistance in getting recompensed for his efforts:

“… I thought that I would go and see Warden Finnerty about recompense for opening the track from the 90 Mile to Southern Cross. When I got there Finnerty was lying down on a bunk in his tent. I asked him politely if he could spare few me a few minutes. This he granted. I told him I had given the plans and directions to the Water Supply officers. I had hardly got the words out of my mouth when he jumped up and said “Go, I will have nothing to do with it. Why didn’t you come to me? I am the man you should have come to. I have nothing to do with it”.

“But” I said – I had known Finnerty before – “I ask you as man to man, what I am to do about it?”

He lay back on his bunk and said “Excuse me. I have had a bad morning and have a headache. If you make out the plan and directions again and send them to me I will see what I can for you.”

I expressed my sorrow to have disturbed him and hoped he would soon be alright.1

In her book Westward Gold, H.H. Wilson noted:

“… Later he sent the map to the Water Supply Department for monetary reward. Not only was it refused, but the map was never returned. However, much later the new road followed the map.”2

Billy Frost and Jack Bennett discovered gold at Goongarrie in early 1893 – before gold was discovered at Kalgoorlie in June 1893. Goongarrie was originally called the ‘Roaring Gimlet’ and then the ’90 Mile’ (the distance from Coolgardie). The development of a track from Southern Cross, the last place of ‘civilisation’ on the way to the goldfields, to Goongarie was inevitable.

Luck’s Track from Southern Cross to Goongarrie (or Menzies) would have had little use after the Kalgoorlie Menzies railway was completed in 1898.

The Track has totally disappeared between Southern Cross and Duladgin and, in any case, following it would be extremely problematic owing to the existence of a sturdy, north-south vermin proof fence that completely excludes access to the area. Between Coolgardie North Road and Goongarrie the Track has disappeared.

For convenience, the Track today starts at Yellowdine and heads north to Weowanie, the first location on Luck’s original track. Weowanie is also part of Hunts Track pushed through in 1865.

FROM TO KM
Yellowdine Weowanie 23
Weowanie Darrine 35
Darrine Wallangie 25
Wallangie 71 Mile Rock 14
71 Mile Rock Udardanging 32
Udardanging Turturdine 9
Turturdine Coonmine 16
Coonmine Coolgardie Nth Rd 12

Biographical Notes

Augustus Jules Luck (de Luc) was an explorer and gold prospector in Western Australia in the late 19th century.

It is believed that Luck was born on 23 May 1867 in Alsace, France to Jacques de Luc, a government employee, and Eve Hunsicker. It is not known when he arrived in Australia. He is believed to have been a Legionnaire, however, D.W. Carnegie, with whom he spent a lot of time, writes of him as being in the French Navy, and there exists a photo of him as a private in ‘A’ company, 1st. Battalion, Victorian Rifles in 1887. Due to his experience with camels in Algeria he was recruited for a survey and exploration north of Madura in 1888.

Luck is credited with teaching explorer David Wynford Carnegie the bushmanship that enabled him to lead his expedition from Coolgardie to Halls Creek and return (1896–97), a journey of over 5000 kilometres and thirteen months in the desert which Carnegie describes in his book Spinifex and Sand.

After his work with Carnegie, Luck went back to Victoria and married. He was 27. He returned to WA and worked as a loco driver on the Perseverance Mine at Boulder. After leaving the goldfields he took up a farm at Southern Cross. He later built a house in Victoria Park that was resumed for construction of the Causeway Bridge.

Luck died on 13 August 1958 and was buried at Kalgoorlie.3

Mt Luck in the Great Victoria Desert (28°50’32.21″S 123°29’54.23″E) was named after him by Carnegie on 27 April 1894.

It is not known if Luck Range, situated on Christmas Creek Station in the Kimberley south of the Great Northern Highway about 100 kilometres south-south-east of Fitzroy Crossing, was named after him.

Other Possible Routes

Other routes have been suggested for the Gus Luck Track. In Westward Gold, Wilson suggested:

“He surveyed roughly the track between Southern Cross and Menzies, a distance of 150 miles, having to cut scrub part of the way to allow his camels to get through.”

The High Beach website offers a number of alternatives and provides a lot of information about Luck and his Track. Among a number of postulates it states:

On a map prepared by Carnegie to accompany the report on his famous 1896 – 1897 expedition from Coolgardie to Halls Creek and return he marked the track of the 1894 excursion with words ‘Carnegie and Luck 1894’. On this trip Gus Luck carved ‘A.J. Luck’ in a rock at Mt Shenton.

The 1894 excursion started on March 24 from Kurnalpi, travelled eastward to Queen Victoria Spring, then north to Mt Venn and Mt Shenton, and then meandered south westerly to end at the Mt Margaret mining centre.

While clearly not the Gus Luck Track, as described by the man himself, it is an interesting and worthwhile historical route worthy of further promotion.

References:

  1. Luck, A.J., The Outback Trail, Hesperian Press, Carlisle 1981, p61.
  2. Wilson, H.H., Westward Gold, Rigby, Adelaide, 1973.
  3. Bridge, Peter, Biographical Notes in The Outback Trail, pvii.

Further Reading:

The War Cry (Salvation Army’s newspaper), 16 December 1893.

© Kim Epton 2020
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