The Planned Completion of Hunts Track from Yerdanie to Gnarlbine

The plan was to travel to the Prince of Wales mining area – midway between Gnarlbine Rock and Yerdanie Rock – and start cutting the Track towards Yerdanie Rock from where we left off in 2018, a few hundred metres  inside the Goldfields Woodlands National Park.

Scott Wilson, President of the Eastern Goldfields Historical Society, had arranged with woodline historian, Joe Little of Little Industries, for a front end loader to push through the remaining 10 kilometres of the Track to Yerdanie. Parks and Wildlife, Kalgoorlie were emailed for an Authority to do the work.

Ten people were keen to travel to Prince of Wales to help finish the Track.

Issues

Three days before departure Lyle Gilbert from Parks and Wildlife, Kalgoorlie advised that no Authority would be issued because prescribed burns were planned for the long weekend. We could, however, apply for an Authority for a future time frame.

We cancelled the machinery but not the trip. Incongruously, should the DPaW prescribed burn have ‘escaped’ our Team would have been much safer with a loader to create a safety perimeter.

In retrospect, the lack of an Authority from Parks and Wildlife was to our benefit because the thick vegetation we encountered while marking the Track meant that we would not have been able to keep ahead of the loader had we proceeded with our original plan.

Revisit Burracoppin Well

On the journey from Perth to the Prince of Wales mining area, the planned campsite for two nights, Greg and Kim took time out to visit Burracoppin Well that had been refurbished in 2016.

Woodline

Greg and Kim met Scott Wilson at the campsite on late Friday afternoon.

On Saturday morning, before the rest of the team arrived from their camp at Moorine Rock, Kim and Scott made a short recce along the existing Hunts Tracks towards Gnarlbine Rock. From reference to the satellite view on Hema Explorer, Scott predicted the location of a woodline. They stopped the vehicle, walked into bush and within five metres came across dog spikes, cans and other old items. After a short walk there was evidence of railway sleepers. More artefacts were seen and the line of trees clearly delineated an old woodline. Brilliant interpretation by Scott!

On their return trip to the camp they came across a circular, low dome that they couldn’t identify. Baffling, interesting but indeterminate.

The Prince of Wales Mine is on a small prospecting lease surrounded by a much larger gold and lithium Exploration Licence.

Marking the Track

Craig Dixon, Cliff Hills, Graham Howe, Brad O’Neil and Adrian Szentessy joined Greg, Kim and Scott about 10.30 a.m. on Saturday.

The team drove out to where the Track was pushed through last year and got stuck into the task of marking the course westward to Yerdanie.

Adrian and Kim waited at the departure point for an hour in case any of the walkers decided to turn back. It was planned that three hours after the walkers had departed Adrian and Kim would head to Yerdanie to collect them.

Before the Track marking exercise started it was postulated that the vegetation would be light across the sandplain country to Yerdanie. It would possibly get thicker closer to Yerdanie. As events transpired, the opposite was true. The vegetation very quickly got thicker and more difficult to push through. The pace slowed dramatically.

At one stage, Graham tripped and fell forward. A stake pierced his forehead just above his eyes. He was patched up and continued on. Perversely lucky.

Shortly before Adrian and Kim set off to the collection point at Yerdanie, Scott radioed that he considered the Track marking team would not be able to reach Yerdanie before dark and so they had turned around to return to the head of the track. Adrian and Kim picked them up and returned to camp.

Discussion ensued around the campfire and it was was decided to drive to Yerdanie the next day and head east, marking the Track back to the furtherest point marked on the day’s westward march.

Cold, Cold Prince of Wales Mining Area

Overnight at Prince of Wales was cold, very cold.  The fire was stoked.

The temperature dropped to minus 4.5. A 15 litre container of water froze, butane stoves became inoperable, mobile phones failed to charge, and support struts on vehicles failed.

Track Marking Continues

The crew broke camp and drove to Yerdanie, coincidently meeting Brad’s brother and his team of motorcycle riders at Yerdanie. Their activities were unknown to Brad. What are the chances!

The Track marking team set off around 11.00 a.m. Adrian, Cliff, Greg and Kim stayed back at camp, collecting wood, fixing the generator and preparing the drone for flight.

Return Home

The next morning we left Yerdanie, visiting a number of interesting features along the way back home. The first was Yerdanie Rock.

At the Karalee turnoff Greg’s Colorado stopped. It was leaking diesel from the filters. The fault was resolved after 45 minutes and Greg headed directly home.

Now that the track had been marked all that remained was to cut it through – a day’s work for a large wheel loader – scheduled for the coming weeks.

The Track Marking Team

Greg Barndon
Craig Dixon
Kim Epton
Cliff Hills
Graham Howe
Brad O’Neil
Adrian Szentessy
Scott Wilson

Round Two

Pushing Through the Track – enabled by Little Industries

There was imperative to utilise the wheel loader provided by Little Industries before the end of the financial year and a Reg 4 Authority for track upgrade and work on well was obtained from DPaW, Kalgoorlie to push through the Track on Friday 28 June 2019.

Stuart Kostera, Craig Dixon and Kim Epton drove to Prince of Wales on Thursday in preparation to help in pushing through the Track.

The next morning Scott Wilson and Brian Rahn, the loader operator, arrived at the microwave tower where the Goldfields Woodlands National Park firebreak meets the Great Eastern Highway and offloaded the Deere 864J Wheel Loader.

Meanwhile, Stuart, Craig and Kim had driven to Gnarlbine Rock, placing directional signs as appropriate on their return journey to meet up with Scott.

Stuart, Craig and Kim met up with Scott and Brian  just inside the National Park. Brian lost no time in pushing through the Track.

 

Scott had very cleverly routed the line of the re-created track to cross the historic track on numerous occasions. Evidence of this was very clear at numerous locations.

 

The vehicles were brought up behind the loader.  Flagging tape was removed along the way. Some clearing was done by hand, using pick and axe.

 

The loader’s work was finished at the crossroads two kilometres east of Yerdanie Rock. A total of 8.5 km was pushed through in under four hours. Scott and Brian left to put the wheel loader on the float and return to Kalgoorlie and Kambalda respectively.

Stuart, Craig and Kim continued to Yerdanie Rock to erect signs and then returned to camp, removing flagging tape along the way.

It was another minus five degrees night.

The re-creation of Hunts Track between Yerdanie and Gnarlbine is an important achievement in our State’s Exploration Heritage – one of which all involved we can all feel proud to be a part. This section is just one part of the planned 600 km full Hunts Track.

Text and Layout
Kim Epton

Photographs
Kim Epton
Craig Dixon
Greg Barndon

© Kim Epton 2019
1610 words.
46 photographs.
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