Well, Len Beadell, the surveyor and builder of this road, the Anne Beadell Highway, had a very good sense of humour when he named his rocket roads, ‘Highways’. One can see his humour that from his sketches and cartoons and of his writings in the many books that he wrote. This road, which has now become a track, and which crosses part of the continent from Coober Pedy in South Australia, to Laverton in Western Australia, through the Great Victoria Desert, is close to 1400km in length. Len named it after his wife, Anne.
Prior to travelling the AB, which has been done by thousands of others, I was warned of the hellish corrugations up and as far as Emu. They weren’t wrong either!!! The only thing is that the ‘orrible corru’s continued on all the way to Yeo Lakes and beyond, around 1200 kilometres. I dropped the tyre pressures to 20 on the GQ and 10 on the trailer and then tried to maintain 60kmh.
The track known as the Anne Beadell Highway, traverses a rather flat terrain with the odd dune creeping in from the right (if you are travelling in a westerly direction). The foliage is quite interesting in places and Desert Poplars are growing in many places. After getting all the useless permits to travel this way we looked for interesting campsites and found them away from the main AB track. Along one seismic track one of our crew mentioned seeing a shiny thing in the bush. On closer inspection we found that it was a U Beaut Rain Gauge with an inbuilt solar panel. It had been installed maybe a week before, in the absolutely middle of nowhere. Maybe we were not supposed to find it. Anyway, the purpose for this gauge is unknown.
The atomic blast sites were interesting inasmuch that the foliage which had been vaporised at the time of the blasts, has not grown back even after 54 years. After crossing into WA we were pleased to find Butterfly Rain Tanks along the way and we were able to refill our water container as well as having a shower and a general cleanup. The GQ had no tyre problems on the Anne Beadell but me mate George shredded a MTR 750/16. We are not sure for the reason, the tyre just melted. He was able to buy a used 750/16 at the Ilkurka Roadhouse.
The Ilkurlka(pronounced Ilkuka) Roadhouse is situated on the Madura/Laguna/Anne Beadell crossing and was 3 years in operation at the beginning of July 2006. This very modern facility, has a shop, food, fuel, water, hot showers and more. It also markets Aboriginal Art by the Spinifex People. The managers went out of their way to make us welcome and helped us wherever they could. The Roadhouse has satellite EFTPOS.
After Ilkurka the corrugations became a tad smaller but still did not let up. We camped at a Butterfly Tank, topped up our containers with pure rainwater and caught up with our washing.
The following day we meandered along the track stopping off an having a look around Aboriginal Stone Arrangemnents at a Ceremonial Site atop a slight rocky outcrop not far off the track. How much of the original stone arrangements are still in place is unknown as it is possible that travellers passing by could have re-arranged them.
We stopped at Neale Junction to sign the Visitors Book. Along the way to Yeo Lake we drove out to see the light plane wreck and after we had entered the Yeo Lake Nature Reserve I drove off along the disused track as denoted by Hema Great Desert Tracks Maps and it disappeared into the sea of Spinifex grass.
I did not have my Oziexplorer software running on the computer, missed the track in its overgrown condition, and got bushed. I fired up my Laptop and with it married to the Magellan 330 GPS, it saved the day and we were soon on the right track again. Very soon after I found that I had staked the right rear tyre and repairs had to be made. Later we came across this fellow pictured below, walking leisurely across our path. He was unafraid of us and allowed himself to be picked up and admired. I put him safely out of harms way and we continued on our journey.
We had hoped to get a glimpse of Yeo Lakes but I guaged the terrain too rough for cross country driving and so we only went for a drive over the Samphire Flats on our way to the abandoned Yeo Station Ruins.
We met only 13 other vehicles on the Anne Beadell Highway and some we had to overtake as they were doing it tough at 20kmh with broken shock absorbers. Needless to say some of them were not amused at us speeding along and one bloke asked over the radio if we were on the Cannonball Run. He was towing a caravan type camper, which was totally unsuited for this type of terrain.
The Anne Beadell Highway, in my opinion, is something to mark down on my map as having been there, but unlikely to draw me there again. Then again, you never know.