Friday Five Newsletter 2018.7.13

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Westprint Friday Five  Friday July 13th 2018

To succeed in life, you need three things:

a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.

Click here to view Westprint Newsletter Archives from 24th April 2015 to 24th December 2015

Click here to view Westprint Newsletter Archives from 1st January 2016 to 23rd December 2016

Click here to view Westprint Newsletter Archives from 1st January 2017 to 29th December 2017

Click here to view Newsletter Archives from 5th January 2018 to current


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Friday Five Books

  1. Atomic Thunder - The Maralinga Story. $35.00. Elizabeth Tynan. In September 2016 it was 60 years since the first British mushroom cloud rose above the plain at Maralinga in South Australia. The atomic weapons test series wreaked havoc on Indigenous communities and turned the land into a radioactive wasteland. In 1950 Australian prime minister Robert Menzies blithely agreed to atomic tests that offered no benefit to Australia and relinquished control over them – and left the public completely in the dark. This book reveals the devastating consequences of that decision. …… In this meticulously researched and shocking work, journalist and academic Elizabeth Tynan reveals how Australia allowed itself to be duped. Maralinga was born in secret atomic business and has continued to be shrouded in mystery decades after the atomic thunder stopped rolling across the South Australian test site. This book is the most comprehensive account of the whole saga……. in Australia many years after the British had departed, leaving an unholy mess behind. 316 pages. Published 2010
  2. Dog Ear Cafe. $34.95. Andrew Stojanovski. How the Mt. Theo Program beat the curse of petrol sniffing. Andrew Stojanovski is an ordinary Aussie, who has seen the absolutes of human existence – the horror, the madness, the smash-and-passion of the petrol sniffer; and the simple goodness and charity of the sniffing person when fume-free. As witness-protagonist, the bloke who cannot walk by on the other side, he spends years and risks his life and those of wife and child, working together with Warlpiri to save lives in Yuendumu…This is a book of redemption, from the deepest of human places to the mountain of hope.
  3. Among the Islands : Adventures in the Pacific. $32.95. Tim Flannery. 2011. Paperback, 246 pages. Twenty-five years ago, a young curator of mammals from the Australian Museum in Sydney set out to research the fauna of the Pacific Islands. Starting with a survey of one of the most inaccessible islands in Melanesia - Woodlark, in the Trobriands Group - that young scientist found himself ghost-whispering, snake wrestling, Quadoi hunting and plunged waist-deep into a sludge of maggot-infested faeces in search of a small bat that turned out not to be earth-shatteringly interesting. With accounts of discovering, naming and sometimes eating new mammal species; being thwarted or aided by local customs; and historic scientific expeditions, Tim Flannery takes us on an enthralling journey through some of the most diverse and spectacular environments on earth.
  4. Thylacine. $35.00. The tragic tale of the Tasmanian Tiger. An enchanting book that reveals all we know about this little-known animal. Anyone interested in the conservation of the diversity of life should read this story. Hardcover. 228pp. First published 2003.
  5. Crocodiles & Other People S/Cover. $34.95. For fifteen years Douglas Lockwood travelled around the sparsely populated Northern Territory reporting the weird and wonderful stories he found there. He soon discovered the necessity of tracking down concrete evidence as the stories he found to be true were outlandish enough to make your hair curl. One of them won the 1000-pound prize in the London Evening News competition for the World's Strangest Story - it is included in this book - and any of a dozen of his other stories could easily have been runner-up. Here are stories of Aboriginal corroborees and Japanese pearl divers, of overlanding and uranium mining, of a wallaby that shot a man and the crocodile that lived in a bank. Some of them are amusing, some horrifying, some unbelievable except for the fact that Lockwood has a reputation to preserve and a strong aversion to being counted among the gullible. 

Friday Forum

Purni Bore

Stop Press: Good News - Purni Bore is flowing again. 
Earlier this year Purni Bore was turned off by an unknown visitor to the area. We have just had confirmation from Desert Parks that SA Water has visited Purni Bore, reconnected the bore and carried out maintenance works. Good news for this important wetland.

Gill Pinnacle, WA 

I think the next mystery project might be a trip to Gill Pinnacle and the white marble pools and cliff faces so enticingly described by Ernest Giles in "Australia Twice Traversed"?

A photo of Gill Pinnacle and one of the white marble rock faces (now covered in greenery) described by Giles is attached. There was certainly beautiful fresh water slowly flowing down the rock face under the greenery. The photos were taken in 2009, and whilst pulling aside a small portion of the green growth revealed some white stone, one would have to really strip the whole lot back and maybe even steam clean it, to perhaps see it as Giles did. Unfortunately, the rock pools were a dreadful look as a camel had died half in and half out of one of them - not a pleasant sight or smell, and we weren't prepared to try to clean some of it off to see what might be revealed. We will have to go back one day. John 

John is not correct with the mystery project but after reading John’s article, and as we will be travelling in that area in August, we will now be sure to stop in and check it out. I asked John for more details and the story is below. Jo.


Warakurna Wonderland 

I couldn’t believe it! We had been researching and planning the trip for a year and had found very little information about two of our destinations. Then I saw an issue of 4x4 Australia. In it is a brief description of a trip out to Gill Pinnacle! Unless you had read the early explorer Ernest Giles’ book “Australia Twice Traversed”, or perhaps one or two of Len Beadell’s books, you might never have even heard of Gill Pinnacle; and yet there in the magazine was a brief story of a short trip out to one of our two more elusive destinations.

At least we now knew that there were a couple of wheel tracks out to it. I had been anticipating simply turning off the Great Central Road at a spot where a creek led towards the Pinnacle, driving in as far as we reasonably could, and then walking the rest of the way.

But the story in 4x4 didn’t seem to be quite right.  It mentioned a 70 kilometre detour up the Sandy Blight Junction Road from Warakurna. That made no sense in relation to Gill Pinnacle. The penny dropped when I was reminded that the Great Central Road between the Giles Mulga Park Road and the now turn off to the Sandy Blight Junction Road was originally the first 48 kilometres or so of the Sandy Blight Junction Road when it was put in by Len Beadell.

That also explained why, on that part of the Great Central Road there is a plaque installed by Len Beadell referencing the Sandy Blight Junction Road. That plaque had always seemed so out of place to me, but now all made sense.

For most visitors the Warakurna Roadhouse is simply somewhere to camp and refuel on the Great Central Road. It’s also handy to Giles Meteorological Station and is the best place from which to undertake a day trip to the very interesting Surveyor Generals’ Corner. A little bit of research however will reveal that there are many other places of historical and geographical interest in the immediate vicinity. Gill Pinnacle is but one of them.

The explorer Ernest Giles named Gill Pinnacle in early 1874 after his brother-in-law. He had been using the pinnacle as a navigational point in his exploration of the area and wrote in quite glowing terms about some water very near to it. He named the water Gordon Springs after his brother-in-law’s son.

Giles described Gordon Springs thus: “. . . we emerged on the bank of a small gum creek, and, turning up its channel, soon saw some green rushes in the bed. A little further up we saw more, brighter and greener, and amongst them a fine little pond of water. Farther up, the rocks rose in walls, and underneath them we found a splendid basin of overflowing water, which filled several smaller ones below. We could hear splashing and rushing waters but could not see from whence those sounds proceeded. This was such an excellent place that we decided to remain for the rest of the day...We searched about to discover by its sound from whence it came and found on the left-hand side a crevice of white quartz-like stone, where the water came down from the upper rocks, and ran away partly into the basins and partly into rushes, under our feet”.

The description had intrigued me for some time as had the sketch of Gill Pinnacle in Giles’ book, and so, on this trip we were determined to see both.

The track in to Gill Pinnacle is simply two wheel tracks off the Great Central Road which finish on a rocky slope a few hundred yards west of the pinnacle. The track in is short, only about 3 kilometres or so. It’s a bit overgrown in places and in others is a little rocky, but easily traversed.

We parked the vehicles on the rocky slope and were intending to set off and climb the pinnacle. However, it soon became apparent that we were on the wrong side of it and would need to walk around to its southern side, so as we also wanted to explore Gordon Springs, we opted to make the climb some other time.

gill pinancle

We soon found the “small gum creek” described by Giles and walking up it came across the “basins” of water. It could have been a quite pretty place, but a long dead camel was kneeling at one of the basins, with its head and neck in the water. Not a pretty sight.

Bypassing the “basins” on the windward side of the very smelly camel carcass, we headed towards near vertical rock walls, and in the lee of the cliffs, under some fallen trees, we could see “green rushes” and could hear a small trickle of running water. We had found Gordon Springs. Most of the rocks were covered in moss, and the ground under foot was very soft and very wet. There was a small amount of water trickling out of crevices, and by pulling away some of the moss, the exposed underlying rock was of whitish quartz. Whilst it didn’t quite measure up to Giles eloquent description, it was nonetheless quite beautiful in its own right and well worth the effort of finding it.


The Len Beadell plaque referred to above is located about 3.5 kilometres east of the turn off to Gill Pinnacle, and a sign nominating the Schwerin Mural Crescent, (named by Giles after the Countess of Schwerin in Russia), is about 1.3 kms west of the turn off. The turn off is 66 kilometres from Warakurna. We left an old tyre standing upright at the turn off itself.

A further four Len Beadell plaques are also able to be seen in the area around Warakurna. The first and the only original plaque still in place (all the rest now being replicas), is located at Giles Meteorological Station itself.

There are also two other geographical gems very near to Warakurna: Glen Fielder Gorge and Glen Cumming Gorge. Both are located at the end of a 12 kilometre track which starts on the other side of the road almost opposite the turn in to the Warakurna camping area beside the Art Gallery section of the Roadhouse. The track forks near its end; the left fork takes you to Glen Fielder Gorge and the right fork to Glen Cumming Gorge. Both gorges have water in them and water was actually flowing into and out of them at the time of our visit. To fully explore them you will need to be prepared to walk some pools in Glen Cumming and to swim some in Glen Fielder. Both gorges are small, but absolutely beautiful. We also found some aboriginal art work on the northern wall of Glen Cumming relatively close to the start of the Gorge. The art work is near a stand of 3 or 4 fir trees, down low in a little cave with a sandy base. A visit to the gorges is very easy, and very rewarding. Both gorges were discovered and named by Ernest Giles during his 1874 expedition.

Permits are required to traverse both the Great Central Road and the Giles Mulga Park Road and to be escorted from Wingellina out to Surveyor General’s Corner. All the information on where and how to apply for the permits can be found on the TLCC website: “Member’s Info” then “Track Permits”.

Warakurna is indeed a bit of a wonderland with a number of very interesting historical and geographical features in very close proximity. John and Fran 

Photo Competition 

Calling all avid bird photographers!

There is still time to enter the 2018 Australian Bird Photographer of the Year awards. Entries close Aug 6, 2018. The aim is not just to showcase some of Australia's best nature and bird photographers, but also to highlight the need to improve conservation outcomes for Australia's bird species, encourage wider interest in all Australian birds and showcase the beauty of our exceptional wildlife. For more information on our rules, how to enter, FAQs and more, check out the Australian Bird Photographer of the Year website. 

Book Review 

Red Dust In The Blood. This large softcover book of 290 pages is the story of the Spring family and Roy Hill Station. Covers all the people, incidents and development up to the forced sale of the station 1972. An important record of the Pilbara. The author has included passages from books now out of print such as Finlayson’s The Red Centre (1943) to add to the history of the area. Includes chapters on Sheep work, the War Years, REDex Trials, receivership and the eventual sale of the property. Colour and B&W photos. $60.00 plus post. Available from the author. 

Croc Trapping – NT 

This is a reminder not to become complacent in the Top End. Katherine is a long way from the coast and tourists often forget to be croc aware. These two were caught last week in the Katherine River about 60km downstream of the centre of Katherine. The tiny one on the left is 2.37 metres while the old salty is 4.71m. Either one will do you damage. Territory wildlife rangers capture more than 250 'problem' crocodiles each year. These crocodiles are transferred to crocodile farms or destroyed. Photo from The Daily Telegraph.

 croc trap

Secondhand Selection

These books are not available on our website. To order any of these second-hand books send an email to If more than one person requests any book a ballot will be held on Monday. This week we have a selection of books by Douglas Lockwood to match the book above. Please add $9.50 for postage, regardless of the number of books ordered. Titles and prices are:

Up The Track $6.00 Small book club edition. Larger First Edition $15.00

My Old Mates and I. $15.00

The Lizard Eaters (Softcover) $10

Life on the Daly River. Nancy Polishuk and Douglas Lockwood. $15.00

The Front Door $15.00

Fair Dinkum $15.00 Small book club edition. Larger hardcover edition $20.00

I, The Aboriginal $10.00

Australia’s Pearl Harbour $20.00 

Friday Funnies 

What's got 4 legs and an arm?

A happy Rottweiler!!


Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.


When George W. Bush was asked if he knew what Roe vs Wade was, he replied it was the decision that George Washington needed to make when he planned for his army to cross the Delaware.


A successful businessman became disenchanted with the stress of the fast life in the big city and decides to chuck it all. He takes his savings and purchases a large ranch in the middle of nowhere, Montana.

After a couple of months of enjoying the solitude he hears the drumming of hoof beats outside his cabin. Grabbing his rifle, he challenges the man riding up on the horse.

"Hold it friend," the man says, "I'm your neighbour. I have a ranch about 6 miles from here, and I want to invite you to a welcome party I'm throwing for you next Saturday. There's going to be music, dancin', drinkin' huggin', kissin' and fightin'.... It's gonna be a great time!"

Not wanting to be un-neighbourly the new rancher lowers the rifle and asks, "How should I dress?"

"Aw, don't matter," replied the neighbour. "Only gonna be the two of us."


A sergeant in a parachute regiment took part in several night time exercises. Once, he was seated next to a Lieutenant fresh from Jump School. He was quiet and looked a bit pale, so the sergeant struck up a conversation. "Scared, Lieutenant?" he asked.

"No, just a bit apprehensive." the lieutenant replied.

"What's the difference?" asked the sergeant

The lieutenant answered, "The difference is I'm scared with a university education."

The Fine Print

About the Friday Five

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To all of our faithful Friday Five readers 

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Please note that the opinions and articles expressed in the Friday Five are not necessarily those of the Westprint mob. Also we do not endorse any products (other than our own) or tours listed in any contributed articles


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