Friday Five Newsletter 2018.10.19

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Westprint Friday Five  Friday October 19th 2018

Camping is the answer, it doesn’t matter what the question is.

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. The Lost Battlefield of Kokoda. $33.00. Brian Freeman knows the Kokoda Trail better than almost any other living Australian. The former Specialist Forces soldier has set records running the length of it and led dozens of treks along it for his adventure travel company. But in more than a decade of involvement with the trail, even he never suspected the secret held by the villagers of Alola, a tiny community perched high in some of the trail's most difficult terrain. Since 1942 the villagers had passed down a secret from generation to generation; the location of a lost battlefield, where advancing Australian forces and retreating Japanese soldiers had fought in the Second World War. It was one of the bloodiest engagements of the campaign, yet inaccurate references in maps drawn after the fighting meant that when the tide of war moved on, the battlefield was forgotten and quickly reclaimed by the jungle. After years of friendship, in which Brian earned the villagers' trust, they decided to let him in on the secret, knowing that such a revelation required a trustworthy person to help them manage the intense interest they suspected would follow.
  2. First Australians. $30.00. Rachel Perkins & Marcia Langton. First published: 2008, This edition: 2010. Paperback 286 pages. ‘First Australians’ is the dramatic story of the collision of two worlds that created contemporary Australia. Told from the perspective of Australia's first people, it vividly brings to life the events that unfolded when the oldest living culture in the world was overrun by the world's greatest empire. Seven of Australia's leading historians reveal the true stories of individuals both black and white caught in an epic drama of friendship, revenge, loss and victory in Australia's most transformative period of history. Their story begins in 1788 in Warrane, now known as Sydney, with the friendship between an Englishman, Governor Phillip, and the kidnapped warrior Bennelong. It ends in 1992 with Koiki Mabo's legal challenge to the foundation of Australia. By illuminating a handful of extraordinary lives spanning two centuries, First Australians reveals, through their eyes, the events that shaped a new nation."
  3. Dead Man's Dream. $22.00. The location of Lasseter's reef is a mystery. In 1991 a Vietnam Veteran reversed the map as they had in Vietnam. This is what he found. 92pp. First published in 2005.
  4. Empire Strikes South (The), $35.00. Japan's Air War Against Northern Australia 1942-45. Dr Tom Lewis, OAM; Illustrations by Michael Claringbould; Softcover; 208 pages; full colour throughout, published 2017. Very few Australians today know of the fierce air battles fought across the Top End of Australia in World War II. For more than two years Japanese aircraft crossed the coast and bombed relentlessly. Savage dogfights were fought between the legendary Zero fighter and Allied Kittyhawks and Spitfires. Big twin-engine Betty bombers rained down blast and fire upon airfields and towns, even penetrating as far inland as Katherine, some 300 kilometres from the coast. Nearly 200 Japanese aircrew died in the onslaught. This book lists all of their names and describes all of the combat missions – and reveals for the first time that the number of combat flights, aircraft shot down, and aircrew who died is far higher than previously thought. Scores of aircraft were downed in combat operations ranging from Exmouth to Townsville, with the majority of action taking place in the Northern Territory. This new extensive research shows the number of air raids was higher than the previously suggested figure of 64, with 77 raids on the Territory alone, while 208 enemy combat flights were carried out across Northern Australia. 186 Japanese airmen died when their aircraft were brought down. In many cases their bodies lie in remote sites across the vast bush and coastal waters of the north. Many of the wrecks have never been found.
  5. Angels in the Outback. Max Griffiths. $29.95. The Australian Inland Mission - A Century of Service to the Outback. Just before World War I when the Australian outback suffered with the decline of its goldmines and the hard times on its pastoral runs, a young Victorian arrived to see how he could help. The white inhabitants of Central Australia were few, and were rarely if ever visited by clergymen, doctors or nurses. It was the Reverend John Flynn, a young Presbyterian clergyman from Victoria, who set out to ease the loneliness of many outback people. Working under the banner of his Australian Inland Mission he eventually was helped by travelling padres who held religious services where two or three people and a child or two were gathered together, and by the young nurses who opened makeshift hospitals far from the doctor’s surgery. It was here in the late 1920s that the world’s first flying doctor service was founded - made possible by Flynn’s supporters; a young and dedicated Melbourne doctor named George Simpson; Alfred Traegar of Adelaide who devised a pedal wireless that linked outback homesteads and camps with the faraway pilot and doctor; and the engineers who managed to fit a stretcher inside the cramped cabin of the tiny Qantas aircraft of that era.

Friday Forum

Second Hand Selection

The following 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 Bill Wannan. Most are hardcover and in reasonable condition. Cost of books is normally $12-25.00 each. This week’s special price $7.00 each. Postage is $9.50, regardless of the number ordered.

Titles are:

Great Aussie Quotes (this book is softcover and is $5)

Stagecoach Stories of old Australia

Riverboat Stories of old Australia

The Folklore of the Irish in Australia

Australian Bushrangers

Legendary Australians

My Kind of Country

The Australian

Chronicles of Boobyalla

Bullockies, Beauts and Bandicoots.

The Barkly Tableland – NT, Qld.

The Barkly Tableland is a large plain stretching from the middle of the Northern Territory across to the western edge of Queensland. It was encountered by explorer William Landsborough in 1862, while he was leading a party in search of Burke and Wills, who had both perished after being the first non-indigenous people to cross the continent from south to north in the previous year. Landsborough named the plain after Sir Henry Barkly, the then governor of Victoria. Incidentally, here’s one for the trivia buffs: Landsborough was the first non-indigenous person to cross the continent from north to south.

And here’s another trivia gem: In later life, Landsborough and his wife Carolyn settled on Sweers Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, where they had a child which they named Sweersena. “And why” I hear you ask, “was the island called Sweers in the first place, causing the poor child to end up with such a name?”

Now, back to the Tableland: In 1877, Nat Buchanan, widely regarded as Australia’s greatest drover, started exploring the Barkly Tableland for its potential to become cattle country, and subsequently moved large herds of up to 20,000 cattle through the region. In 1883, Harry Readford, the cattle duffer immortalised as “Captain Starlight” in Rolph Boldrewood’s book “Robbery Under Arms”, drove cattle up through the Barkly area to establish Brunette Downs Station, which at 12,200 square miles in area, is still the ninth largest cattle station in Australia.

The drive east along the Barkly Highway from Tennant Creek on the Stuart Highway across the Tableland to Camooweal just over the Queensland border is a run of 450 kms, with great views of the Tableland, but not a lot else to see. The Barkly Homestead roadhouse appears at about the 190 kms mark.

The Tableland is a vast stretch of semi-arid plains, with Mitchell grass the predominant vegetation. There’s not much natural wildlife, apart from possums, snakes and lizards.

The above information was written by my dearly missed friend Rob. 

no fuel

Hanns Track, WA

  • We travelled Anne Beadell to Neales Junction from Laverton and Connie Sue to Warburton in April this year. It was our intention to pick up Hanns Track along the way (which would bypass Neales Junction) - having read the booklet referred to in the previous article. We eventually found the turn off however the track was barely visible and it was obvious there had been no traffic on it at all. The spinifex was thigh high as far as we could see and we were also travelling on our own so we decided against it. We saw where the track came out on the Connie Sue and once again it was barely visible. It is our belief that the track would need to be opened up again by a group of very experienced off roaders before it could be safely travelled upon. I have to say we encountered enough excitement without having to divert from the route we were on! Plus, Neales Junction was well worth the two-day stopover we decided to have there. We took a camper trailer without any problems however you need to ensure your shockies on both your car and whatever you tow are top notch (even consider taking spares, which we do now). They sure take a hammering with both shockies on our vehicle succumbing to the corrugations and unexpected dips. The last 160 kms were interesting to say the least - but that’s another story!! Annette
  • I have done Hanns Track twice, once before it became popular and again when the wheel pad was reasonably well defined. It is now very well defined, but I think the Mulga belts will wreak havoc on a big and expensive unit like that proposed. It’s not all open country. In the past it was the Mulga damaging tyres but much less risk these days. Dave
  • In regard to Malcolm’s query about Hanns Track, we took three T-vans along there last year, your Vista should have no trouble. The only problem we found was the spinifex was above the bonnets of the vehicles at times and could be a problem with a modern 4WD with heat around the exhaust. The previous year 2016 was a wet year and may have encouraged exceptional growth. The track itself was a little hard to find at times, although we only had to back track twice. It’s a great track and we are hoping to do it again one day. Graham

Jo’s note: The picture below is the guide book mentioned in the Friday Five a couple of weeks ago. It sells for $24.95 plus post. We don’t have any copies at the moment but will be getting some in stock soon. To reserve a copy please send an email to 

hanns track

Crossing the Dead Heart – SA, NT, Qld

Part 3 of Jeff’s account of crossing the Simpson Desert along the Madigan Line in 2010.

Around the campfire at Camp 17 we discussed the reason as to why the track suddenly appeared East of Camp 13. One of our party came up with the theory that other travellers were coming up the Hay River to Batton Hill and had detoured at Camp 15 to have a look at Madigan’s Camp 14 and maybe 13. Therefore, the track was being used regularly and created the smooth “expressway” conditions mentioned previously. This was the explanation that we all agreed was probably the case.

Not long after we left Camp 17 on day 8, with an early start, we crossed into Queensland and noted with dismay that the sand ridges were growing in height upwards of 40 metres the further East we travelled. By the time we had gone this far into the ‘expedition’ I had reduced the tyre pressures to 15psi on the front and 23 on the rear; our vehicle weighed 2950kg.

During the planning phase for this trip, I had contacted the QNPWS requesting permission to travel the Madigan Line across the Simpson Desert NP. They informed me that, yes, we could do it, but we were not able to camp in the Park. That was why we overnighted at Camp 17 just shy of the border and then make the 58 km dash past Camp 18 and onto Camp 19, which was on the Adria Downs property. Fairly doable you would think, however past experience indicated otherwise. Now, we were back to horrible moguls in the swales rarely exceeding 10kph then aggressive driving over the deep soft sand of the ridges. It was in this region we noted that the vegetation was thinning and the sand becoming redder in colour.

We arrived at Camp 19 around 1500hrs. That equated into 58 km in 71/2 hours, but we pushed on a little further. At about 1530hrs, cresting another dune we got the shock of all shocks, beyond the next ridge was a wall of water! We were still about 8 km from Eyre Creek. We knew there had been a lot of rain to the north in previous months, water flowing south along the Georgina, and Mulligan rivers and emptying into the Eyre Creek system, but this water had spread way to the West and created this insurmountable barrier.  I was about a kilometre from the water, so I decided to do a recce to test its depth. On close inspection there was no way across and no way was I driving into that. We were still a long way from any help if needed.

The decision was made to head south, hoping the water was receding but things did not improve so we camped at 1600hrs, South 25.10.37 East 138.27.26. I didn’t sleep well that night despite some help from Mr Port. The next day I set a course south moving parallel to the water hoping again that the water would recede, but in fact Eyre Creek just got wider and wider. Travelling in a southerly direction down the swales we would often come to areas inundated with water, so we would just cross another ridge to the West to escape it then move south again. This happened 10 or 12 times, so in fact we were heading west south west instead of due south.

At lunch this day I consulted my Topo Map the 1;250000 Birdsville and advised the others we would aim for the Goonamillera Waterhole. I programmed this into the Garmin GPS to keep track of our new route. This location had a safe crossing which was used as the alternate route for when the Eyre Creek flooded and cut the through access of the QAA Line. This was our new plan, I hoped that once across the Eyre Creek, on the Eastern side we could turn North and pick up the remaining Camps 20, 21 and 22. I was a bit sceptical regarding Camp 20 the furthest camp to the North, as I thought that it may be under water, because this camp was at the Kuddaree Waterhole. Camp 23 was also ‘out of bounds’

We were travelling in a southerly direction, there were not a lot of ridges to cross staying in the swales. The moguls had now disappeared and the going reasonably easy.   We reached a point two kilometres west of the Dickerrie Waterhole at 1500hrs on the 9th day. We didn’t rush it and stopped for a coffee and admired the vast expanse of water, figuring that we would not see that again for a long time.  Many photos were taken.  We stopped for the night, again at our regulation 1600 hours, our location being South 25.32.18, East 138.38.02. This was approximately 3 kilometres west of Eyre Creek judging by the map. However, we in fact were only about a kilometre from the water which indicated how wide spread the flooding had been.

Departing our camp on day 10, I knew we were not too far away from bisecting the track to the West of the Goonamillera Crossing. I was getting anxious and hoping that the actual crossing wasn’t too deep. I knew that there were no other crossings to the East, and if we were unable to cross here we would be stuck on the Western side of the creek and nowhere to go!

We came across the bypass track at 1020hrs and turned East. There’s nothing like following a formed track to raise the spirits after 10 days of sand ridge bashing! It gave us a feeling of freedom. Half an hour later we arrived at the crossing. It looked pretty good but decided to brew up and have a good look at the depth.

The adventure wasn’t quite gone from the journey, we drew straws as to who would strip off and check the depth and fortunately it wasn’t me. I can still hear the poor bugger who lost out, whooping and howling about the freezing cold water and of course we all just laughed at his pain. It turned out that National Parks had placed white marker posts to guide vehicles through the crossing, the depth was no more than 900mm, which came as a great relief. Now we could concentrate on heading North to find the remaining camps.

The track North was a breeze, there was some water over the track but nothing like over to the West. We were maintaining a speed of 40-50 kph and by 1500hrs we arrived at Annandale Station, which had been deserted for 100 years. We looked around the ruins, read the sad story of the family who occupied the station way back when. In a sobering mood we left and found the best campsite of the trip, right on Eyre Creek at the Annandale Waterhole. Our spirits were sky high watching the hundreds of pelicans and other water birds. We had a bit of a group ‘cook up’ and a drink or two that night, to ease away the tension of the two previous days. I passed Camp 22 on the way up to Annandale as it was located 150 metres off the track as I wanted to try and reach each camp in the order Madigan stayed at them.

We had decided on a late start for day 11, hoping to find our way to Camp 20, we passed Camp 21 about 3.5 Km past our night location, with the intention of stopping there on the return trip. We approached Moochala Waterhole and were stopped dead in out tracks. Another lake presented itself spread out about a kilometre wide. Here the track disappeared into the water and we knew there was no way through to Camp 20. We were all a bit peeved by this barrier, but we not surprised.

Being defeated by nature once again, we reluctantly turned around and back tracked South. It was then that we made the point of visiting Camp 21. We stopped for a detailed look at Annandale taking our time as there was no rush to get to Camp 25 (Birdsville). That night we camped at Madigan’s Camp 22, after a leisurely day of looking at various waterholes and a variety of Station bores and other bit and pieces of farm equipment. We were well and truly on the Adria Downs property, seeing lots of cattle along the way. It was almost like being in civilisation again.

Day 12 saw us travelling past the Goonamillera Waterhole and then finally down to the QAA Line. We reluctantly turned East to Birdsville and turned our radios over to Channel 10 to be bombarded with idle chatter from fellow travellers. Shortly after, we received our third shock of the trip; our first sighting of another vehicle in 12 days! It was a bit sad seeing that vehicle, we knew we were back to reality.

We arrived at Birdsville at 1330 hours and drove directly to the pub to do two things, first to pay our respects to the monument of Dr Cecil T Madigan and party, which is adjacent to the pub, and secondly to the bar.

So, it was over, we did the hard yards, safely, with no mechanical breakdowns, a total distance of 875 kilometres from Mt Dare to Birdsville using 18.5 litres/100km.

Dr Madigan said in his book, “The adventure was nearly over, and the task done; the glamour was fading. Indeed, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive”. 

Friday Funnies

Two elderly women were out driving in a large car, both could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just went on through.

The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself, "I must be losing my mind, I swear we just went through a red light."

After a few more minutes they came to another intersection and the light was red again, and again they went right through. This time the woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light had been red but was really concerned that she was mistaken.

She was getting nervous and decided to pay very close attention to the road and the next intersection to see what was going on.

At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was definitely red, and they went right through. She turned to woman driving and said, "Mildred! Did you know we just ran through three red lights in a row! You could have killed us!"

Mildred turned to her and said, "Oh, am I driving?" 

A vampire bat came flapping in from the night, face all covered in fresh blood and parked himself on the roof of the cave to get some sleep.

Pretty soon all the other bats could smell the blood and began hassling him about where he got it.

He told them to go away and let him get some sleep, but they persisted until he finally gave in.

"OK, follow me", he said and flew out of the cave with hundreds of bats behind him.

Down through a valley they went, across a river and into a huge forest.

Finally, he slowed down, and all the other bats excitedly milled around him, tongues hanging out for blood.

"Do you see that large oak tree over there?" he asked.

"Yes, yes, YES!!" the bats all screamed in a frenzy.

"Good" said the first bat, "Because I darn well didn't" 

A professor was giving a lecture on company slogans in a college advertising and marketing class.

"Joe," he asked, "which company has the slogan, 'Come fly the friendly skies'?"

"United." Joe answered.

"Brenda, can you tell me which company has the slogan, "Don't leave home without it?"

Brenda answered the correct credit card company with no difficulty.

"Now John, tell me which company uses the slogan, 'Just do it'?"

And John answered, "Mum." 

A priest rushed from church one day to keep a golf date. He was halfway down the first fairway, waiting to hit his second shot, when he heard the familiar "FORE!" and a ball slammed into his back.

Soon the golfer who had made the drive was on the scene to offer his apologies. When the priest assured him that he was all right, the man smiled. "Thank goodness, Father!" he exclaimed. "I've been playing this game for forty years, and now I can finally tell my friends that I've hit my first holy one!" 

"My girlfriend is weird. She asked me, 'If you could know how and when you were going to die, would you want to know?'

I said, 'No.'

She said, 'Okay, then forget it.'"

The Fine Print

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