Mount Davies Road

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Mount Davies Road
South Australia
Mount Davies Road 0116.svg
Map of Mount Davies Road and Kintore Avenue
General information
Type Track
Length 397 km (247 mi)
Built by Len Beadell
Major junctions
nw end Mount Davies
se end Anne's Corner
Restrictions
Permits required
Fuel supply none

The Mount Davies Road is a remote unsealed outback track which runs from Mount Davies (Pipalyatjara) in the far north-west corner of South Australia to Anne's Corner on the Anne Beadell Highway 397 kilometres to the south-east.[1] It was built during 1956 and 1957 by the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party (GRCP) surveyed and led by Len Beadell for the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera, South Australia.[2]

Road survey

As a result of British atomic tests at Emu Field in 1953, a weather station was needed to the far north-west of the test sites, to determine when suitable weather conditions existed for future tests. Len Beadell was given the task of selecting a team and constructing access roads from the test locality to the future weather station. The weather station was subsequently named Giles after the explorer Ernest Giles who had explored that part of the remote inland.[3] The access road began at Victory Downs in the Northern Territory and became known as the Gunbarrel Highway. The construction party reached Mount Davies in the Tomkinson Ranges at the north-west corner of South Australia on 4 December 1955.[2]

On 26 June 1956, after the Gunbarrel Highway had reached Giles, and the airstrip was laid out, Beadell returned to Mount Davies to begin a solo reconnaissance towards the south-east to survey a route for another road to link up with Emu Field. There had been recent rains which made the going tough, and early in the journey he suspected that a front axle of his four-wheel drive vehicle was broken due to slow progress in moist sand. He continued on as he had seen a cluster of rocky mountains in the distance (Mount Lindsay), which would be useful as a survey trig point. The mountains reminded him of Ayers Rock by the smooth rounded shape of the formation.[4] After scaling the highest point he noticed water in a creek below, which he later explored from the Land Rover. The vehicle sank into soft sand and it took him until the next day to extricate himself, as the rear wheels only were driving. He decided that the new road would pass by this feature due to the good supply of water.[5]

He pressed on through thick scrub, and was more than half way to the destination when he noticed that fuel usage was greater than normal because of the moist ground. He began to doubt if there was sufficient left to make Emu Field. The vehicle was equipped with high frequency radio, so he was still able to contact his base, but suddenly the rear axle broke and further progress ceased with 110 kilometres to go. Beadell used his theodolite at night for astronomical observations, and calculated his exact location the next morning which he was able to pass to base via radio. It was a week before a rescue team arrived, however the wrong parts had been brought, so the vehicle was left where it was. It was repaired at a later date, and the survey was able to be completed.[5]

Road building

Beadell sign at Annes Corner

Beadell returned to Mount Davies on 23 July and led the GRCP with bulldozer and grader back towards Emu Field, to begin construction of the new road.[5] The supply truck and fitter's truck experienced mechanical problems early on, so they had to be towed by the grader until Beadell was able to drive to Giles to pick up vital spares, after they had been delivered by aircraft. In the vicinity of Mt. Lindsay, the bulldozer became bogged in soft ground, and almost simultaneously the grader was bogged some distance away. It took two days of hard work to extricate both machines. A site for a mobile meteorological station was surveyed at Mount Lindsay on 10 August, and another near Coffin Hill on 26 August. On 7 September, work was halted while British scientists visited Giles, and was not restarted until the following year on 27 June 1957. A point on a previously made road 48 kilometres west of Emu Field was reached on 29 July, with the corner subsequently named Anne's Corner, after Beadell's future wife. The following year, work continued on the Gunbarrel Highway.[2]

Kintore Avenue

Four years after the Mount Davies Road was completed, Beadell and the GRCP built a new road connecting the Gunbarrel Highway to the Mount Davies Road, in order to shorten travelling time from the east. They commenced just south of the Mann Ranges on 10 May 1961, proceeded in a southerly direction and intercepted the Mount Davies Road about 50 kilometres south of Mount Lindsay on 6 June, a distance of 153 km. It was named Kintore Avenue after Mount Kintore,[6] a feature visible on the eastern side of the new road.[2]

Present conditions

The entire length of the Mount Davies Road lies within the Anangu Pitjantjatjara lands. A note on the reference map states "All roads and tracks in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Land area are not accessible by the general public."[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Hema, Maps (2005). Australia’s Great Desert Tracks SC Sheet (Map). Eight Mile Plains Queensland: Hema Maps. ISBN 978-1-86500-164-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d Shephard, Mark (1998). A Lifetime in the Bush:The biography of Len Beadell. Adelaide: Corkwood Press. ISBN 1876247053. 
  3. ^ Joy, William (1964). The Explorers. Adelaide: Rigby Ltd. p. 72. ISBN 0 85179 112 3. 
  4. ^ Beadell, Len (1971). Bush Bashers. New Holland Publishers (Australia). ISBN 1864367342. 
  5. ^ a b c Bayly, Ian (2009). Len Beadell's Legacy. Seaford Vic 3198: Bas Publishing. ISBN 9781921496028. 
  6. ^ Governor of South Australia 1889-1895

External links

  • Mt. Davies (Bonzel)
  • Anne Beadell Highway (ExplorOz)
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