Roger Riordan: Trip to Kings Canyon 1960

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In 1959 I was one of six members of the Youth Hostels Association Bushwalking Group who took the Ghan (the train) to Alice Springs, where we hired a Land Rover, and did the usual touristy things. The following year two members of the group -- MUMC member Win McCook, a solicitor, who was rather older than the rest of us, and YHA member Anne Jenkins, an English girl, began planning a trip to Kings Canyon, near the end of the George Gill Range, and Win bought a Land Rover. Anne also belonged to the YHA Badminton group, and one night when she was talking about her trip another English girl decided she wanted to come too.

At this stage the area was completely undeveloped, with only a very rough track to the Canyon, and the girls thought that it might be a good idea to take a mechanic, so Anne and her friend approached me at a YHA evening and asked me if I would like to come too. I looked at the English girl, thought "Hmmm", and said yes.

After leaving the last civilisation the trip involved driving a long way on very rough tracks, and in sand, so we would need to carry a lot of petrol and water. At the time I worked for CSIRO, and I was able to make use of their facilities to build extra water and petrol tanks for the Land Rover.

After we left Tempe Downs (cattle) Station we were out for over a week, and we saw no one. We had no way to communicate with the outside world, so we arranged that if we were'nt back in two weeks they would come looking for us. But nothing went wrong, and it was a most enjoyable trip. I was thinking about it the other day, and I could'nt remember one cross word being said in the whole three weeks we were away.

When we got home the girls said "We didn't really need you, nothing went wrong". But I did marry the English girl in 1961.

Kings Canyon was developed a year or so later, and now there is a sealed road, a motel and all mod cons, but most of the things we did are no longer permitted, so it is not nearly such a fun place to visit anymore.

The road north

Lake Hart, Coober Pedy

Along the road

Aboriginal Stockmen

George Gill Range

Reedies Creek

Aboriginal Stockmen

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 © Roger Riordan 2004-2019