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Couldn't leave Kalgan Pool

After a couple of days bashing through overgrown scrub tracks that hadn’t been used in quite some time from the Western end of the Rudell River National Park through Balfour Downs back on to the Talawanna track we thought we would make a brief visit to Kalgan Pool before heading into Newman to grab a few supplies and buzz off up the track to Dales Camp ground in the Karijini National Park.

Well you all know the old saying about the best laid plans often going astray, our plans flew right out the window the moment we turned off the Marble Bar Road and flew over the railway line and missed the sign indicating Kalgan Pool was to the left and we turned to the right up the beautifully kept mine access road that would have taken us straight to Port Headland, not exactly where we were aiming for, after about 20 km we recognised the error of our ways turned around and found the road we were supposed to be on. On the map there was a little line that promised we could do a round trip back onto the main road, hollow that promise turned out to be, but we weren’t the only ones who followed that hopeful little line, as we rounded a corner a rather dishevelled young man appeared and on stopping we discovered that he too had been trying to do the round trip.


He thought he would show his wife and baby a good time and took them four wheel driving only problem was he had followed someone else’s tracks that basically followed the river bed and ended up taking them on a wild goose chase, they decided to retrace their steps and in doing so had got the 100 series Land cruiser seriously hooked up on some rocks and without some assistance he would not be going anywhere. We picked him up about three kilometres into a 25 km walk to get phone coverage to call his boss to come rescue him.

This is just the challenge the old boy loves, get in and dirty and help out the young pup stuck on the rocks so with the benefit of experience and age and the assistance of one hydraulic jack and some planks of wood we cart about for just this kind of emergency the boys set about slowly picking the rocks out of places they were never designed to be and after an hour of perseverance and patience the final obstacle to forward movement was removed.

It was a grateful and hugely relieved young man and his family that followed us out late in the afternoon and by this stage the old boy and I had had enough of the day so we said good bye to the kids and pulled out the swags and set up camp on the banks of Kalgan Pool.


We had another couple camped just upstream so we nearly had the place to ourselves the water was inviting so we washed the grit of the day off, got the camp fire cranking pulled out the camp ovens and settled in for the night.

After exchanging pleasantries with our neighbours and cooking up a feed of satay chicken with udon noodles our neighbours who come from Kalgoorlie and have access to things that explode make lots of noise and put on a colourful display of light in the night in other words fire works informed us they had a bit of a show when it got dark later on. Where else would you be on earth right now we thought, thank goodness for plans going astray, this is the life.


So we lay back on the swags and were treated to the best fireworks show I have ever seen and probably the only one Kalgan Pool has been witness to in its ancient life time, not to be out done we pulled out the laser and had a laser light show on the walls of the gorge to the beat of the latest rock song playing on the stereo.

It was hard to get to sleep after that but just as I was drifting off I heard the feint drone of a vehicle slowly making its way to our location thoughts of yokels drifted into my mind and sleep did not come till a bank of spotlights broke the darkness and sprayed over our very see through mozzie domes.

All thought of trouble makers were quickly dispelled when a very weary and relieved man emerged from a duel cab truck inquiring if this was Kalgan Pool, he had been looking for it for a while and had done the same trick we had, missed the sign at the railway line and gone about 20km up the mine access road, glad we are not the only ones that weren’t looking where we were going. Exhaustion set in and we all called it a night and fell to sleep with the light of an almost full moon casting silvery white gum shadows over the pool of tranquillity.

Morning slowly showed that none of the beauty of the day before had disappeared and in fact was even more glorious in the soft early light, none of us seemed in any hurry to get going and by the time 10 o’clock came and went we went to heck with it this is just too nice let’s just camp up for another day, have a relax and do Karijini another time.

Our late comer was Joe, he had a fully kitted out 4 wheel drive truck with a house on the back, and that’s no exaggeration, everything that opened, shut, flipped, switched, popped and pulled was on his homemade home on wheels, his comment was “well you have to keep the girls happy if you want them to come with you” hmmmm hope the old boy was listening.

He was returning to Perth from Port Hedland and wanted to take in a couple of local sites before getting home, as it turned out Joe was a pretty handy guy in the kitchen and being from Italian ancestry it wasn’t long before he had cooked up enough pasta to feed the whole camp and believe me there is just no saying no to an Italian offering food.

Joe made a half-hearted attempt to say he was on his way until a couple of young guys from a set’em and wreck’em crew or drillers and blasters on one of the local mines turned up to have a look around on a rare day off work, well of course boys will be boys and talk turned to blowing things up, cars, tools and toys and before they knew it were being fed on garlic bread homemade pasta sauce and the chocolate cake I had made in the camp oven the night before. They wistfully commented that they should have bought the swags and camped the night as they reluctantly headed back to the day job and with instructions to call Joes wife to let her know he was ok and would be returning home the next day.

   Wood was gathered, the fire was stoked back into life another dip in the crisp water of the pool and we settled in for the night, a few more fireworks, sizzling T bones on the coals, corn on the cob and jacket spuds left us fat, full and fabulous yet another perfect night at Kalgan Pool.

The realities of life caught up with us the next day and by eight o’clock we had all packed up, paid our last farewells and headed off in different directions back to our own worlds but each leaving feeling blessed to have shared a little bit with each other and leaving all the richer for having done so and as for the pool well the walls of the gorge will have just another story to tell of yet another wonderful experience had by its many visitors throughout its millions of years existence.            


This story was first published in Western Four Wheel Driver Magazine.

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