Australian 4x4 tag Along
Tours 2014 Never Never, Hay River 4wd Tag Along Tour
July 2014 we had the opportunity on our desert trip to travel through
one of the most remote regions , if not the most remote region in the
North Simpson Desert, our destination - Mt Knuckey.
We formed a new track approximately 108 km long which was named the
Gidgee Track during the course of the trip and then followed roughly
the previously named Never Never Track.
Being a regular visitor to Batton Hill in the course of running tag
along tours down the Hay River Track and across the Simpson to
Birdsville I had meet Lindsay Bookie, one of the traditional land
owners of the country the Hay River and Hay River Track passes through,
on several ocassions.
I also have reason to chat, and sometimes meet up, with Jol Fleming in
Alice Springs atfairly regular intervals. Jol runs a 4wd business out
of Alice and is well known throughout the industry having been
connected with 4wd's and motor sport for much of his life.
Jol and Lindsay pioneered the Hay River Track some years ago and opened
it up as a 4wd tourist destination. It was during one of these
conversations with Jol that it
was suggested that Australian 4x4 Travel would run a tag along into the
region South East of Batton Hill and, if I could get enough vehicles
together, to form a track and possible future 4wd destination.
Having left from the Marree Hotel a few days earlier we had travelled
through Oodnadatta, Kings Canyon and the West McDonnell Ranges on our
way to Alice Springs
which would be our last chance to top up on essential supplies before
embarking on our desert adventure.
We continued on towards Batton Hill via the East McDonnell Ranges and
Jervois Station, which was to be our last fuel stop. We had to carry
enough fuel for an estimated 800 or so kilometres until our next
available refill which was to be at Mungerannie as our route was to
take us down the K1 Line and Warburton Track.
The previous year Jol and Lindsay had taken a group of a few vehicles
out to Mt Knuckey starting off from Lake Caroline, a few hours drive
along the Hay River Track south of Batton Hill.
Their vehicles travelled through uncharted territory and created what
was later to be known as the Never Never Track, starting at Lake
Caroline and ending at Mt Knuckey, a distance of some 50 or so
Our route was to be similar, except we travelled in the opposite
direction, Mt Knuckey to Lake Caroline, and apart from a few metres
here and there all visible signs of the previous groups route had well
and truely disappeared. Their route from Mt Knuckey to Batton
Hill the previous year was very different, less direct and far to the
our intended route. Our route would take us from Batton Hill directly
to Mt Knuckey via Mt Barrington on the southern side of Adam
The track we created was a couple of days later named the Gidgee Track
after the gidgee tree near Mt Knuckey that has significant ancestoral
relevance to Lindsay Bookie.
This meant that we had about 108 kilometres ahead of us across
countryside that no vehicle had ever been into.
We left Batton Hill with twelve vehicles plus Lindsay in his vehicle
traveling south along the Hay River Track for a few kilometres before
heading south east with Mt Knuckey our destination. The progress was a
little slower than expected and we had a lunch stop near Mt Barrington.
By around 5pm we set up camp. Although we had targeted to reach Mt
Knuckey that evening the Gidgee Track had proved to be slower than
planned and we were about three hours drive behind schedule.
Driving in poor light in those conditions just wasn't an option.
Next morning the Gidgee Track gave us less dune crossings than the
previous day as we were now setting course down a swale that looked as
though it would run straight down to Mt Knuckey, in fact we were only
two or three dunes out.
We found the Gidgee tree that Lindsay had talked about, which was
metres in from the boundary with the pastoral property Tobermorie.
We all gathered around as Lindsay talked about the tree and what the
various scaring in the bark meant. He went into the history of how and
why his people had come upon this place.
He explained that in those days there was water, vegetation and wild
life, how times have changed.
Now running at least half a day behind schedule we were within a stones
through of Mt Knuckey and the delay didn't seem to matter to much, we
were in a very special place with a special person and felt very
priveledged to be there.
Lindsay had finished telling us about the gidgee tree we had a few
minutes left on the Gidgee Track before we were at the base of Mt
Knuckey. Lindsay asked that no photos be taken of Mt Knuckey and where
he was about to take us, as a group we respected his wishes and then
went on a walk into the past.
This definately was a place very special and we had been priviledged to
see it first hand in pristine condition and to have been taken there by
Lindsay, an ancestor but generations later than the original
inhabitants, with the stories that had been passed down from father to
child and sibling to sibling over the years.
After our Mt Knuckey stop we were on the way again, heading for Lake
Caroline and now on the Never Never Track.
The going was a bit harder than most of what we had experienced so far
on the trip, we were now heading straight for Lake Caroline and at 90
degrees across all the dunes ahead of us.
Somehow the spinifex and other vegitation seemed a bit thicker and
heavier along the Never Never Track as well. Needless to say we were
still running somewhat behind schedule and called it quits for the
night along the way.
We had already had a couple of early morning, first light, starts and
the next day was no exception as we worked our way closer and closer to
Lake Caroline along the Never Never Track.
Finally, mid afternoon, we crossed the Hay River Track as we made for a
clearing the other side of the track.
The Gidgee Track had been laid and the Never Never Track revisted,
where we had been and the extent of what we had seen and been through
was yet to sink in as we bid Lindsay and one of our group farewell,
they set of north and we continued our journey south.
Sadly on August 2nd 2014, shortly after we had done this trip, Lindsay
passedaway following a heart attack and was laid to rest at Batton Hill
after a memorial service at Alice Springs. A true character and just a
This trip was led by the owner of Australian 4x4 Tag Along Tours and
Australian 4x4 Driver Training, John Cantrell, and who has
over 45 years of 4wd driving experience, both in Australia and
overseas, some of which has been to reasonably remote destinations, is
a Registered Training Organisation and operates one of New South Wales
leading 4wd driver training businesses.