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Australian 4x4 Tag Along Tours 2014 Never Never Trip

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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. This trip was re run in 2015 and 2016has been re-run each year since.

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.

Never Never Track & Hay River Track 4wd tag alonbg tour by Australian 4x4 Tag Along Tours

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.

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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 kilometres. 

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 north of
our intended route. Our route would take us from Batton Hill directly to Mt Knuckey via Mt Barrington on the southern side of Adam Range. 

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 good bloke.

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.

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Australian 4x4 Tag Along Tours 2014 Never Never, Gidgee & Hay River 4wd Tag Along Tour

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