22-Oct-2002 -- This challenge was our personal first in the Degree Confluence Project(DCP).
“We” are: Mike Gilbert (48) and his son Sean (21), and myself, Doug Roberts (57) from Caboolture & Morayfield, in South East Queensland, Australia. (Sean actually lives and works in Melbourne, Victoria 1800 kms away, and was on holiday with his Mum & Dad.)
The CP’s in south east Qld are almost all done although there are hundreds still to get across the rest of Australia, a lot in the desert, of course. But there were 2 holes in the DCP map at 28°S 150°E and 29°S 151°E that we felt we could tackle in a 2 day trip.
We drove out of Caboolture at 8am in my trusty 80 series Landcruiser, heading roughly west. For those of you who don’t know where Caboolture is, it’s at 27°05'02.6"S 152°56'46.2"E.
Caboolture is a medium size town (for Australia) - population about 110,000, farming and light industry, 44 kms north of Brisbane. The area has been growing quickly and is now just about merged with Morayfield a few kms south, growing even faster.
Navigation aids were a Garmin Etrex Legend (a recent purchase of mine) that Mike was to learn as we travelled, some Auslig maps of various quality and a normal HEMA road map. I drove, Mike navigated, Sean sat in the not too comfortable back (but never complained once !)
So we drove west through farming communities such as Woodford, Kilcoy in a straight line as far as the roads would allow us, through to Dalby, passing through the beautiful scenery of south east Qld and Pubs with names like “The Bun Pub” which we were tempted to stop at but didn’t.
After Dalby, the road heads almost due west (and ultimately ends up in the Watson Oil fields on the edge of the Simpson desert some 1500 kms away; we weren’t going that far. Due to El Nino, most of Australia is affected by drought at the moment, and we passed through some of the flattest and driest land I’ve seen for a long time. The farmers are doing it tough out here. I was advised by a nice lady who served me a coffee in a Dalby coffee shop not to bother visiting Lake Broadwater if we were sight seeing as there was no water in it. I described the Confluence Project but she must have thought we were nuts.
Our nearest ‘town’ to 28°S 150°E was Moonie, on the west bound Moonie Highway, after that we were on dirt roads and we followed the directions of the Garmin and some Auslig maps that Mike had extracted just the night before.
At about 1pm, the last left turn, within 10 kms of the CP took us on to what we discovered later as private land; however, out here it’s hard sometimes to distinguish between a private and public road.
We past some huge Grain Silos and Trucks and headed down a track that appeared to take us almost directly towards our objective. However, after a few minutes we came to a dead halt at a farming homestead and some noisy dogs (small thankfully). A few minutes later, just as we thought there was no-one home, a nice lady called Libby Cameron emerged to find out what we wanted. No nervousness or shotguns here in Australia by the way, although that can happen in some areas.
Libby was charming, understood immediately what we were looking for and even knew where it was. Apparently surveyors from the Lands Department had been there some years earlier and marked the spot with a post; this was sounding too easy. Libby even offered to show us the way (all tracks and the spot were on her and her husband, John’s, private farmland) so in 2 clouds of dust, my ‘Cruiser following Libby’s 4WD we set off to finish the remaining 5 km. Gee these farmers are hard to keep up with, my driving must be getting conservative in my old age ! Libby managed to keep us at 100 kms/hr on dry dusty ungraded tracks.
Minutes later, after passing a huge piggery, we were driving up a fence line that appeared to run exactly north/south, probably the result of some previous land division we thought, and there was the Lands Department Post. We pulled up, got out and Mike immediately declared “wrong place” ! The GPS indicated that the CP was due west about 500m away. So we all climbed the fence and tracked over the paddock, watched by some curious cattle towards the point. This is completely flat land, so it wasn’t difficult at all except for the burs that found their way into our socks. On the way, Libby explained that she and John owned the 30,000 acres of property we were standing on, that they had over 3000 pigs, and all in all, this was a major agricultural enterprise. I asked about the drought, and Libby explained that they had bore water some 900 metres down so were able to pump enough to keep going. Certainly the cattle looked in good condition.
We found the spot in the middle of an anonymous paddock, flat as a pancake, and the scenery looked almost identical whichever way we looked. We dutifully took the required photos in 4 directions, and one of the GPS reading. Additional photos had been taken of the Moonie crossroads ("Oil Capital of Queensland") and the Lands department Post.
Libby wanted us to mark the CP spot but we explained that the rules included leaving the place exactly as we found it, so we settled for moving another small stone to the point where there was a stone on the CP. So 2 small stones mark it, if anyone else goes there to check.
Mike’s theory about the Land Department post was that, as it would have been a manual sextant calculated mark, done in pre-satellite days; their clock might have been out by about 3 seconds. This would explain the 500m discrepancy in e-w direction.
Back to the car, profuse thanks to Libby who suggested we meet her husband John on the way out, which we did. John was in the workshop near the entrance to the property alongside those huge silos and confirmed that the Land Department visit was a long time ago, probably in the ‘50s. We thanked them both and set off for our evening stop at nearby (100 kms) Goondiwindi where we celebrated with a few rum and cokes, and plotted course for tomorrow’s visit to 29°S 151°E which was to turn out to be a completely different proposition altogether..
Further information and pictures of this trip can be found at http://www.wychweb.com.au/dcp/S28E150.htm.