12-Apr-2004 -- Confluence point number 7 was another fair hike from our home in Kalgoorlie, a round trip of approximately 870km. This point is situated 75km south east of the mining town of Laverton, which has a population of just over 600 people and is the starting point for travelling the Outback Highway through the Great Victoria Desert to Ayres Rock (Uluru) and Alice Springs.
This time my two kids, Emma and James plus the dog accompanied me. This was Emma's first cp, James's second (I took him on the 30°S 122°E trip) and the dog’s third.
I am always a bit wary about taking the dog as the local Conservation and Land Management authorities in the Goldfields drop baits containing a poison called 1080 from aircraft. They are dispersed throughout the bushland in an effort to control introduced vermin such as foxes as well as feral dogs and cats. These animals are responsible for the deaths of many of our native fauna and need to be controlled. 1080 was designed not to be toxic to the native animals but is very lethal to the introduced carnivores and will kill a dog in a very short amount of time. As a precaution I always keep him on a lead whilst walking through the scrub.
We left Kalgoorlie at around 09:00 Easter Monday on what was quite a miserable day. It rained on and off all the way up to Leonora but fortunately as we headed east to Laverton it started to clear. As we approached the town at around 13:00 it was a big relief to find that all roads in the area were still open. In a effort to deduce damage to unsealed roads in wet weather most town shires signpost and update road information for the general public; hefty fines can apply to vehicles caught driving on closed roads.
We left the bitumen at Laverton and travelled south-east along the Coglia Merolia Road some 70km to a point on the track that was 4.5km south west of the confluence. The track wasn't too bad to drive on but we did encounter a few boggy areas that tested the 4wd. One in particular caught us and I had to spend half an hour or so getting us out of it. (My wife at home always has a copy of our maps which are overlayed with our exact route that we follow on the GPS to the cp. Just in case we unfortunately get stuck and don’t return in a reasonable time frame, she will pass it on to a friend of ours who will come to our aid.)
We parked up the vehicle at our planned destination, grabbed all the necessary gear and headed off on foot towards the cp.
The scrub was not too bad compared with previous cp visits further south, in fact if the ground wasn't so soft due to the recent rains it would have been quite easy to drive right to it. Which is what my daughter wished we had done as for most of our walk we encountered literally hundreds of spiders with webs strung out between the trees. To say she was not too keen on them is an understatement. The spiders were Golden Orb Weavers, which are relatively large (body 2-4 cm), with silvery-grey to plum coloured bodies and brown-black, often yellow banded legs. Fortunately Orb Weavers are reluctant to bite and symptoms are usually negligible or mild local pain, numbness and swelling. The spiders build large orb webs that have a golden sheen and are strong enough to sometimes to trap small birds or bats, which the spider will wrap and feed upon. More common prey items include flies, beetles, locusts and wood moths. They will vibrate their webs to distract potential predators and their webs also often host the small Quicksilver Spider, which eat the smaller insects that become trapped on the web.
The presence of the spiders was not too bad for me as it meant the kids kept up and didn't lag too far behind as we made our way through the bush. In fact we made it to the cp in a little over an hour which was not bad going. I didn’t want the walk to take too long as I wanted to negotiate the vehicle back through the area where we were previously bogged before the sun went down.
We arrived at the cp at 15:30, took all the necessary photos, had a little break and then started off towards the vehicle, again avoiding the numerous spider webs on the way. About 2km from the vehicle I spotted my first snake I've seen in while, 2 metres in front of me I just caught sight of a Southern Death-Adder as it slithered passively away into some spinifex. Unlike the spiders this guy is pretty dangerous so we gave him a wide berth. Needless to say that this did not please my daughter at all; snakes and spiders don’t rank as her two of her most favourite creatures. Anyway after a little reassurance we ended up back at the vehicle at around 17:00 and immediately set off back up the track. This time now armed with a little local knowledge we made it back through the boggy areas without the trouble we previously experienced earlier in the afternoon and arrived back at Laverton just before 18:00. It was on to Leonora for some dinner at the roadhouse then on to Menzies, Broad Arrow and finally arriving home in Kalgoorlie at 22:10. All in all, not a bad trip which the kids thoroughly enjoyed except for the spiders and maybe the snake!