11-Jan-2002 -- It was the middle of a heatwave with temperatures over 40°C. Bushfires had been raging around Sydney for over two weeks. Not exactly ideal conditions to go confluence hunting, but I went anyway.
Unsuccessful attempts are a powerful motivation and I’d tried to reach 22°S 149°E a month earlier and failed. After flying 800 kilometres from home and driving a hundred kilometers, there was a ROAD CLOSED sign blocking my way. The bridge was out and there was no way around.
Finding myself back at Mackay with spare time, I set out again toward the confluence. It is located 4 kilometres east of the little used old highway between Marlborough and Sarina. It’s 230 kilometres of narrow bitumen without any towns and was referred to as the horror stretch, partly because of the desolation and almost certainty of hitting kangaroos at night with devastating consequences. And partly because of a number of murders that had occurred there.
Arriving close to the point I found that there were no tracks that would get me closer than 4 kilometres. It was going to be a very hot walk through bush and long grass. And there was a bushfire on the ridge nearby just to make it more inviting. Not an inviting prospect but the thought of a second unsuccessful attempt and a couple of other recent ones was too much for me.
The walk was very hot but uneventful and the confluence point uninspiring. It’s on a ridge with narrow-leaved ironbark and red bloodwood trees that offer sparse shade. Red as a beetroot, dripping with sweat and doing the confluence shuffle*, to get the GPS photo without unwanted ones and nines, I wondered what anyone watching would have thought. I didn’t care, I’d conquered 22°S 149°E and wouldn’t have to come back again. I drove back in the dusk, dodging the kamikaze kangaroos and wondering if there would be sniffer dogs at the airport. If there were, I had a feeling the bag containing my boots and socks would be confiscated.
* The Confluence Shuffle
You put your left foot in
You put your left foot out
You hold your Garmin up
And you shake it all about