19-Jul-2001 -- This was my second attempt at 35S 117E and this time we were determined to get there! Over the last few days we had visited five confluences and only managed two successful visits, and this was to be our final attempt before heading back to Perth.
This is one of the two most southerly confluences in Western Australia, and is only accessible by boat or a sturdy 4WD vehicle. The confluence is on the southern side of the Kent River and in undulating terrain.
Having been given the landholder's details on my first attempt in January, we called ahead in the morning from Denmark. The owners weren't home, but - luckily - there was somebody staying in the house. Robert said if it was ok with the owners, Tricia and Gordon McDonald, he would bring the dinghy down and take us across the Kent River. After making another phone call and clearing it with Tricia, Sarah and I headed off along the South Coast Highway towards Kenton.
Finding that mobile phones don't get any signal down here, we called Robert again from a pay-phone at Bow Bridge to let him know we were close. Although he sounded a little mystified about what on earth we were doing, an offer to pick up some tobacco seemed to encourage him. We went back and down George Ebbett Road to Hal's property, where I had ended up last time. Hal and his daughter Emily were home, so we caught up on news while we were waiting for Robert.
Once Robert had arrived, we followed him from the end of George Ebbert Road along a rough dirt track through Hal's property down to the Kent River. Again, I was glad there had been so little rain because the car would have been bogged very easily. It's definitely not a track to try during a normal winter/spring!
Our transport down the river and around Irwin Inlet to the landing was by a little, motorised aluminium dinghy - a "tinny". This is Tricia and Gordon's usual way of getting to their property, one of only two privately owned blocks on this side of the Kent. After a 15-20 minute trip, we pulled in among reeds at a wooden gangway - we were across!
Robert was staying at the McDonald's place with his sons Daniel and Joel and, after coffee looking over the Inlet from the shack (pic 3), he persuaded the boys to come along and all of us headed off to our target. There's a huge difference between walking 880m across a level, ploughed paddock and up and down very steep, old, scrubby dunes. We tried to follow a reasonably direct route without much luck, but eventually saw the distance on the GPS decrease and - counting down the metres - found 35S 117E on top of a ridge. Robert marked a tree with white tape - the confluence is in line with the eastern boundary of the McDonald's property.
Now back to the shack, and this time Robert took the lead with excellent homing instincts! After another coffee and a chance to recover from the trek, we headed back to the tinny. Unable to push the dinghy over the reeds from within it, Robert proceeded to take off his jeans (with a warning :*)) and waded into the icy water to launch it. (Meanwhile, Sarah was mumbling about axe-murderers and remote locations.) Motoring back up the Kent River, we ran out of fuel just 100m or so from the landing on the north bank, and had to row the rest of the way.
Leaving Robert to dry off, Sarah and I took the fuel tank and drove back to Bow Bridge to fill it up and pick up some chocolate for the boys as a thank-you. I was grinning like a coot - immensely satisfied that we had finished off with a successful visit.
Huge thanks to Hal, Tricia and - of course - Robert, Daniel and Joel for helping us so generously with what must have seemed to be a rather eccentric quest.