the Degree Confluence Project

Australia : Western Australia

1.1 km (0.7 miles) NE of Wattle Grove, WA, Australia
Approx. altitude: 32 m (104 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 32°N 64°W

Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: The cloud wreathed peaks of the Darling Range. The one surviving photo of mission one. #3: The amazing field of crud! And the back of James's head! #4: "Kirk to Enterprise, the planet is inhabited solely by golf buggies and confluence hunters." #5: Obligatory GPS shot. Not very clear is it?

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  32°S 116°E (visit #1) (incomplete) 

#1: James at the official Confluence grass tree

(visited by James Nicholls and Justin Alloi)

20-May-2000 -- On July 18th 1999 a team consisting of James Nicholls (Map Geek), Ryan Connor (Camera Geek) and Justin Alloi (Driver Geek), after a long and arduous journey through a cold and damp winter’s day finally reached their sacred goal, 116 E, 32 S, the first (as far as they knew) confluence visited in the southern hemisphere under the auspices of the Degree Confluence project. With the light failing fast they took their photographs, and joyfully returned to the Justified, their ex-army land rover Geeksmobile, guided by the cheerful orange glow of a merrily burning plastic rubbish bin. They got a bit lost on the way home, driving the wrong way down a freeway for a good fifteen minutes, which resulted in James having to get home by train from Justin’s work, but they quite jubilant nonetheless. The film was put in for development.

They got the prints back.

With the exception of one, they were all blank, and that one photo, being a dramatic shot of the nearby peaks of the Darling Range wreathed in cloud completely failed to show the confluence point.

They weren’t happy.

Immediate plans were drawn up to return, but several factors (one being James finding useful employment and another Justin going to Italy to study fencing) intervened. The months slipped by....

Someone took a photo of the South Pole.

Again, they weren’t happy. But at least they could still be the first in Australia...

Someone bagged a confluence in New South Wales.

They were practically livid.

Again the months slipped by. Then Justin returned from Italy, dangerous sword skills in tow. In a mad dash for the glory of the first West Australian confluence James dragged him out on a mild autumn day with his new GPS unit (purchased for the very purpose of confluence hunting, the previous attempt having been made with judicious use of topographic maps). On the 20th of May 2000, they set out.

The main differences between this journey and the previous one were twofold. Firstly it was a quite warm, unlike the damp and miserable afternoon of July. The second was that Ryan, being unavailable, was not present. Justin retained his position of Geek Driver, although this time the vessel was a step up from the venerable Justified in that it actually had air conditioning and a tape deck. James was promoted to GPS Geek, and camera duties were shared between them.

The journey was uneventful, unless you consider GPS Geeks leaning out a moving car window on a major highway to get a better satellite fix eventful. Which most of the rest of the motorists probably did. The tracking capabilities of the cheap unit were quite impressive however, it’s speedometer matching that of the car for most of the journey.

This time a parking spot was obtained much closer to the golf course that harboured the confluence, right next to a large football field that unaccountably had it’s lights full on in the middle of sunny afternoon. After a quick check of the GPS, which indicated only 720 meters to the confluence the Geeks decided to take a small animal track leading through a strip of bushland separating them from the fairways.

A short way into the bush, the path opened out onto a wide sandy vehicular track bordered to the south by a tall chainlink fence. Behind this fence was a steep drop down to a bizarre landscape of holes, mounds, turves and burnt tree stumps, obviously the rubbish tip for the course. There was some quick geeky debate over whether to head east towards the gate they had used to enter the course last time, or west to find a new accesway. West won out, and soon enough the chainlinks gave out, allowing a quick slide down into the strange wasteland.

Scrambling over mounds and tussocks followed, accompanied with much paranoia over snakes. The fact that any self respecting snake would have fled for it’s life at the noise they were making never crossed the Geeks' minds. At the far side of the dump another track materialised, and since the GPS pointed in roughly the same direction a decision was made to take it. Golfers and their buggies paraded in the background.

The track soon began to twist and turn wildly. before very long it came to a dead stop on a promontory sticking out into a small lake. On the wrong side.

Back in July, despite the general aura of dampness, this lake had been empty. Now it was full. Very full. Small shrubs around the edges were inundated. The Geeks waded around it’s edge and were finally on the course.

It was at this point that the inevitable happened and they started to attract the attention of the golfers. In order to minimise their impact they stuck mainly to the strips of bushland seperating the fairways, but still had to scuttle across dodging balls from time to time, drawing disapproving stares from middle aged men with motorised golf carts. The Geeks started to get nervous. Lips would soon be wagging at the clubhouse.

They followed the GPS. There was general rejoicing when they hit 32 south, but then they wandered north while trying to wander east and lost it. Recovering it proved little trouble. They dashed across the 13th fairway, and glancing at the GPS on other side James was amazed to see it displaying exactly 31 59.99 S 115 59.99 E.

They walked slowly south in stunned silence until the numerals ticked over to 32 S. They stepped carefully east. 116. Success!!! They cheered out loud and capered around, much to the consternation of a small group of passing golfers.

Looking around for a convenient marker they spotted a small blackboy (grass tree) with a prominent spike on top a few metres away. Checking with the GPS ensured it was valid, and ceremonial photographs were taken. Then, with nothing else to do, and visions of golf course security sweeping down on them like birds of prey, they decided to scarper.

But then they decided to get confirmation that their attempt of the previous year had been valid. A quick hunt around, aided by a confused golfer who directed them to the 14th green, located the much taller blackboy they’d used as a confluence marker a year before. And sure enough, the GPS indicated it was within 100 metres of the confluence point. It was valid!

Happy that their claim to the first southern hemisphere confluence was technically (if not *actually*) valid, they decided to scarper for real. Which they did, retracing their steps around the lake and through the junkyard. In a sudden departure Justin insisted they go under the fence rather than over, and they returned to the car.

The rest of the story doesn’t really need much elaboration. They sang "Viva Las Vegas" in the style of the Sensitive New Aged Cowpersons on the way home, and a few days later James got the film developed. Then months passed, and he finally got around to submitting it to the project website. Obviously.


Coordinator's note: I visited this confluence on 1 September 2003, and it looks like this visit used AGD84, giving an actual location about 200m northeast of the WGS84 confluence point. Checking this narrative with the photos and pics from visits 2 and 3 and against the map of the course (see visit 3) appears to confirm this.

Coordinator's Note: Potential visitors to this confluence are welcome, but MUST ask permission of the Managers of Hartfield Country Club BEFORE going onto the course. Flying golfballs can be dangerous!

 All pictures
#1: James at the official Confluence grass tree
#2: The cloud wreathed peaks of the Darling Range. The one surviving photo of mission one.
#3: The amazing field of crud! And the back of James's head!
#4: "Kirk to Enterprise, the planet is inhabited solely by golf buggies and confluence hunters."
#5: Obligatory GPS shot. Not very clear is it?
#6: Justin at the original (and *technically* valid!) first confluence in the southern hemisphere! (Yeah, we wish! :)
ALL: All pictures on one page