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This Diamantina expedition travels into this remote and beautiful country, taking the path less travelled. It also includes the extraordinary opportunity to travel and camp on country with members of the "Pintubi Nine", the last nomads to wander the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts, who stepped into the 20th century just 30 years ago. We pick up at Uluru airport or Yulara resort (there is also an option to start with us from Alice Springs) and travel west into the Petermann Ranges. We take the Sandy Blight Junction Road north through the Gibson Desert to Kintore. We then travel west to Kiwirrkurra, Australia's most isolated Aboriginal community, and north to Lake MacKay. We follow the unmapped Lake Mackay track deep into the Great Sandy Desert, eventually arriving at Balgo. We then travel through Tanami Downs Station on the old original Tanami Track before joining the Tanami Road to return to Alice Springs. This is a great adventure through Outback Australia in country seldom seen by anyone - it's always better along the path less travelled.
Explorer Michael Terry
mounted several expeditions through Central Australia. In 1932, With 5 men, 12 Camels and provisions for nine months they headed for Lake Mackay, home of the Pintubi People. He titled his journal "Into the Big Paddock". Some thirty years later anthropologist David Thomson mounted the Bindibu Expedition, a series of three field trips to discover Pintupi Indigenous Australians between 1957 and 1965. The Pintupi (Bindibu) were the last Aboriginal group to make contact with Europeans over the period 1956 to 1984. Many Pintupi people still remember this experience. For many, Thomson was the first white man they had ever seen.
The Pintubi Nine were a family group
of nine people who lived a traditional hunter gatherer existence near Lake MacKay until 1984, when they finally made contact with their relatives in Kiwirrkurra. Most live in Kiwirrkurra today. They are considered to be the last desert Aboriginals to come in. Legend in Kiwirrkurra says there are still people living out there, and tracks are occasionally seen. Given the remoteness of the country, whilst highly unlikely, it is remotely possible
In 1960, after completing the Gunbarrel Highway
, Len Beadell commenced work on the Sandy Blight Junction Road, so named for a bout of Trachoma he contracted during the construction that made it very difficult for him to do the astro fixes he used to determine his location. After completing this road, he constructed a road west that is now knows as the Gary Junction Road. His network of roads serviced the Woomera Rocket Range.
We pick up at Ayers Rock airport and Yulara resort early afternoon(there is also the option of us picking you up in Alice Springs earlier in the day)and head west past Kata Tjuta to the spectacular Peterman Ranges.
After breakfast we travel to Warakurna where we visit Giles Meteorological Station and refuel before heading north along the Sandy Blight Junction Road to our camp beneath the Walter James Range. There is plenty of time to walk the spectacular gorge and explore Bungabiddy Rockhole.
We continue north along the Sandy Blight Junction Road through desert oak country. We drive through the fossil bed of Lake Hopkins. There is spectacular scenery and challenging steep driving as we ascend to the summit of the Frederick Range.
The track cuts through dune fields. We wind our way back over the Northern Territory border and passes through the Davenport Hills. We lunch beneath the towering bluff of Mt Liesler, beside the remains of a tree blazed by the explorer William Tietkins.
We visit Kiwirrkurra, Australia’s most remote Aboriginal community. We will visit the Women’s Centre and the modern Art Centre which is managed by Papunya Tula Artists. At Kiwirrkurra we meet our indigenous guides, and together with a facilitator we will head onto country.
The following morning after a leisurely start we will say goodbye to the Pintubi and travel north through their traditional country to Lake MacKay, the second largest salt lake in Australia which straddles the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
A full day travelling north. We stop for water at Mumu, there is the opportunity for a wash if the handpump is functioning. Further north there is a great diversity of country. We cross breakaways and claypans, and camp on a mulga flat beneath the Waterlander Breakaway.
We travel on through Pintubi country. The country is constantly changing. We travel through Bilbarrd Aboriginal outstation, and cross Lake Claypan. As we head north the vegetation is slowly changeing. We pass Mangkala outstation, and visit an extraordinary Aboriginal stone quarry just south of Lamanbundah.
The country is becoming hilly. We come to a range full of indents and caves which was central to the Wati Kutjarra story of two young lizard men central to the dreaming of the Western Deserts. The holes in the rock signify where they were digging for snakes.
We travel alongside the Balgo Pound with its spectacular breakaways and expansive vistas, eventually coming to Balgo, where we visit the famous art centre of the Warlayirti Artists.
We cross into the Northern Territory. We are now on Tanami Downs Station. It was originally called Mongrel Downs, but was renamed when it was transferred to indigenous ownership in the 1990s.
We continue south to Tilmouth Well Roadhouse. The Western MacDonnell Ranges are to the south as we cross Burts Flat to arrive in Alice Springs mid afternoon, and the end of an extraordinary adventure across some ot the last unmapped tracks in Australia.