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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index The Great Central Road > The Great Central Road continued
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Feral Camel Action Plan and Camel Facts

Meanwhile the Great Central takes us further into Western Australia.  The land is flatter and the road straight and wide. We passed the Warburton community without turning in as we had adequate fuel.

With numbers of feral camels estimated at over a million, the number is doubling every eight years.  They eat most types of the desert vegetation and compete with native animals for this food supply.  They are damaging water holes wells and station stock troughs. 

 

The significant damage that camels have done and are doing to fragile ecosystems, cultural sites, isolated communities, and pastoral properties has gone largely unnoticed by the bulk of Australiaís population because of the sparse population in these remote areas.

When road and rail transport became widespread, many of the camels were released, and being a desert animal, they thrived in the Australian outback.  There are now more wild camels in Australia than in any other country, with half of these being in Western Australia, as can be seen on the 2010 map from Geo Currents showing the spread of the feral camel population.      

Camels were brought into Australia in 1860s and were an ideal pack animal for the harsh Australian conditions, being able to travel long distances without water, and carry considerable loads.  Afghan cameleers and their camels became an integral part of the development of inland Australia. 

Back on the Great Central Road heading south west, we saw even more camels than in the Northern Territory.  Groups of camels each with a number of calves were frequent.  Camels would walk out onto the road and sometimes just stop, blocking the traffic. 

We stopped at the remote Tjukayirla Road house for fuel. Tjukayirla Roadhouse takes it name from the Tjukayirla Rockholes which are situated nearby.

 

This roadhouse claims to be the most isolated roadhouse in Australia, being situated 311 kilometres north east of Laverton and 255 kilometres south west of Warburton off the Great Central Road (The Outback Highway) in the Great Victoria Desert. Nearest communities are Cosmo Newberry Community 225 kilometres south-west and Kanpa 175 kilometres to the north-east. 

We saw small birds flying out of a tiny water hole at the edge of the road.  Despite the desert area and extremely low rainfall, water can be found and wildlife such as these birds and the many camels we saw know where water can be found. 

Vegetation varied between treeless spinifex plains, low scrub and mulga woodlands as we headed furthe west. 

 

There were occasional sand ridges and just a few rocky outcrops.  The headwind became stronger and it was very dusty, forcing us to stop early behind one of these breakaway outcrops. 

There were numerous small wildflowers and flowing shrubs scattered amidst the spinifex.

Empress Springs is 64 kilometres north of the Great Central Road along the David Carnegie Road (four wheel drive recommended), turning north 15 kilometres west of the Tjukayirla Roadhouse. The spring is inside a cave accessed by a chain ladder into a seven metre deep rock hole.    

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There were many missed opportunities for sightseeing excursions along the Western Australian section of the Great Central Road, including caves, springs and breakaways as well as a number of tracks surveyed by Len Beadell.  These were mostly unsuitable for towing a caravan, and we were on a timeframe to get home to be in time for the arrival of a new grandchild. 

Soon after this, vegetation began to change from desert plants to a mixture of sand plain shrubs to woodlands with progressively larger trees, interspersed with the desert spinifex.
 
From Cosmo Newbery community turn off to Laverton there were occasional roadside wells, windmills and water tanks. 
Our arrival at Laverton three days after leaving Yulara marked the end of the Great Central Road stretch of our journey.  We continue into the mining areas of the Outback Murchison.
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We continue west on the Great Central Road. 

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Giles Breakaway fifty kilometres north east of Laverton, on the south east side of the road.  We did not stop to walk around this landmark, nor take the track where a divide in the breakaway known as Desert's Gate was named by explorer Frank Hann in 1905. 

 

 

 

 

 

For those going into Warburton for fuel or accommodation, the stunning paintings at the Tjulyuru Regional Arts Gallery may be of interest.

The roadhouse is owned by and run on behalf of the Blackstone Aboriginal Community which is located 450 kilometres away.

Blackstone (Papulankutja) is 183 kilometres east of Warburton, and 120 kilometres west of Surveyor Generalís Corner which marks the South Australian, Western Australian and Northern Territory border. 
For where to purchase fuel, camp, and distances along the Great Central Road
Why arenít these camels harvested for meat?
 
Read about the hisotry of camel meat processing  in Australia
The Great Central Road comprises the Western Australian section, reaching into the Northern Territory to the Ululu-Kata-Tjuta National Park of the iconic Outback Way, Australia's Longest Short Cut