Members of Bundaberg 4WD Club recently completed an 8800km epic month-long adventure to the centres of Australia.
The aim was to visit the lowest point in Australia, Lake Eyre, (following last year's visit to the highest point, Mount Kosciuszko) and to visit the five “Centres of Australia”.
Officially, there is no centre of Australia. That's because there are many complex but equally valid methods to determine possible centres.
The centres of Australia have been calculated by various means.
These are The Centre of Gravity Method, The Lambert Gravitational Centre, The Furthest Point from the Coastline, The Geodetic Median Point and The Johnston Geodetic Station.
In the lead-up to the trip, contact with property owners that had some of the points on their land was made to seek permission to visit the spots.
All was in place on the condition that we left gates as we found them and stayed on the formed tracks. This request is easily done.
One other stipulation was dependent on the weather, which was out of our control.
Due to the severe drought conditions our access to three of the points was pulled in the weeks leading up to our departure.
Our travels saw us near three of the centres of Australia, close, but not exactly what we had planned.
Travelling in a large loop, the trip saw us head out to the start of the Oodnadatta Track via Cameron Corner then out to the edge of Lake Eyre at Level Post Bay and Halligans Bay.
Flooding in North Queensland earlier in the year meant there was water in the lake.
We did see water, but it was a long way offshore. The only way to see the great expanse of the inland sea was to take a plane flight.
Once the Oodnadatta track had been traversed we headed to Kulgera, the most southerly town in the Northern Territory.
The Johnston Geodetic Centre is not far from this town.
Our next centre point was The Lambert Gravitational Centre, which is the most visited of the points.
Beauty has to be seen to believed
From there we called into the town of Finke and onwards to Chambers Pillar.
Many of the group had Chambers Pillar as one of the most picturesque spots on the trip.
Photos don't do the colours justice.
It’s one of those spots you just have to go and see for yourself, but be prepared for one of the worst roads we came across.
The usual tourist spots in and around Alice Springs were covered on the trip as well as a visit to Uluru (Ayres Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and the West and East MacDonnell Ranges.
There were many standout spots like Palm Valley and Kings Canyon to take your breath away, both figuratively (the stunning landscape) and literally (with an abundance of walking tracks to traverse).
As part of the planning we contacted the Outback 4WD Club in Alice Springs and organised a joint trip.
Local knowledge was the key to some out of the way spots they have on their back door.
Tracks on offer ranged in difficulty, with names like Widow Maker and Razorback Ridge envisaging quite a workout for vehicles and drivers.
Keeping in mind our group was leaving the next day on our trek home the tracks chosen were enough to wet our appetite to head back to Alice and have a better look around.
The afternoon visit to the Alice Springs Offroad Race Clubs property saw us in some familiar terrain, even if the sand was red instead of Fraser Islands white.
Sand dunes gave the group an opportunity to test their skills.
It was a great day out with both clubs enjoying the interaction, topped off with a campfire and BBQ.
Museums display it all
Leaving Alice Springs we headed back via the Plenty Highway stopping off at Winton to check out the touristy spots on offer.
The Waltzing Matilda Centre, which was reopened last year after being destroyed in a fire, is the first museum in the world dedicated to a song.
Memorabilia from the area captures the spirit of the outback and a forgotten time.
Another attraction, the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, is a world class exhibit highlighting the story of dinosaurs in Central West Queensland and in the museum has the world’s biggest collection of Australia’s largest dinosaur fossils.
An epic trip covering some of Australia’s most popular spots adds to the appeal of being in a club, sharing the experience with other like minded travellers.
I have only touched the surface on what we encountered and the ups and downs of a long distance road trip.
Plenty of stories to tell around the campfires for years to come.
To find out more on the Bundaberg Four Wheel Drive Club and activities we have on, contact us via email, firstname.lastname@example.org , or on the website www.bundaberg4wdclub.com or catch us on Facebook or Instagram.
Brad Praed, Bundaberg Four Wheel Drive Club