3 4WD TOURING: Googs Track
More info: There are camping fees for the Yumbarra Conservation Park. See www.environment.sa.gov.au for details or phone Ceduna Information Centre on (08) 8625 3343.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S GOOGS Track is situated between Lone Oak Station (30km north of Ceduna) and the Trans Australian Railway, and is a handy shortcut for those travelling from Australia’s south coast to the Red Centre. Along its 154km length, Googs Track includes more than 300 sand dunes, leading many to liken a trip along this isolated route through Yumbarra Conservation Park and Yellabinna Regional Reserve to a miniSimpson Desert adventure.
Construction of the track started in the northern end in 1955 and it stopped near Mount Finke. Some years later, in 1973, a local farmer by the name of John (Goog) Denton pushed a track from his Lone Oak Station boundary in the south to join up with the northern track, completing what is now known as Googs Track in 1976.
The drive along Googs Track is over relatively firm sand and the dunes are not particularly high, but due to the isolated nature of the area it is advised that travellers have at least some sand driving experience. A capable 4WD is required for this route and tyre pressures will need to be lowered for the sandy sections. Travellers should also carry all the fuel, food and water required for their intended stay and have appropriate communications equipment (satphone, PLB etc.).
Some highlights along the route include Googs Lake (a top spot to camp for a night) and Mount Finke (climb it for a great view of the surrounding scrub country). You’ll also find well-marked memorials to John (Goog) Denton and his son Dinger, who helped his father with construction of the track.
Once you reach the Trans Australian Railway at the northern end of the track, it’s a 40km drive east to the ghost town of Tarcoola. Don’t expect a coldie at the Wilgena Hotel; it shut its doors back in 1999, and the last resident of the town pulled up stumps a couple of years ago. From Tarcoola it’s another 120km or so to Glendambo on the Stuart Highway. Make sure you check out the magnificent Lake Gairdner along the way; it’s the fourth largest salt lake in Australia. – Dean Mellor