Googs Track

Lee and Russ report from their recent Googs Track adventure with a Lifestyle Reconn R2 in tow.

According to Exploroz, Googs Track is a single vehicle track that traverses through Yumbarra Conservation Park and Yellabinna Regional Reserve north of Ceduna. The trek covers in excess of 300 sand hills over 200km and with travel recommended from south to north. The journey starts at Ceduna and heads due north until you meet the Transcontinental Railway Line at Malbooma. The trek then heads east and follows the line towards Tarcoola.

The track was named after John (Goog) Denton who envisioned that a road heading from Ceduna to Tarcoola would be of considerable value to the region. Goog decided to undertake this enormous task in 1976 and with the help from his family, the track was finished about three years later.

Departing Port Augusta, our seven vehicle convoy with two trailers in tow made hay towards Kimba. Did you know Kimba is halfway across Australia?

A photo to celebrate our arrival – half way across Australia!

Our next stop was Pildappa Rock located 15 kilometres northeast of Minnipa. We setup camp, prepared for the evening campfire and did the sunset rock climb with refreshments in hand.

Sunset on Pildappa Rock

The next day we packed up early and motored towards Ceduna via Murphy’s Haystacks. These ancient, wind-worn pink granite boulders are located 40kms south east of Streaky Bay on private land.

Jenny left to do the heavy lifting

We are now 700kms from Adelaide and loving every minute of it. We had planned to meet up with the rest of the group, but they weren’t contactable, so we decided to continue on our own sightseeing tour. We drove around the tourist drive to Cape Bauer and had lunch (hot pies in our Travel Buddy 12V oven).

There she blows!

We continued our drive around to the Whistling Rocks and Blowhole. The tide must have been right, as all of a sudden there was a great whistling sound and water spraying up through the blowhole. What a sight!

I love the ocean and all of it’s power, and I could have easily stayed there all day watching the waves pounding against the rocks. We continued on around the cape back towards Streaky Bay. We still couldn’t contact the group on the UHF, so we continued onto Ceduna, our stop for the night.

Watching the sunset at Ceduna jetty

We booked into the Ceduna Foreshore Caravan Park, which was a very handy location right next to the Hotel, our hosts being the lovely Jodie & Marty. While the park is only small, it had plenty of large sites, a new amenities block, and a fully kitted camp kitchen and pool. 

The rest of the group started to filter in, and we set up camp with plenty of time to watch the sunset over the jetty.  We had pre-booked dinner at the hotel, where we had an adequate meal (beats cooking!), and a couple of sodas.

Next morning, we packed up eager for our next leg due north to Googs Track. Likened to a mini-Simpson crossing, the track is highly regarded by four-wheel drive enthusiasts spanning 200km.

Airing down before the Dog Fence

We finally made it to the start of Googs Track which was well sign posted. We all aired down to reduce the damage to the track and make our rides a little easier.

The first leg was very easy going, and it wasn’t long before we were turning off towards the Denton Family Memorial, near the Googs Lake camp area.

Googs Memorial

We made it to the lake by 3pm, where we set up camp (prepaid via the National Parks website). We found a suitable area for our convoy and unhooked and set up camp before heading off on a short loop drive and a walk on Googs Lake (dry salt lake).

We unloaded our fire wood, got the fire going, and prepared our evening meal. Apart from the amazing incident free drive, the best part is the socialising around the campfire at the end of the day.

Our camp at Googs Lake

We bounced out of bed the next morning with great anticipation, knowing the driving would become much more challenging. And soon enough, we discovered our first obstacle, with soft sand getting the better of us. A quick call on the UHF for help and out came the winch. This was definitely the easier way to recover, and we were up and over in no time.

With a little more grunt we sailed over the next few rises, but as the morning wore on, and the track became more rutted, we were stuck once more. Out with the winch again.

Rechecking our tyres, we discovered our pressures had risen considerably. We let out another 4 psi all round (including our camper), and made it over every subsequent sand hill unaided. The mighty D-Max and Lifestyle R2 were floating over the bumps just nicely.

North beyond Googs Lake, the driving conditions become more challenging

Before we knew it, we were at the Mount Finke turnoff. We turned onto this track which promptly changed from sand to red rocks. It was tight with the camper on the back, following the narrow trail into the campground.

We found a suitable camp and enjoyed another clear starry night around the campfire. Who needs 5 star hotels when you can have a billion stars?

Another cracking campfire

The next morning some of our more adventurous friends wanted to climb Mt Finke (elevation 369 metres). So we let them. It only took a couple of hours return, which is pretty good considering there is no actual track to follow.

We were back on the road by 11am heading towards the Trans Australian Railway crossing. Essentially that was our trip up Googs Track. Two days travel and relatively easy passage. Would have been a lot easier without the camper, but we still made it without any major issues.

We aired up at the railway crossing, and headed east to Kingoonya via the uninhabited Tarcoola township.

We pulled into Kingoonya around 4pm, stopping at the hotel for a coldie, while we made reservations for dinner and paid for our campsites behind the pub. It was a small camping area, but the amenities were clean with hot showers and flushing toilets, and a huge fire pit with wood supplied. Fantastic country hospitality, and awesome sunsets.

Next stop, Mount Ive Station, a working sheep property near the Gawler Ranges. It offers a range of accommodation options including shearers quarters, cottages, powered & unpowered sites – something for all. The amenities block has hot (donkey) showers, and flushing toilets. Fire drums are available for all sites. The Reception area is a fully stocked (mini mart) and has a small bar area. A communal fire pit area is great for sitting around and telling tall tales.

Collins Class Replica Submarine at Mount Ive Station

We spent a day driving the tracks (fee payable). We ventured out to Lake Gairdner (key required), also on the property. The salt lake is approximately 160kms long and is the fourth largest salt lake in Australia.

The lake hosts Speed Week each year, with the focus to break the world land speed record across various classes of motor vehicles.

This place takes your breath away. Photos don’t do it justice. Had lunch and a walk on the dry lake.

Some fancy footwork on Lake Gairdner, but no speed records were set

Along the way we stopped at the ‘organ pipes’, and the embankment, then back to Mount Ive station. It was still early, so we drove to the Mount Ive summit, where it was blowing a gale, and started to rain. Back to camp – fortunately the rain did not follow. Another day gone!

Exploring the organ pipes

The next day we packed up to a glorious sunrise. Still heading east towards home, we encountered more red dirt roads, but the further east we travelled, the better they got. We aired up at the intersection to Iron Knob, and regrouped at Port Augusta again to fuel up before we said our goodbyes.

Airing up before we hit the bitumen

We continued onto Stone Hut bakery for our lunch (best home made gourmet pies in South Australia!)

That was our epic week long journey of nearly 2,500kms. Loved every minute of it. Another tick off the bucket list!

Track Conditions

If you’re looking to scope out conditions of Googs Track, there’s a Public Group on Facebook where travellers can seek information. Jenny Denton, the widow of John ‘Googs’ Denton, also monitors the site.

There’s an interesting excerpt from an interview with Jenny about the challenges they faced pushing the track through without any government assistance. You can read about that HERE.

Lee and Russ whipping up a feast

Thanks to Lee & Russ for sharing their adventure.