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A story by former Mannkal Scholar Michael Cooke

Ron, I have read your travel diary from the year 2000 as you travelled across the Great Central Road, via Empress Spring and the Giles Weather Station. It was so much fun to imagine you on your tour, vividly recalled in your notes.

Not too much has changed since 2000. The road has been straightened out somewhat and there are more graders keeping the corrugations under control (still plenty of bumpy patches).

The Warakurna Roadhouse and Giles Weather Station are probably almost identical to your visit, although they have expanded the Warakurna Roadhouse accommodation and staff housing areas in recent years.

The fact that you climbed Gill Pinnacle and I haven’t makes me a little embarrassed, I’ve driven past that pinnacle about a dozen times and I know the road to get to the pinnacle but I keep putting it off for next time!

That was much the same with Empress Spring – drove past over and over until I eventually allowed the extra time on the journey. I think it was well worth the detour. That old metal ladder is still somehow hanging in there!

I’ve tried driving some of the Gunbarrel Hwy and the infamous Connie Sue Hwy, but both are extremely corrugated and are very taxing on the vehicle as well as being uncomfortable for the driver and passengers. Going 20km/h for even half an hour over never-ending bumps becomes a little bit too much excitement! 

Well I’ve been following all of your Monthly eFocus emails (more recent ones penned by Andrew) and I’ve always enjoyed his (and your) perspectives, so I’ll be looking forward to the next one as well.

Leaving you with a photo taken today near the Tjirrkarli turn-off, photo taken from the top of a sand hill. Note: They’ve sealed a few km of road at various points. This stretch where the photo was taken (between the Tjirrkarli turn-off and Warburton) is sealed. It’s about 20km of bitumen in the middle of nowhere. 

Your mate in the outback,

Michael Cooke

PS. It’s nearly 3 years out here – with only very short breaks to return to Mannkal @Hayek on Hood and surprise you with a quick hello!

We invite your responses, feedback and suggestions. Please write in the comments box below.

Read of Ron’s expedition across the Outback Highway in 2000 (yes 20 years ago) here.

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