13/10/15 From Yulara, we headed east, back along the Lasseter Highway to Erldunda on the Stuart Highway, where we refuelled and had lunch in the van, then headed an hour south through flat, sparse and rather uninteresting country to the quirky little Kulgera Roadhouse. This was our camp for the next two nights.
Although we’d been travelling in Central Australia for a little while, the area we were now in was quite literally the Centre of Australia. 150km east of Kulgera Roadhouse on the Finke Road was Lamberts Gravitational Centre of Australia, one of my Extreme Points of Mainland Australia. It was reached via a 13km narrow sandy track that wound into the scrub, via numerous side tracks that all ended up at the same place. This location (25°36’36” S 134°21′17″ E) corresponds to that point on a flat cut-out map of mainland Australia where the map can be balanced perfectly horizontal on a pin. It is the planimetric centre of gravity point, independent of elevations and the weight of such things as mountains, and the population of Sydney. The location was calculated from 24,500 tiny weights distributed along points at the high water mark of Australia’s coastline. If you find one of these weights, let me know. Don’t move it though as the balance point might move.
Being such an out-of-the-way and difficult spot to reach, we were surprised at the number of expensive metal plaques erected by 4WD clubs and touring groups in past years to commemorate their visit to the location. It was like some secret go-to place. To commemorate our visit, we made an entry in the very dog-eared Visitor’s Book. Di declared the pit toilet to be, in her expert opinion, the worst in Australia and totally unusable.
After a quick tour of the small community of Finke just a little way up the road, we returned to Kulgera Roadhouse, and drove a further 16km south on the Stuart Highway to the Johnstone Geodetic Station. This trigonometric survey cairn, situated about one kilometre north of Mt Cavenagh Homestead, was built by officers of the Division of National Mapping in 1965, and was once the central reference point for all Australian surveys.
Di was pleased to come across some new birds on the drive, and added Mulga Parrot, Budgerigar, and Crested Bellbird to her list of Northern Territory birdlife, and got some good shots of a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and a Gould’s Goanna/Sand Monitor that was happy to smile for the paparazzi.
“Let any man lay the map of Australia before him, and regard the blank upon its surface, and then let me ask him if it would not be an honourable achievement to be the first to place foot at its centre. Men of undoubted perseverance and energy in vain had tried to work their way to that distant and shrouded spot.” – Charles Sturt, 1845