DESTINATIONS - TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
This north-south dune track in South Australia never achieved its original aim to connect arid-region pastoral properties with coastal shipping ports. However, thanks to the persistence of the Denton Family in the 1970s it’s a great 4WD recreational route today.
The original section of what is now Goog’s Track began at the northern end, near Malbooma. In the 1950s a party of station owners started cutting a southerly path through the scrub, with hand tools, aiming for the port at Thevenard.
The going was tough and the sight of huge dunes in the distance probably didn’t fill the toilers with enthusiasm. The venture got as far as a watering point at what is known today as Drum Camp, before construction was abandoned.
It may seem odd that the station owners couldn’t exploit the Transcontinental Railway that passed through Tarcoola to market their wool, but the reason is most likely that the national line was laid in Standard Gauge and couldn’t easily integrate with South Australia’s Wide Gauge.
Whatever the reason, there was no further action on the abandoned track until 1973, when John (‘Goog’) and Jenny Denton started to carve out Googs Road – heading north from their Lone Oak farm to the railhead at Tarcoola.
Goog, Jenny and their children, Martin, Debbie and Jeffery, along with Jenny’s brother Denis Beattie, started clearing a track through the scrub with a Fordson tractor fitted with a blade and a Toyota 2WD ute.
When they entered the main dune field they realised more grunt was needed, so the tractor was replaced by an Allis Chalmers HD14 bulldozer. Work on the road continued for around 18 months of weekend toil, as far as what is now the turnoff to Goog’s Lake, about 55km from Lone Oak.
This salt lake is now the site of a bush camping area and at the turnoff is a memorial to Goog Denton and his eldest son, Martin ‘Dinger’ Denton. Happy travellers have left offerings – mainly bottled beer – as a ‘thank you’ to Goog and his family.
The Dentons built a shack at this point, to serve as a base for the next leg of the track construction, but the shack was removed in 1977 at the request of the SA National Parks and Wildlife Service. They have so much imagination, don’t they…
Just north of the shack the dozer decided it needed a rest and so did the Dentons. Work ceased for a few months and then got under way once more. Considerable quantities of the necessary fuel and supplies were donated by various local people and carted to the site on the backs of three Land Rovers.
A grader was added to the fleet in early 1976, but, with weekend work the only option, the road progressed by somewhere between one and 10 kilometres every fine weekend.
Three years after it began Goog’s Track was cleared as far as the existing track to Drum Camp in August 1976.
Jenny Denton’s book: ‘My Memories of Pushing Goog’s Track’ is available via Paypal at www.googstrack.com.
Copies are also available from Jenny Denton on 0428 257 035, or by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travelling Goog’s Track
This 200km track crosses more than 300 sand dunes before it meets the gravel road beside the Transcontinental Railway Line near Tarcoola.
In theory you can do the Track in a day, but what’s the point? A better schedule is to camp at least one night along the route and preferably two.
This is a remote area and people travelling this track need sufficient food, water and fuel for a minimum two-day journey, plus reserves in case something goes wrong. There is no water anywhere along the Track.
A satphone or HF radio is desirable.
Goog’s Track has many demanding dune climbs, so it’s not a suitable route for softroaders.
The conventional and preferred way to run Goog’s Track is from Ceduna, where it’s easy to collect a permit from the NPWSA.
Fuel supply is at Ceduna and Glendambo, on the Stuart Highway
Campsites are at Goog’s Lake and Mount Finke, which is a large lump of granite in the middle of a dune field. There is no cut firewood at either campsite and the wood at Goog’s Lake won’t burn, so collect good stuff along the way.
It’s interesting to walk some distance along and around the edges of the dry Lake.
The view from Mount Finke shows the dune field running off to the horizon in all directions.
The Goog’s Track dunes are tall – some around 20 metres high – with sharp, ‘sandblown’ tops and the southern approaches are lumpy and corrugated. A north-south run is more difficult, because the northern dune faces are much steeper.
NPWSA requests that vehicles travel north, not south, due to safety concerns. NPWSA also suggests no trailers on Goog’s Track.
Many of the dune crests are ‘blind’, so it’s essential to monitor UHF radio Channel 18, to communicate with other Track users.
Low tyre pressures are essential, for easy dune climbing and to minimise damage to the track. Vehicles should also carry appropriate recovery gear, including shovels and air compressors.
Googs Track traverses National Parks including Yumbarra Conservation Park and Yellabinna Regional Reserve. Respect Aboriginal Cultural sites and please do not remove any artefacts.