~Virtual Tours~

Mt Hart Access Road

Written and Posted On-line 13th March 2011

G'day Folks! Welcome aboard the virtual tour along Mt Hart's 50km Dirt access Road. My name is Taffy and I've lived at Mt Hart for 20 years. Before moving here I did tours throughout outback Australia for 25 years. I still reckon this track that winds it's way into the homesteads and campgrounds is the most spectacular section of country in the whole Kimberley. So put your feet up, sit back and join me on a virtual tour along Mt Hart's access Road to check out the scenery...Jump on board the 4WD...and we'll be on our way...

I have a contract with the shire to maintain Mt Hart's access road. I cannot normally grade this road until April or May (when the wet season has finished). There are 36 creek crossings along this road – the water levels take a while to drop, and the road takes some time to dry out after the deluging rains of the wet season.

The Mt Hart road is normally open from May until November, and is closed the rest of the year because of the wet season flooding. The views along this virtual tour were photographed during the month of November (very late in the dry season).

One of the most amazing sights you will see in this country are the ridges of dolerite. The Dolerite around here is a fine to medium-grained black intrusive igneous rock. This type of rock is unique to the country in this area. You won't find it anywhere else in The Kimberley. Yep, you’re right...it does look like a big dumpster has come along and tipped a whole heap of black rock on the ridges...

Within those mounds the black dolerite rocks are all precariously balanced on top of each other. These rocks are rich in magnetite and they have the power to attract lightning, which makes for some spectacular (and sometimes frightening) lightning storms around the homesteads during our wet season months.

These ridges of dolerite were formed by a molten lava flow millions of years ago which dried on top of sandstone and set. As the the lava flow started to cool it cracked and fractured (the same way a layer of wet mud or clay dries and sets in the sun) and then set into individual segments and blocks of rock, which have been gradually eroded by the elements over time.

Mt Hart's access Road follows these ridges of black dolerite for miles and miles, with Short eared rock wallabies often seen hiding amongst these black namesakes. These short Ears are extremely agile and fast moving. They can navigate the rugged terrain of these rocks which such amazing precision, swiftness and ease.

The other common critter you will see living up on those rock screes is the white quilled rock pigeon.

As you can all see, in these photographs taken very late in the dry season during the month of November, the creek crossings like the one we are fast approaching (if you look through the windscreen below) have completely dried up. Most of these crossings are quite rocky so we need to slow down and traverse these sections carefully, otherwise one of you will be helping me change a tyre.

The vegetation up here in the valleys consists predominantly of northern grey box trees inter-spread with rivergum and bloodwoods.

As you can see the rangelands are always a spectacular and awe inspiring sight, and consist mostly of king Leopold sandstone, quartzite, granite and basalt. Every bend in the road brings a new and spectacular mountain range for you to admire...

Along the road the main type of ground coverage you will see is the long thick stalks of spear grass. Spear grass is coarsely tufted and grows up to 5 meters in height. This type of grass gets it's name from it's "spear like" awns which are several centimeters long and appear during the wet season.

The 50km access road passes through long flat valleys, undulating hilly country, and rocky rangeland terrain.

As a result, there are a lot of bends, winding sections, dips and rises in the road...Each one bringing a new scene, perhaps a new animal, and if the light changes what feels like a whole new world.

The current access road was first opened up with bulldozers and graders by Thiess who owned Mt Hart back in the 1970's.

When I first came to Mt Hart it used to take 3 and ½ hours during the dry season to drive the 50kms from the homesteads to the turn-off. The access road has gradually been upgraded and developed by West Kimberley Shire over the past 20 years. These days it takes 1 hour to drive Mt hart's 50km access road during the dry season.

We are now approaching the home stretch...Whenever I drive the 480km trip into town for a stores run, this is a welcoming site to see on my way home – The "site" I am referring to right now is Mount Matthew which you guys can now see in the distance, this mountain truly is an amazing land formation to behold...

From here on the track winds it's way through what is known as "The foothills". This was the hardest section of the road for Theiss to open up as it circumnavigates the side of a mountain range.

Here we are at the highest section on Mt Hart's access road...From this position you can absorb a fantastic 360 degree panoramic view of the rangelands.

Mount Hart homesteads is located 5km away from Mount Matthew. This large landform stretches above the surrounding terrain and is always a beautiful and welcoming site to come home to...

And here we are at the car park...with one of the friendly locals (my great mate 'Luca') to meet us and show us to the bar...It's about time we treated ourselves to a cold beer! Thanks for coming on the virtual tour with me folks! Really hope you enjoyed it!!!