May, 23 2010
Talawanna Track, before the turnoff to Karlaymilyi
William L Fox

In the afternoon we hit the one of Len Bedell's famous roads, the Talawanna Track, and head east. Bedell carved the road in 1963 with his Gunbarrel Crew, and it's a veritable highway that threads its way through the long stabilized dunes of the Little Sandy Desert. We're near its confluence with the Great Sandy and Gibson deserts, driving over Quaternary sand dunes. It hasn't burned here recently, and the overgrown Spinifex closes off much of the land. Divots in the road made by sleeping camels indicate that we're getting close to the Rudall National Park, the largest in Australia. Stands of Desert Oak appear, the causarina native to Australia, but an invasive species in the United States and other countries. Here it is a treat for the eyes, an evergreen growing in the desert. In Florida, where it's known as Australian Pine and considered an invader, the species has quadrupled its spread from just 1993 to 2005. The point is that it's not just that the endemic species of Australia fall prey to intruders from other countries, but that the Australia exports invaders as well.

We camp in a grove of white river gums where there's a bore just inside the boundary of the park. Rudall offers no amenities to speak of, and there are no signs, benches, or tables, just a hand pump. We're asleep by nine, and there's no traffic on the dirt road, the primary entrance to the park.

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