Cavenagh Range - WA

  Place Name


DEG: -26.17316 128.00197
DMS: 26º 10' 23.38" S 128º 00' 7.09" E
UTM: 52 J 7104756mN 400263mE
Altitude: 547.33m


Place Type

Population - Place Name


142.56kms East of Warburton
304.14kms West of Kulpitjata
350.32kms SouthWest of Kintore
859.76kms NorthWest of Ceduna

Address & Contact

Central Reserve
Western Australia
Phone: N/A
Email: N/A
Web: N/A


At the Waratjara Outstation we veered off the main road and through a pass in the Blackstone Range, heading south west towards the Cavenagh Range and Lightning Rock. This was a route taken by many of the great explorers, including Ernest Giles in 1873, Sir John Forrest in 1874, and the Calvert Expedition of 1891.

The country between the Blackstone and Cavenagh Ranges often resembled the African savannah, with extensive grasslands stretching off to the distant ranges. A lot of the mulga had died, and their dry, skeletal remains made the country appear stark; in total contrast, recent rains had prompted a riot of fresh green growth. If the mobs of camels were replaced by the odd giraffe or wildebeest the transformation would have been complete. Those camels we saw were in excellent condition and often fat with calf.
Situated in the country a few kilometres north of the Cavenagh Range, the bore and hand pump was still operating, producing good quality water. Nearby was a benchmark from the National mapping surveys of the 1950’s and 1960’s. I believe that both bore and benchmark were established at a similar time, the bore to facilitate the migration of the aborigines across the area.

This southern track passed through the northern outliers of the Cavenagh Range. With plenty of time up our sleeves to reach Warburton, we decided to call an early stop for the day, and this magnificent place seemed most apt. Finding a small secluded valley, we nudged our way in, the rocky walls forming a sheltered cul-de-sac open to the north east. We had a great afternoon exploring the surrounding valleys and climbing to a high point south of our camp. This vantage point afforded us a view across a broad pound that sits beneath Fort Welcome, another peak named by Giles. The pound had a wide flat floor several kilometres across and was surrounded on all sides by the jagged ranges. I’d have really liked to find a route into it as it would have afforded a magnificent, sheltered place to camp, as it did for Giles.

Giles and his party of four arrived in the Cavenagh Range around the 4th October, 1873. With daytime temperatures then pushing above 40C, the presence of near-permanent water provided a depot for the party, while they foraged to the north and west. The locals were none too happy about the intrusion and several skirmishes occurred in and about the Cavenagh Ranges. On his arrival Giles noted the dray tracks left by the explorer Gosse, and wrote that the party had turned around and were now returning east to south Australia. Within a year, John Forrest would also pass this way on his journey east. Being in the Cavenagh Range bought a strange fugue upon Giles; he professed to have superstitious feelings about the place. Nevertheless he established a depot and wooden “fort” at Fort Mueller about nine kilometres south east of our current campsite. The party remained here for months, making forays to the west and then returning to the known waters of the Mueller Creek.

“This is called the Cavenagh Range, but as, in speaking of it as my depot, it was called Fort Mueller, I shall always refer to it by that name. What I saw was a strong running stream in a confined rocky, scrubby glen, and smokes from natives' fires. When bringing the horses, we had to go over less difficult ground than I had climbed, and on the road we found another stream in another valley, watered the horses, and did not then go to my first find. There was fine open, grassy country all round this range; we followed the creek down from the hills to it. On reaching the lower grassy ground, we saw Mr. Gosse's dray-track again, and I was not surprised to see that the wagon had returned upon its outgoing track, and the party were now returning eastwards to South Australia.”

“Fort Mueller, of course, was named after my kind friend the Baron , who was a personal contributor to the fund for this expedition. It was really the most astonishing place it has ever been my fortune to visit. I had many strange, almost superstitious feelings with regard to this singular spot, for there was always a strange depression upon my spirits whilst here, arising partly perhaps from the constant dread of attacks from the hostile natives, and partly from the physical peculiarities of the region itself.”

Ernest Giles – Australia Twice Traversed

It was a leisurely end to the day during which we relaxed, collected timber, explored, and rearranged the vehicles to accommodate supplies and equipment that had moved during the first days of travel. I was spoiled with Linda and Grant cooking me dinner, and a very enjoyable evening was spent around the fire discussing life, travelling and the wonders of the Australian outback.

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Closest Weather Station

TemperatureFeels LikeRel. HumidityDew PointPressureRainfallWind DirectionWind SpeedGusts

Closest Climatic Station

Giles Meteorological Office
Distance from Cavenagh Range 130.07km N
Mean Max. °C37.336.033.729.423.720.320.022.627.431.634.335.7
Mean Min. °C23.622.920.516.511.
Mean Rain mm30.145.636.815.519.817.711.710.211.115.727.545.1

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