In Search of O'Grady's Well, Northern Territory
'We called it O'Grady's Well ...... It was the largest most outstanding native well any member of the party has ever found ..... Down this, holding on to ropes linked together, I climbed till it became too dark to see. Peeping ahead with a lighted candle I espied a little pool of water where the lubras had left off work.'
So Michael Terry described in his book, Sand and Sun, his discovery of this important native well, known to the locals as 'Ylalya' when he was exploring the remote areas of central Australia in 1932.
The next day our route took us through Newhaven, the one time pastoral property that some years ago had been acquired by Birds Australia and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and now run as a conservation park. You can camp here and enjoy this remote property and the bird watching it offers, but we pushed on along what was signposted, 'Private track - use at your own risk'.
Quite suddenly we came into Nyrippi, a community of around 150 people, although most times there are considerably less inhabitants there. We found the well stocked store and fuelled up with diesel for the vehicles and chocolate bars for the people. Yarning to a few of the locals we met a number of traditional owners (T/O's) who gave us their blessings for our trip and allowed us to photograph the spectacular mural that graces the local school. We also got told that they were hoping to set up a small tourist camp ground amongst the spectacular peaks to the south of the community. I hope they do!
For info on Newhaven and the camping there (bookings essential) go to: http://birdlife.org.au/visit-us/reserves/newhaven.
Nyrippi is a small and friendly community west of the Tanami Road and, from an email I received from the office there, no permit is required to camp or stay at or near the community – but you MUST visit the community, to let them know you are there and get permission to camp. The local store is well stocked and sells petrol/diesel – the store is closed on Sundays. Bush camping is permitted on the Karku loop road (near Mt Cockburn). For more details contact the Nyrripi Office, email: nyrripiRJCP@ngur.com.au, or phone: (08) 8956 4982.
To head west from Nyrippi like we did, you will need a permit from the Central Land Council (CLC); go to: www.clc.org.au.
O'Grady's Well is located at 22°02'9.1"S 129°20'53.1"E.
Copyright Ron & Viv Moon