Tjukayirla (pronounced chook-ker-la). Yep, that’s where we are, at the Tjukayirla Roadhouse, being the only building and stop between Warbuton 250km to the east and Laverton 307km to the west. Having said that, we like Tjukayirla and this’ll be our 3rd stopover. As for a place in the middle of nowhere, it’s clean, well provisioned, the people are friendly and the amenities are very good (and clean). For an added highlight, if you ask at the roadhouse they’ll give you a mud-map to a local cave with Aboriginal paintings in them.
The previous roadhouse manager discovered the cave and artwork some years ago and after consulting with the local community elders, it seems no one knows which tribe lived there, painted them or how long ago. Whilst the artwork isn’t anywhere as spectacular as the stuff you’ll see in Kakadu etc., you will be the only person out there, with the whole place to yourself and no signs, fences or rules, other than the universal rule of respect.
There’s a picture below of the mound and cave and whilst it doesn’t look big, you can easily stand up in the middle section and there’s plenty of space to stretch out. The roof of the cave is black with soot and you can easily imagine a group of aboriginals using this cave as a base. Around the back end of the mound there’s an ochre pit of red, yellow and white stone which we expect were used for the rock paintings and probably any ceremonies the tribe held.
Walking around the place there are lots of rocks on the ground, some of which look to be worked, chipped to a sharp edge, with a blunted back edge. Obviously we’re not specialists so it’s hard to know if these stones are naturally formed, or are in fact, old fashioned stone implements. Some are so sharp that we believe they’re implements and it’s great to inspect these, then return them for someone else to explore and experience.
From Tjukayirla we head 700km west to Sandstone, ready for our final trek south, through the wildflower belt of W.A. Home to see the kids and dog, all being well, arriving on Sunday.
Late edit: On the way out of Tjukayirla this morning, we were flagged down by some more locals, who had camped on the side of the road for the night after running their back tyre completely off the rim. They first asked for a jump start, then for air for their flat spare… The car, much like the last one we helped was basically a wreck, windscreen smashed, back door jammed down (couldn’t be opened).. We helped as much as we were able before leaving them to get more assistance from the next passer through..