Trip 9 – Gemtree, Mt Palmer hike and Mica mines

To break up the fossicking days, we also did a couple of day trips.

70km east, out to Harts Ranges and then a 15km 4wd track, the last 6km of which were pretty rough and slow going, to the base of Mt Palmer.  From here we explored an old Mica mining camp, now ruins, which was established in the late 1800’s and ran until the end of World War 2 when cheaper Mica supplies were found in India.

It’s amazing and somewhat humbling to think of how hard and harsh conditions would have been back then as we struggled to get there in our comfortable and air conditioned 4wd.  These poor buggers would have trekked the Mica out on camel and horse back through some really hilly and inhospitable bush.

At the camp ruins there’s a patch of Mica rubbish approximately 20mtrs in diameter and the whole ground shines like a million mirrors.  I’ve got a pic below but it doesn’t do it any justice.  All around this area you can see the thin, multi-layered sheets of Mica growing out between the rocks.  The photo (below) of the Mica mine is probably a good 1km away from the camp and would have to be at least 300mtrs higher up on the mountain side..

Following the Mica camp, Jules and I decided to tackle the hike to the summit of Mt Palmer on the recommendation of Jacky from Gemtree who promised the views on the far, hidden side of the range are to die for.  From the car it didn’t actually look that far or hard however the higher we climbed, the further it looked away and the steeper it got.  There was always another ridge we had to get to so that we could try to work out where the summit was.  Note, there was no hiking track, this was hiking up through the spinifex and over the rocks.  We eventually made it to the peak, very hot, sweaty and puffed but the view out to the far side was magical as promised (pic below).

After getting our fill of the views and having caught our breaths we somewhat gingerly made our way back down which proved to be harder, though a little less strenuous, than going up.  The higher sections were very steep, with a fair few loose rocks, which made it important to plan and control our steps so knees, thigh and calf muscles were screaming by the time we got back to the car.

On the track out again, we took a quick poke around in the creek bed and found Garnets and plenty of absolutely clear Quartz crystal pieces.  As we arrived back at the Plenty Hwy we thought we’d come across our first Frilled Neck Lizard, however, after inspection of the quick, and only, photo I got of it before it scarpered, we now think it was a big dragon.

Early night tonight to rest aching muscles..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The ruins of the old workers hut at the Mica mine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Mica mine/area/pit.  Not shown on this pic, but this area is high up on a very steep slope, not an easy place to walk to, let alone carry mined Mica from.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Natural Mica, see the sheets of it growing in between the rocks (middle of photo)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mica pile.  We think this is where they processed and/or loaded the mined Mica.  It’s an area about 20mtr square and shines like a million mirrors – the photo doesn’t do it justice

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The 4wd track in to the Mica camp

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jules about a 3rd the way up Mt Palmer, still looking pretty happy and fresh at this stage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The view from about 2./3rds up Mt Palmer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jules admiring the view (and catching her breath)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another view, about 2/.3rds the way up Mt Palmer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking East’ish from the top of Mt Palmer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking South’ish from the top of Mt Palmer.  This is the view you can’t see until you reach the summit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wild flowering grass on Mt Palmer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What we thought was our first Frill Neck Lizard but turned out to be a big Dragon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.