Forged by a curious farmer in the 1970s, historic Googs Track invites four-wheel-drive adventurers into the sandy heart of South Australia.

Story By Don Fuchs

On South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, the harsh beauty of the outback starts near the coast.
Just 30 kilometres north of Ceduna, near a farm called Lone Oak, wheatfields are replaced by mallee scrub. This marks the border of the Yumbarra Conservation Park that becomes the Yellabinna Regional Reserve further north. These two nature parks protect what is sometimes quite accurately described as “a sea of mallee” – an undulating expanse of vegetation-covered sand dunes rolling towards the horizon. Endangered species such as the sandhill dunnart and malleefowl live in these vast reserves.
More or less the only access into this semi-arid wilderness is via the sandy ruts of Googs Track. A little less than 200km, this almost straight line cuts through the mallee all the way to Malbooma on the Trans Australian Railway. This wilderness track exists because of one curious and determined person: the late John ‘Goog’ Denton. He forged the track while living with his family at Lone Oak, at the edge of the mallee wilderness.
His wife Jenny Denton now resides in Smoky Bay, near Ceduna. “We lived on the edge of the scrub, and we used to sit out on the back veranda, for years and he would always say he would like to know what’s out in that scrub,” Jenny says.
One day Goog didn’t come home. He had started pushing a track north through the scrub. From 1973 to 1976, he followed his curiosity, working mostly in the winter months to complete the track. “There are 363 sandhills,” Jenny says. “Every one we came to we wondered what was over the other side.”

This Story is from Issue #98

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2015