Celebrating a special anniversary
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the completion of the Anne Beadell Highway and Connie Sue Highway in 1962.
Connie Sue Highway
Construction of this road began with a reconnaissance south departing Warburton Mission on 3 July 1962. Anne and Connie Sue accompanied Len on this trip after much red tape to allow them to travel in a Commonwealth vehicle.
The future site of Neale Junction was reached approximately 200 miles (315 km) south of Warburton. Len then headed east to link with the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party (GRCP) on 11 July 1962. Two members of the Party met Len's vehicle after it ran out of petrol shortly before arrival. In the process of directing the rescue party, Bonnie the dog raced off at the sound of Len's verey pistol shots and was not seen again for a couple of weeks!
After Len, Anne & Connie completed an action-packed reconnaissance west to Laverton and back, the GRCP arrived at Neale Junction on 16 August, thereby completing construction of the Anne Beadell Highway to that point, at this stage by bulldozer alone, the grader having broken down late in April just west of the WA border. Construction of the road north to Warburton began. They arrived at Warburton on 15 September, completing the northern section of the Connie Sue Highway. Much exploration by Len, Anne & Connie occurred during this leg, the country full of fascinating breakaways and gorges, aboriginal rockholes and artwork, many features named by the old explorer Frank Hann during expeditions in 1903 to '06. Len nicknamed one escarpment "Anne's Razorback" as she helped fix Len's conundrum about where to place the road by suggesting that he put it right over the top of a long rocky ridge (approximately 83 kms south of Warburton near Manton Knob).
By 22 September the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party were back at Neale Junction to start building the road south to Rawlinna. After bulldozing around 15 miles west to start off the westerly leg, all returned back to Neale Junction to start the southerly construction of the Connie Sue on 27 September. The southern section was completed when they arrived at Rawlinna on 23 October 1962 where the bulldozer was swapped for the repaired grader to continue construction of the road west to Laverton.
Anne Beadell Highway
The initial reason for the road was access to the site of Emu from the Stuart Highway near Coober Pedy for atomic tests conducted in 1953. Continued testing at Maralinga required extending the road further westerly, but it was not until 17 November 1962 the Anne Beadell Highway was completed, linking up to an existing sandalwood road from the Yeo Lake area to Laverton in Western Australia.
The Anne Beadell Highway is approximately 1350 kms long and passes through extremely remote desert areas and intersects with the Connie Sue Highway at Neale Junction, a popular morning tea spot with an opportunity to sign the visitors book. The country varies from Mallee, Mulga & grasses to beautiful Marble Gum parklands, through flat country and sandhills. It was named by Len after his wife Anne who, along with baby Connie Sue, had accompanied him for the westerly recce in 1962.
It is definitely a 4WD only track with planning essential: permits, fuel and water being only 3 of many considerations.
Special edition 60th anniversary stubby holder
To celebrate this event, a special edition stubby holder has been created. The map, text and drawing by Len Beadell comes from the end paper maps that were hand drawn for his hard cover books. This one for his third book Bush Bashers, which tells the story of the Anne Beadell Highway and Connie Sue Highway.
This full colour printed stubby holder is made from high quality neoprene and stitched together at the seam with mauser tape. 100% Australian made and is available from the online shop lenbeadell.com.au/shop.
In this book, Len Beadell tells the story of his second road across Australia which was driven 1400 kilometres from east to west, from South Australia to West Australia through the heart of the Great Victoria Desert.
Construction took years, as the road was driven through the almost impenetrable mulga scrub and over sand ridges which, until Len's bulldozer came along, had stopped everything but camels. For five months the author's wife and infant daughter camped with him in the desert.
The stay of this youngest member of the team is commemorated by the Connie Sue Highway, a 650 kilometre stretch of road which extends from the Warburton Range to Rawlinna on the Nullarbor.