POI – Australia


Another POI (point of interest) added to The List is the Australian POI (“pole of inaccessibility”).

But first some background. Recall the cycling classic: JttCotE (“Journey to the Centre of the Earth”), the story of an epic minimalist bike trip from the shores of Bangladesh to the point farthest from the sea anywhere on the planet. The full text of this rollicking adventure available as a pdf here. This Centre of the Earth is now called a “pole of inaccessibility”.

There is an equivalent point in the ocean that is the furthest from any land. Here it is:

Equidistant from Pitcairn Is, Easter Is and Antarctica. This is called Point Nemo after “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”. If you look for it in Google maps (as in here) you can find an Easter Egg:

Some geographers have found the POI poles in all large land masses. A pdf of their algorithm here.
Each of these furthest points from an ocean, when you think about it, is actually equidistant to the ocean in 3 directions. A largish uncertainty comes from the “what is ocean and what is river mouth” or “Where does the ocean start under the ice” in the case of Antarctica . The POI in Antarctica is probably the most inaccessible. The Russians set up a scientific station in 1958. It lasted 3 months before being abandoned. Because it was, well, so inaccessible. (And has an average annual temperature of -58.2ºC)

An expedition in 2007 were the first to walk to this Antarctic POI. This is what they found when they got there:

The station buried, with only the top of a statue of Lenin poking above the ice.

Back to Australia. POI is at 132.27º E, -23.17º S: 928 km from the ocean.

I suggest we start in Port Augusta, wander up the Stuart Hwy:

past Alice Springs, turn into the Tanami Rd:

Then left in a nameless dirt road that goes to Papunya:

Past the local airport:

Turn right here:

Now Left:

And it’s just there, that bush just off the road:

Given that I have this irrational fear of running out of possible bike trips, I probably need to sell it a bit. It is amazing country. MacDonnell Ranges. Have a look at the local attractions:

Check the weird street plan of Papunya:

Is this inspired by Erich Von Daniken or by Canberra?

Another round feature just below Mt Zeil. A Crater.

Our fame is assured. Who’s in? Possibly not at Christmas time for this one.

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4 Responses to POI – Australia

  1. Mal says:

    Looks close to no. 38 bore? (Number 3 bore, closer to Papunya, is called warumpi; Warumpi Band wrote ‘my island home’ a composition that made the point that that part of Australia is far from the sea. Of course, such things are relative – I understand that it was once under the sea).

    I digress. Mt Zeil is the highest point above sea level in the Northern Territory (1531m) – it would be foolish not to attempt the summit. The following figures are for the Larapinta trail in the format month (maximum temp, minimum temp and average days of rainfall). April (28,12,2); May (23,8,3); June (20,5,3); July (20,4,3); Aug (22,6,2); Sep (26,10,2); Oct (30,15,5). Big window.

    Say 2 weeks?

    • Mark says:

      Mal – thanks for joining the Warumpi dots. And those temperature numbers actually sound pleasant. I think a summit bid is a goer. I did wonder about any aboriginal permits needed, but with James’ experience with tree turning permits, I think we’re covered.
      One thing I do worry about, is that street view of the POI is not working. Suspicious. Damn Soviets. Late ’50s, there were going for everything: sputnik, etc. I’m sure something as big as POI-Australia wouldn’t have escaped their notice. I suspect one of the bushes in the google satellite view could actually be a Lenin head.

  2. 888riley says:

    The McDonnell ranges are stunning and I do love the desert, so, because talk is cheap, I am going to say I will definitely be there. The only real problem I can see is – apart from the vast distances, searing heat and uncertain water sources – is getting hold of a statue of Lenin to half bury in the sand when we get there. eBay?

    • Leah says:

      I don’t think we need to leave a statue there. I think a re-enactment would be enough – dig a hole and bury someone in it up to the neck. Volunteers?

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