We set off today on our journey to the 2010 National Muster at Maryborough. We're going up the Oodnadatta Track to the centre then up to Darwin to enjoy the warmth then across the Savannah Way to the east coast and down to Maryborough.
We're overnighting at a camp spot about 3ks north of Hattah on the Calder Highway. We've stayed here before in fact I think I put an entry for it in the Camping Resource. It's a large area between the highway and the railway track. You can get a fair way back from the road so noise isn't a problem, Telstra and Optus reception is excellent. We're the only ones here tonight.
The head-wind and the rain on the drive up from Melbourne was diabolical, as Ray said it was like you are dragging a parachute. 4th gear all the way. When we pulled into the camp spot at Hattah, the wind dropped and the sky cleared leaving us to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
It's pretty chilly but the diesel heater is doing a great job of keeping us toasty in the van.
The next day we set off, against headwinds, though Mildura then on to Renmark to resupply with fruit and vegetables. They are pretty strict at the SA border and will confiscate most fruit and vegetables. We had taken none with us.
We then travelled on to a campsite on the Murray at Hogwash Bend a few k west of Waikerie.
There we caught up with Ray and Kath Barton and set up camp and a campfire. Dinner was cooked by Ray in his cam oven and was excellent.
Day three saw more headwinds as we set off towards the Flinders Ranges.
First stop was Burra.
Then on through Peterborough to a camp spot about 18k north of Hawker.
Dinner was a fryup on the Biji-Barbi under a great sunset.
The weather forecast didn't look good and the next morning we woke to heavy rain.
Broke camp and headed up the road to Leigh Creek, we had to cross the flooded Emu Creek along the way.
We stopped for a look at the Leigh Creek mine then travelled on to Lyndhurst were we stopped for the night in the caravan park attached to the pub. The floods on the road ahead to Maree were a little deep for us and the van. (Around .8m apparently).
The afternoon and evening were clear and windy and we were hoping the road ahead would be passable. We cooked up a nice camp-oven roast for dinner.
Late next morning, we filled our tanks at the tap at the front of the Lyndhurst Pub (reasonable water) and set off through the mud and slush for Maree where we met a group of ACC Goldcoast Gadabouts.
We had an excellent pie for lunch at the Maree store and then noticed that the Oodnadatta Track had been reopened (4WD only) so the tire pressures were dropped and off we went.
The track was in good condition but pretty wet along the way, the advantage was that there was no dust, great.
A little down the track Ray got bogged in a creek crossing (his centre diff didn't lock). So I unhitched my van in the middle of the track, backed up to him applied the snatch straps and dragged him back a little until his diff reengaged then he was off.
Interestingly, while the tow was being organised, Judy was holding one end of the straps and a chap yelled out, "Don't step back, there is a snake behind you!!!" Jude's response was quite restrained, along the lines of "Golly-gosh, goodness me" and I thought it was a joke until I got out and saw an Inland Taipan crawling across the track. I checked later in my photos and sure enough, there it was, with Judy oblivious in front of it.
Ray was not at all impressed, he yelled out "Bugger the snake, just put on the strap".
The next stop up the track saw Ray bogged about 10 yards short of the end a half kilometre stretch of mud. I backed up a k to tow him out but an obliging grader driver did the job much more efficiently.
The next stop were the desert sculptures constructed from various odds and ends lying round the countryside along the track.
We pushed on to our overnight stop at Lake Eyre South.
The lake is filling, a marvellous sight and a great sunset.
Up early next morning and back on the track. Lots to see along the way. Ruins of old Ghan track stations are in reasonable condition, road in good condition if not a little muddy in places.
The mound springs at Coward Springs are well worth a visit. The springs have built up substantial mounds over many years.
We arrived for an overnighter at the William Creek Pub.
Beer was good at $8 stubbie.
Petrol was a not so good $1.89/litre
We booked flights over Lake Eyre then settled in to our sites (powered $30 night).
Next morning we walked down to the airport for our flight, there were a large number of planes in operation and there was quite a bit of activity. We were in an 8 seater. We took off and headed for the lake. It was vast, a true inland sea. Pity it is so ephemeral.
A change of direction and we set off for a flight over the Painted Desert, brilliant colours and rugged terrain. Definitely a visual feast to be seen from the air.
After 2 hours of a wonderful flight we landed back at William Creek.
Left the vans locked up in the parking area and set off by road to Halligan's Bay on Lake Eyre. The water was a very short way off shore and Ray and I went for a paddle. A lot of small dead fish on the shore and very squelchy mud between our toes.
Back to William Creek and on up the Oodnadatta Track
to an overnight stop at Edward's Creek. Great camp spot, plenty of wood, just wear your shoes to protect from the burrs.
Off again the next morning, track still good.
Even 1928 Chev Roadsters could traverse it!!!
Lots of ruins, including the great Algebuckina railway bridge were we stopped for a tea break.
After that we continued to Oodnadatta and that centre of architectural elegance, the "Pink Roadhouse".
I had that epitome of gastronomic delight the "Oodnaburger" at $14.80. A snip at the price and quite filling
After Oodnadatta the track got dry and stony, I'm glad I let the tyre pressures down, 27 PSI down from 38 in the cruiser and 30PSI down from 48 in the van tyres, plus we kept the speed to around 60 and 70 kmh. We did have one hold up, a herd of beef appeared just over a rise, lucky we weren't hammering.
We arrived at Marla on the Stuart Highway later that day and checked into the caravan park behind the roadhouse. Not much damage from the run, just a few busted pipes underneath from the stones in the last 30k, easy to fix.
Next morning we parted ways with Kath and Ray, they were heading south, we were heading north.