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The Desert….(cont)

Category : 4WD Trips

As we drove into the desert the dunes got higher and rougher.


We camped three nights in absolutely fantastic places. One in particular was something out of a movie setting, being in a dry river bed complete with an Eagle’s nest in the tree above us.
This clip (in HD) show’s the drive out in the morning. For those that are bandwidth challenged, I’ll put some up on Facebook. Will still be good but HD rocks 🙂

 

 


The Simpson Desert

Category : 4WD Trips

We finally made it to the Edge of the Simpson. The sign said so 🙂

Once again, words wont do the scenery justice so perhaps this drone footage will.
The footage shows both dunes (of which there are around 12oo ish of) and flood plains. Some of the plains are clay dust laid down when flood waters recede and others seem to be salt, kind of mini Lake Eyres. (Not sure on this tho).
This video is in HD so feel free to view in Full Screen and turn the volume up.

 


Purni Bore

Category : 4WD Trips

Purnie Bore is an interesting place.

We are crossing the desert on a track called the “French Line” which was created by a French exploration company in 1962. As part of this they drilled Purni Bore into the Artesian Basin water then capped it. Some time later, the cap rusted out and water flowed to create a man made lagoon.

This water flow started to affect Dalhousie Springs so the Bore was recapped.
A decision was made to allow a smaller amount of flow to sustain the wildlife that had treated the bore as home when it was flowing freely.

The day we were there, it was home to about a bajillion finches. I wasn’t able to capture them on the ground, but they were all in and around the only open water that we found (see pic below)

The dryness of the rest of the site is best captured by the next photo, but it must be a fantastic during the wet when the birdlife is at its maximum

 


Edge of the Desert

Category : Uncategorized

Ok…we are getting close to the purpose of the whole trip…The Simpson Desert.

We left Eringa early morning heading towards Mt Dare. As it turns out, Mt Dare is a Hotel/Store/Camping Ground with an airfield. And not much else. Power is supplied by a Diesel Generator and as expected we reached the high water mark of the price of Diesel at @ $2.20/litre. Given the remoteness of the place, I thought this was pretty reasonable. We topped up with fuel, had an ice-cream for a treat and took some obligatory pictures in front of the store.

The next stop was Dalhousie Springs.
What an amazing place. First impressions are of another desert oasis with multiple lagoons being fed from natural springs.

It’s only when you jump in for a swim that the craziness becomes apparent. The water is at around 38 deg C! That’s 100 deg Fahrenheit. Does your head in being in a hot bath out in the middle of nowhere.
Getting out was an equally strange feeling as with a slight breeze blowing, we actually felt cold as we dried off. Weird.

We camped the night at Dalhousie with tomorrow being the start of the actual desert.


Eringa – Desert Oasis

Category : Uncategorized

We left Oodnadatta heading for Eringa. No one was really sure what to expect, but we were all amazed at what we found. I’m not sure I have the words to do it justice, so my backup plan is to show some drone footage. Have a look and probably start planning your trip to check it out in person 🙂


Day 7- 8 Coober Pedy & Oodnadatta

Category : Uncategorized

Friday morning we looked around Coober Pedy. A very interesting place totally focussed on Opal Mining. The highlight for me was a visit to the Old Timers Mine and Museum. We went underground in an old Opal Mine that has been set up to show how the old timers lived and worked. They uncovered a very large seam of Opal when excavating for the Museum that the original miners missed by “that much”. Worth about $40k in todays market but left in place as part of the exhibit.

After the museum it was time to refuel and head to Oodnadatta to catch up with the guys from the 4WD club. The trip was just over 2hrs through some of the most barren country we’ve seen so far. The highlight was seeing a wedge tail eagle taking off from the side of the road with a large snake in its talons. It may have been offering a lift to the snake, but I suspect things did not end well for the reptile 🙂

Oodnadatta is a very small town with a well stocked roadhouse, a smaller general store and a railway museum.  We refuelled again, adding a further 40 litres to the Jerry cans on the roof. The fuel was reasonably priced at $1.60/litre. The locals had a good little thing going given that there was no local radio station. One of the houses played very loud music until the sun went down, then another house took over and played music until around 3 am. When the music stopped they had a very good rendition of “who let the dogs out” with every dog in town joining in barking for around 30 minutes. (Note to Self – Get fuel and provisions then camp outside of town next time)


Day 6 & 7

Category : 4WD Trips

Day 5 & 6

We left Farina yesterday morning with some final pictures taken in the Ruins. What a great place to visit.

The next stop was Maree.

Another small town that has an active community preserving history. We pulled up outside the pub and started chatting to a guy outside that was having a coffee. He turns out to be the owner and offered a guided tour of the building. Each room was really a work of art being beautifully restored with and with a theme of famous people or events from the area. The main rooms showed images of Donald Campbells’ world speed attempt on Lake Eyre, John Stuart – The ealy explorer that according to ol’mate the pub owner was a much better operator that Burke and Wills. Completed the South to North trip across Aus without losing a man. Well done to him!

There was a range of aboriginal art in other rooms as well. Very nice of the guy to show us through.

We then visited the shop and was surprised at the amount of stock on hand. They had absolutely everything in there. As you can imagine in the middle of nowhere, the prices were higher than what we were used to.

There were old diesel locos at the railway station with one even for sale. I couldn’t find a way to hook the Jeep up to it so we had to leave it there. Maybe next time 🙂

It was then back on the road heading towards Williams Creek.

Out in the middle of the desert there was a major art exhibition that was constructed of old cars, tanks and just about anything else they could put their hands on. At this stage we haven’t found out who did it but definitely some work went into it. We stopped at an old homestead next to the site and it looks like it was used by the artists as they did their work.

The house itself was interesting on its own, and we wondered what sort of people would have built it and what their dreams were when they did. Sad that it is derelict now. Hopefully they made their fortunes before they moved on.

The next stop was at the viewing platform for the southern edge Lake Eyre. What a massive thing. It is the dried salt lake bed from the water that flows inland from the rains that occasionally fall in central Aus. It is approximately 12 metres below Sea Level so it was to rain more often it would in effect be an inland see. But apparently the major rains only occur every 3 years or so and are quickly evaporated leaving the salt behind.

Jo and I then moved on by ourselves to make a window to visit Cooper Pedy, leaving the rest of the group to explore the lakes edge.

Our next stop was Williams Creek where we met some locals at the pub who helped to track down what is in reality the owner of the whole town. Trevor Wright came to the area 30 years ago with one aircraft to start a business. Now he employs 20 pilots, owns the pub and other buildings and has scenic flight businesses in Cairns, Williams Creek and a few other places. He organised us a pilot and off we went on a flight around the Lake. Our pilot, Laura, had only been in the area a month, and today was her first day of taking paying customers. The flight was fantastic and showed just how majestic the lake is. The airstrip has runways on both sides of the main road so we actually held up traffic as we taxi’d back lol. Not often you get that experience.

After the flight we hit the road again to Cooper Pedy and arrived just before dark. We booked a room at the Under Ground Hotel with the first item on the agenda a nice shower. Cooper Pedy is famous for Opals and having made use of old mine workings for housing as well. The underground theme is all through the town. I’m not sure if there are any other examples of this in the world, but I can imagine that in the heat of summer it would have been a great thing before air conditioning became wide spread.

We had a nice meal at the Hotel restaurant and probably too many bourbons at the bar, but hey…we’re on holidays. Met some interesting characters with one guy being the spitting image of Allan off “The Hangover” movies. I think we had some Italian ladies convinced it was actually him. Funny as!

It’s now Friday morning and we are going to explore the town before hitting the road to Oodnadatta to catch up with the other guys


Finally some Pictures.

Category : 4WD Trips

We have left the 4WD group to come in to Coober Pedy for a look. As there is decent bandwidth here, I’ll put up some pictures from along the way


Bollon Camp Site Day 1
This is what our home will look like for the next couple of weeks or so. Cool (if not cold) nights make good quality sleeping bags a must inside the swag. Good to know we arnt alone on the road. Quite a popular site next to the creek

There was an historic cemetery next to the campsite at Bollon which has been very well looked after by the local community


Day 2 & 3

Category : Uncategorized

Hi Again,

I’ll do a couple of days updates in one hit as bandwidth was none existent at our last two overnight stops.

Day two was what could be called a travel day, leaving Bollon to travel towards Innamincka.

It was during this day that we started to get a real feel for how bloody big Australia is! Limited animals to see we think maybe because of the lack of water, but that’s just a guess. The scenery varied once again from dry forest through to wide open plains with what looked like good quality grass. Not sure how they got it to grow there, but well done to whoever did that.

The first town we came onto was Cunnamulla. A very nice place complete with a statue of the Cunnamulla Fella which is a tribute to Slim Dusty and Stan Coster who sang and wrote the song of the same name. We met a guy that was with a party from the University of New England that were doing some environmental research in the area and were staying on a nearby station. Anyone could camp at the station which would be something I’d be interested in when I come back this way.

The next town was Thargomindah which was a very small place and looked like it might be in decline. The shop had very little stock on the shelves. We filled up with fuel and was on our way. Still a long way to go before the day was done.

As we got closer to Innamincka which is we plan to meet up with the guys from the 4WD club we saw signs to the Bourke and Wills Dig Tree so decided to take the detour in to have a look. When we arrived at the information centre there was another couple just signing in so we struck a conversation. They had been travelling for 50 days so far up through the Gulf of Carpentaria and were heading back to Victoria through the centre of Aus. As it was getting towards dark we decided to camp at the site, and ended up having a great time with our new friends Brett and Sue. The beer and wine was tasting very good after our days travel.

The next morning we went exploring around the Dig Tree site. A very interesting place where Bourke and Wills stopped during their trip to become the first Europeans to travel the length of Australia North to South. The Dig tree itself is the site where their supply teams buried food etc in the hope that Burke and Wills would find it. The trip ended in tragedy for them but is a part of Australia’s history. Well worth Googling if you would like to know more.

We then travelled into Innamincka with Brett and Sue and had lunch the Innamincka Hotel. Good food and cold beer. What more could you ask for.

We then met up with the 4WD club that were camped just below the hotel and set up camp. After a shower at the public ammentities, we went exploring around the very small town. There is a historic building commemorating the nurses who lived and worked at a health facility on the site in the early 20th Century. We also visited the local cemetery and which has recently been restored by the local community. The area is rich in history with Bourke and Wills travels as well as local cattle stations etc.

It is now Tuesday and we are heading south towards Lyndhurst and are presently stopped at the viewing area for the Moomba gas and oil field. They have bandwidth so everyone is catching up with facebook and calls .

 

 


Day 1 Report

Category : 4WD Trips

HI All,

It’s now Sunday morning and we have just woken up in Ballon Qld.

A great day yesterday travelling approximately 700 kilometres due west of Caloundra. As we headed west on Steve Irwin Way, we passed the Australia Zoo and were reminded of the time we’d visited the zoo many years ago and were lucky enough to be there on a day that Steve Irwin himself did a crocodile feeding show.

We then started a climb that ultimately saw us cross the Great Dividing Range and head down into some “big sky” country i.e. very flat farm land. On the climb up, the scenery changed from very green (almost like the North West Coast of Tassie) then down the other side to drier flat country (Midlands Tasmania) and then to large stretches of dry forest.

We called in at a couple of small towns to grab fresh bread and milk and of course a couple of coffees. Between the stops we were pleased to smell egg and bacon pies warming up in the 12V oven which went down very well with the second coffee J

The rest of the day was taken up by driving, made a little more difficult by the very strong cross winds. These were the same winds that caused a bush fire scare on the Tuesday night before we left, to the point where at one stage we were looking like having to evacuate. Luckily this did not happen.

During the drive, we were lucky enough to view our version of Australia Zoo with large Kangaroos stopping feeding to look up as we passed by: A few Emus were also out in the paddocks and even one very mobile Echidna thought seriously about crossing the road right in front of us, but luckily decided against it.

Having be treated to seeing the Aussie Coat of Arms we then started to see large “flocks” of wild goats and pigs. Very interesting to see them with the young goat kids being especially cute, but we were very wary about them jumping in front of the Jeep as we went through. There were large numbers of Kangaroos, Pigs and Goats in various stages of decay that had chosen poorly with regard to crossing the road.

As mentioned, by the time the sun started to get low in the west, making driving difficult, we were close to Ballon and decided to spend the night there. The town is very small, but the local community have worked hard to provide camping facilities along Wallum Creek, with free camping, toilets and showers provided. Whilst it was free, there was also a donation box which we made use of.

We are about to hit the road again. Stay tuned. The bandwidth is a bit dodgy here so will put the words up first and try the pictures later

🙂


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