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Published: August 3rd 2015
We should have taken more notice, when our first purchases “on the road” were a new set of wiper blades and a tarp, but off we headed oblivious and full of excitement about our adventure back to the centre of oz.
Waving goodbye to Windella and our good mates Madge & Mick & and shedding an inner tear leaving our beloved cats behind for a month (thanks also to Kate & Mark Simpson & team of Sugarloaf Animal Hospital for ranga-sitting!!) our first stop was Dubbo where we arrived after dark, promptly found the nearest pub for a feed and set up the tent for the first chilly night of about zero degrees!
Waking to a sunny morning we continued west camping in road side stops the next couple of nights, with a quick tourist detour into “Alligator Gorge” near Wilmington SA, where the serenity of the place quickly put us into holiday relax mode. Working our way past Port Augusta, a quick refill of water & fuel in Coober Pedy (where it started spitting), and then nothing BUT rain for the rest of the day. We had made a pledge that we would roadside
camp if the rain had stopped by 4pm, which the rain did ease, but looking at the sky we quickly decided a “pubstop” was the best option and pulled up camp next to Lake Cadney (aka: the campground at Cadney Homestead!) and attempted to put the tent up on the only dry corner in gale force winds. We knew we were a site to behold when other campers (albeit those bastards in caravans!) started taking photos of us setting up camp. Not sure if they thought we were insane or just really good entertainment on a rainy day….
Onwards up the centre taking a small detour through Lawrence Gorge and into Alice where it was busy busy busy getting organised, packed, cooked, shopped & mechanically fit for the 40th Anniversay of the Finke Desert Race, where Jeff once again went along for mechanical support. A big thanks to Mike & Jill in Alice for lending us somewhere to lay the airbed, was awesome to see you guys and happy big-o birthday Jill!!!) In terms of Finke, a bad year for the boys with only 1 out of the 4 racers finishing (various bodily injuries & one bike
down) but congrats to Colton who came in 12th in his first year of doing the track – well done!
During our time in Alice we also welcomed Jeffs sister Jenny & her hubby Andy (who printed all the T-shirts this year – firstname.lastname@example.org
for all your printing needs!) and they joined us on the rough track into Finke for their first desert race experience – hope it was something you’ll never forget guys & a change from the burbs! Was great to catch up with the crew again, despite the disappointment of losing a few racers, and lets hope next year goes more smoothly.
After dropping the gear back in Alice & catching up with some friendly faces (Eric, Jenny, John, Liz & Eileen it was lovely to see you all!) we left a few days later headed on our big outback adventure with the Oodnadatta Track & Strzlecki track firmly in mind. Never ones to miss having a beer at Molly’s grave, we stayed the first night at Old Andado, then took the very back (& bulldusty!) roads via Mt Dare, to the natural phenomenon that is Dalhousie Springs. A beautiful deep
pool of bubbling mineral waters, sitting on about 37 degrees – bliss! The only downside getting out to freezing wind & an ablution block with cold-only showers brrrrrr, and a mozzie-attack at dusk that had us eating dinner in the front of the car.
More dusty roads down to Oodnadatta, where we headed straight out to the Painted Desert, aka Arkaringa Hills, which were an amazing site. We camped at Arkaringa Homestead watching with bated breaths to see where all the lightning and grey clouds were headed and hoping they were not going landing rain on our future tracks. We awoke to a cold foggy morning, slight drizzle & decided to head back into Oodna to get some track reports, when the last 50km of track turned into a mud-slide of epic proportions. We LITERALLY slid into Oodnadatta sideways & had to scrape mud off the rims & tyres before we dared drive into the caravan park. Promptly finding out that there were tracks closing here & there it only took 24 hours to find out all roads in & out of Oodnadatta were closed so no one was going anywhere…..for 3 days! There were only a
half dozen of us stuck, so we kept the campfire going, yarned around the fire & generally slouched around, until the first road opened (back to Marla – so essentially back where we came from) so everyone made mad-dash with more rain predicted over the next couple of days. Needless to say the Oodnadatta & Strzlecki Tracks will remain firmly on our bucket-list!
Camping back down the centre road we were treated to an amazing milky-way the first night, the first clear night in ages. You know the stars are good when you can photograph them! Back down to Port Augusta where it started to rain again, lower Flinders (fogged in) until over a coffee we finally decided to give-in to the “water theme” that was hanging over our heads & spent the next week or more visiting beautiful rivers, artesian springs of Burren, Pilliga & Moree, and countless waterfalls in & around Armidale.
The trip culminated in Tab’s birthday present from Jeff a 2 night stay in the aptly named “Cabins in the Clouds” in the Hunter Valley, which had the most amazing views, an outdoor hot Jacuzzi, a raging woodfire & a
perfect ending to our divine water adventure!
*Scroll to bottom for link to more photos!*
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