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Published: July 27th 2013
Forgot to tell the story of the missing dinner. At Palm Valley we had our veges and meat all prepared to cook for our meal. It was cold, so no flies were about. Just on dusk we walked across to talk to Terry and Steph for about 15 minutes, returned to our table, and the meat was gone. About 20 minutes later we saw a very cheeky dingo passing by our tent, and only 8 metres away from people cooking and the campfire. I hope he enjoyed our boerewors sausage!
Finke Gorge to Boggy Hole gave us a little bit of 4-wheel driving until we reached a very sandy creekbed where we could see that another vehicle had ventured in, then backed out. Being on our own and it being late in the afternoon we decided not to venture any further and returned to Palm Valley. We also had a look around Hermansberg, an aboriginal community, initially founded by 2 Lutheran Missionaries from Germany in the 1800s. Alot of the buildings are still there and are used.
1 July – Drove west again to Grosse Bluff, the geographical remains of where a comet hit the earth 450 million years
ago, then into the West McDonnell National Park. We discovered a small signpost into Roma Gorge, so followed this 4x4 track in for about 8km to find a small gorge with amazing aboriginal artwork chiselled into the rock. Although this is a “men’s business” place,(where the men teach the boys cultural and spiritual stuff, hunting etc) the public is allowed in so far and asked to enjoy and respect the area. It is great to have this co-operation between Government Conservation department and the tribal owners of the land. We met a young Aussie guy who was able to interpret some of the drawings for us and showed us the wild fig trees.
That night we stayed at 2 Mile Bush free camp on the edge of the Finke River. The birdlife here was busy. Nice little campfire on the river’s edge. There’s about 3km of area along the river’s edge and we were one of only 4 vehicles. Nice being married to a hunter/gatherer. He knows how to sneak up, and watch the birds quietly without disturbing them. Not like one tourist who told us he would be back in the morning early to take photos - sure
Love their signs
enough at 8am, (we had been sitting quietly since before sunrise), he roared up in his 4x4, jumped out with the camera, and wondered why the birds all took off!
2 July – So before he came we were up before sunrise this morning to quietly sit outside the tent to watch cormerettes, a pelican, ducks and a falcon catching their breakfast.
Ormiston Gorge Pound walk was another 7km, 3.5 hr walk – beautiful. After being so energetic we treated ourselves to an Aussie pie with tomato sauce, and flat whites! The afternoon was spent checking out Ochre pits (one of four pits used by the abos for body decoration). Camped at DOC’s Ellery Creek waterhole camp ($10). A lot of people through this area are tramping through all or part of the Larapinta Walkway (total 220Km). Kangaroo steaks for dinner. Lent some trampers our collected firewood.
3 July – Popped into Standley Chasm (but decided not to walk into this as it is privately run and was expensive (and looked very similar to Ormiston) - you can overdose abit on gorges if you’re not careful. Arrived in Alice Springs about 11ish, popped into the Big4 West
How does a gumtree grow there?
McDonnell campground ($45 powered) for a much enjoyed shower before heading into town to do various jobs. Surprised to met Alan and Susanne Harrison (own a section down our road at home) who are working there. Met Murray who had just arrived down from the station he had been working on near Mr Isa in Queensland. Ham steaks for dinner at the camp.
4- 7 July – Did lots of jobs in Alice, welding up trailer stoneguard, new RT aerial, repaired 3 flat tyres, and bought a camp oven. Had dinner at the East Club.
Visited Truck Museum, and Old Ghan Railway Museum – excellent. Dave and I rode a camel. They are nice animals if treated well. A camel can carry its own weight. They are rumanate (chew a cud) so a bit can’t be used. The camel is controlled by a peg through its nose with a piece of string attached. Dinner at Monte’s for two nights, Lunch at Uncles’ bar and watched Wallabies being demolished by the Lions at a pub. Chris arrived Sunday morning, and we wondered around the Sunday market.
8-9 July – We have travelled 3630 km from Narrogin (near Perth)
Dingo in camp
to Alice Springs.
Last shower for 5 days. We heading south from Alice Springs, following the Old Ghan Rail Route. Learning some of the history of the taming of the interior is quite fascinating, and following the original narrow gauge track route made it far more real to us. Many of the stations, sidings, bridges, fettlers cottages, sleepers and tracks are still there, mainly as ruins. Leaving Alice at about 2pm, we drove into the DOC camp at Chambers Pillar at about 5.30pm. We had a campfire, had just finished dinner, when light rain started. It rained all night, and it was cold. Stayed in bed until 9am, Murray made a cooking shelter at the back of his ‘Cruiser and cooked up Spaghetti on toast. It kept raining and was cold so there was nothing else to do but go to bed. Got up about 3pm when we heard Murray organising another shelter over the fire, and he’d lit the fire. Managed to listen to ABC radio. It was the 4th
coldest July day on record, not getting above 8 degrees. We stayed dry, fortified ourselves with rum and whiskey, and managed to cook up a meal, just as
At Grosse Bluff - comet crater
the rain stopped.
10 July – stayed another night here and hung around for the morning to dry the tents out. Walked to Chambers Pillar which is a rock column used as a surveying marker way back. The radio announcers in Alice were raving about the 25 to 30 mls they had got. Left after lunch and needed 4wd to get out to the nearest community 45km away at Titjikala. Locals in their cars had obviously had a marvellous time doing wheelies etc in the mud out of town. Murray had spoken to a white fella who told us of a shortcut out of town back onto the Old Ghan Road. There is a parallel track to the Road which is used for the annual Finke desert race from Finke to Alice and return, held every June for motorbikes and off-road racing vehicles, so drove along this for a while. It wasn’t corrugated like the road but was humpy, so quieter but slower. Camped at Alice Creek about 6 sandhills west of Bundooma Siding.
11 July – slept in until 9am!! As we approached the aboriginal community of Finke, Murray’s trailer started to limp severely with a broken
Aboriginal carving in rock
left spring. Finke is nearest town to the geographic centre of Australia. The guys had just started to make a makeshift temporary fixit job when John, the “major” arrived and offered us a spare spring, and actually sold Murray two. He was the shire services manager, and told us there were 7 white people in the town, himself and another guy keeping power/phones etc working, 2 nurses and 2 teachers, and the person running the store, and probably 150 aboriginals. There are six or seven people in the community in their 70’s, however, normal life length seems to be dropping to 50’s due to diabetes. Their diet is unhealthy – pies and hamburgers and softdrink, and not good at taking meds. Sad to see.
Once fixed up we moved south and camped about 10km south of Finke down a track on the south-west side of Finke River. Tried out our new camp oven with roast chicken and vegies.
12 July – We are heading south from Finke and have left Old Ghan Railway route for a while, now on the western edge of the Simpson Desert. We cross over the border into South Australia, and call into Mt
Dare Hotel at the Mt Dare station. This pub would be the closest pub to the centre of Australia, so we celebrate with a lovely $5 shower, a few beers and a pub pie for lunch. As we left we were asked to take a container of fuel on to someone who has run out at Dalhousie Springs. Camped at 3 O’clock Creek (no water, but a tank with a tap.) Here I was attacked by mozzies – biting through my shirt and pants as well as bare skin – now covered in red spots – very pretty! It became quite gusty during the night, so got up and pegged the tent down.
13 July – Stopped at Dalhousie Springs for a lovely swim – natural hot artesian water at a temp of about 37 degrees – nearly as good as the Kingfisher spa! With an added bonus of little fish, Dalhousie Hardyhead (unique to here) that feed on your skin. If you lie still they nibble at your feet, legs and arms, and probably everything else if you are skinnydipping, ticklish!!!! Tyre tubes etc are provided for your floating pleasure. The Great Artisian Basin is under 22% of
2 mile bush camp
Camped near Mt Sarah Station near a dry creekbed just off the road. Day temp was high 20s, lots of flies. Then we watched Mother Nature unleash her fury all around us from about 6pm. Clouds building up, thunder and lightening. We were expecting a downpour but luckily only a few drops and we enjoyed our camp oven roast beef. I got up to make myself comfortable at about 3am and the lightening was still happening in the distance.
14 July – Headed south to Oodnadatta. Stocked up at the Pink Roadhouse. Sunday so the pub was closed (not well planned by Murray!) The Railway Museum was worth a look at. Stopped to look at the longest single span railway bridge in South Australia (disused). Saw two kangaroos (not a lot of wildlife visible). Picked up sleepers off the rail track for firewood. There is an abundance of these sleepers and many are rotting away. Camped at Duff Creek by another railway bridge.
15 July – Have seen a bit more wildlife – cockatoos, corellas and galahs etc, 2 dingos (1 dead). Had lunch at William Creek hotel. The publican here must do his stock order
On Ormiston Gorge walk
2 and a half weeks ahead, as the truck only comes fortnightly. We are also vaguely following the route of the Old Telegraph Line. The ruins of Strangways has one of the original poles there (140 yrs old, plus some metal poles that were brought in in three parts of the back of camels, and were used when they couldn’t find suitable timber. There were 36000 poles on the Telegraph line in total, and this line allowed communication overseas.
We were asked to deliver the mail to Coward Springs station, which we did. Took a quick look at the Bubbler Mound Spring (artesian hot water spring), before setting up camp further south at the abandoned Curdiminka Railway Station, with the second longest railway bridge in SA. (Can still be used for shelter as it still is intact with fireplace, as long as you are prepared to share it with the swallows.)
16 July – Stopped for a look at Lake Eyre (sth) which had water in it. Arrived in Marree (the start point of the infamous Birdsville mail run). Showered at Lake Eyre Yacht Club $1 per minute. (You may wonder why I mention this, but you do
4th coldest July day on record
start looking forward to it from about Day 3, and the largest en-suite in the world unfortunately does not have a shower, only a spade).
Enjoyed lunch at Marree Hotel, refuelled and bought yoghurt, milk and bread. They have only two mail drops per week, and can take 3 weeks to get an item from Port Augusta. Started the Birdsville Track heading north. Camped at Cooper Creek (donation).
17 July – Stopped at Mungerannie Hotel (in the middle of nowhere) for cappuchino and beer for morning tea. It is a lovely 30 to 33 degrees in the sun. Turned west onto the Warburton Track into the Simpson Desert. White sand flood plans, then white sand dunes. Warm northerly wind – and lots of flies. Found a sheltered spot to camp between dunes.
18 July – Saw 1 big camel, sand dunes, passed two capped oil wells and 2 geckos. 120km in 7 hrs – slow going but great.
19 July – Onto Knolls Track then onto the French Line. (These are all tracks put in by petroleum companies in the 60s to get the equipment in. Flies WORST EVER for lunch, we ended up holding sandwiches
How's that for an awesome Aussie BBQ
and jogging around in circles to get away from them very briefly. Stopped at Poepells Corner (named after the surveyor). This is the corner of Queensland, Northern Territofy and South Australia. Today met 7 vehicles, 2 motorbikes. We averaged 14 km per hour, traveling 80km in 6 hrs. Camped on the French Line. Camp oven dinner of yummy roast chicken and veg made by Murray and Chris, followed by my also yummy sultana damper, eaten with Kiwi butter and maple syrup. Got 445km out of the sub fuel tank.
20 July – Onto the QAA line heading east now towards Birdsville. The Simpson Desert is one of the best examples of parallel dunal desert in the world. Its in the driest region of Australia and receives only slightly more rain than in the Sahara Desert. These awesome dunes vary in height up to 40 metres high. Last night camping in the desert about 50 km west of Birdsville with Big Red (the largest dune on the track) to tackle tomorrow.
21 July – We had fun with a couple of the dunes, especially towing the trailers, but we have managed it with a little winching and strops. Big
Red was conquered without the trailers, and we had fun zooming around up the top. Helped Don and Desley from Noosa with a snatch over the very top has Don had powered off at the top with Desley yelling in panic beside him and had bellied his 4x4. Then back down, hitched up the trailers again and took an alternative route a couple of kms south. So we have done a bit of a zig zag trip through the desert on the various tracks, driving in the swales between the dunes heading north, then up and over heading east. Great to do, and we’d love to come back.
Total approx.. 500 km in the Simpson which included an unintended Mad Murray’s Mysterious Mayhem tour. Tyre pressures were down to 18 psi all round on the biggest dunes. First half of dunes sand is reasonably hard, but softens on the top 1/3 due to wind blowing the loose sand.
Headed into Birdsville for a bit of R&R after that excitement. We met a couple whose Landcruiser had broken down in the desert over 60km west of Birdsville. The salvage guy came and towed his vehicle to Birdsville with another
Even the expensive ones break..
Landcruiser on a stretchy strap – cost $800. So it’s nice to have a mechanic and engineer on board!.
22 July – Breaky at Birdsville’s Hard Road Café. We head to Bedourie, Murray and Chris head east. Bedourie Shire is 2nd
largest in Queensland with an area of 95,000km2 and a population of 390! Heading into Diamontina National Park, we found a nice spot to camp on Davenport downs Station. Plenty of roos and emus around.
23 July – Passed a group of cows and calves on the road being hassled by a dingo. Then not long after 4 emus shot out from behind a bush right in front of us…nearly had bird for dinner! Headed into Gumhole Camping Area ($10.90) – just has a longdrop only – no water.
24 July – Met the ranger at Hunters Gorge in the Park and had a chat. Saw a feral cat and the ranger told us they had got rid of 2800 feral cats in 12 months. Since they used 1080 to kill the wild dogs, the roo population has exploded, and they are using roo shooters now. A lot of Central and Western Australian plants have a
Crossing from NT into South Australia
natural content of the main ingredient of 1080, so now it takes 40 times the amount of agent to kill the feral animals because of their natural resistance. We travelled up the least used road into this park - this road has light sand/fine bulldust.
Past Cork Station to Lark Quarry arriving there at closing time. The woman there gave us directions to a lovely little campsite above the dam.
25 July – Did the tour at Lark Quarry Park – really great. This park is where they have discovered where a dinosaur stampede took place 95 million years ago (the only one in the world). They have unearthed these and have built a large building over the area to protect it.
We are now in Longreach, and heading home within the next week or two, so this is the end of the blog. Hope you have enjoyed and not been bored silly. Thanks for reading.
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