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Published: July 28th 2013
The Pink Road House
An Icon, for Outback travellers
Arkaringa - Oodnadatta - North Creek - Oodnadatta - Dalhousie
It was a little bit disappointing to wake up this morning at Arkaringa and realise that it was still very windy, it is getting a bit tiresome now and would very much like to get out of it. We had already decided to move on, but we know that wherever we go today, we are unlikely to lose this wind.
It was just before 10am when we left Arkaringa, we saw Wei on the way out, but there was no sign of Lauren, well it is Sunday and I guess she is taking the opportunity for a lie in, I don't blame her.
Today our drive takes us through the Painted Desert and toward Oodnadatta, I believe that the next 50k's of track takes us through the Arkaringa property until we hit the main Coober Pedy - Oodnadatta track is Arkaringa and it is some 50 kilometres of beautiful scenery before we hit the main track.
We drive up to the Pink Roadhouse, this is a much talked about Roadhouse of the Outback, being Pink for starters
and they came up with a mudmap of the Oodnadatta track to help travellers pick out the best tourist attractions and camping sites along the way, there is even advice on tyre pressures.
It is Sunday lunchtime, it does not appear very busy today, we head in and grab a coffee and a bite of lunch, I am not ready with the blog yet so we don't purchase internet time today, we will do that again tomorrow when we come back up this way.
I know some people think this is mad (well a lady at the camp site last night thought we were!!) we want to drive South on the Oodnadatta track before we head north again, and this is because we want to visit the Algebuckina Bridge, which has been recommended to us, it is one of those things that if we miss it, perhaps we would be missing out on the best thing and there is only one way to find out, so off we go.
On the way we see a lookout called the Barton Gap and stop for a look, I noticed a box with a
catch on it and it said "poetry box". Of course I had to look and well it was full of poetry that people had written and left in the box, so we read a couple and on we went.
Arriving at Algebuckina Bridge early afternoon, the longest bridge in South Australia and the old Ghan railway track used to go across it. It really is windy up here, Andy is brave enough to take the path onto the bridge, I don't fancy it even though he does remind me that it was strong enough to take the train, but it has been 23 years since a train went across this bridge!
Over the road we find the Algebuckina waterhole and amazingly enough, there is water in it, considering the Algebuckina creek that comes across the road is bone dry, the water is very green and a few pelicans are bobbing about in it.
You can camp around here, but Andy did not really fancy camping here, as we had seen what we came for, we headed North again (I know, we should have stayed for sunset!). We had seen a place
on the way down that looked good for camping and that is where we are heading.
We pull in at North Creek, drive slightly up the river bed and under the railway bridge, this puts us on the other side of the rail embankment so we are concealed from the road and a little bit sheltered from the wind. There is another camper here that has just pulled up, we wave and drive past, going a lot further up the creek so that we are not camping on top of each other.
Just in case I have not been clear, this track follows the old line for the Ghan Railway, the Ghan still exists but now takes a new line. The embankments, bridges and sleepers still remain in many areas as you follow the line up from Port Augusta through the centre.
People have used the sleepers for firewood, they are gradually rotting away, we use a couple of pieces to get the camp fire going, but it really is no good it burns quickly and does not leave any coals for cooking on.
So that we can
get shelter from the wind we get as close to the rail embankment as possible.
With the camp fire nicely burning we, chuck a couple of jacket potatoes in the fire and fry up some Scotch Fillet Steak with vegetables for dinner, washed down with a glass of Cabernet Merlot, well, i do Andy doesn't touch wine.
Andy made a cup of hot chocolate for us both before we retired once more to the comfort and warmth of our bed.
Monday again, the weeks are flying by, we awake at North Creek to beautiful sunshine streaming in through the windows, and what a relief the wind has completely died down so the morning feels warm.
We decide on a cup of tea and will have breakfast at the Pink Roadhouse in Oodnadatta, so we are fairly quick on packing up and hit the track.
Arriving at Oodnadatta, we have breakfast on order and then once we had eaten we purchased one hour of internet using the connection via Tomizone. I remembered that we used to use Tomizone when we
A broken Down 4WD
first came over nearly 5 years ago and we would go to Starbucks in Mooloolaba (Queensland) for coffee and blogging, so I tried my old log on details and to my surprise I got in. I didn't have any credit left though, so I paid $6 for 1 hour and set about getting the blog uploaded.
The Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta has a kind of charm about it, pink is my favourite colour, but I do wonder about the pink Volvo, maybe once upon a time but not now. Sadly Adam Plate, who was a co owner of the Pink Roadhouse with his wife, died in a car rally last year (2012) so Lynnie, his wife, has sold up to move on so with the new owners taking over in September the Pink Roadhouse is entering a new era, I wonder if that era is going to be pink?
We have a long drive this afternoon, roughly 173k's so we fill up with diesel at $2.17 (the most expensive on this trip so far) and head north, we know a Hundred and Seventy Three K's is not that long, but its an off road
track, that will be rough.
Reaching the turnoff for Dalhousie and the Witijura National Park, we pulled up to check the tyres, whilst Andy did this I wandered back to take a picture of the signpost, it seemed to be singing to me, the wind has started to come up again and there are small holes in the post that seem to be aligned to the wind direction and is creating "music" as it blows through them, it feels very eerie.
A few kilometres later, we are both looking into the distance, and see a cow and a calf, then in a cloud of dust the cow fell over, we were both shocked wondering what had happened and she very quickly got up again, then we can only conclude that it had become somehow stuck on the fence and had just freed itself, she did look rather shocked and looked at us like she was pretending nothing had happened, but at least we did not have to try and rescue her (a bit different to rescuing a lamb!)
The track today varies, some really good stretches to some rutted sections, stony/rocky sections, corrugations vary from fairly shallow to quite deep, but again the scenery changes are remarkable, the colours change and we are in desert sand, then scrub, then no scrub at all. We drove for hours and the scenery constantly changed.
Stopping at Dalhousie ruins for a quick photo opportunity, but we were tired, it has been a long day so keen to get camp set up we jump back in and get the last few kilometres done.
Now, I do have to fess up to something here, since leaving Adelaide I have been asking all the way up at information centres, parks etc, for a Desert Parks Pass as you are required to have one for the Witijura National Park. The Desert Parks Pass, at $150 covers you for road permits, access and camping. All the way up here nobody could sell me one, even at the Marree Hotel, which is listed on the National Parks website as a provider.
So we thought we would risk it, we tried and failed to get one and would have to see what happened if we got caught by the Ranger, worse case scenario is that you would just get given a notice to pay the $150.
We found a suitable site, making sure Gypsy's back end was facing North so that we could maximise the sunshine on the solar panel, no wind meant we would deploy the awning at last.
I notice a sign saying that you cannot get Desert Parks Passes here but you can get a camping permit, but I had not got round to going to the information bay and thought I would grab a coffee first.
Next thing we know two camp hosts and representatives on the National Parks happen to wander up to check on permits. This is where we fess up to not having the Desert Parks Pass.
"No problem" we are told, "you don't actually need it here unless you are crossing the Simpson Desert and all you need to do are pay camp fees."
Well that was a relief because we thought we did and it was explained that the only reason why you need it here is because most people who come this way either come via the Simpson Desert or are on their way to the Simpson Desert.
They went on to explain that if we wanted to cross they could sell us a pass, and if we spoke to the Ranger nicely then we may be able to drop Gypsy in the yard while we went across.
Hmmm, food for thought for both of us, we thanked them for the information and said we need to sleep on it and would pop in tomorrow morning (maybe after a swim in the hot springs).
I need to add that we are right in Dingo territory here and signs remind you not to leave food scraps, rubbish or leather shoes outside your tent/trailer, otherwise the Dingo's will take them overnight and this would be a bad thing as you really don't want to lose your shoes and no way do we want to encourage Dingo's to come rely on human food for consumption otherwise they will become a nuisance. We have already seen a couple of Dingo's whilst we were eating dinner.
So we comply, the rubbish is locked in the back of the truck along with the dishes from dinner that we will wash up in the morning. The hot water bottles are done, well it is 4 degrees tonight!
Funnily enough we have come indoors, Andy is reading and I am typing the blog, I hear a vehicle pull up along side our camp and then a voice says "are you in bed?" I shout "no" and open the door to find the camp host standing outside, he has spoken with the ranger and he has said that it would be ok to leave Gypsy here while we went and crossed the Simpson Desert.
So, we have a few things to consider, and the question is: do we cross the Simpson or not?
I will leave you with that thought, and no doubt we will be serenaded tonight by howling Dingo's.
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