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July 14th 2013
Published: July 17th 2013
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Dead CamelDead CamelDead Camel

Well obviously as it is just a pile of bones that have been picked clean, you can tell it is a camel by the skull and big nostrils.
Shake Rattle and Roll

Saturday 13 July

Farina to Muloorina via Marree

Waking up to a beautiful morning, the sunshine was streaming in through the skylight, it had been a warm night indeed and it was still warm this morning, the wind was up with the sunshine.

I put the kettle on but with the wind skimming over the top so we could not quite get it to boiling point, Andy had to set up the portable gas stove in the back of the Landcruiser where it was sheltered, we got our morning cuppa, but to make it easy on ourselves we would just have cereal for breakfast rather than try and cook anything.

It is so beautiful this morning, we sorted out some of our gear, packed everything away and hit the road for Marree.

We stopped at a stone man that has been erected off to the side of the track, it seems to be a memorial to John McDouall Stuart commemorating 150th anniversary of the first crossing of Australia from Adelaide to Van Diemen Gulf by the South Australian Great
Frome RiverFrome RiverFrome River

The view from my camping chair!
Northern Exploring Expedition in 1861-62. This expedition resulted in revealing the geographical nature of the centre of Australia. The Overland Telegraph Line linking Adelaide to the world via Darwin was constructed along this route and the original Ghan Railway Line to Alice Springs followed a similar route.

In Marree we went into the hotel for a cup of coffee and an hour of internet time. We had a look around the Tom Kruse exhibition had some lunch, which would save cooking tonight, but as it would appear that it may save us cooking for the next week. We both had the Marree Burger - beef burger, pineapple, egg, peppers, onion, lettuce, cress, mustard seed and chips! It was huge, I don't think we will need a meal for another 7 days. Wow.

Tom Kruse was the Birdsville Mailman, and was a bit of a bush legend, he always go the mail through no matter what and did it in an old Leyland Badger.

Topping up with diesel at a cool $1.95, same price as last Saturday, I commented on how quiet it was today, very different to last Saturday, the lady
Tribute to John McDouall StuartTribute to John McDouall StuartTribute to John McDouall Stuart

He was one of Australia's early explorers
said that yesterday was even busier and everyone was probably going to Oodnadatta Roadhouse as the lady who used to own it leaves today. So I guess by the time we get there, hopefully in the next week we will be seeing the new owners.

Just outside of Marree toward the West there is a track that goes off North towards Lake Eyre and goes across Muloorina Station. I wanted to camp at a place that was on my map called The Neck which is on the edge of Lake Eyre, but there is also camping at Muloorina, we would scope the place out and decide what to do when we arrived.

A notice warns us of the remote location and to ensure that we have plenty of food, water etc. on board and in Emergencies only you can contact the station on UHF 7.

However upon arriving we find that we can only camp at Muloorina, there is no camping in this section of the National Park, which is a little disappointing, but a sign also says that there are no trailers allowed "beyond this point". Oh well, our question
The Marree BurgerThe Marree BurgerThe Marree Burger

We honestly didn't eat until the next day
is answered and we have no choice but to camp here on the banks of the Frome River.

This is a very remote location and there are 2 other campers here, we find a nice sandy spot on the bank of the river and set up only to find that we have lost or misplaced the handle for the legs, ok so it is not too much of an issue as Andy has a spanner to use instead, but that's not the point, I hate losing things and I cannot fathom where this handle has gone, I got the legs and the handle out when we were at but did not use them when I realised that the back end was over a slope and no way could I get the legs in place, so put them straight back in the cupboard under the bed, so where has it gone?

It is warm here and the wind is blowing quite strongly, I think it looks like rain, but we settle in and once the wind had died down we got the camp fire going. No cooking tonight as neither of us is hungry after
Set Up for the nightSet Up for the nightSet Up for the night

Jack and Gypsy all settled in, little did we know about the storm heading our way!
our mammoth Maree Burger.

It was dark, the stars were out and there were a few clouds coming across but by 7pm I was sure that I could see lightning in the distance, but perhaps it was just the flicker of other camp fires. Then the frequency increased and not only did the lightning come from the North, it started to come in from the West.

It was warm and the mosquitos were lively, there was no rain and we wondered if it was going to be just a dry storm, in other words it could still be 100k's from us and not come over head, but we prepared anyway putting away anything that was unnecessary and sat by the fire watched and waited, it got closer, we let the camp fire burn down and then decided that as the rumbling was close we would get inside.

Making sure that everything was packed up and if necessary we could make a quick getaway. Maybe I am being overly cautious, but I have a fair idea of how things work here and we are camped right on the edge of a river
The Marree HotelThe Marree HotelThe Marree Hotel

Its awesome
that will take run off water from Lake Eyre, whether we get rain here or not, we still may see an increase in water volume and put it this way, if we have rain like we did at Wilpena in the South Flinders Ranges, it would give me cause for concern.

When we were comfortably inside Gypsy we opened the curtains and watched the lightning, the severity increased and would light up the whole area.

The rain started and the rumbling got louder and prolonged as it ripped across the sky. By now it was just after 9, the rain had stopped but the wind had got up again, we looked at where the camp fire was and the wind had started it up again, so we both shot outside to grab a couple of bucketful’s of river water to put on the fire making sure it was out once and for all.

I don't remember much after that, the rumbling became distant and the flickers of lightning became less frequent and the next thing I knew it was morning.

Sunday 14 July

The calm
Frome RiverFrome RiverFrome River

Early morning shot
after the storm.

Waking up to a warm morning, the sun is streaming in through the windows, it sounds very calm, most unlike the conditions that sent us to sleep last night.

After breakfast we packed up to set off toward Lake Eyre, I wanted to camp there, but for two reasons we could not, even though the map I had showed a camping sign there are signs at the track entrance saying no camping and the second reason is because there is also a sign saying that trailers etc. are not allowed, so we leave Gypsy at the little camp site at Muloorina.

We are driving across this barren land, a dirt track with heavy corrugations in places, straight through the middle of nothing, with the occasional puddle probably from last night’s storm. There really is not much to see, scrub, about 3 kangaroo's, 12 emu's and a few head of cattle until we come up to a big pool of water in the middle of the track only to find a handful of ducks having a good paddle in the middle.

Eventually we see Lake Eyre
Lake EyreLake EyreLake Eyre

No water here
South, there is a tiny drop of water in this vast lake, we drive round the edge up through Goyders Channel to the Neck and finally we reach the end of the track so we have to get out and walk the last 150metres over a sand dune to see Lake Eyre or at the very least the Lake Bed.

People had told me not to get my hopes up and others suggesting different and the best places to view the lake, but for me at the moment, I just want to see it, with or without the water, what a spectacular view, it looks as if there is some water off to the distant right, but that could also be an optical illusion, this lake goes for miles it is so big the lake is equivalent to the size of Holland and there is nothing but dry salty lake bed in front of us, we walk onto the lake bed and find the surface is very crispy with the dry salt and we are standing below sea level at somewhere around -13 metres.

A small fact for you all, Donald Campbell first broke the world Land Speed Record, at 649kmh, in Blue Bird on this lake on 17 July 1964, we are only days away from the 49th anniversary. I have seen Blue Bird at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire. This is not very far from where we used to live and when I mentioned it to Andy he said he had not been around the museum, lucky me, I have been a few times and I wondered if Blue Bird was still there, we will put it on the list of things to do when we go to England next time.

John Eyre who first discovered Lake Eyre, was "bitterly disappointed" as the Lake was so dry and the landscape so barren and desolate, there is nothing amongst these dunes, just scrub, not trees and no shade. We cannot imagine being out here in the summer, it would be unforgiving.

After a while of mooching around, we head back the way we came, there is another track off to the right, with a causeway just above Lake Eyre South, but it is gated and signs prohibiting access also advising people of the dangers of
Vegetation in the Sand DunesVegetation in the Sand DunesVegetation in the Sand Dunes

on the edge of Lake Eyre
driving on the lake bed with its unpredictable surface.

The gate is flanked by a fence, but the fence is only about 40 foot long and peters out on the edge of the lake, it is not much good for keeping people out, but the signs are clear enough and if you tried to drive round it to pick up the track on the other side, my guess is that you would get stuck.

A clear testament to that maybe the remains of a camel just off to the side of the track, its bones have been picked clean, don't stand down wind, because it still smells. The camel appears to be in a hole, we wondered if it had become stuck and unable to get itself out. The surface on this side of the fence is really sticky, and we can see camel hoof prints around this area. We see dingo footprints too, so undoubtedly they had a feast.

We had not planned on it, but as there was not much to see we headed back to camp just in time for lunch, so we sat on the edge of
Bed of Lake EyreBed of Lake EyreBed of Lake Eyre

Covered with salt deposits
the Frome River and enjoyed the sandwiches that I had packed for our trip up to Lake Eyre.

The temperature here has rocked up to 32 degrees; the flies are a complete pain in the butt! We shower and enjoy the warmth of the afternoon; I knock up satay chicken with rice for our tea, and watch the day give way to the evening.

Sitting by the camp fire listening to the sounds of the wildlife, they are quite noisy for a while and then gradually, one by one the noise of the birds dies down, the stars start to ping up in the sky and a final squawk or two then we are in virtual darkness. The noise of a frog starts up, the sky is partially lit by the crescent moon, and the evening is calm, most unlike last night when the storm came through last night.

When the fire breathed it's last we headed to bed, it was another warm night and no need for hot water bottles, I even have the nose cone window wide open.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Prohibited TrackProhibited Track
Prohibited Track

Across Lake Eyre South to Stuart Creek Station
I think this might be a BlitzI think this might be a Blitz
I think this might be a Blitz

And was possibly driven by Tom Kruse
Muloorina StationMuloorina Station
Muloorina Station

400,000 Acres, 4000 cattle

17th July 2013
Tribute to John McDouall Stuart

A tribute
Nice one.

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