Maree & Talc Alf at the start of Strzelecki Track, Lyndhurst, South Australia 26 November 2016

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November 26th 2016
Published: December 12th 2016
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Saturday 26 November 2016

Although Copley is a small town, it is kept busy with visiting miners and associated businesses. Before leaving the town, we visited the Cooks RAA/Workshop as we had broken one of the battery leads from the car to our caravan. The auto-electrician took no time to change the plug and the associated fuse which had blown. It was then on the road again, up the Explorers Highway to Maree.

It was a very pleasant day with temperatures of around 28-30 degrees which it had been for the past 4 days. We had been very lucky with the weather and while the wind was coming from the SE and not the north, the temperature was staying lower than 40+degrees.

We hadn’t visited the Ochre Cliffs and Talc Alf, the latter who was 2 km outside of Lyndhurst on the Strzelecki Track.

At we drove off the Track to Talk Alf’s humpy, we were met by the gentleman bushy himself. Well, what a character. For the next 30 minutes he presented his theory on the meaning of all the letters of the alphabet as well as the fors and against the republic and democracy. I must confess, I love his concept of the Aboriginal flag and the southern cross as a flag. I have never agreed with having the Union Jack as part of our flag in these modern times of our independence. There you have it… views!!!!

After the obligatory photo of Alf with Tom, as well as the purchase of a magnet of his republican flag and a postcard, we were on our way to the Ochre Cliffs. More spectacular colours! It was an old quarry on Aboriginal land. The sun was reflecting them beautifully.

After that we struck a couple of patches of bitumen on the way to Marree. All the dirt roads were very, very good.

We arrived in Marree after a total of 130kms at about 2.00pm. We parked at the back of the Marree Hotel where we could use their toilet and shower for a donation of $2. There was no power but we didn’t need it as we had plenty of solar power and gas.

We were the only ones there and there were several German people who arrived in a couple of 4x4s with camping gear on the top of their cars, as well as several couples, all of whom were staying in the hotel and cabin accommodation.

The Marree Pub has everything and is THE centre of town. Other than the Ghan Museum, which was closed of the weekend, the pub is the town’s focal point. There is good accommodation, a pool and a bar that was screening the cricket test match between South Africa and Australia.

That afternoon we even sat under the park’s shelter with coffee in hand and read a book. We don’t often do that!!!! At beer-o’clock we had a cold one and then dinner at the van.

We then spent an hour in one part of the pub which was set up as a Museum in memory of Tom Kruse who was the Mailman from Birdwood to Birdsville during the 1940s to the 1970s. He dies in 2011 at the age of 97. Come rain, hail and shine, Tom used to make sure he got the mail through. He was a real hero of the region and was a real bushman mechanic and innovative with his truck repairs. He was also the gentles, non-swearing, helpful man that many have known. There was a DVD on his life as a mailman. One of his old trucks is on display near the old Ghan trains near the Ghan Museum.

There was also a committee which raised enough money to make 5 busts of Tom Kruse. They are displayed in Birdsville, Marree, Birdwood, Alice Springs and Waterloo Corner which was where he was born.

It was then time to go the pub where we chatted with an English couple and their friend who was out from England for a couple of weeks. We all watched cricket and chatted about the rivalry between our 2 countries. The couple had been living in Australia (Perth) for the past 30 years and had driven, via the Nullarbor. They were on their way back via Coober Pedy then up to the Great Inland Road across to Geraldton.

We really enjoy chatting to locals and travellers in these outback pubs. There are many characters in the rural areas and we have a lot to learn from them.

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