"With Bitter Feelings of Disappointment I turned from the Cheerless and Dreary Scene Around Me"

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July 9th 2014
Published: July 11th 2014
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Coober Pedy - Lake Eyre - Marree 490km

Desert Ship Territory Log Day 6

We were on the road by 9am but held up a little bit by the peak hour traffic jam at the petrol station. Jammed by everyone making their way to all four corners of this great nation of ours. The road to the Oodnadata Track was really good and we spotted an eagle feeding off a dead dingo just as we reached the Track . Once on the track it was only about 5km before reached William Creek and the road here seemed to be worse. It was a hive of activity with mostly all 4WDs and off road campers all loaded up. This place seemed to be such an institution that we just had to stop for a quick drink at the pub. Four lemonades cost $16. My favourite was the stuffed water buffalo head lying around on the floor. It was very crude and rudimentary in there. Most of the land we have travelling through belongs to Anna Creek Station which is the biggest cattle station in the world at nearly 6 million square km. Apparently, they have about 40 paddocks spread over the size of Wales or Israel. The turn off to Lake Eyre (North) National Park is not long after William Creek and we saw a few cows. We had nearly 70km to go to reach Lake Eyre and we had to take the same road back again. The conditions warranted slowing to 60 km again so it took a fair bit of time and we didn't get there till 1pm. It was the plan to have a picnic there, but the howling wind hurling talcum like powder dust into the car and minus 40 wind chill factor put a stop to that and we picniced in the car and braved the wind to take a few pictures of a very empty Lake Eyre without a bird in sight. In 1843 Edward John Eyre couldn't have described my sentiments about this place any better. "With bitter feelings of disappointment I turned from the dreary and cheerless scene around me". I found it difficult to get inspired with any decent shots and even though the winter sun was still low, the light was still too harsh. Still it was Australia's largest lake and lowest point at 15m below sea level and I have now ticked it off my bucket list. It seemed to take ages to get back out of there and I didn't think we were going to make Marree before it got completely dark at 6pm. We stopped at a few ruins along the old Ghan Railway and saw a live Dingo at Irrapatana. At Strangways ruins there were great relics of an old town. We spent more time than anticipated. We stopped again at Beresford Dam where there was an old stone house and water tank and a few campers settling in for the night. It was already 4.30pm and we still had 150 km on a gravel road at 60 km/hr. I would have liked to stop at other points of interest but we ran out of time. It is deceptive here as the sun rises so much later (at 7.30am) and sets so much earlier (5.30pm) than it does for us in the West. We passed Lake Eyre South and unfortuneately I missed the sunset here by about 20 minutes as it looked much better here than it did 140 km trip out of our way to see the north lake. There were beautiful pink and purple hues over the lake and some great cloud formations. We had to drive for about an hour and a half in the dark, only spotted one cow, and arrived at Marree at 6.45pm. The town looked so small, dead and there were only a few cars parked out front. I was shocked to discover about 4 different dining rooms and over 100 people eating meals! I was expecting just a few old drunks at the bar but I guess it's a huge cross road junction in Australia. The Marree Hotel itself it just like any other run down country hotel, but it certainly has a lot of character and tourists. We ordered a meal and it took ages because they so busy. So tired tonight after a long driving day and there is no phone or internet access here so no uploading the blog tonight. I guess I could make start to upload some of my photos for the blog but I'm even too tired for that. I'm not sure if Wilpena Pound has access for tommorrow night.

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