Day 3 - The Red Centre - drive to Marree

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May 21st 2017
Published: May 23rd 2017
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Road out of Broken HillRoad out of Broken HillRoad out of Broken Hill

Long road barren land
Day 3 The red centre. Note we have been off the grid and out of reception for two days now. So this is catchup.
Ok. Now today is Day 3. We have seen all we need to see in Broken Hill. We could have spent days and days seeing museums and art galleries yesterday but the group were not interested in what the grandchildren would call boring. So today was a travel day. I wanted us to all get up really early to have an early start but I was voted down by everyone so instead of everyone getting out of bed at 5 am, as I was, they slowly surfaced between 7 and 8 am. I wasn't terribly fussed as I had not booked accommodation for day three and wherever we ended up was going to be where we camped. We had a 699km journey through desert and the Flinders ranges. On both bitumen and rough tracks. The Hema tracking unit told us we had 10 hours to do this and that is without stopping. That was daunting. We finally left the Broken Hill caravan Park at 8.40am but interestingly enough I was not stressed about the time or how far we would go on this day. The first half was flat dry desert. It was not the normal Sahara type desert but was red sandy dirt with spindly dry native plants trying to survive in a waterless environment. Trees were scarce. I reckon this went on for 300km or so. Our first stop was a small town called Peterborough. Population of just over 1000. Not impressive and the only cafe open smelt like an oil foundry. We walked in and did a U turn back out the door. We got in the car and drove on to the next town called Orroroo. This was a quant old township located in the Flinders ranges region. 540 people call it home. There is a lot of railway line ruins here long ago abandoned. Lunch was in a small cafe here and we had the most tasty home made lunch. I had a home made pie. Well not just a normal pie, this pie was twice the thickness as the four'n'twenty pies we are used to in Melbourne. OMG we could not even attempt to get our mouths across its thickness. It was a take it slow activity. Mind you I
Orroroo cafeOrroroo cafeOrroroo cafe

Ordering our enormous pies
still got pie all over my shirt but it was worth it. Now with our bellies full we got back into our cars to take on the rest of the trip. I had rung Marree up to see how long it will take and they confirmed another 7 hours and yet we only had 400 km to go. On a normal bitumen road it should have been only 4 hours. Anyhow we had a secret weapon. We put Xavier and his wife in the lead. Well we whittled away the 7 hours down to five. We did not speed, or that is what Xavier would tell you. All I know is the Emu's we came across had no chance with his Ranger, it was get out of my way or else. We saw a lot of road kill on this leg. I lost count how many Kangaroos we saw belly up and bloated on the side of the road. One in particular was bloated dead centre on our side of the road. We had to go over it. I went over one of these bloated carcasses once, hit it with my front tyre and it literally blew up and showered the underside of my car with this foul smelling meat roadkill. Let me just say I made sure I missed it this time. We saw more Emu riding shotgun on the side of the road than Kangaroos. The emu has a tendency to like running beside you and then at the last moment taking a detour to the front of your car. We knew this would happen and we avoided this type of collision a couple of times today. The last 200km was with the Flinders ranges as a backdrop and made for a delightful change to the dull and flat scenery of the dry desert around Broken Hill. The landscape had seen some rain as there was a lot of wet patches around the roads and some of the dams had water in them. Anyhow we had run out of bitumen about 80km before our destination. The Hema GPS told us that we still had two hours to drive even though it was only 80km on dirt track. Well like I said before we had a secret weapon with Xavier in the lead. We slowed down from 110km per hour to 100km per hour. There was some corrugations but we did not feel them too much as we were at a speed that allowed us to fly over them. Suffice to say we took less than one hour to complete the 80km and drove into Marree at 4.22pm instead of the original 7 pm expected. Now let's talk about Marree. This town has character. It is perfectly situated at the start of the famous Birdsville track as well as the Oodnadatta track which is the one we had come to traverse. Marree district has a population of about 650 people with 70% of them male. The town has a population of 150. I am not sure where they are all living as there are not a lot of houses here. You can see the remnants of the old abandoned railway with two old diesel trains at the abandoned station. These trains are patiently waiting to be restored, when someone gets around to it. We found some free accommodation right next door to the pub. This was a bonus. A pub meal and sleeping next door with showers and toilets. Wohoo. I am writing this at 10pm and the stars I am seeing in the sky are just spectacular. We don't see this amount of stars in the city due to all of the ambient light. Her there is very little light to speak of except for the mottled light coming from the pubs main bar. Still not enough light to hide the brilliance of these stars. After a great pub meal we all got to bed early for another day on the Oodnadatta track.

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