Sunday, June 2, 2013

Day 8 - Farina to Cameron Corner via Strzelecki Track

Waking up at the Farina Station campground was an experience.  It was cold - about -4C overnight.  the priority was getting the campfire going again and getting warm, getting a hot drink and taking some pics.

Once we had all warmed up, had breakfast and packed up it was a quick transit to Lyndhurst to refuel and then take on the mighty Strzelecki Track.

To be honest I thought that Strzelecki Track would be a rough and tumble 4WD adventure/challenge.  In reality, it had been recently graded and it was more of a high speed dirt road than the track that I had imagined.

But it was open and with the vehicles full of fuel we we pretty excited to be on another of Australia's iconic 4WD tracks.

I guess it is worth a mention that the route of the track is attributed to a chap called Harry Readford.  Harry was a cattle thief.  Wroking on a remote part of a remote cattle station in Queensland Harry, without the station owners knowing, built a set of cattle yards and over a period of time assembled a mob of about 1000 head of cattle.  Realising that trying to sell the cattle in Queensland would be a bit of a problem (everyone would recognise the brand)  Harry decided to drove them to South Australia, but needed to cross through the Channel Country and then the Strzelecki Desert.

Which he did - he traded some of the cattle for rations and sold the rest at a station east of Marree.

A couple of years later the las caught up with Harry - arrested in Sydney and sent to Roma, Queensland for trial.  He was acquitted - the jury was impressed with him opening up the route.  Another great Aussie story of the outback.

Anyway we set off for what was to be an enjoyable and straight forward drive.  We passed the 'top' of the Flinders Ranges and Mount Hopeless.  This mountain was 'overnamed' by Eyre - it is 124m above sea level at its peak!  Burke tried to get to it when he, Wills and King were stranded at Innamincka.

These days most of this things are of historical interest.  The track isn't used for droving anymore - but it is used to transport goods and chattels to the oil and gas fiels in the region.

After a hand full of dry creek crossings we arrived at the turn off to Montecollina Bore where we decided to stop for lunch.  There are some picnic tables and shelters here and the Bore itself is an interesting find in what is now desert country.  What is cool is walking up onto the dunes and looking down at the location.

Afteer having lunch and watching the bird life we decided to head across to Cameron Corner rather than pushing on to Innamincka.  We would work out whether to go to Innamincka or Tibooburra once we had arrived at Cameron Corner.

We headed off and found the 'shortcut' track to Cameron Corner - thanks to the navigator.

I really enjoyed that part of the drive.  Firstly it is through desert country - up and over dunes.  The track itself is well formed so it is a nice easy drive.

On the track across one of the more unusual sights is the Yellow Bus Campsite (at least that is how it is marked on the map.)

There are a handful of stories about the bus - it seems to have been used as a shelter for stockmen at some point and a campground in the past.  I'm told the land owner chaged his/her mind about camping and now there are signs there saying no camping or fires...

A short while later we pulled in to Cameron Corner store.  We decided to camp and have a shower here and then head across to Tibooburra the next day.

I have written about Cameron Corner, the store and it's history elsewhere so I won't do that again.  I will say that it is a great place to camp with a bar, some food and hot showers.  The guys charge a bit extra per person having a shower, but the cash is donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Overall a great day on the road with some interesting locations and history.  Sitting in the red dirt camp ground was awsome.  The decision to head across into New South Wales, maybe not what I would have done if I was travelling on my own but it turned out to be a good call.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 7 - Oodnadatta to Farina

Overnight we all decided that we would take on the Strzelecki Track, having seen the sign at Lyndhurst indicating that the track was open.

Before we hit the new track we had to get ourselves back down the Oodnadatta Track to Lyndhurst.

So after a fairly quick pack up - including the freshly washed clothes and people, we fuelled up and started to make our way back down the Oodnadatta Track.  There were a few things that I wanted to see on the way back down.  Given the 'speed' we travelled up the track it's no surprise that there were things that we didn't stop to look at.  That said, even though we had a couple of stops on the way back down there is still plenty of things to see.

Our first planned stop was the Algebuckina Bridge.  It's a history lesson, a tale of woe for a chap named Fred and even a free campsite.

Built as a railway bridge crossing the Neals River and the floodplain, it was opened in 1892.  Apparently about 350 men were involved in the construction.  It's the longest bridge in South Australia, and these days there isn't a train in sight on the Old Ghan Line to use it.

But I simply love the story of Fred...  Near the bridge there is a wrecked car, which apparently belonged to Fred.  The legend goes that during the floods of 1974 Fred decided to cross the bridge, so he used railway sleepers to fill the gaps.  He apparently inched his way forward, moving sleepers from the back of the car to the front of the car, then driving a bit further forward...  You get the idea.

All was going well until a train (or a works train) appeared and hit the car.  Fred survived but his car didn't.

Leaving here our next stop was William Creek for lunch and a check over the vehicles.  We decided to stop off at the mound springs near Coward Spings.  It is a relatively easy frive back down to there so we cracked on...

The mound springs are located within the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs National Park.  They are, to a point, the reason that the Oodnadatta Track and the Old Ghan line exist.  The provided a permanant water supply for the steam trains running along the Old Ghan and water for the settlers.  They also served the traditional owners well, providing a watered trading route for them to use.

And the stop off there was pretty interesting.  While Blance Cup was not accessible, The Bubbler was and we walked up and watched the water bubble up into the bowl.  In the middle of a what looks to be deseert country this is pretty cool.

An awsosme part of the trip.

From here it was a fairly easy run back to Farina Station where we took advantage of their fantastic campsite.  Large grassy sites and plenty of room to spread out.  The campgrounds have hot showers - just light the donkey boiler.  There is a little hill nearby and the walk up to it is worthwhile as at the top there is a war memorial.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 6 - William Ck to Oodnadatta

It was an hectic start for the guys taking the scenic flight over Lake Eyre and less so for me.  I'm not a good flyer, so I decided to have a look over the 4WD, pack up the campsite and be ready for the departure when the guys got their feet back on the ground.

Whenn they got back we said our goodbyes to the folks we had met the night before, fuelled up and set our sights on Oodnadatta.

Ready to head off from the William Ck Hotel, William Creek.

We really enjoyed the night here.  Lots of character in the pub itself, watching the State of Origin Rugby Leauge game was great fun, and our fellow travellers there that night we all chilled, full of great stories about their travels.

We were still considering whether we should go from Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy or whether we should head back down the Oodnadatta Track to Lyndhurst and then up the Strezlecki Track as we left that morning.

The debate was put on hold when we spotted what looked like smoke in the distance and we were discussing what it could be.  Given the shape of the smoke we doubted a grass fire and we had heard nothing on the CB or at William Creek about a fire so we continued.  As we got closer we thought that it more looked like steam than smoke and I said if it was a car that had overheated we should offer them some of the water we had onboard, and see if we could help out.

When we got further up the Track we saw where the smoke was coming from.  A fire had destroyed a camper trailer and a 4WD.  Folks from the station were on site with a water tanker putting the last of the fire out. The camper trailer was completely destroyed and the 4WD wasn't looking to good.  We stopped and offered what we could.

After stopping for a short while we decided that there wasn't anything that we could do to help these guys so we left.  Fortunately they were travelling in convoy so things were, as far as was possible, under control.

Further along we stopped for lunch.

the great thing about outback travel is that you can stop in a fair number of stunning places and have a cuppa, lunch or just a look around.

An awsome lunch stop...

A bit more driving and a stop to gather firewood saw us arrive in Oodnadatta later that afternoon.  It didn't take us long to set up camp, get a fire going and settle in for the night.

The obligatory pic of the Pink Roadhouse.  The Roadhouse staff are a wealth of local knowledge and it is worth stopping in for a chat.  You can make phone calls from the Roadhouse payphone and it stocks a variety of stock up items.

And souveniers.

They have a campground out the back with toilets, showers, fire pits, a camp kitchen and a laundry.  It was a great 'mid-point' stop.

It doesn't take long to walk through the Oodnadatta township, but it is worthwhile with a museum and a few other bits and pieces.

Sitting around the campfire with fellow travellers that night we decided that we would head back to Lyndhurst and head up the Strezlecki Track.  We were planning for a day trip down to Farina Station Campground and then a relatively early departure for the new track.  With that we hit the sack thinking about the big 'turn around.'