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Here's a taste of a recent trip in the Desert Parks of SA
Check back later for pictures and more of the stories.
Thursday September 24th 2020 Day Four
The day was sunny with a slight breeze. After refuelling the cars, we headed along the rough road to the Dalhousie Spring turnoff. The road is a graded path over the gibber plains and quite rough in places. First stop was the Opossum Waterhole, an obvious billabong with the trees visible for some distance. Morning Tea was at the 3 O‘Clock camp ground. A fairly sparse area with bore water, an eating shelter and close to Christmas Creek. On to Dalhousie Station ruins.
The original Pastoral Lease was taken up in the 1873 and eventually sold in 1904 to the Lewis Family who held the adjoining lease. When you look at the location, it would have been a hard and lonely existence. After spending some time reading the information boards, looking at the building ruins and what is left of the cattle/horse yards, we headed towards our main objective, Dalhousie Hot Springs.
There are a number of large ponds in the area being fed with artesian basin water. The ponds are all surrounded by vegetation and there is also a good campground with amenities. This is usually the start point to Frenches Line and across the Simpson Desert. To get to the main spring we walked along a boardwalk and then entered the water via an aluminium ladder. They even supply a couple of airmattresses and noodles for swimmers. The water is quite hot, about bath water temperature and due to the minerals and salt in the water your buoyancy increases and you float easily. After the swim, lunch at one of the eating shelters, we struck up a conversation with a family who had arrived from Oodnadatta in a newish Discovery Sports. Standard tyres, road pressure and no second spare, but they were enjoying themselves. After lunch we had a quick look around the campground and then the long trip back to Mt Dare for a shower (in less salty water) and sundowners.
Friday September 25th & Saturday 26th 2020 Day Five & Six
With quite a distance to travel that day we planned an earlier start than usual, but when travelling in the bush you can always expect issues to arise that slow your progress. While hooking up their caravan, our companions the Pedersons, found the tow coupler adjustment screw had broken and needed replacing. With help from the bush mechanics at Mt Dare and their well-equipped workshop, a bolt with the correct thread was found and the bolt head was ground to fit the coupler. We left Mt Dare an hour and a half later than planned. The first ten to fifteen kilometres were the worst and after that it was quite a good dirt road.
We visited Eringa Waterhole again for morning tea and on past Hamilton Station and into Oodnadatta for fuel and lunch. On leaving town the Road Restrictions sign was not encouraging, but the word from the Pink Roadhouse staff was that they expected the road to open within a day or two. This section of the track had not been affected by rain, so good progress was made but by around 4pm it was obvious that we would fall short of our proposed destination. That night we camped in the shadow of Algebuckina Bridge. This very impressive bridge was the longest railway bridge in SA until the Seaford Line was extended over the Onkaparinga River.
Minor running repair in the morning to Tony’s caravan and on to William Creek. For the size of the town, the caravan park and accommodation buildings are certainly set up to handle large numbers of travellers. As it was still quite uncertain if the Track would be open in the next few days and as we were now a day and a half behind schedule, it was decided to terminate the trip. The Pederson chose to leave and head home. Tony and Cheryl would stay the night and then head off and we booked our Lake Eyre flight for 7 the next morning. That evening drinks and dinner at the Pub, where even the locals are Covid conscious.
Sunday September 27th. Day Seven.
It was a beautiful cloudless morning as Jo and I made our way to the air strip for our flight. We had booked the two hour flight, firstly over Lake Eyre, followed by the Painted Hills. There were four of us, plus the pilot, for the Lake Eyre leg. After a short safety briefing we all squeezed into a six seater and lifted off. Due to the clear morning with no wind, it was a very smooth flight. The pilot’s commentary during the flight was informative and covered considerable information about the lake and its surroundings. The lake is so immense, that even at our height it extended beyond the horizon and due to the recent rain, there was still very shallow water over parts of the surface, which glistened in the morning sun. After about an hour, we returned to William Creek.
With only two passengers for the Painted Hills flight we used a four seater, with Jo next to the pilot and me in the back seat. Still a bit squeezy for a person of my length. The Painted Hills are located some distance into Anna Creek Station and although you can drive to them (with permission), they are best seen from the air. The formations are not dissimilar to the Breakaways at Coober Pedy but much larger and more condensed. Layers of different coloured sedimentary rocks, weathered into different shapes over the millennia.
Our pilot was not in a hurry and as we circled the hills, the light changes highlighted the various layers. Returning to William Creek, the wind was starting to increase and our pilot was forced to use the alternate air strip. A dirt strip on the other side or the Oodnadatta Track from the All Weather Strip. Once landed and taxying towards base, requires crossing the Track. Before crossing, the pilot must stop and look in both directions to ensure there is no traffic! During peak tourist times, with at least fourteen planes using the strip daily, it would be a very busy airport.
After some lunch, we hooked up the van and headed to Coober Pedy for a couple of nights and eventually joined up with the Horse Shoe Top End trip members. Geoff and Jo.
Range Rover Club of Australia, SA Branch Inc.
PO Box 381
MARDEN SA 5070
PO Box 381
MARDEN SA 5070