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UP THE OODNADATTA FROM COWARD SPRINGS, DALHOUSIE SPRINGS,MT DARE,FINKE,STUART HIGHWAY

May 24, 2013

This was sunset the first night we were there.

I asked for a fire to cook outside & it happened! Now he is waiting for his steak to cook! Did another wander around the site which had seen before but was interesting reading again.

Greg & Prue have a herd of camels which they use for 6 day safaris. They had come in for their drink- they are bought in every third day otherwise they bloat themselves if more often.
They all have names & there is a definite “pecking” order when having a drink. They tend to get nasty & try to have a nip of whoever they want to remove from the drinking tank.
The camp site has VERY clean drop toilets, bore water for washing etc, as well as a donkey hot water system.

This is all that remains of the old hotel.

They have had these date palms planted since 2009 so that is all they have grown.
Not many can fit in this spa.
The corellas spend most of the day in the trees above the camp, only flying & being noisy is a vehicle arrives or a crow. There were are lot of them sitting in “couples” which looked so nice.

The drive from Coward Springs up to William Creek was still on very good road, still passing railway ruins, many salt pans, an empty dam, not a lot of cattle but what we did see were very fat. Absolutely no other wild life at all with an occasional crow.
Before reaching Willliam Creek we came up to the Irrapatana Red sandhills which were striking. The road has been cut through each one.

Approaching the first sandhill, which we thought that was gong to be the only one, but there were quite a few to cross.

There were clay pans in between the hills- still some salt pans as well.

Along the railway line, where visibility is good, enterprising travellers have used the sleepers to write their names on the edge of the tracks.

We reached William Creek at lunch time so decided to have lunch at the pub as we needed to stop for fuel as well. Bruce had, naturally, a pie & chips & I had a toasted sandwich- there was not a big menu. Have a burger which they make for $20- it is huge & have seen it on Sunrise with Grant Denyer if I remember correctly.
The fuel was $2.24/L.

This is what the inside of the hotel looks like now. We heard back at Farina & Marree that travellers had been commenting that it had lost it’s “charm” since the new owner.
The photos below are from 2009.
This is wha

As there had been a few mls of rain about a week ago there were still some wet patches.

This is one of the unusual grasses which grow out here.

Still passing railway siding ruins but coming into different country as well- more ranges . You can see the corrugations which are not bad.

Another couple, when we were at William Creek , heard that we were stopping for the night at Algebuckina Bridge, the longest rail bridge in SA. It was their first “outback trip” & asked if they could travel up there with us. Unfortunately they took off first! Instead of driving fast enough to run over the top of the corrugations he slowed right down which was not the way to cover corrugations. It was getting very frustrating by the time we reached the bridge. It was evident that they were rather nervous as they are on their first long trip as well. Once we had stopped he checked his van & had a few problems which made matters worse! They reckoned that it would the first & last dirt road travel.
It was a great spot to spend the night, photos of sunset while having a drink with them.

There is a smashed vehicle beside the bridge. It had been trying to cross the bridge when the river was in flood & was pushed off the bridge by an on coming train.

The following photo is from the northern end of the bridge & is not easy to see the full length.

There was rumours that the roads down to Coober Pedy & out to Marla were shut s and they were anxious to see where they could go from Oodnadatta. They left before us so said we would see them in Oodnadatta- but they must have decided once they found out what roads were like to head straight down to Coober Pedy.
Approaching Oodnadatta the hills started to resemble the Painted Desert which is south of Oodnadatta.

We bought a few groceries at the Pink roadhouse- did not ask prices. Bread was $5.76! Fuel was cheaper than William Creek, only $2.11. We got information from Lynnie Plant, owner whose husband Adam was killed in an auto accident last August, about the road up to Dalhousie. all reports it is OK- dried out since Hamilton Station had 10ml rain & just been graded 3 weeks ago!.

After turning north the road the road was very good for about 20ks then started to deteriorate. It became more corrugated as well as potholes. Some large gravel stones as well. For 20ks there were continual crests with warning to lookout for road trains.

eventually reached Hamilton Station & decided to stop for lunch at the turn to Dalhousie Springs.

From here the road got worse. Instead of crests there were continual corners- into one before out of the previous one. The corrugations became & it was really a track now with many wety spots since the rain. tried to avoid most of these as would have bogged for sure.

Once we entered the NP the scenery changed again, but the road did not improve.

Dalhousie Ruins were next. We did not stop as wanted to get to the Springs to jump into the 38 degree water!

Last stop was at this lookout.

We finally, after just over two hours and only 74ks, reached the springs.
First afternoon here we spent about 45mins in the water until the sun started to sink & the breeze started. Thought that the showers would be hot from the springs so Bruce went for a shower only to find that it was cold. Ugh. Not for me so boiled water, from here, for a bath in ensuite.
After flies went to bed it was pleasant sitting outside the van having a drink. Cooked fish for dinner this evening which was great. from Grunskie’s in Bundaberg.
Got rather cold during the night for a change.
Spent all morning on computer catching up with photos, deleting & editing them, as well as doing an update on blog which was way behind.
Do not know when I will be able to post it though- maybe not we get to WA!

There are FRIENDS OF THE SIMPSON DESERT here doing restoration work with the revegetation- looking very good. They stay here for 2 weeks.
Rang Louise for her birthday but only got answering machine.
Someone must have heard me talking on the phone as late in the afternoon 4 couples arrived & wanted to know if they could use our sat phone. This was nearly dark & they were supposed to meet friends on motorbikes along the French line on the way east to Birdsville. Friends had a sat phone but they did not. They could not get them as had wrong number. Anyway they gave us $10 for the trouble.

Monday when we looked at the sky we decided to pack up & leave after only 2 nights, as the weather was not looking good with rain forecast for afternoon & Tuesday.
We did have a nice sunrise though.

Bruce thinks that the camping area would probably cover about 2 acres-maybe. All very well set out with water taps for use. Trickle irrigation is throughout the area.

We were on the track by 7.44 as had about 270ks to reach Kulgera out on the Stuart Highway.
Stopped at Three O’clock Creek where we were told that we could fill the van with fresh spring water, which we did on the way north.

We had been told that the road was not good but they were really bad- doing under 20KPH for a lot of the time & in second gear. The road surface as well as the colour changed continually. There were very few birds around & no wild life at all. Any cattle we saw were in good condition- surprising considering the countryside.

We arrived at Mt Dare at 10.30- only 74ks & we left at 7.45. Had a quick cuppa there, got fuel which was $2.19 & a loaf of bread for $6.50!

We crossed the border into NT at 11.30am. We thought that we had reached heaven as the road suddenly became solid smooth clay- but that did not last for long. Finke was 105ks up the road which turned out to be just as bad.

As we approached Finke started to notice rubbish lying everywhere- up till now the roadside from Marree has been very tidy, with very little litter anywhere.
Had a quick lunch, drive around the town but was disappointed at what we saw.

Once we left Finke started to get the occasional rain spot & we had 170k to travel this afternoon. On the good spots of the road, which we becoming more frequent, Bruce increased the speed, sometimes up to 75 KPH!

Pulled into Kulgera as it really started to rain. Booked into caravan park for 2 nights- $20 night. Bruce was putting a peg in to hold awning down when he struck water!! Oops. Put the peg through a 1” water pipe between to van sites. Soon flooded all around our van so had to move to the next site. Boss here sorted the break so we decided that we would go in to Happy hour & have dinner at the pub- guilty conscience maybe.

Spent 2 hours with another couple as well as a guy who was a Pilot waiting for a wide load to arrive. He was a very interesting person as he had been a tour guide for many years so told us about various places not to miss. We had been to a lot but the other couple were fresh out of Melbourne & she was frantically taking notes.
Had a beautiful roast dinner- huge amount.
Rained & blew all night – van shaking a little so not a lot of sleep. Al least, with the 20 litre bucket under the awning we have been able to catch a lot of beautiful drinking water once the awning had been washed with the heavy rain.

Amenity block is enclosed so not a “windy” shower & water very hot. Have TV reception with only 2 chanels, Imparja being one of them & Chanel 7. It is the first News we have seen for nearly 3 weeks, apart from what we have heard on ABC radio. Usually can get ABC but that has not happened since we turned north from Oodnadatta.
There was a home- made 5th wheeler here & when we got up this morning it was totally covered with a huge tarp. Found out that it poured water in over the bed.
Got the vacuum out this morning & really gave the van a good clean, even though the only dust that comes in is if the vent at the back of the fridge is not covered properly. The only disaster we have had on the rough roads is a small hole in the shower outlet pipe, fixed with rescue tape & a crack in the pipe outside from the boot where the gas cylinders are kept.
At Dalhousie spoke to 5 couples who had basically followed us up from Oodnadatta to Dalhousie & one of them had 2 punctures while another vehicle also had a puncture.
I think that this rain will make us change our direction to Curtain Springs on the road to Yulara. Might have to stay on the highway & head up to Erldunda then west.

This is a food van – the work done is amazing. Saw it when we were getting fuel at Kulgera.

We thought that the red centre was green in 2010 when we were here but nothing compared with how it looks now- soooooooooo green & beautiful.

Friday 24.5.13
Further change of plans. Now heading up to Alice Springs. Need to get the 2nd NIssan battery replaced under warranty as it has started leaking. Left Kulgera mid morning with a stop at Erldunda to check emails etc. Had a takeaway lunch there of Tuna Mournay & chips- was really nice & under $10 total! their diesel was even cheaper than Kulgera which was a surprise. headed up to Mt Polhill, an overnighter only 60ks sth of Alice- did this to get into the van park early. Back at the Heavitree Gap Park where we have stayed twice before. Also give Senior’s discount which is a big plus. Just very basic park.
This morning we got the battery replaced with no questions, got all numbers from old phone to new one transferred over at Telstra. Getting aerial on satellite phone repaired- only been loose for about 5 years! Had a new one in stock but I nearly dropped the phone when he told me it was $460. He has loaned us one for the weekend as we are heading down to Chambers Pillar for the day. A trip back on dirt roads/ then track & want to be there by sunrise if I can get Bruce out of bed.
Got another couple of jars of Desert Dwellers Cream which I can guarantee will keep the flies from landing on your body.
Just had a wonderful shower- the first not in bore/artesian water for 3 weeks. Had forgotten that soap lathered!
Now waiting for roast lamb to cook.

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