Final Cooper Creek Ferry Details

Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011 at 11:45

Member - Stephen L (Clare SA)

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For those that have been following my rantings and ravings for the past eleven months, you will be aware with my obsession with the Cooper Creek Ferry. Around early March 2010 I posted my first details regarding the possible running of the famous Birdsville Track Cooper Creek Ferry, or as it is know to the locals as the ‘Old Punt’.

Over the following months there were best by local station people to guess who could most accurately predict the date as to when the flood waters would cross the Birdsville Track and create history for the fist time in the 21st Century. During April and May 2010, the Cooper Creek floodwaters slowly advanced down stream at steady pace of on average 1 – 3 kilometres per week. Then for reasons unknown to all, including Government Officials, the pace of travel went through the roof as such and was gaining in excess if of 15 kilometres in just 3 days.



Some time in the very early hours on Monday 1st June 2010, history was created for the first time in just under 20 years, when the Cooper Creek crossing over the Birdsville Track was cover by the floodwaters. Patsy and Jade from Etadunna Station became the first people to cross, even if it was on foot. During that day they kept a very close eye on the fast advancing floodwater and by late that day the water depth had rising by more than 600mm. Making many phone calls to Patsy and Jade, they informed me that at its current rate, the Birdsville Track would be closed to all traffic within 24 hours and by the next day they were spot on with the depth of water more that 1.2m deep in places.



The race was then on to get the ferry ready, with the usual frustrating last minute preparations, including having the ferry ready to go, only to find that one motor refused to work, so it was a very hasty return to Port Augusta by Government worker to obtain another new replacement outboard motor. Then on Tuesday the 8th June 2010 the Cooper Creek Ferry carried its first official vehicle and then over the next seven months, the ferry ran 7 days a week, only stopping when it was unsafe to operate, due to either the Birdsville Track being closed to all traffic or it was too windy.

Weeks prior to the Cooper Creek actually crossing the Birdsville Track, I had planned to head up and visit Jason and Patsy, but as it turned out, we were to spend the weekend camped by the Cooper with the great company of two other EO Members and to experience first hand a crossing over the flooded Cooper Creek.

These are now the Full Official Cooper Creek Ferry details from when the ferry first went into operation on the 8th June 2010, up until when it ceased operation on Friday 21st January 2011.

• Total number of Four Wheel Drive Vehicles..5336
• Total number of cars..124
• Total number of Buses..517
• Total number of Motor Bikes..197
• Grand Total of All Vehicles..6174
• Total number of Adults to accompany a vevicle..17143
• Total number of children to accompany a vehicle..1758
• Grand Total of passengers to accompany a vehicle..18901
• Total crossings from the north carrying a vehicle..3147
• Total crossings from the south carrying a vehicle..3255
• Total empty crossing with no vehicles..2564
• Total number of people crossing not accompanying a vehicle..862
• The largest number of vehicles ferried in 1 day..98 on the 1st September 2010
• Total number of days closed to inclement weather..32.8
• The 10,000th person to cross was on the 18th August 2010
• The 15,000th person to cross was on the 12th October 2010
• The 5,000th vehicle to cross was on the 18th October 2010


I now would like to personally thank Juanita Roe, Field Logistics Officer for the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, Northern and Western Region, Port Augusta who has greatly supplied me with the latest details over the previous months and without her most valued help, none of the reports would have been made possible.




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