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Sturts Stony Desert SA - Dust, mud, Maree, Mungerannie & a bush camp beside the Birdsville Track
Monday, May 21, 2007 at 00:00
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Monday 21st May, 2007
The worn ramparts of the eastern Gammons
A very early start the day being out of bed at 6:30 a.m. Hugh had arrived home from the pub at some indeterminate hour and fell asleep within 35 seconds. He was snoring within 45 so in went the earplugs.
It was a magnificent morning as we packed and bade farewell to our fellow travellers in the park
The carrot bandit of Iga Warta!
including the worlds worst joke teller! We were
on the road
by 8:30 a.m. having showered just before leaving. The early morning sun provided fantastic lighting conditions as we headed south towards
prompting several photo stops. From there it was west through
and the two aboriginal settlements of Iga Warta and Nepabunna. We passed a couple of hitchhikers on the way which prompted a stop and a carrot give-up. A white nag and his mate, a friendly donkey who just wanted a scratch behind the ears and a bit if
The start of the Iconic Birdsville Track.
Once through the western ramparts of the Gammons, the land gradually flattened with less
The Cairn at Maree and the start of the Birdsville.
prominent mesa’s and hills. We reached Copley and
in good time.
was as I always remembered it. Sleepy and getting sleepier. I think half the stores that existed only a year or two ago have closed. The open cut café will be next mark my words. We did some shopping for food items and enjoyed a snack at the café and then it was down to the mobile service station to fill up at $1.46 per litre for diesel. Joy of joys. Dear petrol, again. Just on $197.00 to fill the tanks.
We cleared LC at 11-ish and was on the highway north to
and then the dirt to
north. The road was in very good condition to Maree and after a quick
The tribute Plaque to the Birdsville pioneers
drive around town that took all of 45 seconds, we went out to the
turnoff, took the obligatory photo’s of the various
and signs and were away north once again. Having been stuck at the Maree Pub for 10 days way back when it used to rain in the outback, I didn’t see much a need to revisit.
The track north was in fantastic nick with several road crews working the stretch between
and Mungerannie. The low hills soon gave way to the arid plains of gibber and
The Mungerannie parking meters.
dust. Dead flat with nary a tree to break the monotony. That the area had had heavy rains in the recent past was obvious by the ever increasing number of pools of water by the
, the occasionally chopped up condition of the road, and eventually, some 150 km north, the fact that the creek crossings were full of water and mud slowing us considerably. It is a funny contrast to be throwing clouds of dust behind you and yet have to slow every kilometre for a flooded
The road edges were often so soft (dust not mud) that once in them, the tyres
through the crust and the vehicle pulled sternly to the left, faking the feeling of a blown tyre. Of course as any experienced bush driver knows, one doesn’t swerve back harshly once in the bleep and so it was that Hugh and I found ourselves heading slightly more west of the road than intended. Thankfully the nearest tree was still 34 km away and even then, two kilometres off the road. An interesting detour if somewhat short lived. Thankfully only gibber and nothing of consequence in the table drain.
Our camp in the dunes
By the time we reached Mungerannie we had well and truly covered the vehicle, in mud and slush. The amount of water lying about was astonishing. Some of the crossings were 50 m wide and up to 40 cm deep. There was still very little in the way of green feed seen over the vast, arid plains and even less in the way of stock.
Mungerannie camp ground was singularly
Hugh by the campfire
unappealing having been well stocked with grey nomads. The permanent stretch of artesian fed Derwent river provided no allure what so ever. It was considered necessary to have at least 1 drink at the bar but at $20 for two scotch and cokes and a packet of chips…one was all it was going to be. Not even the amusing parking metres out the front could cause forgiveness for that affront. Well I suppose they have to freight it out there and then only have a limited season to earn a buck so….
A spectacular sunset over the Birdsville.
It was 3:15 p.m. by the time we left and the number of flooded dips and creeks only increased as we headed north. Some 50 km north, we stopped by the
to collect some wood at the first eucalypts we’d seen in 150 km. The site looked
Does it get better than this?
attractive so we have driven east off the road into the lee of a small dune about 600 metres off the track. We overlook a small dry creek and have set up camp within the sandy confines of a few spindly gums.
After initial set-up I climbed the nearby dune to catch a magnificent sunset. A hot shower before dinner, a fire, and slow grilled steak with fire roasted spuds and kumara and a chilled scotch. Life’s good. Even managed to get three minutes of Sat-phone reception! It’s just after eight under a gibbous waning moon and a starry sky. Hugh has set the billy and is contemplating the fire with all the comfort of a friend he’s known forever.
Members Blog Index
Murray Kulkyne National Park - The shakedown continues
Simpson Desert: - Birdsville, Big Red and west to Poeppels Corner.
A written note outlasts the longest memory
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