Question for Past Birdsville Track car ferry passengers

Submitted: Friday, May 07, 2010 at 22:29
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How many cars can the ferry take at once and can you put a trailer on as well ?
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Reply By: chris ma - Friday, May 07, 2010 at 22:52

Friday, May 07, 2010 at 22:52
I think its 8 to 10m max lentgh. there are a couple of threads on here with links to more info.
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Reply By: Shaker - Friday, May 07, 2010 at 22:59

Friday, May 07, 2010 at 22:59
AFAIK no trailers or caravans.
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Reply By: peterll - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 02:13

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 02:13
Hmm becomes an interesting situation for delivery purposes for those who live along the track.

Just off the top of my head, there are 4 or 5 stations which would normally be supplied from the south as well of course the Mungerannie Pub. That supply line is usually with Track Freight using a two trailer road train service. Last time I saw the old ferry I can't imagine a road train on board.

Coupled with that is the tourist industry moving up and down the track from Maree to Birdsville. Imagine the difficulties those living and working on the track would have in competing for ferry space with the tourist industry.

In theory, those living and working north of Ettadinna could be supplied from Birdsville, problem is the costs involved in bring those extra supplies to Birdsville and then down the track.

Almost forgot another group that would be using the little ferry..the track maintenance crew. I wonder how many graders can be taken over Coopers Crossing at one time ?

And the relevant Minister or MP is not seemingly interested in the crossing of the Cooper if and when it floods huh ?

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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 07:13

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 07:13
This is the Birdsville Track, not Parramatta Rd, if a tourist can't get through ....stiff, as for track repairs, that would be performed after it all dries out, for supplies, they would be flown in by fixed wing or helicopter.

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Follow Up By: peterll - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 07:44

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 07:44
Tourists are an important income for many of those along the track, although residents should have priority for acess to the outside world, moving cattle etc.

Ah yes..the minor problem of fixed wing ..the strip at Mungerannie is closed "due to over-use" ???????

Yes there is an increase in usage for about 3 months of the year due to the lake having water in it at present. For the rest of the year Westwing aviation (the mail plane) lands weekly, hardly over use.

Helicopter is not really viable due to distance to the local store. Possible but not probable.

Could always do a Tom Cruise I suppose..2m tinny and one load at a time across.

Nope..the old track is not what it used to be although it can be the cause of an adventure at times. Now it is slowly becoming a main route from the Isa to Port Augusta (since the Birdsville to Isa was fully paved.)

One car and trailer and then some problems ? Guess that rules out road trains.

But this is of course... IF...the Cooper does flood.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 20:51

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 20:51
Its about 30 years since the Birdsville Track was a "track".

On the same theme, I'd guess it is 50 years since the Anne Beadell Hwy or the Gunbarrel Highway were "highways"!
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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 07:20

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 07:20
/we crossed the creek on it last time it was working in 1990. The ferry can only take one normal vehicle and has from memory a 4.5t limit. Our troopy and a small Cub hardfloor camper which weighed around 500kgs just fitted, from memory again there was only few inches between the contact patch of the tyres on both ends and the ramps so that is why no 3.5t 4wd's plus 1.5t campers.
The ferry tilted alarmingly as we drove on until the weight was centred.
Normal cars had problems with approach angles and there was a Commodore there with a punctured fuel tank from scraping the ramps.
It was driven by a little Honda engine running on a thin cable strung between the banks.
I would imagine in these days of litigation and the likes of Workcover that the ferry as it was then would be marginal for complying with OH&S laws.
Which might explain why the authorities are not interested in operating it.
It was also very slow, our convoy of 5 vehicles took over 2 hours to cross so if there was constant holiday traffic as there would be these days you would be waiting days to get across. Twenty years ago there was nowhere near the amount of travellers as there is these days.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 09:55

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 09:55
Hi Teraa
In one of my earlier phone calls to Transport SA, I was advised that the Ferry has a safe working load of 8 tonne. I was then also informed only 1 vehicle at a time and no trailers.

How is it looking up that way, it must now be getting closer to cutting the track. I have not spoken with Jason or Patsy now for a couple of weeks for an update. Please keep us informed.


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Reply By: Teraa - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 16:36

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 16:36
Well my concern began with the Lake Eyre Regatta if you have a look at the flyer you will see my concern ( Lake Eyre Yacht club web page ). Just wondering how many other fiestas being organised around what seems to be a very inadequate ferry. They also intend to use it 4 times. Imagine being a local stuck behind a 100 cars and trailers that are going to the regatta. The Gov. won't hear about the ferry being insuffecient for todays travellers. The Cooper is now 60 km from the track. Our fuel company has let us down as well so far. There will no no road crews this side for the duration - to bad to sad. The Tracks a mess can't see them getting it done before now.
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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 19:02

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 19:02
What they really need to do i stick one of those military temporary bridges up using the pontoons. The defence forces have probably got a couple sitting around doing nothing, they could do it as an excercise, nah that wouldn't work as Kev would have to pay.
Wouldn't be that hard to put some pipes down and build a causeway across either as it isn't that wide from memory where the ferry crosses, wouldn't imagine there would be a huge flow either and not deep.
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Follow Up By: Teraa - Sunday, May 09, 2010 at 16:15

Sunday, May 09, 2010 at 16:15
One of locals tried this one but no money
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Reply By: Commodore LEYC - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 20:51

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 20:51
For your information..

Most attendees at our regatta will be approaching from the south (Marree) and the regatta site is on the south side of Cooper Creek.
A few attendees will be approaching from the north (Birdsville) and they have been warned in the regatta FAQ that this may involve some delay.
They have an alternative that the average tourist won't have - they can sail across the Cooper to the site!

Who intends to use the ferry 4 times? Those who arrive from the north will use it twice and wait with everyone else.

The Lake Eyre Yacht Club is part of the local tourist/sporting industry. I have already gone on record as saying local pastoralists and delivery vehicles should have a priority pass to use the ferry.

Last time the ferry (or punt as it is known locally) was in use it carried 2 cars, one light truck or one prime mover. Trailers are parked each side in advance for shifting cattle which are ferried in cages each side of the vehicle section. All passengers are required to wear a life jacket. Delivery trucks will have to be light trucks.

The residents of the Birdsville Track have had months of warning to prepare for this rare event. They are not stupid and will have enacted contingency plans to cope with it.

The Department of Transport employees have done a magnificent job this year despite frequent record rainfalls. Technically the Birdsville Track between Mungerannie and Birdsville is too wet to be open but with a lot of hard work it is usable and will improve by July. They frequently returned to camp through creeks with water up to their bonnet in April. I personally watched the effort at Strzelecki Crossing and saw the dilemma - fixing the causeway only dammed the creek with the eventual wash away. Who says there will be no road crews north of the Cooper? Some equipment will be left that side and the crews can walk on to the ferry to get there.

When it rains like this in the desert you can expect a little inconvenience. If you find it irritating you haven't been in the area long enough to realize the value of a season like this.
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Follow Up By: Teraa - Sunday, May 09, 2010 at 16:04

Sunday, May 09, 2010 at 16:04
I live on the Birdsville Track not in Victoria.
I don't know about past usage other than history which is about 25 cars a day none when it's windy. Have you ever seen a light truck deliver anything up the Birdsville Track. I am very glad to here you will be south of the crossing takes alot of burden of the rate of traffic then. Why don't you get them to sail then ? SA roads haven't graded where I live for 6 months and yes because of the rain but we only have a short time before they can't and there is no sign of them. when returning to there camp they just cut the road up more. They have yet done nothing about repairing the punt. SA transport said that there won't be any road repairs. Have you ever seen cattle yards near the ferry how would anyone load and unload cattle and it takes about 12 per load how long do you reckon it would take someone to unload and load a semi and too bad if you don't have your own semi. No we aren't stupid up here but do enjoy fresh food now and then and to have the ability to reach town when we need too. I don't think they should do any work on Cooper basin but they do have spare larger punts but just won't allocate any more money. It's all abot money. How would you like to be house bound without any deliveries or medical resources or seeing your family for up to 7 months. Love the desert but not much to a good season if your operations are canned for 7 months maybe if you actually lived up here you could have the right to get opinated about those who do.
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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 22:38

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 22:38
Hi folks from Kalbarri WA - about as far from the ferry as is possible. Anyway there are pix of it in Places, just type in Cooper Creek Ferry for a squiz... W

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