Cooper Creek Ferry Update - It's Now Official

Hi All
I do not know if has been reported in other ABC News Radio reports outside of South Australia, but it is now official.

Commencing next week, Transport SA will start preparing the "Antique Punt". Mr Peter Short said on the Radio this morning that the ferry will be taken off of its blocks next week, two outboard motors will be taken up and installed, greasing of the ferry and general maintenance in readiness for when the Birdsville Track is cut within the next few weeks. Mr Short said that on some days there could be up to 8 people working on the ferry, while on other days, no one at all.

The count down is no on, so for those that have been thinking of heading out to see the ferry run, start to put your plans into action, as it will be a very big attraction, with far more publicity now that when it last went into action 20 years ago.

Have a great weekend.


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Stephen
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Reply By: Member - Jeff O (VIC) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 08:20

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 08:20
Stephen
Good news,good work.
Thanks
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 08:36

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 08:36
Hi Jeff
It has been news that is very long overdue. When I spoke with Patsy when she was down here last week, she that they have been busy installing padlocks on many of their gates, in preparation of the big increase of visitors just to come up and see the flooded Cooper and take a ferry ride.

After all these months of talk and waiting, it is now down to the wire and it all happening.


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Follow Up By: Member - Jeff O (VIC) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 19:40

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 19:40
Stephen..
Look forward to seeing some photos.
Scrubby,Warwick, John and I will probably get a ride on it on our return from Wiluna
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 20:11

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 20:11
Hi Jeff,
Have a great time over at the National Gathering, as they say it should be "A Hoot".

We have travelled the Birdsville Track many times and in many types of conditions, so it will seem strange going up and seeing all that water over the Track.


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Reply By: Member - Prickle (SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 09:25

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 09:25
Thanks for the update Steve.

R
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 09:58

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 09:58
Hi Russ
All things being equal, I am hoping to head up there in a couple of weeks and will be able to put a few photos up.

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Follow Up By: Member - Prickle (SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 10:05

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 10:05
You must have read my mind.

That will be great.
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Follow Up By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:23

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:23
Looking forward to the photo's coming up.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 19:34

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 19:34
Hi Deanna
I know that there will be lots of water, but do not know if the ferry will be running then, you might have to get the ones of it in operation.


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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 10:36

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 10:36
I hope they give the locals priority over us tourists, but that would also raise a few hackles.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:00

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:00
Hi Peter
It was reported in the Stock Journal a couple of weeks ago that at this stage, locals will have priority. That will not be the problem, the problem will be if they have to transport a Road Train of 200 head of cattle, taking a few days just for the cattle crossing only.

Get the OKA out for you last good run for while.

Take Care.

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Reply By: lollylegs - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 11:24

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 11:24
Have I not been saying for months if needed the ferry will be up and running.
Like thousands of others I too will be coming up for a ride.
Reg
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:17

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:17
Hi Reg
Apart from a report in one of the papers, no person from Transport has personally made a statement for the radio until today.If you heard that report, it was stated that work will now begin to get the punt ready - like now much time do you need, as it has been a matter of when, not will the Cooper cross the Track.

Like reported in the Stock Journal, it is about time our State Government lifted its game and replaced the aging, 40 year old punt. Our State Government can waste $20 Million dollars on a pedestrian footbridge over the Torrens River, yet will not spend any money to replace the Ancient Punt.

This is not the first or last Cooper Creek flooding over the Birdsville Track. Future costs will only get dealer and the number of vehicles that cross it this season will be very interesting to monitor.

Have a great ferry crossing, the drive alone just for that will be worth it.


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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 15:31

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 15:31
Problem is the road goes to Queensland!!!!!

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Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 23:31

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 23:31
Life doesn't exist out of the cities. Have a look at the roads being built in Brisbane then have a look at the bottle neck in Toowoomba. You ain't the only ones, it happens up here too.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 09:40

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 09:40
Hi Old Girl
Yes I am afraid that it is a situation that is happening Australia wide and a case of who is in political power and where the votes lie.

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Follow Up By: Teraa - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 12:10

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 12:10
It's 400m from the track and the SA transport have been caught with their pants down they just don't listen to the locals and remained in denial most of the time that it would happen. It's flow is fast and will probably cut the track sooner than later.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 12:50

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 12:50
Hi Teraa
When I was speaking with Patsy, she also made the same comments. She said at one stage a good many weeks ago, it seemed to slow down, but lately had picked up a brisk pace and in 3 days had travelled 15 kilometres. Like I have said down further, once it cuts the track, it was do so fast and I would say that within 3 hours it would be impossible to drive a vehicle over. What will happen then until the old fossil is commissioned??


Take care and keep dry.


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Follow Up By: Teraa - Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 00:12

Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 00:12
Nothing will happpen we will just be cut off they say approx. 2 weeks. The crew were on break maybe they are back now they've seen the water with a inspection being made on Friday. I am going down for a lookie tommorow see what's going on. The track is in a mess near blue ute from rain and constant trafic. I wouldn't like to see a bridge and I don't think 2 weeks in the bush will really hurt anyone pretty normal I would have thought. Not good for the tourist trade this end though. There is no prefrence to locals given only if there is a medical emergency.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 00:28

Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 00:28
Hi Teraa
If you could post what it is like tomorrow, that would be great. Also when do you thinks it will be over the Birdsville Track??


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Follow Up By: Teraa - Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 00:32

Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 00:32
You'll have to post the photos for me
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 09:26

Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 09:26
Hi Teraa
If you can get them to me, I would be more than happy to put them up for. If you want to go ahead with it, send me an email, my details are on my profile page. If you can not do that we should be up there in a couple of weeks and you could leave them with Patsy.


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Follow Up By: Teraa - Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 21:25

Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 21:25
Sorry no luck with your email.
The water is very close to the track and it's windy I'd say another week and it's over. The head of the water is half as wide as the creek and up the north end.
I like the Cooper Groupies camped up in the creek they should be selling T-shirts ' I SPENT THE DAY WITH A COPPER GROUPIE'
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 21:36

Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 21:36
Hi Teraa
my private email is langman at bigpond dot net dot au

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Follow Up By: Muddy doe (SA) - Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 21:46

Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 21:46
Hey Teraa,

You may want to spellcheck that T-shirt slogan before you print 5,000 of them!

Cheers!
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Reply By: Crackles - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 12:13

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 12:13
I suspect hundreds of extra people are going to head up the Birdsville track solely to say they've ridden accross the ferry, the only problem being the queue at times this will cause could be huge. Going by the turn around time when last it ran, just one convoy of 10 cars may take 1/2 a day to get accross. If you do the right thing & let the locals cut in you could be camped there for a couple of days.
Up on the Cape there was some queue jumping going on at the Jardine ferry which caused a bit of road rage & that was just with 20 cars waiting while the fella had lunch:-)

Cheers Craig..............
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:28

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:28
Hi Craig
Yes it is going to be a very big problem that our State Government does not want to know about. Like what you have said before, as well as what was reported in the Stock Journal, it will be around a 20 minute crossing one way, one vehicle at a time. At that rate, only 2 vehicles heading in the same direction per hour over the Cooper.

It was also reported in the Stock Journal that because of this very reason, people that will be using the Birdsville Track to head up for the Races this year (On average around 2000 vehicle one way for the weekend) should consider another route, as with the current antique punt, it will be only possible to ferry just a fraction of that number over.

Lets us hope that Government Official will monitor the situation and do what should have been done years ago, replace it with a larger ferry that is quicker and have a greater carrying capacity.


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Reply By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:22

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 14:22
Thanks for the info Stephen L, hope everyone has been and taken their pics before we get there late August LOL.

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Deanna


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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 19:37

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 19:37
Hi Deanna
It will still be in full glory in August. You will have a ball, as speaking to other people that are working up that way, they say that they have never seen the country looking so good.

You have a great trip when you head off.


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Reply By: The Landy - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 15:26

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 15:26
Stephen....

Firstly, thanks for all the updates, as this is what this site is all about.....

Your hope that the Punt is replaced with a larger one potentially raises a couple of broader questions/issues that would need to be answered.

And I preface the following by saying I don’t have any great insight to the workings of the SA Roads & Transport Authority, but work on the basis that most Government Authorities, and many Private Enterprises for that matter, are most unlikely to commit to long-term capital expenditure for something that might be used once in every 20 years. Too much could change in the interim period that might cause a different decision to be made. Better to wait until closer to the time before committing to anything. Of course with that comes the stress of people not knowing how the flooding will be dealt with when the occasion arises as it has been the case this year.

A critical question is do we want to see a bridge built over the Cooper Creek on the Birdsville Track?

This would be a huge expense for something that might be required once in every 10/20 years, the alternative is if they don’t go to this expense, reliance will remain on a Punt, whether the current one is replaced with a new one or not, that will never be suitable for purpose in terms of moving lots of people in a short period of time.

Now I’m not suggesting that the money should not be spent for the benefit of the local community, if that is what the local community want. But could that money be best spent elsewhere within that community, given the flooding of the Cooper Creek along the Birdsville Track is a rare occurrence.

The other question is do we actually want a bridge over the Cooper Creek on the Birdsville Track, and will that change the ‘Outback’ experience that many look for when travelling this region?

Sometimes I suspect there are more questions than answers.....

And as we approach beer o’clock, a good weekend to all....!

Cheers, The Landy
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 20:05

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 20:05
Hi Landy
Good reply, but like you say and know, Government bodies can work in strange ways. As for a bridge, I would say that would be well and truly out of the question, as the Cooper in that neck of the woods does not carry enough regular water and an updated ferry would be more cost effective. The new type ferry that would be great to put into place would be like the ones that ware used in South Australia that cross the River Murray. They can take a larges number of vehicles in 1 go and are very quick.

I can see the number crunchers wanting to comment now. The fact that the ferry crossing is in the same place, above the high water mark shows that sure it is not a every year event, but it does happen and will happen again, no questions asked.

When you compare the number of vehicles that used it in 1990, the amount of stock that used the old punt and what it will be like this season, the figures should speak volumes in itself. Twenty years ago, there was no internet, no wide spread coverage of the event and only a fraction of people out there that ever went bush. DTEI figures from 1990 showed that there were about 24 vehicles using the Birdsville Track every 24 hours. Shane Oldfield who has lived on the Birdsville Track all his life, said that there are now about 24 vehicles going past his Clayton Station gate every hour - or 576 vehicles every day.

Like I have said many times before on my posts, Government Bodies will send money on project that are either vote grabbing, or to suite themselves. If we can spend $20 Million Dollars on a pedestrian foot bridge over the River Torrens, why not spend some of that on an upgrade and superior ferry.


Have a great weekend.


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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 20:18

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 20:18
Hi Landy
Just went through my pictures, and this is the type of ferry that I am talking about, very quick and 10 cars in 1 crossing. This is the ferry at Morgan, on the River in SA


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Stephen
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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 16:40

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 16:40
Good post Landy
I think you are spot on with the questions you raise.
It is always problematic investing in expensive solutions for events that have a long return period (say, one event every 20 years) and that are of short and indeterminant duration, however distruptive and annoying that might be at the time.
Mention has been made of installing the type of ferry currently deployed on the R Murray, eg, the one above.
This ferry is purpose designed and built for a deep, permanent and relatively predicatble river, with minimal variations in water level and a relatively slow current. It is 30m long and probably 12m wide, weighs a few hundred tonnes and requires a dry dock to build and launch. It is modular, cannot be transported by road and requires a tug to move it up and down the river and to position it at a particular site. It is not designed to be beached on the bank on dry land. It also requires massive concrete anchors for the cables and a concrete ramp for the loading flap.
By any stretch of the imagination, the Cooper River is not suitable for a ferry of this type, nor the expenditure to install and maintain it for very occasional use.
I hope the above explanation is informative and useful.
Regards
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 16:48

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 16:48
Oops - Correction .... It is NOT modular
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 17:28

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 17:28
Hi Andrew
I agree with what Landy has posted but the old ferry has to be replaced. The water depth will not be a problem as by the time the Cooper Creek reaches the Birdsville Track, the depth of water at the ferry site will be 3 metres deep. I would say that the running cost would be far more cost effective on the larger diesel powered ferries per vehicle/weight ratio compared to the current 8 tonne/1 vehicle capacity of the current ferry.

With the number of vehicles that now use this main highway, we have to step forward into the 21st century and look towards the future floods that will take place.

Cheers


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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 18:16

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 18:16
Stephen
Replacing it may well need to be considered and maybe done but not with a R Murray type ferry. As I said, they are desinged for "a deep, permanent and relatively predicatble river, with minimal variations in water level and a relatively slow current". These criteria need to be read together as a set. Deep, by itself, is not sufficient.
There is always a trade-off between capital and running costs. Something that runs infrequently usually errs towards accepting greater running costs (in the future) for the short time it runs, whereas constant operation can justify greater capital investment (now) if that significantly reduces ongoing operating costs incurred week in, week out.
Regards
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 18:46

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 18:46
Thanks Andrew

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Reply By: Member - Mary W NW VIC - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 19:17

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 19:17
Was on a Wrights Air Lake Eyre 2 days ago and it was said that the track could be cut within 5 days,
Cheers ,
Mary
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 20:08

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 20:08
Hi Mary
I bet it must have looked unreal from the air. I hope that you took lots of photos, do you have any to share on the forum.

Have a great weekend.

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Reply By: Muddy doe (SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 00:16

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 00:16
I have this vision in my head of a ONE vehicle ferry plying a river where there are a few locals that rely on the service for the continuance of their livelihood competing against an absolute horde of tourists that want to cross the ferry purely because THEY CAN!

Ha - this is going to be a dogs breakfast! Camped beside the river for a week in the queue to get across so you can say that you did it!

Don't get me wrong - would love to do so myself and it would be a great experience but it would be pretty bad if the tourist trade did indeed flood the ferry, particularly at the expense of those that really need to cross.

How many people would make the trip up the track purely to do the ferry crossing?

Cheers
Muddy
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 10:01

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 10:01
Hi Muddy
These are the very questions being raised by the locals to Transport SA. The current antique ferry is 40 years old that met the demands of 40 years ago, but well out of date for today's growing number of people that travel into areas away from bitumen roads. You only have to look at figures supplied by the DTEI and compare an increase in numbers of 1072 cars and 2704 people during the October 1989 to January 1990 crossing and 3665 cars and 10,155 people during the July 1990 and January 1991 crossing.

A lot has changed in the way more people now like to get away into outback areas compared to even just 20 years ago.

We do not need a crystal ball to see what it will be like to try and cross the Cooper, stuck behind a large group of vehicle, knowing that only 2 vehicles per hour can cross heading in the same direction, during daylight hours only.

For these very reasons out State Government need to take its head out of the sand and stop having an Ostrich approach, as this is one problem that is not going to go away, the exact opposite, going to get far worse.


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Reply By: Member - Russnic [NZ] - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 09:01

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 09:01
Hi Stephen
Thanks again for the info.
I hope to get there about 6-7 June.
Might camp handy for a few days and await the water arrival
If I remember right the crossing is wide and flat and no distinct channels, so the track will be still passable for a day or two before the water gets too deep.
Last time I was there it was in the middle of a screaming dust storm so did not get to see all that much.
Cheers
Russ
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 09:35

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 09:35
Hi Russ
You will be there before I can get up there by about a week, so we will be looking at you for a first hand report. LOL It should be great to see the main body of water coming down, but how long the main road stays open will be the interesting question. When you check out how quick the water came down the Strezelecki and cut the crossing there, all within about 3 hours and how much progress the Cooper has made within the last few weeks, I would say that once it starts to cross, it could be a few hours and the crossing is closed.

Another thing that I would personally be very careful about, is the large amount of debris that will be coming down with the main body of water. Imagine crossing the large Cooper Crossing, half way across and seeing a large, quickly moving large branch coming towards your vehicle - no thanks.

Have a great trip, it will be another side of the Birdsville Track that on average only happens every 20 years.

Cheers

Stephen
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Reply By: Member - Hunjy (NSW) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 10:05

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 10:05
Am I right in thinking the ferry can only take 1 car at a time with no trailer. So this would mean that no caravans, campers etc will be able to complete the track until the ferry goes back into hibernation.
Mal
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 10:11

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 10:11
Hi Hunjy
From what Transport SA have said, that will be the case, the trailer would have to be ferried separately. So take that into account and the two car per hour rate is cut immediately.


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Reply By: Member - GREENDOG - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 20:58

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 20:58
Hi Stephen, let me just say you have done a fantastic job in keeping every one informed about the ferry well done mate,Now could you please tell me when does Patsy think the water will start trickling over the track cause i wouldn't mind being there.cheers GREENDOG
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 22:31

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 22:31
Hi Greendog
I will be speaking with Patsy again this week for the latest update. Like all things it will be hard to predict exactly when, but from what I am hearing, it is now down to the final countdown. I to think that it would be unreal to be in the bed of the Cooper where it goes over the Birdsville Track and to see that body of water coming down. I would say that by the end of next week there will be a lot clearer indication of when it will happen.

I will keep you posted.

Cheers

Stephen
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