An Interesting drive from Warri Gate to The Dig Tree Campsite on Cooper Creek

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 00:00

Member-Heather MG NSW

We left our quiet campsite at Olive Downs in Sturt National Park just south of the Queensland Border in bright sunshine, excited to be on new road.
On arrival at Warri Gate I took photos as John drove through and I did the important job of chief Gate opener and closer! The land was very flat and I had wrongly imagined that Cameron Corner would look like.

The first stretch of road...some thirty kms, to the junction of the road to Noccundra and our road which would take us through Santos and Orientos Stations, was a dirt highway....wide flat and easy driving. There were lots of roos and cattle...and wonderful red dirt.
From there for some distance past the turn to Cameron Corner it was also good surface, looking newly graded, but the further north we drove, the less like a road it became and we realised that we had been very lucky thus far.

We encountered a crew of road workers who had turned parts of the road to mud as they bulldozed and flattened the surface and we were amused to see a sign at the end of the work which read 100 speed limit, drive safely! We were lucky to get up to 60 kph towing the van on the best bits further south.

I was more than a little perplexed when we came to a road junction which did not appear on any of my maps, or the GPS, and 'our' road went through a closed station gate. The sign for this 'road' stated '4WD Only Dry Weather Track Only'.... not exactly what we thought we would be driving when we planned the route...and I am quite sure John would never have consented to go this way had we known! However...there was simply no way of going I jumped out and opened the gate and through we went.

We drove slowly through patches of sand and stony creek crossings, sections of mild corrugations, a closed gate or two, and had to make a number of small detours around wet and boggy bits...once having to drive over a small red sandy bank on the side to get back onto the track. At this point I pondered what we would do if we came to some bit where it was just not possible to tow the van through but I did not speak my thoughts....frightened that thinking it, might make it happen!

We hoped we were on the right track and our GPS (inbuilt Sat Nav provided by Mitsubishi which is great on major roads but useless off road) showed that we were following an unnamed road...and there weren't any others. It was comforting to see the Station Names as we drove past.
We only saw five on-coming vehicles and the first two stopped to ask us whether we had come through from Tibooburra so we weren't the only confused travellers! The signage both ways was pretty poor!

We pulled over to the edge on a flat stony bit of the track and had a quick lunch....keen to get to our destination. No way did we want to get stuck somewhere along the track if it rained!
The Northern end was very stony...small and not so small sharp rocks which pounded relentlessly against the underside of our Pajero and hit the WDH bars and draw bar of the van. We were glad we had cardboard on the rear wndow, also the rubber stone guard on the Pajero and the home made shade cloth stone guard on the Van front for a bit of protection!

Finally we arrived at the junction of the Adventure Way....left to Innamincka or right only a few kms to out turn to the Historic and much anticipated Dig Tree...and our campsite for the next three days. We averaged somewhere around 45kph so it was a slow trip, however the compensation for John was that fuel usage was below 18 ltr per 100 kms.

With some trepidation we checked both vehicles for signs of wear and tear but there was none, and the contents of the van did not move much more than they often do on Highways! THank goodness we have a strong Outback Unbreakable Jayco! lol
It was a memorable days drive with lots of interesting photos, and I am so glad we did it...
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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