Lake Eyre and then Where (Part 2 Lake Eyre and Birdsville Track)

Saturday, Dec 31, 2011 at 15:49

Member - Michael John T (VIC)

WARNING This blog contains nostalga.

We should have stayed longer at Grindell's Hut but we were looking forward to our flight over Lake Eyre and needed to restock our supplies. We drove the 100 klms via Italowie Gorge to Copely where we had lunch at the cafe -not bad either- before driving back 5 klms along the highway to Leigh Creek.an excellent mining/outback town - good shopping facilities meeting several of the people we had met at Arkaroola. We refueled with 107 litres at $1.73.7 p/l only to find the servo at Lyndhurst was 8 cents/litre cheaper ....bugger!



Heading north towards Marree we stopped at the old Farina Gangers' Cottage along the Old Ghan Line. There are, apparently, very good camping facilities a couple of klms off the road at Farina Station itself. I suppose we were a little disappointed to find that there are 2 sections of the road that are now sealed, one a stretch of 17 klms and the other, the last 8 klms into Marree. Things are changing - the old caravan park has closed and now the Oasis Park has opened and the General store cum petrol station has changed and expanded (cafe incorporated) since we were there last. (a few years now)

Booked our flight over the lake and settled into the crowded Caravan Park for the night..



Next morning although our flight was 3/4 hour late we took off flying north over Muloorina Station and the eastern side of Lake Eyre South. We could see Lakes Harry and Marian were full but there was little water in lake Eyre South. Apparently the last time water flowed through the Goyder Channel into Lake Eyre South was back in 1974. Today Lake Eyre itself remains at about 85% full with water still flowing in from the Coopers Creek.



The views from the plane were fantastic - the barren landscape split by the occasional road/track that vary little from a straight line, the ever present white salt pans and numerous creeks winding across this vast land-form. Unfortunately we saw very little bird-life but the patterns and reflections on the lake itself were inspiring, I'm not keen on small plane flights but this was a memorable 1 1/2 hours.



Back before lunch we were now faced with the conundrum, do we head back and across to Innaminka? or as Brenda preferred - up the Birdsville Track. The track it was to be. We stopped at Lake Harry Ruins for lunch, here we go again, back in 1986 when we first tackled the Birdsville Track with a group tour we spent our first night here and were hit by a severe storm , - tents and gear all wet and literally all disintegrated in the wind and rain. Prior to the storm we had heard a transport grinding it's way up the track and the next morning there it was bogged to the axles, we stopped and offered our condolences -what else could we do - but by the end of the next day he passed us again. That year had been wet and the wild flowers were unbelievable. By lunchtime a strong north wind had gotten up and we drove to Clayton Station wetlands for a wander before heading another 100klms to the Coopers Creek Punt, arriving about 5.00pm. The ferry attendants advised us to camp on the southern side indicating that the native rat population was still in plague proportions across the lake. Finding a reasonable camping location and with the wind abating a little we walked the edge of the lake admiring the dying sun, waterbirds and the peaceful atmosphere. Back at camp we started to cook tea and were absolutely inundated by small flying beetles and insects, so it was lights out and still they were attracted to the gas burner so it was a very light tea and into bed early (to get away from the insects). Just before dusk we were priviledged to watch a Brown Falcon with a Native Rat in tow, land in the grass a few metres from our camp where he slowly and methodically consumed his prey. Always looking out for danger, apparently we posed no threat to him or his meal.


Leaving next morning we crossed on the punt in the choppy waters - the wind was threatenig to close the punt down. Several travelers heading south hoped it wouldn't. The sandy 12klm drive back to the road skirted the edge ofLake Killamperpunna, a pretty sight in this otherwise dry environment. We detoured 5klms down the closed road to the edge of where the water crossed the Birdsville Track - a great sight. It must have been 3-400 metres wide and well over a metre deep. In 1989 we reached this point and detoured to the punt site, swam in the newly arrived water and then returned and followed the road just prior to the track being closed a few days later.


We meandered the next 70klms north to Mungeranie Station where we had lunch. Again the memories flowed, it was here on that 1989 trip that our traveling companions were able to obtain a set of wheel studs for his Toyota Landcruiser from the then owner "for what he had paid for them - $32.00". They replaced the ones that had sheared off some 50klms north causing the rear wheel to detach from the vehicle. It saved an otherwise long wait for a replacement set to be sent from Adelaide. The deal was made over a beer at the bar.


As it was still very windy we decided to make our way for the designated campsite some 125 klms further north, passing several bodies of water, some with extensive bird-life still on them as well as stopping to look at the Mira Mitta hot Bore now capped and running at a fraction of what it used to. The camp-site was far too exposed in fact there was just a loo and nothing else, not even a shrub on the barren rise fully exposed to the wind. The search for a suitable camp site ended a few klms along with promising vehicle tracks beside and through a dry creek bed, leading to a quite sheltered clearing. Here we set up camp and were accompanied by a pair of Black-Shouldered Kites, who again were hunting rodents and keeping a watchful eye on us.


Next morning we were still about 170klms south of Birdsville but with a good run of just on 3 hours were able to set up at Birdsville Caravan Park just prior to the days influx of travelers. Along the way, crossing the endless Gibber Plains which stretched either side for many kilometres, and in places water from the Warburton system could be seen lying and shimmering across the land. The Moongarra Channel looked to be full (the first time I had seen it that way) and as we approached the sand-hill country the road improved significantly, straddled with flowering wattles and in places richly green verges. The Queensland Border and on into Birdsville. A couple of beers at the pub (last year we spent a night here and had an enjoyable meal) not this night though, the Dream Pot has been cooking a nice piece of Silverside.



We thoroughly enjoyed (despite the wind) the nostalgic trip back up the Birdsville Track, what a good decision it was to do so.









Continuing with the nostalga here are some photos from our albums for 1986 and 1989 trips up and down the Birdsville Track.









You wouldn't be allowed on the track when it was as wet now days. We've not seen expanses of wild flowers in this area since then, we keep on hoping, it was a good year.








We retired to travell
It's time to go again...
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