Darwin via the Dirt (part 3) Coopers Creek to the Plenty

Tuesday, Jun 22, 2010 at 10:00

Member - Michael John T (VIC)

There's a saying that places are never the same when you return to them. Well crossing the bridge over the Cooper Creek was an eye opener for Brenda and myself. The river looked almost full but meters below the roadway, yet just before we left I was viewing photos of this very bridge with water flowing over the top of it only a few weeks prior. You now pay $11 to visit the dig tree or stay a day or week or two..... but thats OK its great camping spot and not too many people and with plenty of room between camps. The bird life was just prolific. Fairy Martins building their mud nest under a tree limb a couple of meters from camp, zebra finches, honey eaters, tree creepers, chiripping wedgebills, budgies, kites and then the waterbirds in their hundreds. They were perched in trees, wading, along the mud banks and continually flying as we disturbed them with our presence. Ibis, herons, egrets, tiny dotterals, stilts several types of duck, darters and so on. The ruffus night herons had obviously had a bonanza breeding season as there were dozens of young birds present. What a difference water makes, and we were to continue to experience this as we moved north.

Lamb shanks for tea tonight, tomorrow we will contemplate how Bourke couldn't survive in this paradise (if only it was like this back then) beside the dig tree. The carved face of Bourke by Jack Dick who traveled out here with his wife in 1896 and completed the task complements the original inscription. Found some examples of early petroglyphs on a small outcrop of rocks.
The road to Arraby for the first 50 kms very rocky (not good for the tyres) before it became sandy and eventually running between sparse red dunes. The earlier jump-up country was very picturesque. Reaching the border of the Bullio and Barcoo shires the road turned into a wide dirt freeway on which we passed the very recent wreck of a bushtracker van, obviously the victim of too much speed. (sometimes the roads are just too good). Reached to turnoff to Haddon's Corner some 40kms on and then 15 kms further and over two sand hills we were there at the marker. Very desolate, windy and a small shelter over a picnic table, along with plenty of flies. The next morning we walked a couple of kilometers to a small swamp nestled beside a sand hill, the girls taking many photos of a variety of flowers.

Onto the Birdsville Dev Road and passed through Betoota where years ago you could stop for a beer and petrol, but not both at the same time as the elderly German gentleman closed one to serve the other. Now it is just a ruin. On the way into Birdsville the wreck of the bushtracker passed us on the back of a truck to become quite a talking point among the fellow tourists at Birdsville - we were able to reconstruct the scene for them. The Simpson had just reopened and there were quite a few waiting to make what would have been a congested run across it.
A hot shower and dinner at the pub were both worth the stopover.
The road to Bedourie has some sections of bitumen dotted along it, vast expanses of flat country with a mixture of grasses and gibba. A lot of water lying about still. Carcoori ruins (part of the Kidman empire) with a still flowing bore was worth a stopover. Cuttaburra crossing on Eyre Creek was very pretty with several well established campers already in residence.
The drive from here to Boulia was just brilliant in colour and variance. We stopped 20 kms short for the night camping among the small crop of Acacia Peuce trees (there are only about three stands of these, one out of Old Andado Stn and I believe another near Birdsville somewhere). An almost full moon through these ancient trees capped off with a flock of brolga made this a memorable camp site. I've got an acquaintance who queries my sanity in driving the outback - if only he could experience what we did in just todays 350 kms.. !!!!

Refueled at Boulia and out along the Donahue Hwy, at times an interesting road to say the least, crossed the Georgina River which reaches heights of 8 meters during the annual wet season. The border crossing occurs at what used to be Tobermorrey now just a concrete slab and the 'no go' entrance to the station of the same name. Now on the Plenty Hwy (changes at the NT Border) an excellent dirt road for 4wds, now and again a few corregations and rougher patches but overall very drivable. The Arthur Creek (river ?) provided an excellent bush camping site beside the white river gums, plenty of wood from the dry river bed for the cooking fire. Today's trip, although featuring a pair of bustards, frilled lizards and a large black snake as well as several conversations with passing traffic, nevertheless was 420 kms and that is a long way for us in one day. There is always something that inspires you each day, tonight just on bed time we noticed that the almost full moon had a partial eclipse happening. Hows that ???.

Tomorrow the much awaited Binns Track.
More photos:-

Up dated 16th May 2012
We retired to travell
It's time to go again...
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