Burton's Perth to Cape York Mt Dare to Oonadatta Day 12 - 11 April 2011

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 14:35

Red Dirt Australia


Flies are up early here motivating us to get moving. Cereal, wash, coffee and a refuel at $2.20 per litre. Bought the obligatory Mt Dare sticker and headed off towards Dalhousie Springs. The track was not technically demanding however quite punishing and rough. We arrived at Dalhousie around lunchtime taking around 2 hours to get there. Probably could have made it faster however we want to preserve the gear and there were hidden washaways that suddenly appeared, so hitting them at 60 klicks was not an option. The weather has certainly cooled down since Alice with the daytime dropping from our previous 30s to low 20s. The night-time is positively cold with me even contemplating replacing the shorts and tee shirt for shock horror, long pants and a jumper.....Amanda through on the woollen blanket over the doona and that solved any night-time cold issues. Poor Kate keeps rolling off her Thermarest and onto the floor of the camper making herself cold. I think her sleeping bag is not as good as Jack's even though it is meant to be rated to -5 degrees C. We laid down a space blanket which only works whilst she stays on the mattress. Unfortunately she is the most mobile sleeper ever. And did I mention they both talk loudly in their sleep! It is almost like having a conversation!

Dalhousie Springs was a winner! What a superb place. We drove into a slightly improving track ending in what appeared to be a limestone turning circle with some National Parks signs explaining the geology and animals of the area. To the right was a very modern toilet and shower block adjacent to the camping areas.

Braving clouds of flies we donned our bathers and headed down to the springs. A large lake surrounded by small native trees and other vegetation. Thirty or forty grey falcons soared on the thermals above the springs seemingly looking for some prey endemic to the water. Wooden steps led the way into the water. Handy benches provided a spot for clothes and cameras. Gingerly we stepped down into the very inviting water. It was heavenly! Certainly warm, the signs reckoned 38 degrees centigrade; it was like a bath at home. The water was clear and deep, standing depth near the entry for a tall adult dropping to 14 meters in some spots....and we had this place all to ourselves. We swam and soaked until we were like drenched prunes, liking that the flies had gone. Dragonflies buzzed and small fish darted around our legs. Eventually, when we could take no more we reluctantly headed for a last toilet stop just as a herd of four wheel drives turned up...must have been one of those right place right time moments for us ....

Dodging and darting around the dense clouds of pesky flies we dived into the Cruiser only collecting twenty of so inside. Ha, the airconditioning will do for them....next we encountered the Dalhousie ruins, the old buildings of the original station. Well constructed of local stone, three building shells remain with half a dozen date palms clustered around the old springs. The National Parks people need to get their act together, the place looked a little shoddy with the signs faded and unreadable.

The track to Hamilton Station was once again very tortuous. Not technically challenging, just slow and potentially damaging. Large tyre gouging rocks, long deep sand drifts, and as you drove down into the regular creek hollows sudden very deep narrow washaways would appear, up until now concealed - crunch! We even encountered three small water crossings of no consequence, although one turned out to be surprisingly deep with the windscreen getting a splash. Ahead in the haze, Amanda spotted a lone BMW motorbike, the rider beckoning us to pass. An American drawl whispered "tell me there is no more goddamn soft sand". I told him the bad news before wishing him well. Average speed here was a disappointing 40 kph, the need to get to Coward Springs urging me faster, only to be reminded to slow down by another crunch! After Hamilton the road turned into a superhighway, well...at least to us. It was wide, smoothish, well made gravel with only the occasional corrugation. Signs proclaimed 'crests next 20 km', these being better than the rollercoaster at the Show! A couple of ladies in a well set up Prado stopped and asked us what the road was like. Once again, we hesitated, thinking how do you answer this...it really depends on what the road they have just travelled on was like. After seeing this superhighway we grinned and told them "it will be tough!"

Speed up to a reasonable 80 we soon hit the most welcome Oodnadatta Track. The famous Pink Roadhouse loomed and I could almost smell the cup of coffee I was about to have. Topped up the tanks at a reasonable $2.17 ;-), a few obligatory photos of the famed icon and inside for that fresh coffee...ahhh. It was obvious at we wouldn't make even William Creek today and besides we were all tired, so booked a spot in the 'caravan park' behind the Roadhouse which turned out to be very good. Everything is bushish and a little run down, but hey, it all worked and there was even a swimming pool! The cold wind and flocks of mean buzzing flies had us set up in record time, electric kettle dug out, cups of tea and well earned hot showers in the dongas. Two other groups turned up to camp, one soft floor camper trailer and surpisingly a large group in a Korean people mover. Neither of them seemed to be in a mood to say g'day although we made an effort to speak to the camper trailer folk. A hot fire was soon blazing, we sat around with a well earned wine as the temperature dropped - boy is it getting colder at night. Daytime is managing around 25. Raucous pink and greys woke us up to spectacular pink sunrise. I just hope it is not the 'red sky in the morning' thingy.

Mike & Amanda
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