Burton's Perth to Cape York Oonadatta to Muloorina Station Day 13 - 12 April 2011

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 15:13

Mike & Amanda

Lulu made an appearance to appear in a photograph in front of the famous Pink Roadhouse. She has been sulking lately, even a swim in Dalhousie didn't lift her spirits.

The Oodnadatta Track continued to be a dream highway. Averaging 90 we ploughed on through clouds of dusts to the screeching of white clouds of corellas. The landscape is much drier here, tan and olive and very very flat. We passed only the occasional vehicle going the other way, surprisingly there were a number of 2WD sedans towing caravans.

Algebuckina, a place crossing Neale's River was announced with another Pink Roadhouse painted tin sign. This is an example of one of the impressive Old Ghan box girder bridges and also a very popular camping spot by the look of the old camp fire remains. We drove in, heading up the hill to the start of the bridge where a couple of signs informed all of the history. Quite an engineering feat, then and even now in such a remote area.

William Creek stretched across both sides of the road, the 'pub' on one side and some sort of flight and visitor's centre on the other. It was difficult to see the fuel pumps amidst the clutter (and the black clouds of flies). We did a swift 'yewie' and came to a halt next to the concealed unleaded pump only to be confronted by a scrawled note - "out of order", hmmm that was disappointing! I braved the flies and forced my way into the small bar crowded with tourists taking photos. Prices in there seemed to be exorbitant. The young guy behind the bar sadly confirmed the pump was broken. A quick plan saw us heading for Coward Springs, munching on our stocks of cheese and biccies, washed down with orange mineral water and grapes for dessert. The kids preoccupied with movies in the back, Kate asking, "which one is James Bond, Jack?"

Coward Springs was a nice little oasis with a small driveway, a parking area and a gate into a camping area surrounded by desert oaks. The flies were horrendous, FOF nets a mandatory fashion accessory. The Springs were disappointing only being the size of a small spa boarded in by Old Ghan sleepers. It was full of children with a queue waiting. The decision was made, we had been totally spoiled by the spacious Dalhousie so time to move on with just a little matter of fueling up from the jerries once again. On the way out we met two families from Brissy doing the year off around Australia trip. They looked well equipped and after a chat they recognized Amanda from her Tasmanian snow camping article in Camper Trailer Australia - how embarrassing, Amanda thought...

Soon we were glimpsing Lake Eyre south on our left as a huge expanse of water. A stop at the Lookout was stunning. Horizon to horizon water as far as the eye could see. We passed the Borefields Road heading out to Roxby Downs and Olympic Dam, ah memories of passed jobs done, hopefully not to be repeated! Zooming right passed we headed towards Maree for much needed fuel. The road is still a reasonable facsimile of a highway, wide gravel, occasional corrugations, floodways, gullies but nothing too hazardous. We later spoke to a couple of softroaders towing Avans or Jaycos and came to appreciate even more the Cruiser’s ability to absorb punishment. The heavy Old Man Emu springs, shocks and rear Coilrite airbags suck up the corrugations, enabling an easy 90kph, whereas these softroaders are talking 60-70 and "is the road rocky?" After the Gunbarrel and Boggy Holes we haven't seen anything too terrible. Mount Dare and Dalhousie to Hamilton Station came second, but since then bliss!

On the right side of the road, Planehenge appeared. Kate yelled, "looked mummy, a giant dog!" The mad sculptor had modified one of the Old Ghan water tanks with a car body as a head and a tail added, looking in the distance just like Clifford the giant dog. Next came the mechanical man, the sunflower and the three planes planted tail first. Very spectacular and I must say I'd been looking forward to seeing them.

Today we'd seen a number of bushy tailed foxes, a lean dingo and some crazy emus trying to beat the Cruiser in a foot race. Corellas and pink and greys were everywhere. Finches and other birds we didn't know abounded. The landscape was far from parched and showed off the recent rains.

Maree was a little like Oonadatta but bigger. Quiet, dusty and more sprawling. The drive in to the pumps was a little narrow especially with the trailer. We filled the tanks and the jerries. The inside of the roadhouse and store was very surprising, Spectacular photographs of the local area graced the walls. A full barista type coffee machine lured me in. Late as the day was we decided to head out to Muloorina Station, the access just a little way out of town. Fifty kilometres of recently graded track saw us zooming along at 80 kph safely, only stopping for two gates and the dog fence. Muloorina turned out to be a mini paradise (except for the damn flies!). There were a few people camping next to the permanent water hole with some space for us. The owner's had done a great job of minimalist intervention whilst providing great flushing toilets. We camped right next to the water, dodging clouds of flies for a quick set up, a great campfire and a welcome beer! Soft river sand crunched under our feet, ducks cavorting and splashing in the reeds as the sun quickly set. The bush has some strange spiders that create large web baskets and drop linear highways of sticky web up the trees, with ants being their intended prey. Amanda thought these huge web baskets were 'spooky'.
Mike & Amanda
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