Simpson Desert and Batten Hill Trip, 2007- Part 10 Coongie Lakes to Home via the Bore Track

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 at 11:31


Back at Innaminka we refuelled before heading out to Cullyamurra Waterhole, where we found another big beautiful stretch of water. These places have their own quirky ways a making an impression though, as John discovered as we walked along a narrow track towards the waters edge. He stepped onto what appeared to be a firm patch of dry mud, only to sink ankle deep into sticky oozing grey mud. That took a bit of effort to clean up. We noticed some of the big river red gums there had branches that had fused together, a curious feature we have seen in other places as well.

From there we headed south on the Strzelecki Track past the big geothermal drilling rig where we stopped for a good look. We had heard a news item on the radio last night about the recently arrived drilling rig and were impressed by the scale of the operation. We have some interest in the success of that rig – but we wonder how long it will be till those deep wells are actually generating electricity. (on 2nd May 2013 it was announced that the Pilot Plant has been successfully commissioned and has produced Australia’s first Enhanced Geothermal Systems generated power.)

We continued south until we found the Bore Track turn off, and at the earliest opportunity we found a camp for the night. The strong wind, which had been blowing all day, finally died down around nightfall. We had a restless night listening to a Santos oil installation humming away nonstop somewhere not too far away.

That wind carried the scent of flowers and as we navigated our way through another maze of tracks servicing oil and gas wells we came into another belt of country that was in full bloom. The profusion of flowers grew more spectacular as we approached Bollards Lagoon. There were acres of yellow daisies, white everlastings and faintly perfumed wild stocks. The sand dunes there are bright red, and the colour contrasts between the green vegetation, red sand and colourful flowers were quite breathtaking. The overcast sky even allowed through some bright patches of sunlight as if to emphasise the magnificent display.

The $10 fee that we paid at Bollards Lagoon seemed very good value for the treat that we had experienced travelling through that property. (A postscript - Since that time the Bore Track has been closed to travellers.) The ice cream that we had a Camerons Corner was likewise welcome and would have been good value at twice the price. But when we pulled in to the Fort Grey campground for lunch and found a sign requesting day visitors to pay $7 (plus another $3 if camping overnight) we quickly moved on.

South of Tibooburra we found a nice bush camp beside a dry watercourse, just beyond the end of the bitumen. We were able to have a fire and cooked up a great camp oven meal using the last of our vacuum-sealed meat. There was some heavy cloud around when we turned in and at some point during the night we heard a bit of light rain. When we got back on the road early next morning the unsealed road was very slippery, suggesting that our adventures were not yet over. The less said about the run south the better! It was a very muddy bedraggled Troopy that arrived in Broken Hill that afternoon.

From Broken Hill we turned east for home, through the open country around Wilcannia until we found a sheltered gravel pit where we spent a cold night. There was ice and heavy frost the next morning so we had a record quick pack-up before we bundled back into Troopy and the warmth from the heater.

On we went via Ivanhoe, down the Cobb Highway passing only 2 or 3 vehicles, before turning onto the Mossgeil road towards Hillston. Then we were back on bitumen and our adventure was nearly over. Our last night was spent back in the cyprus forest where we had spent our first night out. We relished the warmth and fragrance of a cheerful cyprus fire as we tried to make ourselves a bit presentable for our run home.

It had been quite an adventure, although we had only been out for about 6 weeks. We have covered nearly 8,000 kilometres, seen and done some memorable things, met some wonderful folk and generally got to know parts of our country just a little bit better.

Postscript: We also had an annoying, non-stop stream of flat tyres. Advice received while we were travelling, and backed up by further consultation with those who are knowledgeable about such things suggested that we should ditch the split rims. It seems that some of the tyres that we were using had a tendency to have exposed belting on the inside that rubbed the inner tube causing it to leak. When we reduced tyre pressures the effect of the rubbing became more pronounced, especially if there were any grains of sand inside the tyre. Acting on this advice we changed over to 15” rims and tubeless tyres, and on the four big trips that we have subsequently done our incidence of flat tyres has dropped to very acceptable levels.

J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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