2009 Trip - Canberra to William Creek

Friday, Jun 26, 2009 at 20:55


Back to Introduction

Its time to go. Jim and Jane are meeting us on the highway, so farewell to Dolores and Peter, who are minding our home and we are away, through green country to Wagga Wagga, out to Hay and eventually Maude where we spent our first night. Our camp was beside the Murrumbidgee River under river red gums. We had our first campfire and the sound of water coming over the weir to lull us to sleep. Next morning there was low cloud and a few drops that soon became light rain that persisted most of the morning. Lunch at Mildura then along the sadly depleted Murray River past Renmark to Pooginook Conservation Park to find a campsite among the mallee. Jane and Val went for a walk and found a huge set of wombat burrows. The campfire was excellent as the night was crisp and clear.

Next mornings low mist became river fog that stayed with us until we left the river at Morgan and headed across much drier looking country to Burra where Jane found pasties for lunch. From there it was an easy run up to Port Augusta where we stocked up on fruit and vegies, did the washing and chatted with other travellers in the caravan park.

Next morning we headed for Woomera, stopping to admire the salt on Island Lagoon and the distant desert hills. Past Woomera the bitumen continued to Roxby Downs where BHP mines copper, gold and uranium at the big Olympic Dam Mine. The small town is new and very neat and clean. A friendly local told us about the town over the UHF. Singles live at the mine site, but the front gate was as far as we got there.

The bitumen ended at the mine so at last we felt we were truly “outback”. The gravel road was in very good condition so we continued north to the spot that we reckoned would be a good campsite, based on Google Earth and OziExplorer. And so it turned out, in the shelter of a dune looking across a huge dry lake, and plenty of wood for a fire. The silence was profound and the stars ablaze. We were all excited at being in the desert at last.

Next morning was chilly and surprisingly there was heavy dew. The coals from last night’s fire were stirred into life to get the circulation going. Back on the road we made good time up to the Oodnadatta Track. Troopy is running sweetly and the trailer is following so well that we hardly know that it is there.

Our first stop was to pull into the lookout over Lake Eyre south. There is no water here but we walked out onto salt crust and saw where people had tried to drive out until they had obviously become bogged.

Next we revisited the mound springs. These two are named Blanch Cup and the Bubbler. Each is about 10metres high with a pool of water at the top, spilling over and running out to form a wetland. The Bubbler is the more active spring constantly “belching” big gas bubbles and stirring up plumes of fine sediment with its warm salty water. There are many such springs in this part of the Great Artesian Basin; these two are enclosed in a small reserve area.

Then on to Coward Springs for lunch. Coward Springs now runs as a caravan park for 7 months of the year. Originally it was a stop on the old Ghan line; some of the old railway buildings and artefacts are preserved. Old sleepers have been used to construct most of the current amenities buildings as well as a small spa that is fed by a hot spring. The overflow from this spring feeds a big wetland, an oasis for birds in this very dry country.

Forward to next chapter - Lake Eyre and the Painted Hills
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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