Finke River to Boggy Hole

Thursday, Oct 14, 1999 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

After our walk we decided it would be a nice time of day to be driving along the Finke River to Boggy Hole so it was about 4.30pm when we went through Hermansburg and just on sunset when we made it to the waterhole at Boggy Hole. It was a sensational drive, extremely scenic and varied. Sometimes we were driving along a rocky section of the creekbed, other times it was soft and sandy. At time the cliffs glowed red with the afternoon light and there were many good spots we could have stopped to camp. We continued on though so you can imagine our dissappointment to find 7 other campers at Boggy Hole, including a real loudmouth discussing in great detail how the charging system works in a 4WD.

We didn't have much information about the camping sites at Boggy Hole and infact missed the main area and drove through the sandy crossing on the way south before we realised our error. This sandy section is meant to be the notorious Boggy bit of the area (but had no trouble at all) and with our trailer we attracted a bit of attention as we drove backwards and forwards trying to find a campsite. To be honest I think, and I think I speak for David too here, that Boggy Hole is overated. Admittedly, anyplace overcrowded with campers and low on water is not seen at its best so we'll just have to come back here another year to give it another go.

Our 5th day out of Alice Springs and we were leaving Boggy Hole on our way to Kings Canyon. We'd planned to spend the day around Boggy Hole but so had the other campers. There just weren't enough trees to go around so we drove until lunch looking everywher for a half-decent place to stop. Everywhere was hot and there just wasn't a tree giving any shade in sight! We even got bogged in a sandy creek going too slow looking at the view (after going way off the track) but deflating the tyres some more got us out soon enough. Dave was pleased to have the opportunity to finally use the scuba air tank he'd rigged up for inflating tyres quickly (compare 5 minutes to inflate 4 tyres to 40 minutes using air compressor - Blue TongueII).

Boggy Hole to Ernest Giles Road is only 68km but it took us most of the day. 20km from Boggy Hole (about 2 hours), we came to Running Waters (not sign posted). This looks like a great place to stop if there's ever any water in it! Anyway, 44km from Boggy Hole you come to an intersection where the road is now a wide open red sandy highway. We took the diversion out to Illamurta Springs but it certainly wasn't as lush as the guide books make it out. There's an interesting ruin of a police camp and yards but the spring is reedy and you've got no hope of getting wet!

When we finally reached the Ernest Giles Road we sat at the intersection and discussed where to next? Instead of turning right to Kings Canyon where camping is $26 and its a return trip of 196km and we've both been there before, we turned left to the Henbury Metorite Craters and agreed to do Rainbow Valley, Chambers Pillar and Finke that neither of us had seen.

The craters were formed when a meteor hit the earth about 5000 years ago and there was camping here. We thought we'd stop for the night as it was nearing sunset but some thoughtless tourist had dumped their filthy rubbish in the BBQ which ruined the atmosphere. A quick look at the map and we found a pub with a camp ground and a swimming pool just 59km away (48km up the Stuart Highway at Stuart's Well). That sounded about perfect so we got there just before the dust storm and spent the evening in the bar with a fascinating host Jim Cotterill (son of Jack Cotterill, pioneer of the Kings Canyon tourist area in the 1960s).

Jim's story is really interesting and you can read all about his family history on the walls of his bar. They serve meals, snacks, fuel, etc too so if you're in the area stop in for a chat. There were only 3 other patrons, 2 girls going on a 3 day camel tour to Rainbow Valley, and an itinerant opal miner who gave me a huge solid opal stone which I'm looking forward to having set.

Jim gave us a "locals only" sneaky way short cut to get from Rainbow Valley to Chambers Pillar without going back to the the highway, saving about 70km but it was still about 4.30pm by the time we got there. Again, the track to Chambers Pillar is not recommended for trailers, which is stupid because other than a bit of sand, a rocky low range 2nd steep descent and patches of corrugations it was straightforward. David has driven so many roads now with this trailer that I don't think anything would come close to stopping him.

Yes, there were people there when we arrived. One older couple with a caravan! An hour later 2 more vehicles arrived, German tourists in hire 4WDs and then a 4WD tour operator with a trailer.

The camp sites were excellent - great views of both Castle Rock and Chambers Pillar, free gas BBQs, hotplates, fire pits and large picnic tables.

But as for many places we visit the national parks people go a bit overboard with their bollards which can be a bit of a nuisance for those who want to keep their car cool or who have camper trailers - the shadiest part of the campsite being behind the fence!

We set up a tarp and made a great camp and waited for the sunset. We'd come so far we wanted to get some good photos - but it was a cloudy, dark sunset. We stayed the following day, all the previous nights' campers having left before we'd even woken up. You can climb up to the base of the vertical section of the pillar to view the inscribed names of the famous explorers who passed here before the Telegraph and Ghan was built and there's a nice walk around the base of Castle Rock.

Since we didn't get up early this morning it was deemed my turn to take the next day's sunrise photos.

We finally left Chambers Pillar on Thursday, our 7th day out of Alice and headed for the aboriginal community of Finke following the old Ghan line.

The Finke track is a great drive, the scenery even better than in the Simpson desert. There are red dunes on either side of the track, bits and pieces of historic ruins, and not a car in sight. It started to rain but the track was sand not clay and was no trouble.

We didn't actually stop in Finke but turned west along the Goyder-Kulgera stock route to the turnoff to the Lambert Centre (23km). Another 12km on a track brought us to a flag pole and marking of the planimetric centre of gravity of Austalia... interesting.

From here it was a fairly long drive after lunch all the way back out to the Stuart Highway at Kulgera. We found a bush camp on the NT/SA border, its an excellent roadstop with good shady trees. Here we discussed going to Sydney for Xmas - early. To drive instead of fly from Perth. We put together a plan, composed email and agreed to drive to wherever we got mobile service to send it tomorrow. Probably Yulara Resort near Ayers Rock.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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