The 2013 Expeditions Begin.

Monday, Jul 01, 2013 at 04:00


GDEC 2013


1. Exploring Rudall River & the Yandagooge Gap
2. In the footsteps of Carnegie - The Carnegie Retracing expedition (Halls Creek to Mt Webb)


Part 1 - Mick Olsen, Alan “Dingo” Kennedy, John “Jaydub” Whithorn, Suzette Cook & Larry P.

Part 2 - Expedition Leader Alan McCall, Big John McCall; Peter Blakeman, Mick Olsen, Alan Kennedy, John Whithorn, Suzette Cook & Larry P.

Sunday 30th June - July 1st 2013 - (Start odometer 52690)
The journey begins….

Leaving Melbourne late in the day it was an uneventful trip up the Calder to Mildura, then left towards South Australia, crossing at the Yamba Inspection Point. Near midnight I overnighted by the roadside on the Morgan Road and enjoyed a great sleep, despite the distant rumbling of machinery. Being keen to get the kilometres under the belt on the trip north it was an early start into an overcast and cool morning when I woke. No trip towards the Stuart is complete without a stop at the Morgan Bakery for one of their delicious pies, and thankfully they were open early as my arrival before 7:00 a.m. found.

I don’t mind the run across the Geranum plains, those wide saltbush flats between Morgan and Burra although this trip required a bit more vigilance as I was forced to dodge a few feral goats and the odd roo. The predominant native fauna this trip appeared to be the emu and there were a great number of them moving nonchalantly across the land grazing casually.

As the sun rose behind me, shafts of brilliant early morning light spearing across the plains and illuminate the distant hills. The morning remained largely overcast as I moved off the plains and into the hills around Burra. As my altitude increased I found myself pulled through thick fog in the hills at Spalding but it had cleared by the time I reached Crystal Brook. From there it was down out of the hills to meet the coastal A1 near Port Pirie and spearing north the last 100 kilometres to Port Augusta, arriving just after 10:00 a.m.

Having done the fruit fly waltz at Yamba on the way over, the usual order of business at Port Augusta is the visit to Safeway for vegies and any final grocery items and then replenishing the fuel tanks using the discount docket. It went well despite an amazingly slow fuel bowser. It took an age to get 220 litres pumped into the tanks. Finally at 11:45 a.m. I was on the road north and preparing for the long haul across the plains to Coober Pedy.

The condition of the country was far different from my rain soaked drive out of Coober in 2012. The Sandy country was coming alive with green shoots and flowers, particularly around Lake Hart. The change from the sand and loam to the gibber was as stark a line of demarcation as you’ll ever see. The change is soil types heralding a corresponding change in the nature of the vegetation also. It looked as if rain had not fallen for an eon.

It didn’t take long to slip into the long haul mindset with the cruise control set to 2000 RPM on the tacho. The morning progressed into nice sunny afternoon that was cool but not cold. I do enjoy these long stretches as the drive allows you the opportunity to clear the mind and purge all thoughts of work.

Four o’clock found me 150 kilometres south of Coober Pedy and heading into a setting sun, the trickiest part of the day driving wise. Around me the four o’clock rush was underway with the road side camping areas fast filling with north bound nomads.Bon Bon rest area was near capacity, the recently settled residents walking the boundaries, saying G’day to their neighbours and comparing rigs, solar panels and generators. The rituals of travel always makes me smile.

Not long before six p.m. I blew into Coober. I managed a call from home, as a very excited and newly turned 18 year old also revealed that he now held a freshly minted drivers Licence. The crown prince got his licence and his car all in the one morning, an excited young man indeed. A top up with fuel was all that was required at Coober and I was on the way again in no time. 40 minutes later saw me sailing passed Ingomar the rest area overlooking the vast western lowland plains all but empty.

I managed to squeeze in another 240 km reaching Marla and making it over 1100 km of driving for the day. With a long day in the saddle, I’d been looking for a suitable location to pull off and camp. In the end I decided to head a couple of kilometres down the Mintabie Road. That got me far enough away from the Highway and the rail line to ensure a reasonably quiet night. It was a starry but brisk night when I climbed stiff and tired up to the Roof Top Taj.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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