NOW: FROM DAVENPORT RANGES NATIONAL PARK TO THE BIG RED BASH
After a fresh-food top up in Katherine we headed down the Stuart Highway with a million grey nomads heading in both directions. When we stopped at Renner Springs we saw three mad people in amongst the nomads – two were on pushbikes and the other was walking the Stuart Highway!
Once we turned off the highway onto the gravel road into Davenport Ranges National Park the traffic certainly thinned out but there was a lot of road rebuilding happening. There was even a red traffic light near Kurundi Station where you used to drive up the creek bed but will soon be on a new raised roadway! We topped up on fuel at Epenarra as we had a long way from here to the next fuel stop.
There were 4 other groups camping at Old Police Station Waterhole and the water level was lower than on our last visit. The corellas still roost in the river gums and the serenity is still there. We were hoping for red claw yabbies overnight and they didn’t disappoint either.
Our wander around the billabong took us past the old police station ruins which give the waterhole its name. We followed this with yabbies cooked in ginger, garlic and chilli butter and a nice white wine. Once again we needed the pliers out of the boot to crack the yabby claws. All we needed were the white serviettes and we could have been in any 5-star restaurant (and wiped our hands).
One morning during our stay a small plane came very low over our camp herding the donkeys and cattle further up the river bed. We’d heard the donkeys each night and found it interesting that cattle and donkeys roamed the National Park. Their well worn tracks were clearly seen along the waterhole and riverbank.
South of the waterhole the road to the Sandover Highway was rocky and slow going but not difficult. It took us three hours to reach the Sandover which was a slightly better dirt road and significantly wider in some sections. Our overnight stop was in a sandpit used by a previous road building crew but there were some shady trees.
The Sandover doesn’t see much traffic. Only a few other vehicles passed us. Interestingly, when the Sandover gets to the Queensland border it becomes a track to nowhere! Lake Nash Station is right on the border and we headed south on an unmarked track which crossed lots of now dry creek beds. The Hema Desert Tracks book states that the road is difficult to follow and unmaintained and we did have to backtrack twice. We soon worked out that the main track was marked by abandoned sedans so you just had to look ahead for the abandoned cars.
Ten kilometres from Lake Nash we had to come to a halt as a mob of cattle were driven down the track by musterers on horses and motorbikes. I think they were as surprised as us to see someone on the track but this was the “quick” way to Urandangie and across to Boulia.
The track across to Boulia was slow going but 60 kilometres shorter than going up “the highway” and coming back down. After a lunch stop on the blacktop we changed drivers and David heard an almighty metallic scrape come from under our feet. A chassis bracket had snapped and let our underbody armour hit the tar. Of course the wind and dust were howling as we undid the bolts and loaded our bashplate onto the roof rack.
Luckily we met Colin at the Boulia truck shed and he welded the chassis bracket back on and replaced a missing bolt for us. Thank you Colin! We also camped on grass in Boulia for the first time in a long while, had a good pub dinner and bought fresh fruit and vegies! What else could you possibly need?
At our next stop we were pleasantly surprised to find Bedourie which is famous for its camp ovens, also has a very delightful 40° artesian spa pool with free entry. Perfect for tired bodies and calloused feet! But we were headed for Birdsville so we joined the streams of traffic heading either towards or away from Birdsville. If you weren’t going to the Big Red Bash you were trying to get away from everyone who was!
NEXT: THE BIG RED BASH
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David