NOW: THE OODNADATTA TRACK
The Oodnadatta Track starts at Maree which was once the end of the railway line. It was the staging point for goods and stock which were herded or carried by camel trains or delivered by the famous Tom Kruse in his mail truck. Stockmen brought cattle down from the north, rested them on Sir Sidney Kidman’s property at Maree and then loaded them onto rail cars for the trip to Adelaide.
The railway line was extended leaving metal relics along the track. While some just rust away others still stand or have been turned into objects of art. Just near Lake Eyre South objects found along the old railway have been turned into sculptures large enough to be seen from the road. On this visit Lake Eyre was dry and salt crusted but water lurked just below the surface.
This is spring country. Just south of Coward Springs water bubbles to the surface from the Great Artesian Basin. You can visit Mound Springs called The Bubbler and Blanche Cup on a boardwalk and see the water bubbling up through the mud. At Coward Springs you can soak in the artesian water and spend a very comfortable night in the campground where everything is made from old Ghan railway sleepers.
On our last visit to Coward Springs we lost our rear window to a rock thrown up by our trailer but we now have an Obies Rear Window Saver. This time we copped a huge rock from a fast moving vehicle going the other way, on the front windscreen leaving 3 big stars right in front of the passenger’s eyes. Glad we have glass insurance!
From Coward Springs we continued along the Oodnadatta Track past more mound springs with green grassy tops and into William Creek. You can drive 50kms out to Lake Eyre or fly out from William Creek.
Anna Creek Station, the largest cattle station in the world, is still operating adjacent to the track with the ruins of the old Beresford railway siding siting in contrast on the opposite side. I could imagine dropping in for scones and a cuppa on the veranda if the old stone building was restored. Sadly the corrugated iron roofing is blowing off and the ceiling collapsing so I can’t see much hope for my vision!
We had a late lunch stop at Algebuckina near the old railway bridge. After sitting in the shade of the mulga trees we decided we might as well enjoy the shade by the waterhole and stay the night like a few others who had made the same decision.
Next morning we travelled along the Oodnadatta Track for a fuel stop at the famous Pink Roadhouse. The Oodnadatta Track continues on to Marla but we went north past Hamilton Station and Eringa Waterhole which actually had water in it!
The Road Crew had graded the road so we continued across to Bloods Creek and into Mt Dare. Last year Mt Dare was virtually underwater, muddy and boggy! This time it’s warm, relatively green and dry but there were some clouds looming that we were watching just in case. From Mt Dare we headed to New Crowne and across to Finke.
When we were in this area last year the practice sessions were on for the Finke Desert Race. This time it was Easter Sunday and Finke was very quiet. After travelling for 15 months we finally reached the very centre of the country in Apatula land at Lambert Centre of Australia, which was up a very sandy track.
The road across to Kulgera was corrugated with lots of creek crossings and washaways, so the going was slow. The countryside changed from sand dunes to rocky outcrops but the bush looked green and wildflowers had popped out of the sand. There were lots of cattle and long grass in the desert!
NEXT: ULURU, KATA TJUTA
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David