Off again for another adventure north which we began by driving all day to get to Lake Tyrell. It did not live up to all the online hype so the next day we set off for one of our good old favourites – Pink Lakes. We detoured via Patchewollock to see one of the painted silos, part of a planned six, four have already been completed. http://www.art-almanac.com.au/silo-art-trail/
At Lake Crosbie we had our usual lakeside view as we set off on the circuit walk via Lake Kenyon and remnants of the salt works that used to extract salt here. The shallow salty lakes provided perfect reflected sunrises and sunsets.
Another favourite was the site of our next camp. We have stayed at Burra many times as it’s on the direct route to the north – we’ve used the caravan park, Burra Gorge and one wet night even in the Paxton Square cottages to the delight of the family. However Red Rock conservation park was our destination this time as we love the walk and surroundings. It was greener and wetter than last time we were there but we still had a visit from an emu. The walk shows the devastation wrought by drought, rabbits and erosion but it is strangely beautiful.
Alligator Gorge was worth another stopover and then we sidled up the Flinders Ranges, ducking into Parachilna Gorge to camp after Ray turned down the very basic camping at the Prairie Hotel and the allure of the Feral Feast. http://www.prairiehotel.com.au/
We were then finally onto the Oodnadatta Track after a not so quick visit to see Talc Alf, a local character at Lyndhurst, who has his own views on the origins of letters and words and is very happy to share them. He also carves out of the rock that is used to make talcum powder. Farina was a ghost town built for the old Ghan railway and is slowly crumbling to extinction. The surprisingly pretty campground by the creek tempted us to abandon the battle against the headwind and stay the night. (Ray was watching the fuel consumption on the gauge of our brand new vehicle and didn’t like it.)
The good thing about the Oodnadatta Track is there is always something to stop and look at as opposed to the boring Stuart Highway. We had more ruins, a wacky sculpture park, Lake Eyre South and mound Springs all to keep us interested on the short leg to Coward Springs. The springs have been set up with information and boardwalks to show off two of the bigger ones but there are many more dotted about. Coward Springs has their own so there was no need to light a fire under the hot water tank for a shower.
It was a short day on to William Creek where I booked in for an early morning flight over Lake Eyre. I had the flight to myself with two pilots, one in training to learn the route and highlights to point out. We flew across the sand dunes which were practically non existent from the air and then out over the salty lake. There was only a very small amount of water in the lake but the patterns in the salt were amazing. The countryside looks so different from above and the lines of creeks were especially photogenic.
Before Oodnadatta the railway line crosses a number of creeks with impressive bridges. The biggest and best is Algebuckina bridge and it is the preferred stopping point for travelers with its appealing waterhole and grand bridge.
This year the Oodnadatta Track is in the best condition it’s been in for years according to the locals and it’s more of a highway. Despite this we served our initiation with a broken back window. We finally had to leave the smooth gravel and venture onto real 4wd tracks to visit Dalhousie Springs. It wasn’t too bad as we took a side road that passed a number of cattle stations but then we turned onto the track that led to the National Park and they notoriously never have any money for roads. So 70 km of rough driving with stops at Pedirka and Dalhousie ruins made us very grateful for the warm waterhole at the springs. It is about 37 degrees Celsius so it’s like swimming in a giant bathtub.
It was especially enjoyable in the cool next morning as the mist rose from the pond. Unfortunately we had to leave on the supposedly better road but the heavier traffic created horrendous corrugation which had us bouncing along and Ray vowing he wouldn’t have come if he’d known. Back to the bitumen at Kulgera and rocks that would be noticed anywhere else but not in the Red Centre.