Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oodnadatta Track Mark I

Boring! I've been sitting on my bum in the Leigh Creek for almost 4 weeks and there is really not much to see around here. After I left Parachilna Gorge on March 17th, I headed north through Leigh Creek to a campsite I had stayed at before near the ruins at Farina on the old Ghan line south of Marree. The story recommences there.......

Thursday, 17 March 2011 - Day 825

I pulled into Leigh Creek for an overnight stop to get some essentials like bread and milk, petrol for the generator and to refill my water tank and fresh water jerrycans. Nice little caravan park, neat and clean with good amenities and only $12 per night for a single ($22 for two people). Supplies are a bit expensive ($1.67/litre for diesel) but they'll be a lot dearer up the track. Just the one night here and then up the track to Farina.

Saturday, 19 March 2011 - Day 827

Help, I'm stranded. I pulled into Farina and went down to the campground and inflation has hit in a big way. When I stayed here just on two years ago, the campsite was only $3.50 per night per vehicle. Now it is $5.00 per night per person. That is getting a bit expensive for what is basically just a bush camp. All right, there are flush toilets (whoopee) and showers, but there is only hot water for the showers if you light the donkey boiler and to do that, you need wood and there isn't a stick of wood for 20 kms in any direction.

The campground wasn't as well-looked after as it was on my first visit, the campsites are very overgrown (they had all been slashed last time), the barbecue drums have all fallen over, the toilets are full of frogs and the visitor's book has disappeared, but there has been a war-memorial built up on the ridgeline.

I pulled in and had a look around for a nice spot, and for no apparent reason I chose a spot out of the way on a bit of a bank on the far side of the campground. Just as well I did! I set up on the Friday afternoon and on the Sunday morning the whole campground was under water except for the spot I had picked. All of the other sites were under 2 to 3 feet of water and the road out was completely covered. I took a wander and the water in the actual creek crossing was about 4 feet deep and flowing quite swiftly.

There hadn't been any local rain, but evidently there had been quite a heavy rainstorm out to the west and the Witchelina creek had overflowed into the Farina creek and so on down to here. Looks like I'll be here for a while.

Monday, 21 March 2011 - Day 829

Took a wander around, the water has dropped a bit, only up to mid-thigh in the centre of the creek, but there is a huge amount of silt that has been dropped and it is at least a foot deep on the approach and departure of the creek, so I think I might be here until the end of the week to allow it to dry out. I found a back-track that leads out to the Mulgaria road, but that has been flooded as well. The local landowner tells me that there is a rough track out to the main road past the shearing shed, but I'm in no hurry.

I poked around the ruins for a while, but for some reason the buildings are absolutely swarming with mosquitos and they're veerrry hungry.

The weather has  been very overcast all week, not getting much power into my solar panels, but then, I'm not using much during the day. Does mean I have to use the generator at night to watch telly, but I carry enough petrol for about 4 weeks use of the genny. One positive about the weather, the sunsets are incredible.

Friday, 25 March 2011 - Day 833

Now I'm really in trouble.  The water has gone down a fair bit, only about 18 inches in the creek (still a lot of mud, however) but I should be able to get through it tomorrow - finger's crossed. BUT - my satellite TV has gone on the blink. I am planning to go back to Leigh Creek for a week or so and contact the provider of the unit in Mackay Queensland - This could be interesting.

Friday, 8 April 2011 - Day 847

I got through the creek OK (at the cost of a shitload of mud over the front of the van), but I'd thought ahead and threw a bucket in the car when I packed up and after I crossed the creek I managed to wash off most of the mud while it was still wet.

I got back to Leigh Creek (only about 70 kms) and booked into the caravan park again and on the Monday, packed up the satellite decoder and posted it off to Queensland. I allowed for a few days for it to get there, but evidently it didn't arrive in Mackay until the following Tuesday - 8 days,  so I'll still be here for another week at least.

There is one consolation at least. The Oodnadatta track has been closed for quite a while. As I write, the southern section from Marree to William Creek is open to 4WD, but the William Creek to Oodnadatta section is still closed, so I'm really not losing any time, because I would have had to wait at William Creek anyway.

About the only "tourist" things around the area are the open-cut coal mine (boring been there, done that) and the Aroona Dam, which is the local water supply. Oh, well - nothing else to do. I drove out to the dam on a really rough track and got to the dam. OK, so it's a dam and that's about all you could say about it. Because of the local geology, the dam is build on a bend in the creek at the end of a gorge and the majority of the dam is around the bend where you can't see it. There are some h-u-g-e turtles in the dam however.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011 - Day 859

Well, it looks like I might be on the road again tomorrow. I heard from Queensland, and they said that they expressed the decoder to me on Monday, so with a bit of luck it may be here tomorrow. All of the roads are open, including the Halligan track into Lake Eyre, so with a bit of luck I'll be up and running again tomorrow or Friday.

One thing concerns me and that is that with these delays, I'm late again this year in crossing the centre which means some more cold weather before I get up to the north again. I think I'll go up the Tanami again, I really enjoyed that last year.

I'm not sure when I'll have any decent coverage again, I don't know whether there is any mobile coverage at William Creek. If not, I'll be out of contact until I get to Oodnadatta, which will probably be in about three weeks.

See you soon