Wednesday, July 27, 2011


After a lot of delays we finally got away late in June, and spent the first two weeks in Melbourne catching up with our newest grand daughter who has learned to crawl and is now trying to find her feet and learn to walk.  We also took the opportunity to visit a few friends down there before moving off in a generally north-westerly direction.

Our first night out was wet and miserable so we made camp at a roadhouse and bought dinner in the dining room rather than trying to cook out in the open.

Next day the weather started to clear up and we ended up at the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park.  It was very pleasant – a mixture of mallee scrub and  stands of white Cyprus pine.  Made us resolve to come back and spend time exploring western Victoria’s National Parks more thoroughly.

From there we meandered across back roads through farming areas and arrived at Lake Cullulleraine in time for lunch beside the lake, then decided to check into the caravan park and have an easy afternoon, get some washing done and just relax.

Next morning we spend a very enjoyable time exploring a pioneer memorial village – very well set up with old buildings brought in from around the district, and a wonderful collection of history including loads of folders of records of early settlers which would be a great resource for anyone wanting to research their family history in that area.

At Renmark we stopped in town at the river and met up with Frank “The Chook Man” and his rather remarkable house (and garden) boat.  We had seen him perform at Daley Waters Pub in he past and heard that he was moored in Remark for a few days.  Had a lovely chat just sitting on the retaining wall at the riverside and bought a copy of his new DVD which he has just released.

After finding our next proposed campsite closed due to recent flooding, we pushed on and ended up on a free roadside camp near Berri, SA where we shared a campfire with some other travellers.

Friday found us in Port Augusta to do some shopping and other boring things, as well as checking on road conditions with the tourist information.  We found that our planned trip around Lake Torrens was not possible as the road was still closed, so next morning we headed off up through Quorn, Hawker and Lyndhurst towards the start of the Oodnadatta Track.

On good advice from others, we spent that night at Farina, a very nice bush camping ground with loads of old stone ruins from the farm and village which was established there in the 1870’s with the coming of the railway, and hopes of growing wheat, which proved to be a futile attempt as the weather patterns the early explorers had experienced were some the very rare wet years in a normally arid, semi-desert area.

Next morning we moved on, through Marree and on to Coward Springs, stopping along the way to look at places of historic interest – old railway sidings, abandoned stone farm houses and other interesting features of the area.  The pool at the springs was a very welcome relaxation at the end of the day.  Although not really hot, and the pool very small, it was warm and pleasant.  We also met up with a couple we’d met the night before.  They are travelling around with a couple of telescopes trying to introduce people to the wonders of the night sky, so this gave us a mutual interest to discuss.  We had a very enjoyable evening by the campfire with a glass or 2 of wine as it was cloudy so no good for telescopes.

Next morning they headed for the highway, hoping to find clearer skies further north, while we continued along the Track enjoying the sights, finally arriving at Algebuckina Bridge, about 50 kilometres short of Oodnadatta and found a delightful camping spot beside the river.  It was so pleasant we decided to stay the next night as well, and spent the day watching the wildlife, in particular a beautiful pair of white faced herons (also called blue herons) who must have had nest nearby as they spent the whole time around the area of the river where we were camped.

After our rest day, we set off again, arriving at the Painted Desert in nice time to do the walk through the coloured hills and valleys just before sunset when the colours were highlighted by the low angle of the sun.  Had a very enjoyable night around the campfire with 2 other couples and a man travelling on his own.  We all had such a good evening we exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch.  One couple lives at Stanhope Gardens – very near to where we live!

Next day we stayed at Oodnadatta, bought some supplies, did some washing and sent a couple of postcards before setting off on the next stage of the trip.

I’ve taken loads of photos, but haven’t downloaded them yet – bit crowded to do it here in the camper tonight so I’ll do that another day.