The adventure begins

Friday 6th July – Well we are all packed, hooked up and raring to go on our biggest trip yet, 8 weeks, yeah. There has been a lot of preparation for this trip, loads of cooking and pre mixes ready to go. Being restricted on foods does make things a bit more difficult and creates a lot of work but it’s worthwhile to make sure I’m not crook on the trip. You can see my web site Simply Grain Free to see the food restriction I (Kate) have and how I manage, I have even co-written a cook book. Makes life interesting 🙂

Other preparation has been some more modifications to the Ute. The rear was hanging a bit low last time, so we have new springs and a bit of a lift done on the rear by ARB, and Chris installed some Air Bags to help give extra lift when needed and a smoother ride. We now have a winch, driving lights, CB and have upgraded the tyres to Cooper ST Maxx, and we now have two spares for the Ute. The trailer and Ute now have the same size tyres, so hopefully we will not have the issues with tyres we did last trip.

We have also put a Stone Stomper on the trailer and an extra Jerry can holder. We don’t expect we will have too many issues with flies this trip, mice maybe. Fingers crossed there is no mouse plague this year, but we have picked up some extra led strip lights to throw under the trailer and Ute to help deter the little blighters.

Unfortunately we had some horrid individual try and break into the Ute earlier in the week. Looks like they use dsomething like a tyre iron. They did some damage but didn’t get in. They bent the door frame a bit, and the seal, leaving a gap (where the tyre iron made it through) so it wasn’t dust or water tight as it was, also made some deep scratches. Police and insurance mob were called, getting it on record and ready for a proper fix when we get home as we didn’t have time to get it fixed before we left. Chris managed with quiet a lot of effort to bend the door in enough and we ran an extra seal along the door to help seal it. We have also taken extra seal with us just in case it’s needed. Tell you there are some really rotten people around, as a friend used to say “bless them with a brick”

We also know that there are some wonderful people out there, many we have the fortune of meeting on the road so we won’t be put down by this and are excited to be heading off. So where are we going on our great adventure this trip. We head west to Birdsville via Roma and Mitchell. Spend a day or two in Birdsville before hitting the Birdsville track, taking our time and enjoying everything the track has to offer. Then along the Oodnadatta track, Dalhousie Springs, Alice Springs, Uluru, Kings Canyon and MacDonald Ranges, then north, who knows maybe into Kakadu. Lawn Hill has been on wish list for ages so hopefully we will pop into there as well. After that we don’t know, where ever we want in the time we have left. Should prove to be a great trip with some iconic destinations. 🙂

Swinging Bridge to Cooper Creek

Sat 7th – It was rather chilly when we arrived at Swinging Bridge rest area, but we were soon set up, heater on and snuggled up in bed. The earliest night in months. We had a leisurely morning hitting the road by 8.45am.

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The drive into Roma was a bit slow with lots of road work starting from about 80kms out of Roma.  Repairs were needed due to some damage caused by the floods.

The plan had been to stop in Mitchell, check out the Murals  under the bridge and have a soak in the hot artesian waters but both were damaged in the floods. The pools are still under repair, due to open in August. The bridge is one lane and the walk way underneath to see the murals was washed away.

Old-fuel-pump Feathered-Friends

We stopped for the night at Neil Turner Weir, 3.5km west of Mitchell. The place was pretty full, we pulled in around 3.30 figured we had to stop a bit earlier than we normally do to get a spot. After a cuppa we had a shower before it got too cold and then went for a walk around. Its a pretty good, spot not far off the main road, free firewood is provided, toilets and bins. There is plenty of areas to camp but we did have one person tell us that they were there in Aug last year and they had trouble finding a spot.

Neil-Turner-Weir

After tea we retreated to the warmth of the camper having a read before bed.

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Sun 8th – We have been fortunate so far this trip not to have much dew in the mornings so we have had relatively dry canvas to pack up. Heading off about 9am.

Very bumpy road with heaps and heaps of road kill. Its like dodging mine fields. Where we stopped for morning tea there was several skeletons and carcasses. Last time we were out here we were avoiding the sun and seeking shade, now it’s finding a bit of sun to warm up.

We decided to make a big day of travel and head for Cooper Creek 10kms out on Windorah. We arrived at 5.45pm still light but the last 70kms we were on roo alert as they came out to feed on the grasses near the edge of the road. One bounced in front of us, Chris jammed on his brakes, easily missing the young wallaby it did a big slide as it tried to stop and nearly slid into the side of the Ute.

River-Gum

The extra km’s was worth the effort. There is plenty of camping along the banks of the Cooper, at first it just looks like a big pull off area but as we took one of the tracks it led us down to  a sandy area all to ourselves overlooking the river. After a quick setup, we had a shower and enjoyed the lovely evening. No heater tonight it’s quite mild. There are a few campers set up across the river.

Our-Cooper-Creek-Camp-Spot Cooper-Creek

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Cooper Creek to Birdsville

Mon 9th – Mmm be good if we could keep this place to ourselves. We woke to the sounds of birds chirping, expecting grey skies we were pleased to see blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

There is loads of birds life here, could easy spend the day relaxing by the Cooper taking birds photos. Lots of Pelicans, Herons, Daters, Egrets, Kites and some other beautiful little birds in the amazing rivers gums with touches of yellow on their feathers. This place gets a 5 star in our book. If the breeze wasn’t so stiff be nice to have a paddle down the river.

Pelicans-taking-a-bath Pelicans Heron

We take it slow this morning enjoying the tranquillity of the spot, deciding the have morning tea here before we make the last leg to Birdsville.  It was overcast and breezy when we hit the road at 10.30.

Ohh exciting, the amazing sites you see. A horse and cart, called the Humpy only been pulled by 2 camels and 4 others tethered to the sides . On board was an older couple and a dog. Awesome 🙂

Humpy

Yesterday we had to avoid road kill today its tumble weeds. We hit the dirt about 260kms from Birdsville. We haven’t seen a lot of traffic on the tar for the last day, few cars here and there but wow, it’s peak time. Groups of 4×4’s showering us in red dust as they pass. Maybe it’s groups that have done the Simpson as some have flags, all have spare tyres, max tracks and other gear on their roofs.

Birdsville is a hive of activity and it’s warm, 26 degrees and I’m wearing track pants.  The caravan park is doing a roaring trade with people lined up on the road trying to get in. We are heading for the free camping area in town. Ouch, it hurts at the bowser when you have two tanks and they are both nearly empty, fuel was $1.78 per L.

The camping at the windmill is real bush camping, dirt and dust and grey looking river. Compared to the caravan park this area is pretty empty with only 2 other campers but when the races are on it would be packed. There is a bus pickup near the main road for picking up campers for the races. We thought it was strange for there to be so few campers here but we are thinking maybe people who have come across the simmo and haven’t had a shower for a while are keen to have a long soak in the parks showers.

Windmill

There are still flies here, not as bad as when we were here in April but we have surprised how many there still are.

Wildflowers

Birdsville and the Birdsville Track

Tues 10th – We woke to a wet foggy morning, we could hear the drip drip drip coming off the branches above us, dripping onto the canvas. Don’t think there has been any rain just very heavy fog, at 9.30 it still hasn’t lifted. As we don’t have the annex up we have retreated into he camper for a cuppa and catch up on some reading. We are hoping the sun breaks through so we can dry the canvas before we have to pack up just before lunch. Chris will be trying one of those famous camel pies Smile

Yeh the fog finally cleared to a beautiful sunny day, the canvas dried just in time to pack up. We called into the info centre first, finding out the Birdsville Museum is closed permanently Sad smile . The storm last night which we didn’t get has closed all roads to Innamincka. We were also told by some travellers that The Birdsville track is wet and muddy, even though we are told its open. We are trying to find out some more info as we might head down it today while the sun is out as more rain in coming over the next few days. We were also told water is over the road of the Birdsville Development road to Windorah, so reports say its closed. We travelled on that yesterday so did well to avoid the storm.

Chris had a curried camel pie and said it was ok, don’t think he was real keen, he is not a curry person. $5 a pie. They also have Rabbit, Kangaroo, lamb, sausage rolls and another items.

We popped into the pub, took a few photos and gave the required donation to the flying doctors for taking the photos, it’s a good cause. We sorted out the go for tea tonight but that was before we found out the road situation.

Birdsville-Pub-2 Birdsville-Pub Birdsville-Hotel

The people that told us were owners of an Aussie Swag which they had to wash when the came into town after coming up the track as it was covered in mud. We have also heard the Oodnadatta track could close, things change very quickly out here. We called into the police station in an effort to find the current and correct info. Ok seems like there is a bit of confusion as the police don’t know anything about the Birdsville track being closed and they are trying to find out who is telling people it is. The road to Windorah is currently closed, confirmed by the police. So we are off down the track, yippee.

Birdsville-Track Welcome-to-SA

We stopped at Moongara Channel, approx 74kms from Birdsville on the Birdsville track. A lovely channel of the Diamantina River. It was a beautiful spot with lots of little birds that looked like Budgerigars, very cute, some were paired up as love birds, snugging into each other. Nice spot to stop for a night as one person commented on the CB, that’s if you had, had a shower, guess they wanted that shower in Birdsville.

Wild-Budgie Moongara-Channel-2 Moongara-Channel

So far the track has been pretty good, a little bit of water on the track in a few places but easy to drive around. Some ruts where people had got bogged in days gone by. There are small wet lands close to the road, some with loads of birds. You could see how easily they would cut the road when it rains.

We have pulled off the track about 140kms from Birdsville right next to a sandhill.  Unbeknown to us, some other people also followed the same track we did but went further around behind some trees. You are allowed to free camp 200m from the road.

Freedom-camping

We had our first beautiful sunset for the trip, was amazing colors of pink, orange and purple. We climbed up the top of the sandhill and watched the array of colors until the colour left the sky, Ahh this is what it is all about.

Birdsville-Track-Sunset

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Birdsville Track

Wed 11th – Our night time spot was a beauty, awesome place to watch the sunset and a nice quiet night. A bit of a breeze came up during the night, keeping the canvas dry and making it a tad cool in the morning. Also blew away any clouds so clear blue skies Smile

181 km’s south of Birdsville or 134 km’s north of Mungerannie, there is Tippipila bush camp, that has toilets and plenty of places to stop for the night. There were several campers there when we drive past. It is listed in the Camps Australia Wide book 5 as having a fee, not sure where or why you need to pay, maybe for the loos.

We pulled off the road at Flaggy creek for morning tea. Be a great place to stop for the night. Trees and a pool of water. Wow we had a lovely treat, 2 Wedge Tailed Eagles flew in to check us out. We fired off a few shots, the sky has turned grey though so we will see but they are a majestic sight to see.

Mates Flaggy-Creek2 Flaggy-Creek

Mungerannie Hotel has fuel, camping, hot pools, toilets, showers, public phone and of course a hotel. It was too crowded for us so we went a bit further down to the Mulka store ruins road for lunch.

There is not much left of the 1924  Mulka store. The store sold supplies to the drovers up until the early 1950’s.

Mulka-Store-2 Mulka-Store

There is a grave for one of the young daughters of the original lease holders the Scobie family, an Edith Adeline Scobie died Dec 1892 age 14 yrs and 5 months.  A harsh reality in that time period.  They actually lost 2 children at that time to pneumonia.

Edith's-Grave Crooked-tree

20kms up the road we pulled in early for the night at Cooper Creek. There was one other person when we came in who was near the toilet area. You can camp within 1km of the toilets. There are some tracks leading further off the road. We took one of those tracks and found a nice little nook for us. Several other people have come up the same track and camped in various spots, non too close to us. There are also many other campers in the area closer to the toilets.

We have watched a bit of a lighten show again tonight. The man closest too us came and asked if we knew what the weather forecast was, he seemed a bit worried. So far the track has been pretty good. A few rough rutty areas, could see how a small amount of rain could really make it a mess.

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