Big Bad Red

Chris was keen to do the run up Big Red. He took an easy track to drop me off at the top, so I could take pics. He lowered tyre pressure even more and went back down.

View of the road heading towards Birdsville.

View back the way we had come over the Simpson Desert.

First attempt failed just short of the top as did the second, each time he took a bigger run up.

But after several more attempts trying different tactics he got to the top and conquered Big Red. Really is bigger and steeper than it looks.

Go you good thing 🙂

Yeah he made it 🙂

Awesome view from the top, and it really is red. We had arvo tea on the top enjoying the view.

We aired back up at the bottom ready to do the last run back into Birdsville.

Woohoo, we made it. There and back different tracks each way on some pretty rough tracks, with no damage to either the Ute or us, well done to us. One more ticked of the bucket list.

The trailer never looked so good. The solar had kept the fridge and freezer running and was fully charged. After hooking up we had a shower at the van park and the shower was soooooooo good. Good old-fashioned shower heads with lots of pressure. We headed back to the Windmill camping for the night.

French Line continued

We decided to get up early and hopefully make Birdsville and back to the comfort of the trailer. Not that we have been uncomfortable in the tent or on the air bed, in fact we were quite comfy. Just setting it all up was getting a bit thin. Even though we had made things as accessible as possible things are not as easy to use as the trailer.

The track didn’t get any better, we had one steep sand dune that was soft and big bumpy holes. Chris tried the slow careful approach to not bounce everything and us about but we stopped half way up so had to back down. So he had to give the Ute more speed. Crikey we were bouncing all over the joint all we could do was hold on and laugh.

We came across two “Pelicans on Postie” trailers abandoned by the track in two separate places. We had passed these guys on our way between Purnie Bore and Dalhousie with one trailer with a broken spring, they had said they were turning back. Either they got it going or it was different trailers, but it seems they decided to keep on going.

They did get a lot further and one assumes they are doing a recovery to pick them up. The bigger trailer had broken the lower spring cup on the independent suspension, and the shockie was completely missing. It looked like a pretty study trailer.

The second smaller trailer one lake further along looked like it had broken a leaf spring shackle or the spring itself.

It can seem like a good idea to take trailers across and obviously some trailers like off road ones would be strong enough to hold together and maybe your tow vehicle is capable of towing it across but not without getting stuck a few times and not without digging up the track for people coming behind you. It’s not a case of whether you can or have but whether you should. Please guys think about the travellers coming along behind you, it’s not really fair for you to have your fun at the expensive of others. Ok rant over, Back to the good stuff.

French Line

The French Line is the shortest, most used and most difficult track across the Simpson. The French Line was name after a French Petroleum Company who put the line in, in the 1960’s. It stretches over 1100 sand dunes to Poeppel Corner.

We were told the French Line was chopped up and it certainly was. Instead of small corrugations they are like wheel size rises and dips, big holes in the sand. It’s like put the whole Ute in, put the whole Ute out, put the whole Ute in and shake it all about. It was very slow going.

Obviously, it would be different every time you crossed but we suggest anyone avoids either side of the Finke Race by a few weeks and leave the trailers at home.

We came across a homemade camper that didn’t make it, with its A frame snapped off, it hadn’t happened that long ago, there was an empty fuel drum near by.

Since it was slow going we pushed on into the day a bit later to make up some kms, not that we got too many done. 11km short of Wonga Junction. We found an awesome place to stop, still with plenty of daylight and setup camp, again plenty of wood for a small fire. Kms from anyone, with stars as our company, does it get any better than that? Well maybe the road could be better 🙂

20/6/17 – Brrr is was a cold night and a chilly morning. We re got the fire going and had breaky around it watching the sunrise. Chris lowered the tyres a bit more in anticipation of some soft sand. We had a dingo check out our camp, cautiously. We had another dingo running behind us for nearly 2km. You see dingo footprints all over the road.

On the road by 9am. The track was a little better after Approdinna Attora Knolls, then got bad again from Colson Junction to Poepple Cnr. Many of the dunes have turns, one was like nearly like a U turn, others with S bends, you come to the top sometimes and can’t see where the track goes.

We are in red sand dune country now. The track is still up and down with big holes and soft sand and some big dunes. You know you are in trouble when you see five ways up a dune and they all look bumpy and soft, we did make it up. We are seeing some amazing country.

We did a detour down Knolls Track to look at Approdinna Attora Knolls. There was what looked to be a tag along group with 4 hired 4×4’s and a leader. One had a very shredded tyre on the back. They headed East down the French Line.

The track continued to be bad, lots of side tracks with people trying to avoid the worst stuff but they were nearly as bad.

We came up a big dune with several paths up with soft sand and big holes on all ways up, so you couldn’t get a run up. We got stuck a few metres from the top. So Maxx tracks had to come out, first go with the tracks we got up. First time bogged in some rough country so doing well. The sand dune kept on going and going with some ups and downs and turns, it was a very wide dune.

First clear flat ground we came along after it we made camp, a bit later than we would have liked, about 25kms from Poepple Cnr. The skies are so clear, no clouds again just millions and millions of stars.

Mt Dare, Finke & Chambers Pillar

Thursday 19th – We heard dingoes howling several times through the night. Well it was a hard decision but we decided to keep moving, so many wonderful things still to see and experience.

Our neighbours wanted a show and tell on the camper and wanted to see how quick it all packed up, we are getting pretty quick at doing it now. A few km’s up the road towards Mt Dare is the rubbish tip, good idea for all the people coming over the Simpson etc.

Wow oh wow, we called into 3 o’clock creek approx 13kms up the Mt Dare road from Dalhousie. Where there is a water tank that looks like its coming from a bore but they say it’s drinkable. We filled up our jerry can for showers. And there were hundreds a little finches drinking the water on the ground, along the black hose where the water dip, on the trees and fences around the tank, they were every where. We were able to get very close as they came to drink, they were flying all around us, really cute and so tiny. We could of stayed there for hours.

This is also a camping area and from a camping point of view better than Dalhousie but of course it doesn’t have the springs or toilets. But lots of trees and rocky ground so not as dusty but would be quieter and you can camp down by the river.

The road to Mt Dare is pretty typical of the dirt roads out here. It does get quite rocky, big rocks that are pretty harsh and one humdinger of a cattle grid. The stone stomper is earning its keep.

Cattle-Grid

We didn’t need fuel but the price was much the same as Oodnadatta $2.22 L. It’s an awesome pub, big and spacious inside, clean and very friendly people.

The road from Mt Dare to Finke is pretty good, wide in parts, gravelly in sections but pretty smooth and then red sand with some corrugations but not bad. Very dusty though.

Well Finke would not win any tidy towns competition. The road from Finke heading to Chambers Pillars is sandy and very corrugated we were warned by many travelers how rough it was. There is another track that runs alongside the main road, it’s the Alice to Finke Desert race track. When we left Finke we went on it by mistake and it was a better smoother road at first. Fed up of the corrugations we popped back onto it. Boy it had dip after dip after dip, like a rollercoaster, we just about wet ourselves with laughter, we quickly got off it. Ok ok this road wins the worst corrugated road we have been on. We stopped regularly and checked everything with the trailer and ute was all ok. Despite this out CB aerial snapped clean off.

We have seen 11 burnout cars on the side of the road up until the Chambers Pillar and Alice Springs turnoff. At the turnoff the road improved out of sight, apparently it is like that all the way to Alice. We did not feel comfortable stopping on the Finke road so pushed through to Chambers Pillar for the night. The road from the homestead to Chambers Pillar is more corrugated, and sandy, there is also some sand hills. We did arrived quite late after a big day travel.

Dalhousie

Wed 18th – Brrr it was a cold cold night. We reckon minus 2 to 3 as it was only 0.4 at 8.00. Heater was going for it all night. It was so cold to pack up, our hands were hurting. The sun was nice and warm though. We find people aren’t real quick moving in the mornings around here. Mind you we are still sticking to QLD times, SA is 30 mins behind us. Should point out you need a parks pass to go to Dalhousie which is in Witjira National Park. We purchased a 12 month one well before we came. 

Sunrise-at-Pedrika

The road is rough, corrugated, sandy, bull dust and rocky, constantly changing. People have said to us how rough it was but compared to the road into Lake Eyre its good.

We saw another dingo, this one was a nice looking dog. Curios animals watching us seeing what we are doing, cautious but not overly timid. And then another one a bit further along.

Curious-Dingo

Dalhousie Homestead Ruins, are a fascinating place to stop for a cuppa and a walk around.

Dalhousie-Homestead DalhousieRuins Dalhousie-Ruins-1 Dalhousie-Ruins-2The campsite at Dalhousie Springs is a large very dusty area. There are different size bays suitable for single, a couple of campers or groups. Many of the sites have fire pits but you must bring your own wood in. There is a toilet block with toilets and cold showers. There is also parking for day visitors. 

Dalhousie-Campsite Dalhousie-Amenities

The hot spring is about a 200m walk from the camping area. The sign said it was 31 degrees but it felt hotter, feels like a hot bath when you first hop in. We stayed in a bit too long and felt a bit sick, so short swims are advisable. There are tiny little fish that come and nibble on you, especially your feet. The spring area is very large about the size of a football oval, so no worries of it being too crowded. There are steps to hop in but they can be very slippery as Chris found out. You can just touch the bottom close to the step area and it feels sandy. It is very deep at either end and slimy on the bottom and a long way to swim. The water is a tad salty add that to the dust and our already dry skin we might need to buy a bucket load of moisturiser in Alice, remember we have got used to the humid weather of Brisbane.

DalhousieSprings-1 DalhousieSprings

The wind has really come up and is blowing the dust through the campsites we seem to be in a bit better spot than most but the kitchen got covered in grit so it will only come out when in use.

It can be quite entertaining watching others set up, especially when they have so much gear to set up.

We walked around the campsite chatting to people finding out where they had come from, where the were going etc. One told us of a dingo that walked through their camp last night. There are signs up warning not to leave anything out including shoes as the dingos take them.

Dingo-Safe

We put a roast on and then went for another dip in the hot springs. There are lots of noodles that have been left for people to use. They were great and are the way to go. As it started to cool we could see steam coming off the hot pools. Then all these Welcome Swallows started brushing the surface of the water, we think going for the little fish that had come to the surface to feed on the bugs. Was a fascinating site to watch as we floated in the hot water.

There are a few campers more than we have had any where this trip, but apparently not as many as the night before.

20120718PedrikaDalhousie

Oodnadatta Track – Day 5

Tues – 17th – It was a cold night, we woke to a bit of a frost. We met a really nice young family from Victoria who travelled from Vic to Darwin and are heading back home over taking 4 weeks all up. They have covered a lot of ground.

We stopped at Mt Dutton ruins before doing the last leg to Oodnadatta and the pink roadhouse. Most of the ruins have the same design they are just in different stages of decay.

Mt-Dutton-Ruins Mt-Dutton-Water-Tower

Fuel was a tad cheaper at the Pink Roadhouse at $2.21 but it was days since we were at William Creek so it might be cheaper than it was too.

Pink-Roadhouse

We bought 1 hour of wifi for $6 to connect back home and upload some posts as there is no Telstra here.

We left the Oodnadatta track about 17kms from Oodnadatta and took the road to Hamilton and  Dalhousie Springs 163kms. The roadhouse said the last 80kms was pretty rough. We have seen 3 broken windscreens on the side of the road since we have been on the Oodnadatta track. This road is corrugated and very very dusty, bull dust in places.

Fogartys-Claypan Crossing-Fogartys-Claypan

Fogartys Clay pan.

We stopped at Pedirka Ruins about 58kms from Dalhousie. The building was like dorm style accommodation.  Was nice and quiet, we were there alone camped in the middle of nowhere again.

Pedirka Pedirka-Ruins

20120717AlgebuckinaPedrika

Oodnadatta Track – Day 4

Mon 16th – Was a great camp spot literally in the middle of nowhere. We had a leisurely start this morning, wiping dust from seals, putting tape over locks as the dust is making some hard to open. The back door of the ute is letting dust in (due to the attempted break in) so it’s a daily task of wiping seals down so it doesn’t spread everywhere in the ute. Tighten up screws, nuts and bolts that shake loose on the bumpy roads. We have moved the hand cream to the front of the ute where we can apply it to our dry hands throughout the day, dust dries everything out.The breeze is back and it’s a bit chilly.

Peake Creek Crossing, salty creek with steep soft banks. Downstream is a bridge. 30 feet of water ran through here in 1989.

Peake-Creek

It’s got quite warm. We stopped briefly at the Algebuckina Ruins before heading down to the bridge for lunch. Last time we were here it was dry, amazing the difference some water makes to the place.

Algebuckina-Ruins

We then crossed the track and went a few short km’s to Algebuckina Water hole. There were heaps of birds in the trees, also a popular fishing and camping spot. Decisions, decisions where to stop for the night. Bridge won out, to get some sunset shots.

Algebuckina-Bridge-3 Algebuckina-Bridge-2 Algebuckina-BridgeChris-on-the-Bridge'

Well the sunset was a fizzer, no clouds but we chooses the right spot as the waterhole ended up with lots of people.

Having-fun

Beaut-camp-spot

Near the bridge there is what’s left of Stanley Cameron’s EJ Holden, in the 1976 floods, Stanly put sleepers on the rail bridge to cross the river. Every few meters he would stop and move the sleepers in front of his car, bit by bit inching across the bridge. The road was closed so Stanley was not expecting the works trains gang to appear, which ran over his car, but Stanley lived to tell the tale. Stanley travelled with his Blue Healer Oscar, who unfortunately disappeared after the train crash.

Fred's-FB-Holden

20120716PeakStationAlgebuckina

Oodnadatta Track – Day 3

Sun – 15th. It was a quiet night despite 4 other campers and one lot with kids. No wind either. It took 1 hr and 40 mins to do the 60kms back out to the main track. It is one rough road but whether there is water in the lake or not it is well worth the rough, jaw breaking, very corrugated road to see the amazing sight that is Lake Eyre. One plus it makes the Oodnadatta Track seem like a hwy.

William-Creek-Hotel

Fuel at William Creek was $2.30, we opted to fill up at Oodnadatta Pink Roadhouse in the hope it was a bit cheaper. We had lunch, checked put the hotel with its copious amount of memorabilia, hats, business cards and everything else.

William-Creek-Hotel-1 William-Creek-Hotel-2 William-Creek-Missiles

We made a quick stop at the old Lov Zero car, where we stopped for the night last time we where here.

Love-Zero

There is nothing much between William Creek and the Warrina Ruins apart for wide open spaces. There is some other ruins but the only gate says no public access.

Warrina-Relics Warrina-Ruins

Mmm Oodnadatta Track strikes again. The anderson plug on the trailer side has come undone or been hit by a rock and was dragging on the ground, so we lost half the plug. So no charging off the Ute until we get that fixed. Bit of a surprise as it is pretty protected where it is, just some random rock. We also had a passing 4×4 and trailer throw up a big rock that hit the drivers side, side mirror and left a scratch.

Along the Oodnadatta Track there are pink information signs that have been put there by the Pink Roadhouse, they have been there for a while so some signs are hard to read the information on them. Handy to let you know that there is a place of interest up some track.

Signs

The track into Peake Hill ruins is about 20kms give or take, there are three km’s signs all saying something different.  Its 4×4 only, rough, corrugated, lots of big ruts, dips, windy, rocky a slow trip but well worth it.

Copy (1) of Rough-Road

Rough-Road-1

This place is really isolated, they must of been tough in the olden days.

Peake Peake-Hills-Ruins-3Peake-Hills-Ruins-2

We left Peake Hill ruins and drove a few km’s back along the track and found a nice open flat area near a dry creek bed and set up came for the night. While our roast was cooking we got a small camp fire going. We sat around the fire enjoying its warmth and looking at stars and planets using the iPad and  the Transformer tablet. Lots of fun.

Fire

20120715LakeEyrePeakStation

Oodnadatta Track – Day 2

Sat 14th- We were grateful for our heater, it was a very cold night, coldest so far. This morning that cools breeze is back. We went for a morning walk back up to the ruins, this time visiting the cemetery. Amazing the head stones are still in such good nic.

David-RandallStrangeway-Ruins Strangeway-Ruins-1

The 70km road out to Lake Eyre is very corrugated and bumpy, worst than last time we were here. It shook the CB antenna loose so we had to stop and put it back on and check everything else was still tight. Chris does a check every morning on the Ute, trailer and an engine check, making sure everything is as it should be. Goes to show that in these rough conditions things can shake loose very quickly. We took the side tracks when suitable even though they were less corrugated  they still had their issues with even bigger holes, bumps and bull dust.

Rough-Road

There is a memorial to Caroline Crossmueller who got died after she left her car after it got bogged to walk to William Creek.

In-Memory

Wow that was a bit freaky. We stopped to adjust the kayak after it had moved on the bumpy road. I turned around to see a female dingo sauntering past. It stopped just in front of us and laid down on the road watching us.

Friendly-Dingo

We have made camp in the over flow area as its a bit more protected from the wind. We are sheltered a bit by a large bush we have camped by. After lunch and several cuppas we made our way down to the lake, walking out onto the salt. It got softer as we went and when we started to sink too much we stopped. We picked up some lumps of salt of varying thickness, Chris picked up some that was nearly 2 inches thick and pink on the bottom, not sure if will survive the trip home let alone the drive back out.

Lake-Eyre-1

We had someone tell us not to bother coming out here as there was no water in the lake. Boy they miss the beauty of the large flat area of lake all white with salt. Water in the lake is great but the salt with all it’s crystals is so fascinating.

Lake-Eyre

Back for arvo tea, sitting in the sun is wonderful and gets quite warm until the wind came back up, the flies aren’t much fun though, we had to get the fly hats out to drink our coffee in peace.

Campsite-at-Lake-Eyre

Pizza for tea tonight.

20120714StrangewaysLakeEyre

Oodnadatta Track– Day 1

Friday 13th – Last night the wind really came up and was blowing the canvas about waking both of us up. It stopped after a while letting us slumber to nearly 8am.

We stopped  for morning tea at Maree and chatted to some others travellers finding out some good info about Alice Springs, costs of staying at parks etc. we need to free camp as much as we can to pay for the expensive accommodation.

Want-a-drag

Yippee down the Oodnadatta track, we had so much fun last time we went down the track.

Oodnadatta-Track

Wangianna-Ruins

Dingo

Alberrie Creek ummm art ??

Ghan-Hover-BusHanging-BallRobot-familyThe-Funky-PunkyTwin-PlanesWee-Robot

There was also some sort of protest “Lizard Revenge” there that we couldn’t figure  out what they were protesting about but they had put up all sort of weird alien cardboard cut-outs, too much waky backy me think.

Beresford-Dam-RuinsWater-towerThe-Bubbler

We stopped at several ruins along the way before stopping at Strangeways Springs for the night. We only had one other person in here with us who invited us over to their camp fire later.

Strangeway-Springs

We got to photograph the ruins in the changing light, past sunset until we went back to camp having a late quick tea before visiting our neighbours campsite.

Strangeway-Springs-6 Strangeway-Springs-5 Strangeway-Springs-4 Strangeway-Springs-3 Strangeway-Springs-2

20120713LyndhurstStrangeways