Wednesday, May 12, 2010


4 May 2010


It really feels great to be on the road again. We had a leisurely start this morning. Some must have been really early on the road as a convey of army Bushmasters showed up early at the roadhouse for refuelling.

We retraced our way past Woomera to go to Roxby Downs. The road showed signs of the recent rain as the treeless plains were awash with shrubs and grasses.

Roxby was a lovely town. Very clean, orderly and with class.

The Olympic Mine provides employment for most of the residents. A pity there were no tours to the mine for several days. I would have been interested to see a gold, copper, silver, uranium underground mine. The information centre had interesting displays as well as a gallery. The photographic exhibition „Visions of South Australia“ by Charmayne Cronte was fabulous.  Outside the centre the sculptiures were stunning. They were created as part of the Cargo Public Art Project commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Roxby Downs. It was created by artists Gerry McMahon and Rachel Young with ideas from 400 local young peoplee and made with community volunteers using local materials. It is really stunning.

Having looked around Roxby we made our way to Andamooka past floodplains and a lush country side.

Andamooka was a strange place. A sprawling settlent – no order to the buildings. As we entered Andamooka we were met with high mounds of earth.

It was bizarre to see a home surrounded by earth mounds.

In Roxby we were shown a photo of the havoc caused by the floods to the roads here as reported on 8 April this year. They appeared to be repaired but it is not surprising as the river/creek bed runs alongside the main road.

There is no feeling that it is a town as there is no central point. Many businesses appeared to have closed down or were closed. I was hoping to see a number of opal outlets but there were only two. I don’t know what it is about opal mining places but they seem to always have some building built out of bottles. Here it was in the shape of a beehive.

Across the road from here were the historic cottages.

Mr Absalom lived in one of the cottages for 8 years.

He was the father of the famous painter Jack Absalom and built his house is 1942 as a semi dugout. Mrs Perry lived in the dugout known as Tom Brady’s dugout and had her kitchen in the adjoining dugout that was previously Mr Absalom’s house. She lived here till 1965.

It is hard to believe that people lived in some of these cottages till as late as the 1980s. Now they are attempting to preserve them for posterity.

The Long Bus is no longer a trading place. We were told he needed to move into new premises due to government regulations re trading. We also found out that the population is about 1000 and is slowly growing due to its proximity to Roxby Downs. Property prices are not much cheaper here than Roxby even though there is no sewerage or other services provided. A truly unique place.

After having a look around we headed back towards Olympic Dam and the turn off to Borefield Road on our way to Bopeechee.

The road was good for the first 15km as this part had been graded. After a short stretch of corrugations the road was okay. There was lots of water alongside the road.

In places the road was quite damaged on the sides with the water having washed out the soil holding up the edges of the road. It was interesting to see the water pipes along the side of the road lying in water.

It was also strange to see the funny kinks in the pipes.

We came across a fabulous rest area that was not noted in Camps Five or other information we had with us. It was a lovely place for a lunch stop.

The road was varied There was drilling at one spot, a utilities depot in another place. The scenerey changed from gibber plains to sand dunes with the road cresting in places and lush scrub.

Just before the end of the road we came across a section reminiscent of our trip down the Oodnadatta Track two years ago due to the deep tyre ruts. It made us wander what was ahead even though we heard over the radio that the track was fine but drive with caution especially through the creek crossing.

Before long we were at the interesection with the Oodnadatta track and onto the next stage of our journey.

I was reading in the The Senior Traveller that it is the „Perfect Time to head Outback“. Oh how true! Everyone out in the outback is celebrating the new life being generated by the waters.

We are back on the Oodnadatta Track and how different it is to what we experienced two years ago – the old ghan route.

We are not doing the 615km run this time as we entered from Bopeechee and will exit it just north of Oodnadatta itself.

It is not just red, golds and browns instead it is every possible shade of green, blue-greens. There are no wild flowers yet – locals told us it will be June when they start to bloom and it is still a bit early for the birds at Lake Eyre as the islands have not fully formed. The birds seem to know when it will be safe for them to come and breed there.

The colours are amazing as is the foliage along the Oodnadatta Track. The photo below is near Screech Owl Creek.

The road is in an amazing good condition. The grader has graded the worst of the creek crossings. Two years ago we were on the track just after it reopened after a spot of July rain and the track was very badly churned up. This time it was in a surprisingly good state.

We stopped at the lookout to see the Lake Eyre South with water.

We revisited Curdirmurka ruins where since 1986 there is an outback ball every two years.

We cruised past Margaret Creek

and spent the night at Beresford Dam.

A magic place with water in abundance.

Butterflies in large numbers flew from bush to bush as small birds searched the waters for sustenance close by.

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