Number of blogs returned: 1 to 2 records of 2
For years I have been hearing about this iconic trip so it was with some excitement and trepidation, not sure how I would like the isolation, that we made a plan to take the trip through the desert on our way back from WA to QLD last July.
After finishing running our Kimberley & Beyond tagalong tour in WA the plan was to meet up with friends at William Creek to start our trek through the Simpson Desert.
A mad dash across the Nullarbor Plains and after a couple days freezing in single digit weather in Broken Hill to stock up on supplies we set off for the Flinders Ranges. Our first night was spent at Alpana Station bush camping in our Tvan, a warm fire at night and frozen water hoses in the morning, but what a great place to visit, will keep that one for a future trip!
We kept on going up through Marree, stopping for lunch and then up the Oodnadatta Track to William Creek, a bit rough but nothing compared to later that day.
We met our friends at what seemed like a bustling William Creek. It seemed that every man and his dog had decided to fly or drive to William Creek to see the rare sight of high water in Lake Eyre, caused by the flooding in the northern part of QLD earlier that year. This of course is the reason we then set off for Halligan Bay. This was to be the most corrugated, rough “road” we had ever been on and after 80 km of bouncing around and trying to find the least corrugated part of the road we arrived at the camp ground and managed to find one of the last spots available where we could fit two camper trailers.
Well the sight of Lake Eyre was worth the bone jarring experience of 80 km of corrugations. To see high water in Lake Eyre is an experience all in its own not to be missed, the sunset and sunrise, to see birds on the water which is normally a dry bed was spectacular. We walked down as far as we could down to the edge of the lake, which was about half-way until the mud stopped us, then it was time for a spectacular sunset, happy hour and catching up with our friends.
The next day after tackling the road back out of Halligan Bay to William Creek we set off for an overnight stop Oodnadatta staying behind the iconic Pink Roadhouse and a good meal at the pub.
Leaving Oodnadatta our next stopover was to be Dalhousie Springs, stopping to look at the old Dalhousie Ruins on the way.
I had heard a lot about the hot springs here and it did not disappoint. The campground was a surprising visit, great camp spots and to soak in the hot springs after a day of dust was just magic with the added bonus of no flies as long as we stayed in the water.
The next day leaving Dalhousie Springs was the start of the desert and after a quick stop at Purnie Bore for lunch we started our trek across the desert. We had decided to tackle the French Line and the 1000 sandhills that would see us through to the other end. A couple hours in at a speed of 8km an hour I had calculated it would take us at least 5 days to get to the Birdsville, a bit overwhelming at first!
The gaps between the sandhills soon spread out and we gained a bit of speed and I started to see the beauty of the desert from the tiny animal tracks to the desert flowers and the ripples on the untouched desert sand. Dingo tracks were abound, but amazingly we only saw a couple dingos, with their pawprints in the sand going for many kilometres in front of us on the track.
Our first night in the desert we stopped off about 50 mt off the track, made a campfire and amazed in how clear and abundant the stars were.
The next day we continued our journey and had picked up a bit of speed in between the hills and made some good distance before we stopped at the end of the day again off the side of the track. Out here the flies are abundant and driving until almost dark was the popular choice when the flies had all but gone. Another camp fire, another great night in the desert, the silence is incredible, not even animal sounds to break the silence.
Amazingly there were a lot of people on the track, mainly due to the end of the Big Red Bash in Birdsville, but most people had chosen to take the easier tracks rather than the French Line. We could hear a lot of chatter over the 2 way though and did cross paths with other groups throughout the day.
Our last night in the desert was beside a huge salt lake, with the scenery changing again and we knew we were getting close to the other side.
Waking up ever morning in the desert with the cool crisp air is pretty special and now we could hear some birds which was something we hadn’t seen or heard earlier in the desert. We crossed over the salt lake and stopped at the famous Poeppel Corner. This was a highlight of the trip, it was pretty amazing to think how they had surveyed the point where QLD, SA and NT meet, with basic equipment, all those years ago, and only to be out by such a short distance, incredible.
From there we crossed massive salt lakes, the scenery changing again and came to Eyre Creek which was impassable due to the huge amount of water that had come down from the flooding in North Qld earlier in the year. There was a bypass which only had a foot of water in it so we were able to get across and just amaze in the phenomenon that Eyre Creek is, being a dry creek for many years at a time.
Almost at the end of our trek through the Desert we had one more iconic sandhill to get over. Coming up to Big Red it was a lot bigger than I had imagined and after trying unsuccessfully to get over the top with our Tvan in tow we opted for the smaller Little Red and left Big Red for another day and drove on to our camp spot in Birdsville
The next day we drove back to Big Red in time for sunset, driving up from the eastern side was less challenging but still rewarding and definitely a must. The perfect end to our journey through the desert, champagne, friends and sunset on Big Red.
Travelling through the desert was an incredible experience and even though I started out with some trepidation it is an experience not to be missed and I would definitely do it again.
Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 23 July 20
Exploring the Darling River is an experience not to be missed. To follow the river and see how it impacts towns and stations along the way and to hear the stories from station owners such as Kallara Station on how they manage the water is a very special experience.
We stayed at Kallara a couple nights and the station owners were so welcoming and happy to share their stories and even take a few of us out for a drive around the station showing how they manage the water and keep their farms going. Sitting in front of boiler with the fire going and cooking up a camp oven for dinner was a great way to relax and spend the afternoon.
When we ran this trip a year ago the river was fairly dry and when we stopped in at Tolarno Station there was basically no water at all in the river. We were able to camp on the banks of the river at their Station enjoying a campfire at night, the stillness of the outback, it was magical.
Travelling through Bourke the river was very low and we were unable to experience the paddle vessel 'Jandra' at that time, but going into the Back o' Bourke Centre and the Stockmans Show was fantastic and really looking forward to seeing that again. Bourke has a lot to offer and while we were a local tour guide took us on a tour through a cotton gin learning about farming sustainability.
To be able to follow the river again this year will be a different experience, some water has been flowing into the Darling and we will be able to see the changes it has made as we head down to the river. I'm looking forward to visiting these stations again and to hear their stories on how they adapt to the changes and keep their stations running.
Another great place we visited was Brewarrina with a great free camp right on the Barwon River and if you head into the information centre in town you can get a tour of the ancient Aboriginal fish traps, another insight on how the water in the river was used
Seeing a part of outback NSW that you don't normally get to see is a truly unique experience and the landscape is incredible with the changing colors and scenery that only this part of the country offers.
Check out our youtube video below showing the highlights of this fantastic safari following the length of the river. This is such a diverse tagalong including Lightning Ridge, Silverton and Mungo National Park, something for everyone!
Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 20 July 20