Monday, June 10, 2013

Mt Dare and Dalhousie Springs

We were the only campers at Hamilton Station so it was a real outback experience for the boys.  They loved having the camp fire and toasting the marshmallows – not quite to the liking was the pit toilets even though they were new.  Although we tried to explain that there was worse to come (no toilets at all) this was hard to imagine.  We loved watching the sunset and seeing the huge sky with thousands of stars.

Peter woke first in the morning to the sounds of rain drops on the roof of the tent and this caused us to move quickly.  The camping area had recently been graded and was dry red clay – thought of it getting wet had the potential to see us getting stuck.  So with very light rain falling we packed up the tents and had breakfast and loaded the Patrol.  This task takes between 2-3 hours each morning, believe it or not! Mind you with the rain comes the fly's and they come in bulk!

Jake doing his Diary the flies were not going to beat him

Fortunately the light rain didn’t get any heavier and we continued on
the track to Mt Dare Hotel.  This part of the road was very rough and we needed to take it slowly.  Some people who drive the desert divert direct to Dalhousie Springs which is a slightly shorter road but we needed to go to Mt Dare Hotel for two reasons.  Firstly this is the last fuel before Birdsville (which is 450 kms from Mt Dare) and secondly we needed to collect the satellite phone we had pre-booked.  A satellite phone is not essential but highly recommended.  As we were travelling the desert as one single vehicle we did not have any back up if we encountered any difficulties.  The hire was $140 for four days plus a connection fee per call and $3 a minute for local and $5 a minute for NZ calls.  We did not plan to use it much at all! 

The hotel is the only sign of life at Mt Dare yet provides an excellent service.  The hotel serves meals and drinks and limited grocery items.  We had to buy a South Australian desert pass for $150 to give us a permit to drive through the desert – this covers a twelve month period and there isn’t an option to buy one for a lesser period even though most travellers travel the desert areas for only a few days or weeks in the year.

  Fuel at $2.30 litre for diesel (remember they have to transport it a long way) and mechanical services.  They have a tow vehicle for retrieval from the desert and surrounding areas which we understand gets a good workout for a cost.  We collected the satellite phone and fed all the boys pies (what a treat – the smell was just too much for them) before we continued on to Dalhousie Springs.  This was only 70 kilometres and to say the road deteriorated was an understatement.  The road was huge rocks and the risk of ruining a tyre was significant.  Fortunately with our new tyres that we replaced on to the Patrol when in Darwin last year we reached Dalhousie Springs with no problems.

The Springs is in the National Park and the camping area was really well set out.  A group of volunteers along with the rangers have done a wonderful job creating this lovely area.  The campsites have shelters and are individually fenced off.  There are composting toilets and a couple of cold showers.  The springs themselves are wonderful – there is a large billabong that has eight individual springs bringing water at 85 degrees C into the billabong.   The temperature when we were visiting was 37 degrees and it was lovely to soak in – unless you are Peter who doesn’t like hot springs and likes them less when there are small fish swimming around.  He only dipped his big toe in and took off to the cold shower!  
The small fish are known as Dalhousie goby and live off the algae and love the hairs on humans so hung around legs.  The billabong was of various depths ranging up to 14 metres and the boys loved swimming in it.  We had lots of dusty bodies to get clean!
Camp fires are not allowed in the National Parks.  After cooking dinner we normally play games i.e.  Greed, Five Crowns, the card version of Monopoly, Uno, Fish, and Last card.  To make the most of the springs before bed we walked down to the billabong to have the experience of a swim in the dark – it was truly amazing.
Unfortunately our timeframe does not allow for two night stays so each morning we have to pack up, breakfast and hit the road again.  There was a sense of excitement today as we were heading into the desert but the boys had another quick swim first and we headed off again.



  1. Lovely pics and nice trip to Dalhousie. It is a toy-town in the mountains with a past that translates into sprawling bungalows and charming cottages reminiscent of European villages, beautiful churches, a cemetery spread over nine terraces, ruins of a beer brewery and several colourful rock frescoes painted by Tibetan émigrés. Check out all best hotels in Dalhousie also.

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  3. There are great places to explore during your Dorset holidays. The place is worth the visit. It's great to stay there and relax for the weekend to come.
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