Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Travelling the Oodnadatta Track

As we had stayed in a cabin at Leigh Creek we were able to move on quite quickly in the morning.  We paid a short visit to the Information Centre to confirm that the track was open and to collect some pamphlets on the area.  Leigh Creek is a small town built to service the coal mine workers and their families.  There are the usual services – school, shop, medical centre, library etc but all these were very small with a number of services combined with the general store.
We had hoped to be able to see the coal mine from the viewing station but unfortunately this has now been closed to the public – apparently too many tourists were climbing the security fences and creating security risks.

The bitumen road soon ran out as we headed north and we had our first touch of gravel – the condition of the road was quite good at this stage.  As we had reached the gravel and this was going to continue for some days it was time to air down the tyres – Tim was keen to help.    Our first stop was at Farina Ruins.  These are the ruins of a historic town which are now being restored by groups of volunteers.  The bakery has been fully restored and is now functional.  We were welcomed to look in the below ground bakery by a kind lady volunteer from Narre Warren in Melbourne. 
Of course what is the point in just looking at a bakery when it had been functioning that morning – morning tea all round!
Most of the ruins are yet to be restored but they were certainly very
interesting to see and will be great as the work by the volunteers
progresses.  There were also photos and displays telling the story of the town in days gone by.
Back in the car and we continued on to Marree – this is the first
outback town we have visited.  After refuelling we had lunch in the picnic area opposite the popular Marree Pub.  Tim enjoyed playing on the wooden replica of a camel as we are yet to see a live one.  One of the things I quickly learned on this trip that feeding three boys (two of whom have
bottomless pits) and Peter is a continuing task from morning to night and it is amazing the food we can get through.  It will be a challenge when there are no shops.

The Oodnadatta Track follows the original Ghan Railway Line – the line has been replaced and is now positioned much nearer the Stuart Highway.  However the original line is easily seen and the many railway bridges still standing are amazing.

Continuing on the track followed the south end of Lake Eyre which is the largest salt lake in the world.  The boys were surprised that the whiteness was in fact salt and not water, ice or snow.  It certainly is worth seeing.  Much to the disappointment of the three boys we did not drive out on to the lake, do wheelies in the salt or any such thing!  They may have to wait for a return trip for that when they are older.

We finally arrived at William Creek – our stop for the night.  We were surprised to find that there was only a pub at William Creek with a service area attached.  The campsite is opposite the pub and

 after paying our fees at the pub we set up camp.  We soon experienced our first attack of outback flies and boy were they bad.  Jake and Tim were quick to wear the fly nets covering the face and Connor soon joined them – Peter and I have got used to the constant hand waving to shoo the flies but they are certainly never pleasant.  Tonight was our first night actually camping and it was made more enjoyable by being invited by other campers to join them around their camp fire.  Next morning we packed up after we all had showers and continued along the Oodnadatta Track.

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