Steve & Buddy are on a 4 week road trip to Lake Argyle to film updates for the 2019 edition of Discovering Lake Argyle and making a YouTube video series about their trip.
Previous Episode: TIME TO HIT THE ROAD (EP1)
I was planning to hit the road north the day after I arrived at my Mum’s but by the time I’ve been into Mount Barker for some more food supplies - mainly fresh stuff which you can’t take over the border from Victoria to South Australia, it’s mid arvo and I decide to hang around for another night instead and go the next morning.
On the way out of Woodside the next morning I fill up with fuel, check the tyre pressures and we hit the road north up through the Clare Valley towards the Flinders Ranges.
I don’t have any exact destination in mind but plan to get as far as possible before dark then find somewhere to stop for the night.
It turns out that the Craddock Hotel, about 30km before Hawker, has free camping in the area behind the pub so we pull in there just after sunset and find a good spot.
Dinner is an easy one - pastrami and cheese rolls which were leftovers from yesterdays lunch that Mum and I shared. After a cup of tea, Buddy and I are both ready for bed. Doesn’t sound like much is going on in the pub beside us and by about 8:00pm the two cars out the front leave and soon after it gets very dark and quiet.
After his second night sleeping in the car I’m getting very optimistic about Buddy as a road trip companion.
As soon as he’s finished dinner he’s ready for bed and practically pleads with me to let him go!
He sleeps through the night with only an occasional turn over here and there.
Although I can already see though that the car is going to need some industrial vacuuming when get back thanks to his endless malting!
Pulling out of Craddock we stop into Hawker so I can give Buddy a walk and we can both make the most of the public facilities (the park in his case) before continuing on north and up the western side of Wilpena Pound and the Ikara Flinders Range National Park. Obviously having a dog on board means National Parks are off limits.
After a week of pretty awful winter weather in both Melbourne and Adelaide, it’s nice to finally see some blue sky and we’re looking forward to plenty more over the coming weeks.
Cruising past Parachilna, we stop in to Leigh Creek for a final fuel fill up which brings us back up to 260 litres on board, enough to get us all the way to Alice Springs, then we continue on and stop at Marree for the night.
I always enjoy staying in Marree and find it hard to drive past when we’re up this way.
The caravan park is simple, basic and cheap but they have actual green grass to camp on and there it’s always a good night around the communal campfire.
Marree is really the start of the outback so it feels like we’ve ‘arrived’ when we get here.
I cook up a quick dinner or rice, steak, onions and BBQ sauce on the tailgate - more of a concoction really but it tastes pretty good.
It’s another early night for both of us and after importing the video I’ve shot today, charging the camera batteries and reading up on the history of the Oodnadatta Track in readiness for tomorrow’s travels, I crawl into the swag and watch a couple of episodes of the ’12 Monkeys’ series that I downloaded on my iPad with Netflix before we left.
It’s a beautiful morning, cold but clear and we’re on the road by about 9:00am heading west along the Oodnadatta Track and keen to explore as much as possible along the way.
Not far from Marree the dog fence crosses the Oodnadatta Track. There are no signs announcing it but it has a cattle grid across the track and the fence is much more substantial than the usual wire fence used to keep sheep and cattle on one side or the other.
The dog fence runs from Ceduna on the South Australian coast line all the way up through SA, NSW and into Queensland for a total length of over 5000km. It’s one of the longest man made barriers in the world.
It’s purpose is to keep dingoes and wild dogs on the northern side and out of the sheep country where they prey on sheep and lambs.
Having Buddy with me seems like too good an opportunity to miss so I lead him over to the cattle grid to see if it indeed does deter dogs from passing.
He strides confidentially up to the grid but stops short once it come to actually walking across and it’s only with some coaxing and encouragement that I can get him to take a few steps.
So the conclusion is that it most likely works at keeping the dingoes out.
Continuing on we stop and check out the ‘Mutonia' open air art gallery built by Robin Cooke over the past 20 years. It’s a eclectic collection of mostly steel items welded together to form various pieces. From human sized robots right up to two actual light planes standing on their tails side by side and an original Ghan Railway water tank made into a dog using a car wreck for the head.
Around 80km from Marree the track runs along the southern edge of Lake Eyre South and we stop at the viewing area for a look.
Big rains in Queensland have sent floodwaters down into the northern edge of the lake but the haven’t made their way this far south yet and time will tell if they will or not.
It’ll take a light plane flight to see them at the moment which is not in our budget or itinerary.
Further along, we stop in for a look at Curdimurka Railway Siding which is the most ‘in tact’ still remaining on the Old Ghan Railway line. There's the building itself with about 7 or 8 rooms, a water tower and several lengths of the original track still in place.
Walking through the building from room to room with camera in hand I feel like I’m in a scene from a horror movie and half expect Mick Taylor to appear around the corner at any second. Thankfully though, he doesn’t!!
Further along and a detour off the track is the Mound Springs but being a National Park I can’t take Buddy in there so we keep going.
I’m finding the Oodnadatta Track to be rougher condition than on previous trips with plenty of corrugation and bull dust stretches. Not the worst track I’ve driven by any means but probably the worst that I’ve ever seen this one.
There’s quite a steady stream of cars going both directions including numerous that are really beyond their comfort zone.
I pass an Audi that has a flat tyre and notice the tyres are the high performance low profile variety that really don’t belong off the black top. They are towing a van as well and I’d be willing to be he hasn’t let any air out of the tyres to soften the ride and soak up some of the rough stuff - not that there’s much air in them to let out.
About 20 minutes further on, I’m cruising at around 85 to 90 kmph and the Audi appears in my rear view mirror. The next straight stretch and he flies past in a spray of rocks and dust. I hope has a few more spare tyres on board but I’m sure he doesn’t!
I pull into Beresford Siding for a quick look. There’s a dam about half full of water that has some birdlife around it and further back from the track is the remains of an old water tank and the water softening tower used to convert the highly mineralised bore water from the artesian basin into something more suitable for the steam engines.
A little further down the track and I run into a family who recognise my car from The Big Lap and we have a good catchup on the side of the track before realising we are all heading for William Creek for the night.
Gilly and Penny and their two young daughters are also from Melbourne and did the Simpson Desert crossing earlier this year. They’re currently on a quick jaunt around Outback SA for the school holidays.
We arrange to catch up for a beer after we’ve all setup camp and it turns out to be a great night around the campfire.
Next Episode: PROBLEMS WITH MY UNDERCARRIAGE (EP3)