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Out of nowhere a week appeared between social engagements and medical appointments and we packed our Crusader X-Country Caravan, hooked it up to the Isuzu MUX, and sped away with only a loose idea of where we were going.
The first thing that strikes you as you move further north of the Goyder Line, is the stark grey to black colour of the foliage. The bushes look like they are totally devoid of any moisture and twigs snap with ease if you fit them between your thumb and forefinger and apply pressure. We are now in the 5th year of our 6 year drought cycle and south of the Tropic of Capricorn the drought is taking its toll.
By my own research we have a 6 year drought cycle followed by a 3 year rain cycle followed by another 6 year drought cycle and so on.
In 1865, George Goyder, Surveyor General of the new Colony of South Australia. came up with an imaginary line which he drew on a map as he suggested that anything north of that line would be outside of a profitable agricultural business. And he was right as the Goyder’s Line snakes past the south of our town of Peterborough and this is where the wheat and canola fields end. 250mm of rainfall per year is the average for profitability…..so said Goyder.
The road kill of animals is amazing. In 300km of driving we saw around 100 dead animals. It reminded us of our travel through Tasmania where the same thing happens. Not a road is left unscathed as roadkill is the number one factor of the route though Tassie. The same applied for the Silver City Highway as we moved further north from Broken Hill. It is sad that so many beautuful animals end up beig run down at night,
Having spent our pension money at Woolies and Bakers Delight in Broken Hill, diesel and also on a new shovel as we were counting the stuff we had left at home, it was getting late in the afternoon as we drove out of town. At The Springs signpost I turned off onto a narrow bush track across a dry creekbed and after about 500metres I saw a clearing in the scrub and pulled in to set up camp for the night. There was enough wood lying around to have a fire and we sat around the fire having late afternoon drinkies and then decamped after dark to inside the van for something to eat. During our meal a ute pulled up alongside us. It was a local and a mate of the land owner just checking up on what we were up to. When he saw that we were only a couple of geriatrics with a jumping up dog he relaxed and we had a yarn. We promised to leave the site unmarked except for tyre tracks when we left in the morning.
Saturday morning we tackled the Silver City Highway. The road to Tibooburra over the years as been sealed every 20 kilometres and then gravel for the same amount more or less but last year they started to work in earnest to seal the road to completion in Tibooburra. There is about 70km left to seal of the 306km road.
A mate told me that there were big yabbies at Depot Glen Waterhole and the thought of a yabbie feed urged us on to reach our destination. But first we decided to have a steak sandwich at Packsaddle Roadhouse. Unfortunately we arrived there the same time as an Outback Spirit Tour Coach and our order was lost in the confusion of orders. We did eventually get our tucker which was a good feed amongst a host of apologies and then kept on going to our day destination.
Alas, the waterhole was bone dry! But I managed to park the van level in the small campsite and we settled in for the night. Just before dark a large old Labrador Retriever Cross Dog came to visit us from the Station as his people had obviously gone in to town for the Saturday night entertainment and he was lonely. He became infatuated with our dog, Blaise, who in turn just raised her hackles! He stayed the night but Blaise slept in the van!
The previous night Judith got cold as she was sleeping on top of her sleeping bag and got in to it on this night and was now too hot! We were heading north and the temperature was warming up.
the northern entry to Tibooburra welcome the visitor with these statues
We found a lovely campsite right on Coopers Creek in the Town Common at Innamincka. There is an Honesty Box at $5 per vehicle per night. Long drop toilets are provided.
The river is low and in the morning the yabbie yield was zilch! Oh well, next time.
The days were lovely and up to 30C and the nights were still cool enough to get a good nights sleep. At sunset all the birds chatter and come in for a drink of water before they settle down for the night and the Dingoes howl their mournful calls before they too go off on their nightly jog looking for food. We stayed 4 nights.
One morning we saw a Dingo come down to the water on the oppoite bank for s drink, totally oblivious of our presence.
On three days there we had a quiet time but on the last day the wind sprang up and blew a stiff breeze with swirling dust and refused to lie down after sunset.
On the way out we chose the Moomba Road. It wasn’t too bad. About 20km plus out of Innamincka there is now Motel, Restaurant and Fuel outlet. The sign is too good to be believed. The Strzelecki Track(Road) has short sealed bits. Five of those are 7km in length and the sixth one is 8km. The road isn’t bad but care must be taken over grids. The SA Government has threatened to seal the whole road to Innamincka under a media fan fare but so far nothing has come of it
Along the way we saw two feral cats, one live Fox and six dead ones as roadkill and a Wild Dog. It has Dingo features but was much bigger with longer legs than a Dingo, We also saw two feral cats. They seem to survive in the most inhospitable places and Sturts Stony Desert is one of them!
An interesting observation is that there was no roadkill whatsoever along the 245km from Tibooburra to Innamincka.
Only two varieties of Cassia bushes had spring flowers in abundance and we marveled at the spectacle especially when approaching Hawker.
Starting from Leigh Creek any number of No Camping signs are seen. We were looking for a Free camp for the night and I was tired when I turned off the highway at Brachina Creek, having driven nearly 500km on gravel roads and another 150km on a sealed road. At the last moment I saw that the entrance had been ploughed with two small trenches facing me. Someone didn’t want campers on the banks of the creek anymore
I managed to get over them in fourwheeldrive high range and then drove rather blindly in the semi dark light over more obstacles before finding a nivr flat camp site albeit amongst the prickles! South Australia the Prickle State……We only noticedthe following morning that I had missed a tangle of wires by millimetres!
The rest of the trip home was uneventful and we stopped at Orroroo for some supplies. This late in the tourist season and the Caravanners are still hard at it and the small towns are bustling with people looking for what is on offer.