Saturday, October 31, 2015

Farina - William Creek: Oodnadatta Track

The night had been wonderful. I woke as the first person on the camp site again, not difficult due to there only being three of us. The whole night over I had left the flaps of the tent open. Basically the tent was only a deterrent against night crawlers. If they weren't about I could have just slept on the ground with the blow up mattress. After a breakfast consisting of porridge and (the newly auquiered) tea I packed up all the gear and said good bye to the other travellers who had gotten up in that time. It turned out they were heading along the Oodnadatta track, too. Only they planned to go the whole length until Marla, whereas I was turning of in Williams Creek. Set of and had my last glimpse of tarmac road a few kilometres prior to reaching Marree. After that all is gravel or worse. Fuelled up completely again in Marree, prices now having reached 1,90$. The car had only used up ten litres of fuel since Leigh Creek, so I didn't have to pay horrendous. Asked if the track was passable again, just to be sure and the lady at the till said “no problem”. She just warned me about a hole “somewhere after the planes”. Her husband had apparently been doing a check run and his Ute had become airborne. Considering I am in a Subaru Forester I was going to be extra careful.
And then I set of along the Oodnadatta track, with warning signs all over the entrance making sure we had all the necessity (okay, I didn't have a second jack). I was felling rather reassured, knowing that there was a Ute following me a few dozen of kilometres behind (the couple from the camp site in Farina). All along the way I was mostly alone. Occasionally a bus, truck or four wheel drive would pass, but otherwise it was only me, fast open desolate terrain and tons of flies. Seriously?! Where do those bloody things keep hiding and what the heck do they feed off. Passed by near endless terrain of desert, but still surprisingly with some flora nearly on every patch. Sometimes if there was sand on the road I, and anybody else I met, would kick up a rather good sand cloud behind us. The shrubs on the side of the road were caked in yellow dust. The few times I did get out of the car I was greeted with a wall of heat and a few second later the armada of flies that waits everywhere. Spotted the occasional lizard dash across the road, but hopefully didn't squash any. Over my head a giant grey cloud was settling. That can be good and bad news. Good: I have some protection against the sun in the driest state of the driest continent on the world. Bad: If that thing rains and turns the ground to sludge I am stuck a hundred kilometres from the nearest civilisation. Luckily it was travelling the opposite direction to me and didn't release it's hold on to my head. 
After a few crunches on the bottom of my car, due to ground clearance not being quite enough the road bettered up for some time. Passed and had a look at some old planes stood up next to each other and various other sculptures set up in the desert. And after that the warned hole. Also a sign had been put up, so I didn't have any issue with passing through. You could still see how a vehicle travelling to fast would take off. Somewhere around there the couple from the camp site overtook me, so I now had no “safety” backup from behind. Meh, carried on as always and the sky had turned blue again. Ergo, a lot of heat, so AC was switched on to full (and was just enough to keep me cool). Passed the crossing that turned of to Roxby Downs and shortly after got my first glimpse of Lake Eyre. Only the small part of Lake Eyre, the southern section. Still, after I got a few pictures I was just about to set off again when this large lizard is just sitting in the road. Camera out, picture, window down, picture, zoom in, picture, get out, picture, walk closer, picture, walk even close, gone. Thing would be about 30-40cm long, smaller version of the Galapagos Komodo Dragon.
Carried on and passed a concrete bridge crossing a creek with a water hole in it, a rarity around here. Around there also a large bird (1,2m guess) that looked like a heron but had webbed feet. Further on there was a turn off with a four kilometre drive to “The Bubbler”, a spring using the GAB to supply water in this harsh terrain. As I probably won't be along here ever again I took that extra length and nearly got shaken to bits. I found out along the Oodnadatta track that if you travel at the right speed you just fly over corrugation. Loose traction too, but that isn't much of a problem on a straight road with no one coming the other way.
 Due to curves leading to the Bubbler I had to go slower (there was a speed limit sign of 40km/h too, but who is going to check out here) and it was just that amount where it is painful to go to fast (and bad for the car, too). So I crawled there at a snails pace, but was rewarded with seeing life in the otherwise desolate salt dessert. After enjoying the silence and spotting a few twisters make their way across the desert I was off again. The road had deteriorated compared to before and I hoped that my car would get me to Williams Creek before braking a diff or something. Along there the terrain started turning to red, with a few red small sand dunes lining the shores of red salt lakes. As always, there is still vegetation clinging to the spots here somewhere. Surprisingly a lot where green, too. Carried along and twisted around hills and drove through flood ways which where (luckily) empty. After five hours of driving I reached Williams Creek where I stopped for the night and went in to the bar to get a cool drink. Nothing against water, but warm water in 30-40°C isn't that refreshing. Met a girl from Ireland behind the bar, who was working her days out here in the middle of no where. Wondered how you get out here to find a job without your own vehicle, but she mentioned she had some connections.

Just talking to the locals I found out there is a flight from here around the scenery, Lake Eyre and the largest station in the world, Anna Creek Station. As said before, probably never going to be here again (did ask if there where any job possibility for coming back later, but sadly no) and decided to go along in the morning. After that to the camp site (with showers) and to write the blog.
Track at GPSies.