Day 7 & 8 of Our Big Trip, the Simpson and south west Queensland

Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 20:48

Member - Matwil

The day started early at Oodnadatta. Up at 6am, breaky, pack up and then on our way to Mt Dare. Again Louise took the morning shift driving with me as navigator. The road soon became rougher than yesterday testing skills and the ability to read the road ahead as well as far away from the truck in front so you weren’t eating their dust. We only had 260 klms to drive but it soon became clear that this was not going to be quick. The first thing that grabs you about this country is flatness and how hills in the distance becomes a magnet. At this time of the year with the sun low on the horizon the hills really stand out with their red colours. The driving was fairly uneventful until we turned off The Track onto the Dalhousie and Mt Dare road. Then it became interesting. They grow rocks out here as we went through large tracks of land where there were only rocks, and they were farms, although we occasionally came across an odd cow or two. I don't know what they eat other than salt bush, it could be rocks but I doubt it.
You pass ruins all the way. Stone houses that are crumbling. Built in the late 1880’s not much survives..

We battled on, in awe of the landscape, passing several caravan parks of sorts and have decided that we will come back next year at a more leisurely pace and photograph it all. There is truly some grand vistas out here that I have never seen photographs of. As Arnie said “We will be back.

We arrived at Dalhousie ruins and stopped to walk around them. This was a large farm community in the late 1880’s that settled at Dalhousie because their was spring water. The aboriginal people knew the area well and had used the place for centuries before. They worked with the settlers as they knew that water was gold out here and the Europeans and the aborigines worked in tandem together and out here that still happens today. One problem was that the white man brought two pests, the rabbit and date palms. Rabbits we know about but the date palms started chocking the springs. Their seeds were spread by dingoes and birds and soon the water dried up. Toady all the date palms have been removed except for historically significant male palms that don't produce seed.
Next stop was Dalhousie Springs. This is a large spring that is totally natural and is like an inland sea. With average rainfall at about 125mm a year the springs are significant as it allowed life to survive in this harsh climate for many years. Some of the group had a swim in the 30 degree water which is most probably 3 million years old. The water here comes from northern Australia, or far north Queensland and permeates through the rock strata’s below us. Some of the strange hill formations is actually caused by the water forcing the ground up. Another reason to come back and explore.
The road from Dalhousie Springs was though another big rock farm. They were getting to maturity because they were BIG. The speed sign on the road said 40KPH and we laughed until we realised the road ahead was also full of the big rocks. Thirty k’s an hour was more than enough. Only 65 klms but a long 65 k’s
Tonight we are camped at Mount Dare in a very lovely camping ground. Filled up with diesel at $2.30 a litre. Oh well you only live once.
Tomorrow we are off to Alice and a chance to restock and also to upload this blog. After that you most probably wont hear from me for several days as we will be in the real wilderness.

Wednesday I july.

Well it is 8.38pm and we have just set up camp in Alice Springs after one hell of a day driving. Louise started at the wheel as we drove out of Mount Dare to engage the worst track so far. Almost 3 hours to do 100 klms, with a real test of driving ability through very soft sand that was deeeep. She did the job very well and got better as the morning wore on at reading the road ahead. We didn't get bogged once which was a blessing. We reached the old homestead of Andando at about midday and were in for a treat of history. The old owner, which I think was Molly Clarke died some years ago and before she left the house requested that the house be left untouched as she hoped to return. Sadly she died and a trust in her name continues to keep the house just as she left it. Amazing piece of history. Volunteers now man it and keep the place going. For a gold coin donation we had fresh baked scones with jam and cream cooked on the old fuel stove. Molly’s life had many ups and downs but her husband was killed in a plane crash and then her son was killed in a rail accident several months later and she was left on her own. . She ran cattle to keep the place going and then disease meant she faced an order to kill all her stock. This left her with no income and the bank sold her up even though her mortgage was small. I believe the property was sold for virtually nothing. She complained and in the end she was bequeathed 45 hectares around her homestead, very short of the 10,000 hectares they took from her. She lived there for another 30 years and ran a guest house and caravan park for wayward travellers to keep her head above water. Walking though her property some 7 years after she left it was a walk back in time. Everything is just as she left it. I am sure if you Google Old Andando Station I am sure you will find a story well worth reading.

We left Old Andando with me at the wheal for what at first appeared to be an easy 300klms into Alice. Well let me tell you that we have breathed in, eaten and god knows what else of more bull dust than exists in the Simpson Desert and we were at this stage only skirting the western end of it. Two mishaps in the convoy with part of a Jeep falling off, and a flat tire where a bolt in the middle of know where went through a tyre. Driving into the sunset with the dust of the 13 vehicles in front of you bull dust is not fun. Anyway we made it alive.

But we may not make it through the night. There appears to be some sort of celebration in Alice tonight with fireworks going off everywhere. The noise is not pleasant given that we have had 3 days in the wilderness.
Well tomorrow it is off to Batton Hill and the Hay River track. We will be 4 or 5 days in the wilderness with no internet or phone connection so I suppose the next blog will be from Birdsville. Until then all take care.

I should add here that there is a fair chance we may go down the Birdsville track after Broken Hill to the Flinders Ranges. Coming through them we a feeling like we want to go back there sooner than later and do south west Queensland next year. We will make a final decision when we get to Broken Hill.

I have tried to upload some photos tonight

Wanting to explore our vast wide land
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