"Destination Unknown" Day 5 - William Creek, Lake Eyre Flights and north to Duff Creek

Tuesday, Jul 05, 2011 at 00:00


Tuesday 5th July, 2011
Duff Creek, Oodnadatta Track

The first rays of morning bought a magnificent sunrise with the black horizon shot through with vermillion hues. Amazing what an overcast morning can provide. It was a fairly leisurely affair with me cooking a major feast of Bacon and Eggs over the fire. The CP managed to demolish a half a kilo of bacon so fast that I had serious doubts as to whether he even bothered to chew it! The rest of the morning was dedicated to exploring the area.

The Mitsubishi 4x4 Club in conjunction with The Ghan Railway Preservation Society took on the task of tidying up Anna Creek Railway Siding sometime in the recent past. The department of main roads bulldozed a large cut nearby which has been used to deposit the usual detritus associated with an outback property and over 100 years of station occupation. Old vehicles, tanks, steel implements, the old roofing materials from the siding buildings, rubbish and wire had been pushed in to no doubt improve the amenity of the area and prevent injury to cattle. The boys enjoyed poking around a range of vehicles dating back to the 50s and 60’s. I managed to climb the water tank and nervously take a few pictures of the surrounding countryside from the elevated position. We strolled around the old bridge and creek finding interesting pieces of stone and then the cleared area to the east. This was obviously a regular mustering/load point for the station as large logs had been pulled in to form a ring around a large fire pit. Perhaps the siding buildings are used for that purpose as well.

Anna Creek must have been one of those sidings that had a large amount of activity around it in the hey day of the Ghan. The old raised rail line showed visible signs of secondary, push off tracks and large sheets of concrete with various bits of track and apparatus once fixed to it. No doubt being situated in the midst of the largest cattle property in the world, Kidman’s Anna Creek Station, may have had some influence as well.

We headed back to William Creek late in the morning and found we were able to secure an earlier flight than booked. That suited us perfectly so 7 of the crew headed off in the one plane. JB was left to take a separate flight a half hour later. Having done the flight only late last year, I stayed and organised lunch at the pub. The boys enjoyed the flight and there were still several hundred pairs of pelicans left at the rookeries on various islands. On their arrival back, we enjoyed some lunch at the pub. Pete left his refuelling a bit late and ended up in a line of a travel convoy out of Geelong. Eventually we were all fed and fuelled and ready to continue our Journey north.

As it was late in the afternoon, we hoped to get some distance up the road towards Oodnadatta and find a spot to camp.

As it turned out, Duff Creek provided the perfect opportunity to pull off. We headed west along the southern bank to an area right beside the not-insignificant rail bridge that crossed the creek. There was ample wood about and the lads amused themselves with the axe knocking a few fallen logs into respectable sized pieces for the camp fire. A good bit of exercise for the day. Duff Creek is one of those wide, shallow sandy creeks that winds it’s way through the low ranges and sand hills of this region. No more than 40 kilometres long, it has its origins in the worn hills of the Davenport Range and Mount Margaret about 17 kilometres to our east and eventually feeds into Weedina Creek which takes its water north to the Neale. It presents enough of an obstacle to the old Ghan to inspire a bridge that was over 150 metres long.

We had been set up for an hour or so when a rather large convoy headed by the first tricked up FJ Cruiser I had seen, arrived. This was a mob from Geelong. The Cruiser was sporting 35” tyres and all the gear. Someone with a lot of money and time on their hands I’d say. I don’t think there was much of the original running and suspension left on her.

After doing a couple of recce runs along the sandy creek, the convoy set up camp on the other side of the creek about 300 metres clear of us. For the numbers of people and vehicles in attendance, they were a pleasantly quiet group which was a bonus. The afternoon had cleared to magnificent blue skies with just a few clouds about. Another enjoyable evening about the fire. I think everyone was amazed at the mountain of food that the Crown Prince managed to put away...it’s all about quantity!

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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