Friday, May 30, 2014

William Creek to Farina Station ruins

We watched William Creek disappear in the mirrors and we waved to the film crew on the road and headed towards Farina Station. On the way we stopped at Coward Springs which has a thermal pool. Didn't seem to be too thermal to us but we stopped for lunch and wandered the old homestead and engine man's rooms before heading south along the track  
Engine mans cottage Coward Springs

Thermal spring

Rest break on the "track"

The Oodnadatta track Coward Springs
. We had been told about Farina and Gaz had done some research on it. Farina Station is actually in ruins with the last inhabitant leaving in the 1960’s who was in fact the post mistress. The place is being restored, not to original but to preserve what is there. A group of volunteers from all over Australia come in for 5 weeks each year to work around the ruins. Now we had heard on our travels about this incredible bakery at Farina and we were somewhat sceptical. It, however, turned out to be correct. For the 5 weeks, the volunteers are there the in the old underground bakers oven which is fired up and bread, pies, pasties and a number different of buns are baked daily. VERY nice produce and such a surprise as was Farina itself. The campgrounds were basic but great and well maintained with a “donkey” type hot water service. Another surprising thing is that everywhere is green which is very unusual out here. In fact, a local at Coober Pedy (40 years) could not recall it ever looking like this. We have been lucky to see this special time in the outback. We spent 2 nights in Farina, which was most enjoyable, and one that we would like to have extended. The sunsets were amazing and we loved this place. The flies were still in abundance but we have learnt to deal with them. The extent of the ruins is an indication of the size and comparative importance of this place.

Underground bakers oven

Farina ruins

Sunset over Farina

Oodnadatta – William creek

I must say the track was in very good condition given the amount of rain in the last month. The trip between Oodnadatta and William Creek was good and the amount of viewable ruins is incredible. The track follows the old Ghan rail line and the old telegraph route and so we stopped to photograph heaps of old ruins including buildings, bridges and other infrastructure. About 20kms out of William Creek we came across road works, which the water truck had just been across – and the heavens opened up.

Sunrise over William Creek
Space junk William Creek
 It used what little knowledge I possess to keep the car and trailer in a straight line and from there was very slow trip into William Creek. At William Creek the rain kept coming as we set up. I had visions of being at William Creek for some time, something I had joked about before we left home and seemed to be coming true. This may have not been such a bad thing as our neighbours were a group filming a motion picture “ Yellow cab to Darwin”. Life is always interesting. Next morning we rose to sunshine and the prospects of another good day. Warning if you are coming up this way the flies will pick you up and cart you away. They are very small but very annoying and have plagued us most of this trip. You can leave your food out, they won’t look at it, but have any bare skin, and the little buggers are in like flint. I must confess I needed a hobby (as I have a want on these trips) and have decided to grow a beard something, which is almost impossible for me. I feel it’s coming on nicely, a sentiment not shared by my fellow travelers who continue to laugh out quite loud when I mention it. I suggest that Di should purchase a beard comb for me at the earliest opportunity – her response was, well not sure she couldn’t stop laughing. How these outback locations survive is a story in its self. William creek is a pub, and restaurant (yes I kid you not) and a camp ground and that's about it. I wish the pub could talk - the walls, ceiling and any vacant place is covered by bank notes (of all denominations) poems, stories, signatures various items of women's clothes (mostly underwear). I shared a beer with Peter in the bar and perused the various items - its a crack up. I am beginning to love the quirky stuff out here and the people are just great. I know its not for everyone but if you want to learn and understand Australia you need to get out to these places.
Left overs from the Ghan

Old Ghan rail bridge

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta

Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta Track

Pink roadhouse Oodnadatta

Our start to the Oodnadatta track

We were up reasonably early today as we start the next leg of the journey all with all our fellow travellers here. Today's leg was from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta and was the first real off bitumen leg. We stocked up with a few supplies and headed to the start of the Oodnadatta Rd. First auspicious, moment we got separated from Peter – no mobile coverage and no response from the UHF. 10 minutes later with that sorted we head off with all roads open. We had done about 15 kms along this road the day before during our tour but it still surprised me with the condition of the road especially after the rain. It was surprising good and we could do 80 to 90 kph with no problems or concerns. Its about a 200 km run NE from Cooder Pedy to Oodnadatta and we arrived mid-afternoon after numerous (and I mean numerous) stops for pictures or photo opportunities. I had been keen to get to Oodnadatta as one of the iconic places in Australian folklore which I had read much about and the guy that sort of resurrected the place into a destination. I was disappointed, the place has been let to rundown since he was killed in a motor racing accident a few years back and didn’t live up to its press. I guess its had a bit of a chequered past and has been a lot of things, including an airbase during WWII. Anyway after a night’s sleep we then headed off on the real Oodnadatta track to William Creek. Its also about a 200 km leg.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Coober Pedy

Today was a bit lazy, booked for a tour tomorrow and generally bummed around this morning. This afternoon we did a few things. First on the list was Tom's working opal mine which is a few kms North on the Stuart Hwy. Couple of interesting characters run the place but then I think Coober Pedy is full of interesting characters and Tom's Wife/partner /mother not sure which, was a wealth of knowledge. A small snippet was that there are no mining companies in Coober Pedy. Each mine can only be mined by one miner and the tenement is 100mts by 50 mtrs. She believes the miners are dying out none of the younger generation want to work the mines. Here are a few shots from around the mine.


Images of Tom's  working mine
Images of Tom's  working mine

Images of Tom's  working mine

Looking Nth over Coober Pedy

Next stop was Faye's place. This underground house was built by Faye and two of her female friends - apparently she believed that anything any bloke could do she could do and she certainly lead an interesting life. One which saw her heavily involved in the community. She built the house with hand tools (pick, shovel and wheel barrow) and it even has an in ground pool.  It probably was the highlight of today and the guide was fantastic who provide an amazing insight to an amazing lady.
Inside Faye's House

Inside Faye's House

Renmark to Pimba(a night at Spud's) then on to Coober Pedy

Where's Dougal?
We headed off at a reasonable time from Renmark and head towards our next night stay. We traveled through to Morgan, which was supposed to be a highlight.Last time through here we stopped at the bakery and well we ended up killing 45 min with nice fare and reasonable coffee. On this occasion it was a little disappointing.Very ordinary coffee. Di has decide that her goal this time around is to rate the coffee stops. This one got a crap score. On to Crystal brook which was a surprise it is an old town and the architecture was a good example of the 1900's and we spent a little time looking around.
Sunrise at Spuds

 Jezzabelles called us for lunch and it was a nice surprise. From Crystal brook it was pretty much a drive to Pimba, through Port Pirie and Port Augusta. Pimba is on the junction of the Stuart Hwy and the Woomera Rd and "Spud's" is on the corner. Spuds is a roadhouse with a huge area at the side were you can camp for a gold coin donation. It was packed with campers, motorhomes, 5th Wheelers and caravans. It is on a dust bowl with rocks as a base. My brain was thinking "jesus christ are we going to stay here?" while my face said " this could be a great experience". It had hot showers and toilets so that at least was a start.

Spuds Roadhouse Pimba

We made it!!!!
As it turned out it wasn't too bad and we slept well (by our standards). Next morning we rose and set of on on the next leg to Cooder Pedy which was pretty uneventful. We stopped at Glendambo for coffee (Di's Rating good - instant coffee but honest fare and friendly people). The country side is extremely green and I think we have been lucky to come up here at this time as I think its probably a rare sight. Into Coober Pedy we went. Early days but I like the place (esthetically it probably is not) but it has a character I would like to under stand a bit more. Funny story we were looking for somewhere to eat and went into the place which had on the sign opals and restaurant. I asked the proprietor what he could recommend for lunch, answer: I have a few leftovers in the fridge. At this point my face betrayed me with a look of surprise - "left overs I thought this was a restaurant" was my rather inadequate reply. Proprietor " What gave you that idea" Me: "Umm the sign out the front." Proprietor: "Nope we just sell opals - could eat them but not very nutritious". Anyway we ended up having a conversation about opals and he gave us some samples of "colour" for the grand kids.

Where's Dougal?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday was to far away....... but now its here and were gone

The day has finally here and we are off, earlier than expected but that shouldn't be a surprise.the ute is loaded, trailer packed and Di, Wendy and of course me. Today we are heading for Renmark on the first leg and we have booked into the Big 4 on the river. We traveled the Calder as far as Redcliffs then west to Werrimul  then up to Cullulleraine  and on to Renmark. Not a very exciting day but it will get better. As usual we have brought Dougal the Cancer bear with us and we are running where's Dougal again with a bit of added twist this time. You still have to find Dougal in the photo but as just to spice it up try and figure out what town he is in. Good luck we will try to improve on last years consideration of a kinder surprise.
Where's Dougal?


Fungi excepted

Sunset over the Murray