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Simpson Desert 4 (Mt Dare to French Line)

15 March Friday

filling up at Mt Dare

 

After filling up our tanks as well as all the extra jerry cans,  we left Mt Dare just after 10.30 am. This is the last refueling spot until we reach Birdsville. Vic, who likes his tea, also had to have a cup first, before we could leave.

 

stones, corrugations and hobbles

The road wasn’t to bad, just a lot of stones, corrugations and hobbles.

 

The Simpson desert doesn’t have a “gate” where permits are checked, only a sign that states that you are now in the desert and that it was closed from 1 December until 15 March.

We made a stop at the Dalhousie ruins, which are really a bit of a disappointment. It’s more like a “not very old” homestead that has fallen in disrepair. The parks board in their “wisdom” decided to remove all but 2 of all the date palms that were growing there and also did some patch work on the ruins to make them look better. It now looks like a fairly recent stone work on a “modern” ruin.

Dalhousie ruins

We are now in the Witjira National Park.

Witjira National Park.

The Simpson Desert is underlain by the Great Artesian Basin,  one of the largest inland drainage areas in the world. Water from the basin rises to the surface at numerous natural springs, including the Dalhousie hot springs, which will be our next stop.

The outside temperature was 45 degrees C.  The Dalhousie hot springs forms part of a group of over 60 natural artesian springs. It’s a great place to take a swim in the middle of a parched desert landscape. The water temperature is about 38 degrees C and very pleasant to swim in. At the hot springs is a modern clean ablution block and it should be quite a pleasant place to camp for a day or two. Under the shade of the ablution block we also talked to a derelict person that was camping there out of the boot of his dilapidated car. He was visiting the springs because the water was good for his skin. Cut a large plastic coke bottle length-wise in two and you have two shoes. All you need are a few ropes to tie it onto your feet. This is what he was wearing……. he claimed that the dingos had stolen his shoes.

Purnie Bore is where we made our camp for our first night in the desert. Purnie Bore was sunk during the oil exploration years. Over the years, leaks in the bore caused a substantial amount of hot water to surface and develop into a sizable lake. Conservationists were worried that the salty water from the water body would change the native habitat. Since then, most of the old bores have been closed off and the overall flow has been reduced to a trickle.

Campsite at Purnie Bore

 

It was a beautiful  cloudless night sky. Many of the star constellations were visible. There were a few dingos sneaking around our camp site, but, they never came close and weren’t aggressive.

Purnie Bore

 

While making dinner, Esmé missed a few heart beats. As she turned around, there a dingo was standing right behind her. But, he took off as quick and quietly as he came. This would also be the last place where we would have a toilet and shower for a few days. There are wild camels roaming around the desert and they took care of most of the night sounds  with their snoring.

 

 

 

 

 

16 March Saturday

We started driving again at 8.30 in the morning, after only waking up at 6.30. Following the French Line, we passed one vehicle on our way to the Erabena Track. Apart from that we were making the first tracks in the desert for the season.

At the Erabena junction we turned towards the WAA line. We followed the WAA line, an east-west seismic line, similar to the French Line, for parts of the day and ended the day back on the French Line.

We made camp for the night in the open near the track. Fortunately there were a few small shrubs around that could provide some ablution privacy when needed. The starry night sky was spectacular, shining glitter everywhere above.

A southern wind, tugging our roof tent, was gusting at about 25 km per hour and that brought the temperature down to about 38 degrees C. It was almost cold at times.

 

 

Tomorrow we will be deeper into the dune world.

 

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Simpson Desert 3 (William Creek to Mt Dare)

 

14 March  Thursday

Leaving William Creek behind, we were again following the Oodnadatta track.

 

 

We made a stop at the Algebuckina railway bridge, over the Neales River, south-east of Oodnadatta. It opened in January 1892 and is the longest bridge in South Australia. It is a Victorian era bridge that was originally built in the UK for the Murray river. But, when it arrived they realized that it was too short and they had to find another river where they could use it.

Algebuckina railway bridge

 

 

From here we were on our way again, following the Oodnadatta track towards Mt Dare. Along the way we made we made a short stop at the Pink Roadhouse.  A well known haven in the outback for travelers.

Pink Roadhouse

The scenery is now changing and it is beginning to look more like a desert. The road is becoming more rough. More large sharp stones, the size of cricket balls. The countryside is very flat with the odd red sand dunes . You don’t want to drive here with old worn tyres. We stopped for a break at the Eringa billabong, which is on a very large river that is completely dry.

 

Shortly before sunset we arrived at the Mt Dare Hotel. A welcome stop after a very bad road, full of large stones. Fortunately none of us had any tyre problems.

 

 

Today was a nice cool day, 25 degrees C. Much better than the 39 degrees of the previous couple of days. This is the most isolated hotel in Australia. The food at their restaurant was excellent. Esmé had chicken and I had a steak.

 

 

Tomorrow we will be entering the real Simpson Desert.

 

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