Waking up at Coward Springs was just wonderful. No traffic, no streetlights, no need to rush! The promise of breakfast at William Creek got the kids moving and packing up camp though. We passed the stunning red Irrapatana Sandhills. Just another example of the varied landscapes along the Oodnadatta Track.
The kitchen was not yet open at the William Creek hotel, the only place in town to grab food. That’s ok because we weren’t after a sit down meal, and basic bar food was available for takeaway. Meat pies were ordered, and Paul & Kirstine enjoyed perusing the walls of the pub, which were covered with business cards, old drivers licences, number plates, and even passports! There is a huge amount of history at the pub, and some gorgeous photographs from the surrounding stations. Definitely worth a stop if you’re on the track. Just be aware that William Creek only has Optus phone coverage, but the little phone we purchased for that reason, was not up to the standard required. This was seriously frustrating, but the phone specs were something we should have checked in advance.
Overnight camp was planned at the stunning Algebuckina Bridge, and after exploring both sides, and a nearby waterhole, we found the best place to be on a hot day – under the bridge!! Slowly we set up camp, including The Palace! We spent a great couple of hours relaxing and playing games, before letting the kids into the shallow waters to cool off. We think Luna was in there before the kids actually! Tea cooked on the Weber Baby Q, and falling into bed, finished off a long hot day. Somehow, Kirstine had to figure out how to wake Paul at dawn so that he could fly the DJI Mavic Pro over the bridge, when the light would be at its best …
She succeeded eventually, and a brief flight got some gorgeous pictures before all the birds of prey woke for the day, and zeroed in on the drone. Packing up was interesting as it was quite windy. Wind can be annoying at times, particularly when packing up the Cub. It plays havoc with the canvas as you wind it up. In this case though, wind = less flies = cooling effect when the sun already has a sting in it.
Again, the promise of breakfast got the kids motivated, and it was nice to be sitting in the air conditioned Legend and on the road to Oodnadatta. The Pink Roadhouse was calling us! “Oodnaburgers” are the speciality of this fabulous establishment, and absolutely good value! They were HUGE and came with a small side of chips. None of us could eat the entire meal. Kirstine chatted with the backpacker working in the kitchen, and found out that about 10mm of rain had fallen around Oodnadatta, which had everyone excited. On some of the stations they had had up to 25mm.
As we found driving on to Marla, heavy rain has impacted on the quality of the roads. There is a reason that the tracks are subject to closure after significant rainfall, and driving on them contrary to the closure, causes huge ruts and damage, which can only be remedied by grading the tracks at great expense. Full as googs from the Oodnaburgers, we marvelled at the pools of water laying by the road, and the stunning lilies that burst into life following rain. Paul avoided the deep ruts, and there were two water crossings where floodways had collected deep pools of rain. Seeing the red gibber plains sprouting green grass, and even the track looking like it may soon need to be mowed, was truly fascinating. Another example of how the Australian outback makes the most of moisture to create life.
We found ourselves looking forward to reaching the black top, as the creeks and floodways became sharp and jarring, even with our upgraded suspension. Paul negotiated these carefully, but it’s clear that this stretch of the Oodnadatta Track needs quite a bit of work after the peak travel period and subsequent rain.
Marla Travellers Rest is a great place to stop and rejuvenate after long stretches of driving. The manager was more than happy to provide us with a family room for our overnight stay. Lisa was up to speed with our anticipated arrival, and got us all checked in. We were all quite hot and bothered after completing the Oodnadatta Track, so we turned up the air conditioning and flaked out on the beds to watch some tv. Kirstine went to purchase some cold water, and spoke with another staff member about our trip. This lovely lady, as it turns out, is working away from home and dreadfully worried about her daughter, who has attempted suicide a couple of times in the past, and struggles to find a psychologist she can trust. Kirstine left some Driving Oz with the Black Dog business cards at the counter, as she had already heard that there were people working shift work at the establishment, who are living with depression. In a small remote community, this is challenging. It’s hard to talk to people you work with, the stigma is still very much real in this respect. Kirstine referenced the contact details for Lifeline on the back of the card, and briefly explained her experience with them. She also let the staff member know that we’ve been told that for some people, reading our blog and following our social media posts, gives them virtual outreach to the world, and hope that eventually, they can find the coping mechanisms and confidence they need to participate in a more enriching life.
When we’re driving remote roads in early Summer, when most people avoid these areas, we are still having meaningful discussions and determined to find ways to help.