Tuesday 25 August
This track came into being as part of the route of the overland telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin. An engineering masterpiece of its time. Then of course the Ghan Railway followed this track as the telegraph engineers had already found the easiest route through the sand hills and the most reliable water holes.
The track is in pretty good condition in comparison to the track we have been on from Alice Springs and we are starting to see more travellers. I won’t bore you with all the ruins that we visited on the track but will mention a couple of significant sites.
There are a lot of lonely graves spread throughout the outback. Testament to the hard life and the lack of medical assistance in those early years.
First camp on the track was at Algebuckina. This has a very historic railway bridge and a large water hole that apparently never dries up. Had an excellent camp on the banks of the waterhole. The weather has got markedly cooler and we are seeing some clouds in the sky. Unfortunately the flies have also arrived so between sunrise and sunset we have resorted to using fly veils. We couldn’t swim in the water hole as the banks where just to muddy to allow access. I have been having trouble with my bull bar coming loose and over the last few days it has got noticeably looser even whilst I have tightened all the bolts. This morning I loosened one end completely to find the problem. I have found that it has been installed with a plate between the bar mount and the chassis and that this plate has enough play in it to allow the bar to move. The only way to fix this is to tack weld the plate to the chassis. As this is a genuine Nissan bar and probably fitted to the vehicle when new it just shows that car manufacturers don’t built vehicles to handle the outback conditions. Am now a little concerned that the four bolts holding the bar to the front of the vehicle may snap so will have to keep a close eye on it.
In the morning Vicki made a cake in the camp oven. Washed down with freshly brewed tea it was a great mid morning break.
The Algebuckina railway bridge is 578 metres long and looks like it is ready to take a train tomorrow even though the last train past nearly twenty years ago.
On breaking camp next morning we headed further south down the track visiting the ruins of Peake. This was established as a cattle station in 1863. It was then used as a relay station for the overland telegraph and then as a copper mine with its own blast furnace. However it only lasted 3 years as a mine as it was not profitable
A very interesting place and we whilst it was a 36 km detour over a very corrugated road we enjoyed exploring the ruins. We also saw the mine shafts but these looked dangerous so exploring them was out of the question. The slag heap from the blast furnace is there as well as the last stockpile of copper ore that was not feed to the furnace. It is just amazing to think how those people got supplies and worked in such a remote are in the heat of summer!