It is hard to find the time to write this blog. There is always so much to do. Even when we make camp of a night there always seems to be maintenance required on some equipment or vehicle and the radio call to VKS737 base to check for messages and give our position. The corrugated roads are really starting to extract their toll. And then of course there is the cold beer at the end of the day, that always seems to have preference over everything else!
From Maryvale we proceeded south to the aboriginal township of Finke. On this route we actually drove along sections of the old Ghan Railway
Sometimes we saw the descendants of those camels brought out such a long time ago. Whilst it was called the Ghan and most of the cameleers are referred to as Afghanis’ they in fact came from Baluchistan. How’s that for a useless piece of information.
Whilst the railway sleepers had been burnt the rail spikes had been left and they littered the road.
We heard tales of people getting multiple punctures from these spikes but we had no trouble. A rail spike is actually blunt and has no sharp end at all. If people have had punctures then it has probably been caused by the same things that cause most tyre problems in the outback: too much tyre pressure, incorrect tyres, not enough tread and or speed. However I suppose with corrosion it is possible they could develop sharp edges.
Because we where literally driving on a rail line the track was straight for very long sections with cuttings through the sand hills. Some of these cuttings had partially filled and the sand was quiet soft. When we stopped for lunch I found that the auxiliary battery in the back of the car had come loose. We needed to disconnect everything from the battery, remove it (it weights 38 kilo’s) re tighten some hold down bolts from under the car then re install and reconnect. All this is about 38 degrees with a very hot and dusty wind blowing. Not quiet a gale but close.
The remains of the old sidings, stations and water tanks are all visible but the desert is slowly reclaiming it.
The crossing of the dry Finke River just before the township of Finke was interesting. The river bed dust was very fine and as we had a following wind as we entered the river bed we became enveloped in a cloud of dust. I could not see a thing. All I could do was try to keep the car moving and hopefully in a straight line. We eventually climbed out of the river bed onto the track and the cloud dissipated.
Finke was a depressing site and as we did not need supplies we moved on. By this time it was fairly late in the day and we decided not to visit the geographical centre of Australia but to make for Mt Dare Homestead. The corrugations on the road to Mt Dare where bad in sections and the empty roof rack started to lift the holding track so I had to rope the rack to the car body until we could get to Mt Dare.
As it was it was dusk when we finally made Mt Dare after a very tiring days driving.
We walked into the hotel very dirty and red eyed only to be greeted by about twenty smartly clad people having dinner. Being intrepid and experienced travellers we ignored everything and made straight for the bar. After a few drinks and dinner the world had improved immensely. The Mt Dare Homestead/Hotel is the original homestead before the area became a national park. The dining room/bar/provision shop is just a big barn like structure. Mt Dare also refers to a nearby mountain, the actual homestead is on a flood plane and is surrounded by a two metre embankment that you drive over to enter the complex. The hotel exists because of desert tourism. It is the western entrance to the Simpson Desert and most people crossing the Simpson depart from here. They also provide mechanical repairs and desert recoveries. However you would need a deep pocket if you needed you vehicle recovered from the Simpson $5,000 is not uncommon.
We learnt later that the people having dinner when we arrived where members of the Land Rover Club and had been camped for two days so had had time to scrub up and change. Mind you they seemed to carry a better class of wardrobe than we do.
The next morning I removed the roof rack from the vehicle, disassembled it and stowed it in the camper trailer. It seems I will need to drill out the rivets holding the roof rack mounting runners and replace them with bolts when I get home. I was able to purchase a replacement UHF antenna so we are back in communication again.