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Some selected pics and videos of my trip to Lake Eyre, in central Australia. We are going to see it with water in it - it’s about a quarter full, which is the most water it’s had since 1974. Mostly it’s empty. The lake is the size of Belgium, I’ve been told.

I’m driving my NP300 with my wife and two kids on board, and towing my camper trailer.

In the past I’ve added some explanatory text and stories to go along with these posts for those who are interested in travelling Australia one day. I might get to that this time, I might not, but I’ll lead with the pics.

I’m only one week in to this trip, I expect it to take three weeks. So far we have travelled from Brisbane down to the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula. Next stage is taking some inland desert tracks to Lake Eyre, then it’s time to head home, which will take a few days.

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Dawn from camp, near Broken Hill
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Giant moths infesting the tent, near Bourke
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Morning tea stop, Barrier Highway
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Stuck behind this massive jerk in a caravan having bag after bag of contraband confiscated at the South Australia border checkpoint at Oodla Wirra
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Giving the battery some love in the late afternoon, getting about 25W under heavy cloud cover
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Exploring the coast of the Eyre Peninsula
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Found some emu tracks
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A secluded little cove we found
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Some videos captured on my phone by my wife of the well-known Sleaford Dunes. These are the relatively smooth bits - the rougher stuff was mostly footage of the floor or ceiling and audio of me swearing at the kids.

Tyre pressures 18PSI hot; selected 4L with ASC off and traction control on; diff lock left off.

Random beeps in one video are the bloody gearbox refusing to give me a lower gear.



 

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Surprised to see that there are some items allowed in one part of Australia that are not allowed in other parts.
 

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Surprised to see that there are some items allowed in one part of Australia that are not allowed in other parts.
Mostly biosecurity stuff. Plants, fruit, vegetables, livestock, soil, that sort of thing
 

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Exploring rock pools on the Great Australian Bight
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Dodged this fellow taking up the whole road...
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...then the heavens opened and I’ve sought refuge in the nearest pub...
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...watching this ship load raw crystalline salt, which is clearly giving it a hard life
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Amazing stuff :)

I am now too disheartened to nip to the post office.... :(
 

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Got some pics downloaded from the drone. The first pic is from the same place as third photo in Post #2. The other is from the Sleaford-Wanna Dunes track. Still finding my feet as a drone photographer.
 

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Tricky to get good drone shots, in my experience, either go really high (400' plus) or stay low (10' to 20'), the 200' shots always look a bit dull.
 

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We are finally off Googs Track and back in phone reception. Three days. We’re in the middle of a Federal election race: I didn’t miss much...

Googs Track was carved through the Great Victoria Desert by “Goog” Denton and his son “Dinger” of Lone Oak Station, plus some roped-in relatives, in the 1970s for no particular reason other than he wanted to know what was out there. The northern portion of this scrubland has been crossed in the period 1860-1880 by explorers Stuart and Eyre, amongst others, but was not revisited.

In 1909 the Indian-Pacific Railway surveyors took a good look and skirted it to the north, just as the Overland Telegraph linesmen did.

Sometime between the 1930s and 1950s, Malbooma Station to the north attempted to push a track due south, hoping to build a road to connect them with the port of Thevenard (where my salt ship photo above was taken), rather than the far more distant Port Augusta.

What they found, as did Goog, was an arid but well-vegetated desert with 300 parallel sand dunes, between 50-100 feet high, traversing east-west. The Malbooma effort gave up after only 30km or so, at the first dunes. Goog kept going, initially using a bucket attachment on his tractor and later a proper bulldozer, until his track from the south met the end of the earlier one from the north. It took him four years and he discovered a salt lake complex, aptly named Googs Lake. This is the site of a memorial to Goog and Dinger, who died within a couple of years of each other in the 1990s.

This was the last unexplored terrain in Australia and is the most recent of the great desert tracks to be constructed (most others either dating from the 1890s cattle boom or 1950s atomic testing program). It is now maintained by the South Australian Government - poorly.

It’s 164km in length and took us nearly three days to navigate, mostly in 4LO with tyre pressures at 12PSI.

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Mostly it’s this, 300 times:

https://youtu.be/8kyu08NA5D0

On our second morning we almost immediately ran into a couple in an Isuzu 4WD light truck, still with its little dual rear wheels. They were hopelessly bogged and had been since the night before I guess, since they did not pass us during the night and navigation isn’t exactly hard...

We helped them up the first dune one Maxtrax length at a time: dig, lay tracks, drive about three feet, get bogged again, repeat. There was no way to pass them to pull from in front and my trailer would have made that difficult anyway. A few dunes later we caught them again and this time they had buried their Maxtrax so deep in the sand they couldn’t find two of them. I got mine out and with the six boards we got them up the dune, but it took about 90 minutes.

The track widened a bit and they graciously let us pass while they did a bit of soul-searching about whether they wanted to continue. They were well stocked with food and water. We kept in touch by UHF radio for a while then they faded away, but later while stopped for lunch they came past us looking very happy and we never saw them again, so I guess they sorted out their sand driving technique!
 

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Googs Track finishes at the Indian Pacific (more correctly known as the Trans Australia Railway) IMG_3530.jpg

Some other pics from the last few days:

Tarcoola ghost town:
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When a road train comes, you pull over and wait:
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Caravan hauling two motorcycles that didn’t make it:
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Bull bar earned its stripes today: of all things, a kamikaze sheep leapt out of a roadside ditch as we rejoined the highway at Roxby Downs.

Despite my best emergency braking, with the ABS firing and the trailer brakes locked up, I reckon we hit the poor fellow still carrying 70-80km/h. His head collected the left side deflector plate, which forced him under the car. I ran over him with the rear right and the trailer right just for good measure.

No damage to me, but there are intestines dangling off bits of my undercarriage like Christmas tinsel.
 

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William Creek Hotel. This sits on the land of Anna Creek, the world’s largest cattle ranch at 1,977,000 acres. As of 2012 it supported 17,000 cattle and 17 staff. Now it’s likely to be substantially less on both counts due to the prolonged drought - at times in recent history it’s population has been as low as two.
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Around William Creek:
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The Oodnadatta Track follows the route of the old Ghan railway line, which connected Adelaide and Alice Springs. This was constructed between 1878 and 1929, and approximately coincided with the Overland Telegraph line.

The Ghan route was abandoned in 1980 in favour of a standard gauge spur off the Trans Australia line. A true Adelaide to Darwin railway line was not built until 2004.

There are old sidings on the Ghan line every 20 miles or so, to re-water steam engines. They often doubled as telegraph repeater stations. They became defunct when diesel locomotives were introduced and the telegraph lines closed. Some are now preserved but most lie abandoned.

This one is Beresfield and is in the “abandoned” category. We camped here. The big elevated trough is the water tank; the huge silo thing is a water softener, constructed during WW2. These were fed from a bore which, until recently, was allowed to run freely into a large holding dam to water stock and wildlife. However upon our visit the bore had been capped and seemed to have been so for some time; the dam was empty and it looks like the water tank has been partly demolished with explosives.

Former throne room:
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Tank and softener:
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Old platform:
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What’s left of the railway alignment, all sleepers long since burned in campfires:
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Sunset, when the ghosts come out:
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Today: a whole bunch of not much.

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Got my canopy smashed in by a rock thrown from a passing truck. Dented the roof too, and chipped the windscreen.

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