WEDNESDAY 19 MAY WILPENA TO COPLEY 185kms
We got up at 8am, which was probably a little late for a moving day.
John did a clean up of the back of Truck, because there was so much dust in there. While he was doing that, I walked down to the office and bought a Desert Parks Pass – cost $60. It is an annual pass to the designated desert areas, and we can renew it next year at a reduced rate, if we wish. We received a sticker to put on the vehicle and a folder of information on the areas covered. It was all quite comprehensive.
John drove Truck to the shop to refuel – 81cpl.
We had not done any preliminary packing up yesterday, so it was about 10.30 when we got away. That was alright because we do not have far to go.
Went south from Wilpena for about 30kms and then took the Moralana Scenic Drive route, that cuts through to the Leigh Creek road. Truck managed it well with the van on the back, and the van towed well on the unsealed surface.
It really is a beautiful way to go, through a valley between the Elder and Heysen Ranges, and then through the little gorge cut by the Moralana Creek, to the sealed road north.
For a while we had the interest of the Ranges to the east of us, but these peter out after Parachilna. After that, it was much flatter, but there were places where areas of lower hills were visible, like around Beltana and especially coming into Leigh Creek.
I am rather amused that, along this road, the railway crosses the watercourses – which are dry now – on bridges, whereas the road is down at stream level rather than on bridges. When they do get the occasional heavy rains, there is nothing to stop the water flowing straight across the road, so I guess this road would soon get closed in such an event. Guess heavy rain must be rare in these parts.
It is noticeably hotter today – I am in shorts and T shirt. Have not needed those for a while.
We stopped at the Beltana Roadhouse and ate our lunch in the parking area there. Bought a beer and icy poles from the roadhouse. It seems a rather desolate spot to me, but we were told that the couple who run it have been there eighteen years.
There was an empty coal train on the railway line beside the road. We’d had to stop for it, a bit earlier, at the one level crossing there is between Leigh Creek and the outskirts of Port Augusta. We had noticed the railway come in from the southwest, south of Parachilna and parallel the road for a while. Saw the train on it, doing about 80-85kms, and got to the crossing just as the train was approaching it. So we counted – it had 3 diesel engines, 162 coal trucks, and one flat bed at the back. It took a while to go past us at the crossing! At the roadhouse, they told us that, at 3kms long, it is the longest train in Australia. The train takes ten hours to go, loaded, from the Leigh Creek coal mine, to the power station at Port Augusta, a distance of 250kms. It obviously manages to go much faster on the empty return run. I actually thought the longest train honour belongs in WA’s Pilbara?
The roadhouse people advised us that the Copley Caravan Park is the best to go to, in those parts. They thought the one at Leigh Creek might even be closed.
So it was to Copley that we went, passing straight by the turnoff that leads to Leigh Creek township, built a little back from the main road. We booked in for three nights, at a cost of $12 per night. The little caravan park is alright – it has a little grass, not much shade, but our site is ok. They have put a shade shelter up over a table and seats. The amenities block is modern and clean. The washing machines cost $3.
We did a quick set up, then drove back to Leigh Creek, 6kms down the road. This is obviously a town built to accommodate and service the mine workers. It has the typical curving road layout and central core of shops and services. It is soul-less, like these places usually seem. We went to the small supermarket for a few items, then collected our mail bag from the Post Office.
Drove back to the van, where I sorted the mail. There was quite a bit of share-related stuff, and a card from S. Nothing that was exciting.
We had a happy hour, sitting outside the van, then John cooked tea – he had chosen to have bacon, eggs and crumpets. Yoghurt to follow.
There was a very nice sunset – all blues and golds. It is starting to seem like the “outback” now.
It got cooler very quickly, once the sun went down.
We heard the loaded coal train go by, after dark. It was much slower, but sounded like it was accelerating.
There is no TV here! John played computer games and I wrote – diary and did some follow up work on the mail.