TUESDAY 10 AUGUST PALM VALLEY TO BOGGY HOLE 56kms
Today was our eighth wedding anniversary. What a contrast to last year – from the lush tropical Far North Qld to the arid Red Centre!
It took us two hours to breakfast, pack up, and leave – from 8am to 10am. But we didn’t really hurry.
The day was hot – brilliant blue sky.
Had to drive back to Hermannsburg, the way we had come in here. Once, adventurers accessed the route south right down the Finke River, but that “short cut” from the Palm Valley track is now forbidden. The access road goes from Hermannsburg.
We topped up with diesel – 92cpl – and bought a few things at the store there. Then we headed SE out of town on a road that intersected with Ellery Creek, where we took to the creek bed and banks.
The first part of our way was through aboriginal land along Ellery Creek. It was just a bit sandy.
Once we got into Ellery Creek Gorge, the route began to criss-cross the stream bed. Sometimes we were in sand, sometimes in water worn stones. The gorge walls were a real orange-red. It was most spectacular.
The valley widened out again, somewhat, as we approached the junction with the Finke River, which came in from the west – our right. The Finke River was first found and explored by our old friend Ernest Giles. For him, subsequent explorers, missionaries and settlers, it was a way through the ranges. As Boggy Hole usually has water, that was an additional benefit. Of course, the aboriginals would have been using this route and this waterhole, prior to white arrivals.
After the junction of the two streams, there was much more sand. We found no real problem areas, though it was slow going. For most of the way, the track was in the dry Finke River bed itself, though at times it moved up onto the bank beside the main channel.
The Gorge walls stayed red and rugged. River red gums grew in the river bed. Debris from previous floods was piled against the upstream side of some of these trees – higher than our Truck. It might not happen often, but they obviously have some very enormous flows in these parts. The Gorge would channel these flows, obviously.
Occasionally, there were very small waterholes, or areas of tall grasses and rushes that indicated where water had been standing.
We reached the Boggy Hole area about 1pm, and ate our packed lunch. Then we explored a bit and found a place to camp – by a reedy section of the long waterhole. This offered an open camp area, as opposed to those a bit further up by the main part of the waterhole. It was a bit dusty, though. We had water birds near us, and a vivid red rock wall behind the waterhole. Overall, we thought it was a pretty spot.
John went off in Truck to scrounge some firewood, while I did some camp setting up. He managed to get a little bogged in an innocuous looking patch of bulldust, near the camp! It was hard to believe. The spade, and the use of our shadecloth mats, extricated him, easily.
After setting up camp – which does not take long – we walked along to the main part of the waterhole. There were other camps set up there – a lone couple, and a group of four vehicles with a lot of people. There was a large burned area, where it seemed a campfire may have gotten away, and a big mass of melted fibreglass that maybe once was a canoe! Whoever the mess belonged to should have taken it out with them, not just left it there to mar the place!
We had not seen anyone else on the track since leaving Hermannsburg, so had originally been surprised to find other campers at Boggy Hole – assumed they had left earlier and were ahead of us, but found out in talking with them that they’d come from the south. Well, that tells us the track that way is passable!
Walked back to our camp, which was about 500 metres from the others – nice and peaceful. Lit a campfire.
At 5pm, we radioed in to VKS737, listened to the sched for a while, then reported, in our turn, our location, that all was well and our plans for the next couple of days.
Went down to the waterhole to collect water to use for dishes and washing.
Tea was salmon cakes and salad.
After tea, once it was dark, John had a bush shower, from the black bag, which he’d put out to warm as soon as we’d arrived here. I used baby wipes for a quick wash – none of this exposure to the elements for me!
We sat around the campfire and drank our celebratory bottle of Omni.
I wrote up the diary. We read by the light from the kero lantern, but did not stay up all that late.
The night was clear, and cold.
John sneezed a few times and it made a strange, echoing roar, because of the gorge walls. I wonder what the other campers thought it was?
Coots and ducks kept up the occasional call from the waterhole, well into the night. Their noise was amplified too.