SATURDAY 14 AUGUST MT DARE HOMESTEAD TO DALHOUSIE SPRINGS 86kms
We got up about 7.30. Before breakfast, we walked around the campground area, looking at birds. There were a number of red-tailed black cockatoos in the trees and we watched their antics for a while.
It still took us nearly two hours to breakfast and pack up, but it gets easier each time as we work into the routine of where everything goes.
Topped up the diesel here, and also one jerry can, which we’d carried empty until now, in preparation for the long stretch across the desert. Fuel was $1.15 cpl! We filled the empty 10 litre water container with local water, too.
Advice was that the longer track to Dalhousie, via Blood Creek Bore, was in better condition, so we chose to go that way. There is not far to go today, so the extra distance and time is not an issue.
It was another blue sky day, but with that cool wind again.
We stopped a few times along the way, mostly for photos, though the old yards at Federal ruins were interesting to wander about and look at. This station became part of the Dalhousie pastoral run.
Another stop was to photograph the Red Mulga, miniritchie, with its unusual curly bark.
Today was a pleasantly short one, after the long one of yesterday.
Dalhousie Springs is in the Witjira National Park, so most of today’s driving was in the Park, which is quite a new one. It segues into the Simpson Desert Regional Reserve to the east. To travel and camp here was why we bought our Desert Parks Pass, when we were at Wilpena.
Dalhousie Springs are more of the mound springs noted further south. In this area, there are a number of extinct mound springs, due to the level of the water table dropping.
We reached Dalhousie Springs before lunch time. The campground was rather dusty and barren. It is being redeveloped after much indiscriminate usage and degradation. Now there are defined camp areas, revegetation happening in fenced off sections, and access to the springs is only on foot.
The springs are a big waterhole, fringed with scrub and reeds. Obviously they are a major oasis in this very arid area. There were some water birds here, including a spoonbill perched in a tree.
We had lunch and set up camp, then went for a drive to look at the Dalhousie Homestead ruins, some 12kms to the south. Dalhousie was a pastoral cattle lease, from the later part of the 1800’s, and the buildings dated from that time – at a spot where there were local springs.
We wandered about there for a while. The limestone ruins, with their associated date palms, were quite striking. It seems a very desolate area, but there was obviously a substantial cluster of buildings here, at one time.
We saw a flock of Bourke’s Parrots – first time we have seen these birds. They are nor much bigger than a budgie, and are a rather pale grey-brown, with some pink and blue areas. Very pretty.
We drove back to camp, to find a group of travellers – families – setting up in the bays near us. There were several adults and a heap of totally feral young children. Not our idea of ideal neighbours! Whilst the adults sat round their camp, drinking beers at a great rate, the kids ran riot, including through the fenced off revegetation areas, with their Keep Out signs.
We planned to go for a swim in the springs pool after getting back from the ruins. The water is the temperature of a rather warm bath. At one stage, the mob of feral children seemed to be campaigning with the drinking parents to be allowed to go run riot in the pool. I made a comment to John, designed to be heard by some of the brats, about watching out for crocodiles in the pool. Half an hour later, when we went for our swim, there was not a kid to be seen! And I did not feel at all mean or guilty.
We swam for nearly an hour. It was very refreshing, but it also felt really chilly when we got out.
Did our radio sched with Alice Springs base.
The fridge did not start working when we turned it on. John eventually turned it off, after some hours with no cold building up on the elements. We will just have to manage without it. It is really only margarine, cheese, eggs and a few vegies that are in it now.
Tea was packet vegie soup, fried rice from a packet, with the addition of capsicum, onion, fried eggs. The packet fried rice does not take as much water to cook as “fresh” rice.
After tea, we read for a while, lacking the energy to do much else, like go walking. Maybe our energy was sapped by the long, hot “bath”?
There were lots of mosquitoes here. We got a number of bites before wising up and applying repellent.
A Ranger – aboriginal – came around after dark to check that we had camp permits or Desert Park Passes. Very pleasing to see such things being checked. He told us that there has not been rain that affected the tracks in these parts for two and a half years. But, back then, there were campers stranded at Purni Bore needing air drops of supplies. It is hard to visualize now, with it so dry. Although, having crossed Tenacity Bog, on the approach to Dalhousie, we could see it being a problem when wet!
We heard dingoes howling in the night, not too far away. I love that sound.