SUNDAY 5 SEPTEMBER WOOMERA TO MT IVE STATION 419kms
Today was much less windy, and also cooler.
We left Woomera about 9.15am, after getting fuel – 80cpl.
We had to retrace our route of a couple of days ago, back north up the Stuart Highway, for the 115kms to Glendambo, which was a bit tedious. We noticed puddles of water beside the road, where there had been none of Friday.
Topped up the fuel at Glendambo – 89cpl. That says something about the nature of roadhouses on main highways!
Then we were on to new ground again, heading west to Kingoonya, through rather flat and dull country. The road was a reasonable gravel surface. Just before Kingoonya, we merged with the main Perth and Alice Springs railway and had to cross it before we got into the township. This is a battling little place, once a centre for local farming and for railway workers, but the latter were relocated and the place is heading to be a ghost town. There was no reason for us to stop there – it has no fuel supplies.
We took the dirt road south, and the country almost immediately became more interesting, with some hills. At first, these were mostly low dunes, but further on became rocky hills. We passed a number of salinas – salt lakes and salt pans. The way took us between the large salt lakes of Lakes Harry and Everard, to our west, and the large Lake Gairdner to the east, but we did not see much of these.
It was – rather surprisingly – sheep country, and we passed lots of those. There were structures that we thought were shelter sheds for the sheep, at drinking tanks – later, I read that these were roofs to collect water and funnel it into these tanks.
The vegetation varied a lot, between the sandy and rocky sections, and with a lot of blue bush.
We did not see any other traffic, south of Kingoonya, so our drive felt very remote.
We stopped to have lunch beside the track, south of Kokatha Homestead. Even homesteads are scarce on this route – we passed by three. While we were eating, I had a bit of a wander around, and gathered some dried kernels from a bush that had red fruit. The kernels have a pitted surface, and could make unusual jewellery. Later, I found out that these were the seeds of the quandong, or native peach.
This was quite an interesting drive, overall. The roads stayed reasonable.
There were occasional spots of rain, and quite a lot of cloud.
We reached Mt Ive about 5pm. The homestead is at the northern edge of the Gawler Ranges, which trend NW to SE through this area. The Ranges were discovered by Eyre, in his explorations westwards, and named for the then Governor of SA.
Mt Ive is also at the southern edge of Lake Gairdner. It has been a sheep grazing property for over a hundred years. The homestead looks old, and we thought the place, overall, looked rather untidy. It cost us $15 a night to camp, with power, flush toilets and warm showers. We booked in for two nights.
There was not much choice about where to set up, as there was only one power pole. So we parked in a bay delineated by rows of old tyres – not very scenic!
There is a real conglomeration of buildings here – some old stone ones, but also a big building brought from Maralinga (the former settlement at the atomic testing range in the desert). I made a joke to the lady who booked us in, about radioactivity, only to be told that it did register some!
Power is from the homestead’s generator, which provides “background noise” to the camp.
The van’s contents had been a bit shaken up by the rougher roads, and there was a very fine film of dust on the surfaces. Just needed a quick dust and sweep. The scupper vent does a pretty good job of keeping dust levels inside right down.
The freezebox door had come off in the fridge; the meats in there were still frozen, though. John fixed the door. He did the radio sched to Adelaide base.
Tea was tinned soup, a packet pasta with its own sauce, and salad. Quick and easy.
We have decided to explore some of the private station tracks tomorrow.
It was a chilly night.