FRIDAY 18 MAY MARREE
We’d had some discussion yesterday, about what to do next.
M and I were interested in visiting Muloorina Station and thus accessing Lake Eyre North at Level Post Bay. We had picked up a mud map when we checked in to the caravan park, yesterday. The question was whether we went and camped out there, or just did a day trip. But we were not sure of the camp ground quality, out there, nor of the road condition. Another factor was that John tended to find outback SA with all its ruins, depressing, so he was anxious to get moving further north. Part of that might have been that the Oodnadatta Track was familiar to him. In the end, it did not seem worthwhile dragging the van all that way, if John was only prepared to stay a night there. So we decided on a day trip, only.
The unsealed road out to Muloorina was reasonable quality, but the country was incredibly dry. We could have brought the van out, no problems. There were, of course, the inevitable gates to open and close – it was a pastoral property, after all. Being in the leading vehicle, I got to be chief gate opener – and usually closer, as well…..
We checked out the campground, which was not far from the homestead. It was actually very pleasant, and would have been a great spot to stay for a couple of nights. There was a wetland area around a bore channel and Frome Creek, and plentiful bird life. There were a couple of decent toilets, a concrete table and seats, bush and informal park areas. One could swim in the waterhole – but the water was not drinkable. Charge was $2 a night! The only drawback was lots of flies!
We chatted to a lady who was camping there, and whom we’d seen at Arkaroola. She was travelling in a Land Cruiser and had a sort of sleeping pod on the vehicle roof. It looked a bit like a blue and white Esky up there! She came from northern NSW, and was just making up her travels as she went – the best way to do it!
From there, we continued out to Level Post Bay on a fearsomely corrugated track.
Lake Eyre, is notable for being the largest lake in Australia – not that it fills very often. It also contains the lowest point of the Australian mainland, being some 15 metres below sea level at one place. It takes a fairly massive, prolonged rain event in SW Queensland to send water down the Warburton and Cooper Creeks, to fill water into the lake. Its base is salt, left from evaporation of previous fillings, so the water that arrives at the lake quickly becomes saline.
There are actually two parts to Lake Eyre: the northern, much larger section, and the much smaller Lake Eyre South, joined by the Goyder Channel which permits the latter to fill if the flood event is big enough.
Level Post Bay on the Madigan Gulf, was part of Lake Eyre North. The track ended here, by a small information board.
We were able to walk out on Lake Eyre North, for a few hundred metres. It was muddy, under the thick salt crust.
It was disappointing to see tracks out on the lake surface, where vehicles had been driven out from the parking area. There was always some moron who has to do what signs explicitly instruct them not to do!
We ate lunch out there, sitting up on the bank, looking out over the lake bed.
Drove back a short way, to the Goyder Channel that links the two parts of the lake. Walked around, took photos.
There was a built up wide causeway across the channel here, not open for public vehicle access, but we were able to walk across on it. Presumably, it was used by the station people to access that part of the property and to move stock.
It would actually be quite something, to visit here when Lake Eyre was full enough for there to be water in Madigan Gulf and flowing through the Goyder Channel. I filed that in the mental wish list – but in the section that I recognized as fairly unlikely to happen!
And so, back to Marree – with a couple of us thinking wistfully of the serenity of the Muloorina campground!
All up, we travelled 200kms. John refuelled back at Marree – $1.45cpl.
There had still been some cloud about today, but we had stopped on the way back in, to tune in to the 3pm road report on our HF radio. It had the Painted Desert road access open again, but with caution at Arkaringa Creek. Good! Maybe it would be nice and dry by the time we got up there.
Today’s jaunt had certainly been worthwhile and enjoyable – and new for all of us.