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Oodnadatta Track-Maree to Marla.
While we had driven the first section to the William Creek Hotel back in the late 90s with the kids, we were excited to revisit a couple of memorable destinations. So into 4WD for the first time and the dust and corrugations that awaited. We were surprised to see a couple of planes standing on their noses, side by side in the desert beside the road. This was not here the last time we had travelled. A variety of bizarre sculptures have been assembled from bits and pieces and mounted on the side of the track. Some are musical, others exotic and others just weird. After calling in at the Curdimurka Siding again, we headed for the oasis that is Coward Springs. We remembered it as an immaculately maintained camping ground and were not disappointed to find it was exactly as we had visited it, those many years ago. The spring which has been modified into a spa, has been upgraded and offered a delightful, cooling respite from the heat…… However the flies were a constant menace. It seems the state faunal emblem for SA is the bush fly! Slipped on the hiking boots for a 3 hour meander to the Coward Springs cemetery and then across to the mound spring. Couple of nights here and then the short drive to the unique William Creek Hotel. When we were here last time, it was a family run business, however nowadays it seems that ‘backpackers’ have descended as so many kids are working their way around Oz via jobs offered on Gumtree. So for the first time we were to travel the track all the way to Oodnadatta. And to our surprise and delight, the track was in great condition. Averaging 70-75 kph for most of the three and a half hour journey. I am told by the navigator that the scenery was quite distinctive with ‘numerous subtle changes in hue’…….. I will have to trust this judgment as I only had eyes for the track. Met our first ‘big rig’ and learnt a very important lesson. When the vehicle you are approaching is leaving a 200 metre trail of dust behind it, don’t attempt to drive past it! We were blinded! Brakes went on as we could see nothing but a thick cloud of red dust. Lesson learnt.
So we arrived at our destination, Oodnadatta’s famous pink roadhouse….. A night in a container converted into a motel room and we were off again to complete the journey to Marla. So three hours to Marla to refuel at $1.75 a litre and then 5 hours to Alice Springs.
After a long day of driving, we opened the back of the truck to find we had transported a couple of metres of red dust along the way. Setting to with cloths and rags, we tidied as best we could and sat down for a well earned frothy……. Only to find that despite 8 hours of driving, the battery was DEAD. An RACV Total Care call had a new battery fitted before lunch the next day.