Following the Finke River

May 27

A very long drive

Published at 14:39
Dispatch created from email
Over the last two days, Bob and I have driven more than 800km each day
to reach Alice Springs, about 2500km from Melbourne. The first part of
the journey was a 400km trip from Renmark on the Murray River, picking
up the Goyder Highway that follows two large water pipes and an older
open aqueduct which funnel water from the Murray River. We worked our
way through productive farmland, and the beautiful, well-kept historic
town of Burra, famous for the saltbush-fed merino sheep it produces,
through the Bald Hills Range and on to Port Augusta at the head of
Spencer Gulf.

From there we picked up the Stuart Highway that virtually bisects the
country. On leaving Port Augusta, our new Hema HX-1 navigation device
reminded us that it would be a further 1210km before it was required to
give another instruction! There are not many places in the world that
this would happen.

The few scrubby trees that dotted the landscape soon phased out and the
Nullarbor-like expanses I found to be a de-stressing tonic. Distant
buttes were pretty much the only features in the landscape as we pushed
into a strong cross-headwind. On each day I took the wheel for about
150km or so to give Bob a break. The LandCruiser sits nicely on the
road, though the height of our load made it more of a challenge due to
the wind resistance. After about 800km we turned off on a side track and
camped about a kilometre off the highway. It was brilliant to set up
camp in the pristine bush and relax beside a roaring campfire.

Overnight there was a brief thunderstorm and the showers continued on
and off during the morning. We were treated to some spectacular skies
all day. First stop was the famous opal mining town of Coober Pedy for
breakfast and a refuel. For many kilometres north of the town the
landscape was pimpled with countless mounds that are the result of
noodling - fossicking for opals.

Soon after, more features started to appear in the landscape; break-
aways, jump-ups and gradually more trees. By the time we reached Marla,
last stop before crossing into the Northern Territory, we were
travelling through mulga scrub. The final 200km was spectacular with
rugged weathering ranges, groves of desert oaks and ephemeral waterways.
About 120km before Alice Springs we reached the Finke River crossing
and of course stopped to get our first glimpse of the river which I
will follow for it's entire 700km course. Greg Yeoman and I camped
about 200m south of the bridge during our Great Australian Cycle
Expedition in 2004. It was then that I first understood the importance
of the mostly dry river bed and it was then the seed for this upcoming
expedition was planted.

Once in Alice Springs we headed straight for the Todd Tavern where I had
booked a couple of rooms. Brian, who had flown from Melbourne this
morning, was waiting to meet us. It was an exciting moment when the
three of us came together for the first time. We are all passionate
about the outback and I felt proud that these two had committed to
joining this expedition. There is a lot of trust because we had
virtually not met before; Brian had put his hand up to be involved about
a month ago when a mutual friend asked around to find a filmmaker.
Similarly, Bob answered the call when Todd Tai, chair of the ANZEC
Explorers' Club asked around. I had not met Bob face to face until
Mildura and today was the first time he had met Brian. There is a lot of
trust between us and we share the excitement of the potential story that
is about to unfold.
  • Name: .....
  • Elevation: 545 m
  • Latitude: 23° 4151South
  • Longitude: 133° 5310East


  • Report as abuse...
    2024-05-16 02:31:27 Thanks says: This is, in my opinion slope , one of the best posts that you have made. Your work is quite outstanding in both quality and quantity. I am grateful to you for it.
  • Report as abuse...
    2018-05-27 22:21:37 Eric says: Great to see you on the trail again Kate. You are unstoppable! Look forward to getting news as you progress.
  • Report as abuse...
    2018-05-27 16:26:08 Claudio von Planta says: A very different environment compared to the polar conditions I filmed you during previous training trips. I guess these Australian deserts will feel more familiar. I hope you will never run out of water. Stay safe and good luck.

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