Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Bushie
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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:28 pm

Day 14/15 - 18th/19th July

After another rather cool night (and no ghost visits) we headed further up the Oodnadatta track, stopping briefly at Warrina siding ruins, there isn't much to see anymore but a plaque has been placed to commemorate the "Elder Expedition" that departed from Warrina in 1891 to begin a 6886km journey that was to end at the Murchison River in WA 12 months later. Some of the feats accomplished by the early explorers just leave me in awe.
From Warrina we headed to Algebuckina bridge for morning tea and a poke around, the Algebuckina bridge is the longest on the old Ghan route.

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Algebuckina Bridge

From Algebuckina we headed into Oodnadatta to pick up a part that had been posted out, the vacuum pump on the puma was weeping oil and this was a precaution against further problems. As it was the pump made the whole trip in the parts store. We arrived in Oodnadatta to learn the news that Malaysian airlines MH17 had been shot down, this was basically the only news we heard for the whole trip until we reached Copley on the return leg.

From Oodnadatta it was out via Hamilton to Pedirka, where our intention was to head north along the Old Ghan. At Pedirka it was noticed that the 6x6 was leaking oil from the axle cap on one of the rears, it turned out the cap had been cracked, and was quickly replaced.

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Marking its territory

We headed along the old Ghan but only made some 400m before we were stopped by a fence across the line. We had considered that this may eventuate so decided to head back to Hamilton and continue north to Eringa waterhole to camp.

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Campsite at Eringa waterhole

Eringa was to be a 2 day camp (for something different) before we headed into the Simpson proper, and gave us a chance for another shower. Eringa turned out to be a very pleasant stopover, with galahs, corellas, and budgies nesting all around us. We had an attempt at fixing the leak in Shortys water bladder in the 6x6 - unsuccessfully, meaning we had to be a little more frugal with water.

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Desert birdlife

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Enjoying life

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPAwh0PUzT0
Eringa waterhole


Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:30 pm

Day 16 - 20th July

Starting off from Eringa waterhole we headed towards Abminga siding, taking note of a few reasonable campsites along the way, on our previous trip (2008) through here it had appeared rather barren and with a lack of camping potential, but this trip we had approached from the SW as opposed from the SE.

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Eringa reflections

From Abminga we headed off towards Charlotte Waters across the NT/SA border, stopping at the survey post and taking a few pics while seeing if we could spot any additional border posts. On our last trip through this way we had followed the Ghan route from Abminga through to Finke.

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Border reference marks

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Border post
No doubt my distant past survey experience makes these interesting to me.

At Abminga there have been new tracks graded around the yards which unfortunately have destroyed some of the old infrastructure of the rail siding.

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Made from old 44s

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Remnants of Abminga siding

At Charlotte Waters we turned east towards Mt Dare. The track from Charlotte Waters to Mt Dare doesn't follow the route shown on the latest 250k mapping, either way it's a fairly ordinary road. Mt Dare was our lunch stop, a pie some chips, beer and followed with a magnum ice cream :), and where we took on a full fuel load at $2.45 a litre. At least for me it was only an additional 120 litres, into the tanks and jerry cans.

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Lunch Stop

From Mt Dare it was off towards Dalhousie on some of the worse roads I've travelled on corrugated and rock strewn, probably not helped by the fact we were on the end of school holiday where there had been 60 vehicles a day through Mt Dare heading into the desert, we made our way to Christmas (3'o'clock) Creek to camp and refill water tanks from the supply there (good bore water) stopping at O'possum creek on the way.
As we pulled into the camp site Shorty advised us that he was unable to select any gears, he must have had a bad case of deja-vu after doing a clutch at camp 14 on the madigan line in 2006. Investigation showed that the box was in neutral but the gearstick wouldn't move, so out came the floor and off with the top of the gearbox enough to show the selectors were all crossed up.
By now it was dark and being fairly down Shorty made the call "bugger it lets have a beer and look in the morning".

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Bugger


Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:33 pm

Day 17 - 21st July

"Bugger it lets have a beer and look in the morning", was in the end a good call. Over night things cooled down the stresses relieved and in the morning Shorty was able to line everything up, check gears were OK and we reassembled the floor back into the 6x6. A quick check around the vehicles revealed a couple of loose drive flanges, which were tightened. After a cup of tea we were under way at around 1130 taking the short trip to Dalhousie for a splash in the spring, and making this our lunch stop.
After lunch we headed off again on a severely corrugated road.

http://youtu.be/KEeSwMyMwbk

Not far from where this video was taken potential disaster struck. I noticed a light flash on the dash and reached down to knock the handbrake off, as it often creeps slightly and brings the light on. The light however didn't go off and I realised it was the oil pressure light. Quickly switching off the engine and pulling over I opened the bonnet and pulled the dipstick, not a drop of oil showing. Looking around there was oil covering the right hand side of the block all through the engine bay and all over the right front suspension. - The trip was over.

After taking a few deep breaths Shorty noticed the oil cooler line had come adrift from the oil pump - literally the union had unscrewed from the oil pump.
Nothing to lose it was refitted and the engine filled with oil and started, to say I was apprehensive would have been a major understatement, but I had only been doing around 40kph in 4th at the time,and the engine hadn't been loaded up at all. --- there were no undue noises, or leaks so we headed further east along the track to Purnie Bore.

Purnie has been further restricted with hardly any water around now, compared to 2008 when we were last there.

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Purnie in 2008

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Purnie in 2014

I suppose in reality they are returning the area to its original state prior to any drilling, although I would still prefer the wetland.

We headed off again and camped for the night about 6km east of Purnie bore.

Looking back, with getting Shortys 6x6 under way that morning was one of the only days I didn't do the normal vehicle checks before pulling out. :(



Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:36 pm

Day 18 - 22nd July

Getting underway from camp we headed towards Birdsville along the French line, eventually we cleared some of the corrugations and reached some sandy sections, what the desert is supposed to be like. I had basically decided that this would probably be the last time I would travel east from Dalhousie, as it is obviously becoming too popular and frankly wasn't enjoyable travelling along the route, so not a lot of point unless there is a specific objective (or most likely until the next time).
We stopped for morning tea at the rig road junction, and continued on stopping for lunch at the junction with the Colson track, here we spoke with a couple of guys from Cairns that were "doing something different from the cape"
After they departed we headed north up the Colson track (permits in hand)
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Lunch is served

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Border

We headed past the old Colson No1 oil well not long after crossing the NT-SA border, where we duly secured one of our Edjits tags. We were making steady progress as travelling between the dunes on a relatively 'unused' track was a delight. Camp for the night was about 60km north of the French line.

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Edjits tag

Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:38 pm

Day 19 23rd July

With morning showers arriving around 6am, and after hunkering down in the swag for a while we were up around 7 and made up the swag before it got any wetter. With breakfast out of the way we moved further up the Colson. We realised that we had probably picked the best site to camp out of a poor bunch as there was no flat gound or wood for the next 30 or 40km.

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No more flat ground

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Footprints on the dune

Just prior to arriving at our turn off point we came across a star picket with a bottle attached, it was probably a marker for another groups departure point of some other significant point, it was being used as a 'visitors book', after adding an Edjits card to the collection as well as another Edjits tag we headed further down the track, before turning east for Geosurveys Hill.

A number of the early dune tested us, probably due to our rustiness and we were still fine tuning tyre pressures. Lunch was had at the top of a dune, and a number of dunes later Vince scored dual punctures (both rears), the delay this caused us made us stop for an early camp, for repairs to tyres. I transferred fuel from the jerry cans on the roofrack to the main tank. This interdunal swale was pretty devoid of any vegetation as a result of the fires a couple of years earlier. The dunny was located behind the only bush in the area. (good job none of us are real 'prudes').

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Possibly the most isolated and exposed dunny in the country

The area must previously been used as a survey camp as there was a single 44 gallon drum and a 'Geosurveys' marker on a gal pipe marked with "Geosurveys HT/Lat - N20". Had the area been fully vegetated with spinifex it's doubtful we would have found the marker. Only making 12 km across the dunes made us think the run to Geosurveys may take a bit longer that anticipated.

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Survey? marker

We placed another star picket with an Edjits tag a few metres away from the (assumed) survey mark.

Tonights camp was under a brilliant star filled sky, making satellite spotting an easy task - one of the few really clear nights for the trip, to this point.

Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:39 pm

Day 20 - 24th July

Breaking camp we were heading towards an old fuel/maintenance camp reportedly in the middle of the area, when we stopped for morning tea we realised we had missed the fuel dump and gone a dune too far, going back was going to be difficult heading west so we set off on foot. As it turned out we had gone past it by two dunes and around 1km to the north.
When we made it to the camp we found it was "Geosurveys Base A" with a marker tag attached to a star picket.

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Gravity Base A

On the way out from the cars I turned to Amanda and said "Damn I forgot to lock the car - could you duck back and lock it" She'd half turned before she realised I was having a lend of her and muttered a few 'words' back to me :)

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Wandering down to Base A

The fuel dump had plenty of relics from earlier exploration,

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Reinforcing for something ?? - any ideas ?

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Quality galvanised 44s

Later in the day as we crested a dune we were met with what we considered a most unusual sight for the middle of the Simpson - a mob of roos, I think they are probable doomed to live out there days in this small area of vegetation, - we hadn't seen any surface water for days, and there are vast areas with almost zero vegetation.

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Roo's in the Simpson

Camp for the night was in another very open swale, but "Shortys Bar and Grill" was open.
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Shortys bar and Grill


Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:42 pm

Day 21 25th July

Today had us heading towards some interdunal lakes that were shown on the map as just west of Geosurveys Hill, we arrived at the first at around 11:46 where another survey marker and rock cairn was located as well as a hand stamped plaque, by Reg Sprigg. The plaque had the following stamped onto it
"Geosurveys Gravity Base Station T19 Lat/Long, Erected by RC, GA,FM, & DP Sprigg 4-9-64, Beach Petroleum NL 1962"

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Gravity Base Station T19

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Colour altered to shown stamping

We headed further east across another dry lake and stopped to look around, there was evidence (at least to us) of aboriginal stone chips in the area as well as rocks that appeared to be arranged in patterns and lines.

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Evidence of aboriginal occupation

Over a couple more dunes and our target for the day came into view - Geosurveys Hill

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dv2K2DwPRo[/video]

As a favour Vince had some plaques of our own made, so we placed one on the top of Geosurveys Hill with the others.

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Lonely place

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Group pic

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Retrieving Washs message

One of our group (Wash) had withdrawn at the last minute because of a medical issue, we retrieved a message left for him by the Victorian Land Rover club

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The way we came

From Geosurveys Hill we struck out to the south heading towards the geographic centre of the Simpson, things were going OK the Landy was still running well. Camp for the evening was in a very small and sparse group of dead corkwood trees that had been killed by the fires. After dinner I tried my hand at capturing the milky way - the photos don't do an outback night sky justice.

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Desert Sky


Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:44 pm

Day 22 - 26th July

From camp we headed further south down the swales across some really rough patches, until we headed east again towards the geographic centre, again we arrived around lunch time and placed the other of our 'formal' Edjits plaques.
On 99% of days we would pull up for morning tea around 10-1030 and fire up the eco-billies. It became a bit of a competition to see who could bring theirs to the boil fastest, water content was generally irrelevant.

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Morning tea contest

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Geographic Centre of The Simpson

Through out the trip we had seen little wildlife, and so far hadn't seen a camel. Around the periphery there had been roos and emus but little once we entered the desert except for the small group of roos that took us by surprise, just before Geosurveys. There had been a few skeletons of various animals, mainly camel bones.

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At least this feral cat wouldn't kill any more native animals

Camp for the night was again in a swale almost devoid of any wood, although we always seemed to find enough for a fire.

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Sandscape

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Camp for the night


Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:47 pm

Day 23 - 27th July

Heading south from our camp we came across an old exploration maintenance camp with associated 'junk' left lying around. It would be hard to imagine anything like this happening in todays 'environment'

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Exploration camp - some good chrome on them rams

After decided that heading a couple of dunes to the west should place us on an old shot line, that would allow us better travel. This however proved to be easier said than done, with some of the dunes being almost impossible to get back over from the east. At one dune both 110s made it over but the 130 struggled and eventually had to head a couple of km further south to where the dune merged with others to find a place to get over. After one particularly difficult dune we walked to the top and were presented with a large gidgee swale, fantastic firewood that we hadn't seen to some time, that made up our minds - an early camp as it was Christmas Day.

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The tops of some dunes were difficult to get over

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Shortys Bar and Grill - Open for business

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Pre Dinner Drinks and nibbles

After pre-dinner drinks at Shortys Bar and Grill we set about preparing the roast for Christmas dinner, two pork roasts with veges to be followed by Christmas pudding flamed with brandy and served with a brandy custard, all lubricated with bottles of wine and champagne, finished off with some home distilled Arak that one of the group had been given. Secret Santa visited just before dinner and gifts were exchanged, around the Christmas tree (appropriately decorated with tinsel), bon bons were pulled and we all wore the paper hats whilst exchanging the jokes (What is the longest word in the english language - SMILES - there's a mile between the first and last letters)

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Christmas Dinner

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Complete with Christmas Pudding

It was a very full and contented group that hit their respective beds that night.

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Christmas in July camp


Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:49 pm

Day 24 - 28th July

First order of the day was breakfast, there were a couple of fragile heads in camp. From the few leftovers from the meal the night before we mashed up the veges, chopped the meat, mixed the lot with some eggs and cooked up a giant frittata type of breakky.

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Breakfast is ready

After all the camp ovens were cleaned and everything packed away we left one of our "Edjits" tags attached to a star picket next to a tree and headed off to the south following a faint set of wheel tracks. The afternoon before we had looked around the claypan and through the gidgee stand and hadn't been able to see any evidence of anyone camping here before.

Heading south we hit the french line about mid afternoon but not before some of the most difficult dune crossings so far involving snatching and winching to get everyone over. One thing that stood out was the 6x6 was pretty much unstoppable - provided you didn't need to turn :). At the French line we left another "Edjits: tag on another star picket, and one at the NT/SA border on the way through (we knew the 6x6 had carried these for a reason).

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Helping hand

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French line - Edjit route interchange

Heading east across the french line was pretty much a doddle with most being done in high 2 or 3. A couple of dunes were a little bit more of a problem but we were making good time and found another area of gidgee to camp amongst with plenty of wood around. After setting up camp and as a result of noticing a bit of pad knockback I quickly adjusted the front wheel bearings up getting maybe 1/10 of a turn.

Vince decided that tonight would be pizza night so a dough was made up and set down next to the fire to rise. Various pizzas were made and cooked in the 5 gallon drum Vince had picked up at the old fuel dump, it took a couple of pizzas to get them perfect but all were eaten without any complaints.

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Chenz's Simpson Pizzaria


Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:50 pm

Day 25 - 29th July

After making up the gear from camp we headed east towards Poeppel corner with one duen giving us a bit of a problem before we realised there was a substantial bypass track that we had missed, still after dropping a few more psi from my tyres I was over and on the way again.

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French Line

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Doing it easy

When we arrived at Poeppel corner there were probably 30 other vehicles already there, it was a fairly warm day ~32deg so we pulled the awning and made lunch, did the usual photo at the corner before moving on.
From Poeppels we headed south down the K1 line making camp some 50km south of the corner in the last stand of gidgee we were to see for a while. Fixing a couple of punctures was the first thing to do before "Shortys bar and grill" opened for the evening. Plans were made for our attempt to get to a confluence point the following day.

Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:52 pm

Day 26 - 30th July

When the trip had originally been planned we were going to head out to Kalamurina from Mungerannie, but as things got closer we found that a couple of confluence point hadn't been visited so we made the decision to visit one of these if we had sufficient fuel.
We were going to have plenty of fuel between us, even if it meant sharing it around a bit, so the confluence visit was on. When we arrived at the rig road which had been newly graded, we headed west to one of the dry lakes then turned along the shoreline and headed towards the confluence.

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Rig Road junction

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Tracks on the dune

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Cross Country again

After running approx 25km down between dunes and lakes over some soft ground that was getting softer the further south we went, we reached a point where we would have to turn west if we were going to reach the confluence point. We had been running beside a huge dune for most of the time, so it was crunch time. After a discussion amongst ourselves we made the decision to abandon the quest for the confluence.
This was on a couple of grounds, the dunes were very large at this point and continuing meant battling the steep easterly face of an unknown number of dunes, the medical issue that had lead us to exit the northern Simpson was still simmering in the background, and we were a bit "duned out". We returned to the rig road and continued further down towards Warburton Creek camping at the crossing.

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Around the salt lakes


Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:53 pm

Day 27 - 31 July

Leaving camp at Warburton Creek we headed towards Mungerannie, which was to be our first fuel since leaving Mt Dare. At Mungerannie we refuelled and had a quick beer before heading further down 'the track' and Copley, our destination for the night.

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A collection of Tom Kruse trucks

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Pool at Mungerannie

Heading into Marree there was a fair wind blowing from the NW and quite a bit of dust being blown up. As we arrived in Copley a strong southerly change arrived and changed my mind about just throwing down the swag, instead we put the tent up for the night, showered and did some washing before heading up to the pub for "schnitzel night" and a few more beers.
Back at the tent the wind blew very strong all night, resulting in a somewhat interrupted nights sleep.

Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:54 pm

Day 28 - 1 August

After packing up camp, we were just about to get some breakfast when Shortys 6x6 ran out of fuel while idling next to the showers. That made breakfast a second priority, first being to get some fuel in (there was still 40 litres in jerries on the back) and then to get it going, this gave us a challenge

- not being real familiar with the Isuzu engine however after a short time it was up and running and breakfast of poached eggs, bacon and toast was soon consumed with ample cups of tea. From the caravan park we picked up some of the tyres (with new tubes) refuelled at the local store, good to support the locals and fuel was cheaper than Leigh Creek. We headed into Leigh Creek to stock up with supplies to take us through to Louth, a quick coffee and then headed out to Balcanoona, and the Gammon Ranges NP. We picked up a load of firewood on the way before heading into Weetootla Gorge to camp.

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Road to the Gammon Ranges

Martyn

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Re: Edjits 2014 Centreing the Simpson

Unread post by Bushie » January 4th, 2015, 2:56 pm

Day 29 - 2 August

After a cold and windy night we headed out towards the Worturpa Loop track, this track loops through the Gammon Ranges, passing landmarks such as Oodnaminta Well, Worturpa Spring, Loch Ness well and Grindells Hut, originally we weren't planning on doing this loop, but having come this far it seemed ridiculous to not do the 4wd loop, as it turned out it was a very enjoyable track and well worth the extra few hours it took.

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Waiting for the ice to melt

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McTaggart Well

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Grindells Hut (original)

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The new 'hireable' Grindells Hut

From the Gammon Ranges we headed back out and north along the Copley - Mt Hopeless road back towards the Strzelecki track, we camped the night at Poontana Creek, at the head of Lake Frome.

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"Danger Will Robinson Danger"


Martyn

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