As I suspected the road to Innamincka was very rough in places, you feel like everything is going to shake apart, even your teeth. Heading west we crossed numerous sand dunes but the road was such that you had to slow at the top in case there were large potholes or bulldust or a turn in the road. In 1986 this road was smooth and it was great fun whizzing over the dunes. After the dunes you then head north on the Strzelecki Track, which was OK in places, but very corrugated in areas, and rough stones in other places. It seems like they gather gibber stones and spread them on the road embedded in clay. The clay wears away leaving the stones sticking out, it is a testament to the ruggedness of modern tyres that they can stand the pounding they get. You have to travel at least 70-80 Km/Hr and slip across the tops of the stones or corrugations or you get bounced all over the place. When the corrugations are very large there is nothing you can do when you are towing, any higher speed would be unsafe; you have to just wear it. You just have to shake all over. I did see another sunrise on the way from Fort Grey, but, with very few clouds, it was not very spectacular.
I crossed the dingo fence along the way, which follows the SA and Qld borders. The fence is not quite on the border, but the white post is Cameron Corner, where SA, Qld and NSW meet.
Along the way I decided to check the plug to the caravan and it was unplugged, dragging on the ground, must have been hit by a rock. Plugged it in but no connection. Unplugged it and found that all the inside was missing. Pressed on and luckily Innamincka Trading Post had a replacement so I set up camp and waited until the shade came over and rewired and tested the new one. Then I found the caravan’s reversing camera was not working so the next day found a broken wire and fixed that. I hope that’s all that’s broken.
I decided to camp at Cullyamurra Waterhole on the Cooper, which is 14 Km east of Innamincka. It is a beautiful spot, right on the Cooper, lots of trees, dirty and dusty, but that’s how it is out here. The waterhole is permanent and has been measured at 28 metres deep. There is a choke in the Cooper above the waterhole and the rushing water scoured out the waterhole to that depth. Howitt, on his mission to find what happened to Burke and Wills, camped at this water hole. My nephew, Rob, wanted a drone selfie so here it is. Not a very good one but the view of the campsite and waterhole is OK.
I visited the dig tree, which is an amazing old coolabah. This is where Burke and Wills set up their camp 65, depot camp, before the four set off for the gulf. On the way I crossed the Cooper over a new Burke and Wills bridge. The bridge is 70 Metres long and the scale of it is testament to the size of the cooper when it floods. It is 70 metres long.
As we all know they arrived back at depot camp on the day that the four men, who had stayed at the depot camp led by Brahe, left for Menindee. Burke and Wills had spent 1/2 a day burying Grey on the way to the depot camp and, had they not done this, they would have arrived at the depot camp before the others had left. Against Will’s wishes, Burke insisted they set off for Mt Hopeless about 250 Km away, but when it was clear that they wouldn’t make it they tried to return to depot camp. But died in the attempt. What made it worse was that Burkes camp caught fire and nearly all the supplies were lost. Before Burke and Wills left the depot camp they left a note in the camel box under the dig tree and smoothed everything out so the aborigines would not find the note. The righthand photo is of the Dig Tree and the Cooper behind, it is an idyllic camping place
It is very hard to decipher the blaze on the Dig Tree, but the blaze is still there. In the 1920’s a likeness of burke was carved and a Coolibah next to the Dig Tree.
The party returning south to Menindee met by chance the Wrights relief party coming up from Menindee and the leaders Brahe and Wright rode back to the depot camp, looked around for 15 minutes and then left, as there were no signs of anyone having been there. On the way back to the depot Wills was the first to die about 15 Km west of Innamincka and I visited the place he died. Wills insisted that Burke and King leave him to die and that they should push on. The road in is crossed a number of dunes some of which were covered by yellow daisies, the result of a local shower a few weeks prior. It was the same in 1986 when we crossed the Simpson Desert; the daisies then were yellow and white and covered the desert in places. Cam and Deen were disappointed because they wanted to see a desert.
Burke then died about 6 Km east of Innamincka and Howitt buried his remains when he found them, which is shown in the painting which is in the State Library in Melbourne.
After a rest day yesterday I am off to Thargomingah, I have had enough of rough corrugated roads for this trip. But, on second thoughts, Currawinya National Park looks inviting, who knows. I have arrived safely at Thargomindah and will stay 2 nights. No TV and no radio but we do have Telstra 4G so I can catch up on my emails etc. The map below shows my journey so far. Google maps will not allow me to make the direct route from Mutawintji to Tibooburra, but insists I return to Broken Hill, which I did not.