Ross River to William Creek

One our last evening at Ross River a Black Cockatoo visited the campground, it was a long way off but I was able to get a photo.

Next day we checked the road situation, and it seemed that the roads would be OK to at least Oodnadatta and hopefully beyond that with another day for the roads to dry out.  So we stopped at Kulgara Roadhouse after an easy 400 Km drive on bitumen.  We feel a bit sad to be heading south as we have really enjoyed our time in Central Australia, and it’s not cold.  The lack of good Internet has been an ongoing issue and will be for the next few days at least.

After Kulgara it was off to Oodnadatta as the Oodnadatta Track was open to William Creek.  We had planned to go through the Painted Desert but that road was closed for people towing.  At Oodnadatta we visited the famous Pink Roadhouse with their sign pointing to many locations.  The old sign had the arrows arrayed in the direction of the destinations, the new one is one dimensional and lacks a bit of character as a result.

Deen checked the road conditions and found the road to William Creek had been closed so it seemed we were stuck in Oodnadatta.  We had travelled 400 km that day already, but we were up for another 200.  The lady behind the counter heard us talking and said they have just opened the road, we asked her to check with her manager as the phone app still had it closed.  Sure enough it was confirmed so we headed off to William Creek.  The road was OK but had lots of dips and the corrugations in those were horrendous.  So we arrived after an 8-1/2 hour drive, set up, had tea at the pub and went to bed.  By the way the pub looks just the same as it did in 1986 when we first visited before crossing the Simpson Desert, although I am sure it had a dirt floor then.

We did get a beautiful sunset at William Creek.

The road to Maree from William Creek was only open to 4WD and the roads to the Gammon Ranges (our next stop) were closed so we thought we would stay an extra day at William Creek to give the roads a chance to dry out. So we headed off to Strangways Springs.  This is an abandoned telegraph station on the telegraph line opened in the 1870s.  At that time they had to have repeaters every 300 Km to relay the messages as the signal strength dropped over those long distances.  The settlement had been quite extensive and operated from 1872 until 1896 when it was moved to William Creek. 

It was explorer Stuart on his expeditions north from Adelaide trying to cross the continent who discovered the mound springs that made settling in this area possible.  The mound springs are on the edge of the artesian basin that lies under 22% of Australia.  The water moves into the aquifer from the great dividing ranges at the rate of 1 to 3 metres a year so some of the water in the basin is over 1 million years old.  The pressure that is created by the height difference of the ranges to the centre of Australia causes the water to come to the surface at mound springs in South Australia.  Sadly the draw-down of water from the basin has caused these springs to stop flowing. The mounds of these springs is caused by the dissolved calcium on the water that creates limestone and builds the mounds that can be 8-10 feet high. Here are some that were at Strangways.

The one below is still active with a little seepage making its way to the surface. In this photo you can see the rocky limestone deposits.

The area is quite barren and was also the centre of operations for Strangways Station until the Telegraph Station was set up when it moved to Anna Creek, which is the largest cattle station in the world at 8,000 square kilometres. It is 2-1/2 times as big as the largest cattle ranch in the US, the King Ranch in Texas.

The buildings were all in ruins except the buttressed water tank which had been reconstructed.

The managers house had been partly rebuilt but was still mainly a ruin.

A panorama of the ruins of the wool-shed, stock yards and the blacksmith shop at Strangways

There were a few very small wild flowers growing in these harsh conditions which I managed to capture.

There was one wooden telegraph pole remaining from the 1860s, clearly a very durable lump of timber that came from the Flinders Ranges. The other photo shows a couple of tiny plants that have popped up after the rains that changed our travel plans.

Deen did notice a finch in a tree and it seemed it as building a nest, it was darting about very quickly but I managed to capture a glimpse of the red beak.

There were only a couple of trees in the area surrounding the carpark but one of them was big enough for us to fit under so we had a BBQ lunch in the shade after just about drowning ourselves in Aerogard.

So that is William Creek and surrounds. The road to Lake Eyre has been closed for a year so we couldn’t do that but we do fly over it tomorrow. After that it’s off to the Gammon Ranges where we will be out of mobile coverage for the next 4 days.

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