Not too much water in William Creek but there is cold beer …

Not as cool this morning with temps around 4C and no ice on the car. After connecting everything up, there was no signal from the caravan camera so after some quick soldering I was on the road again.
A last check on the weather to see if there was any rain on the horizon for the next few days. Nothing forecast so it is up the Oodnadatta Track.
Leigh Creek is not as bustling as it once was now that the coal mine has closed, however there was still some activity at the mine. I guess they are rehabilitating the area.
First stop was Farina which was a bustling town back in the 1870’s but is now a ghost town but not so much. The town is being revived by a huge group of volunteers which includes a bakery that is open for 8 weeks each year. It just happened to open up last week.
The volunteers run the bakery using an underground scotch oven and are busily rebuilding the old buildings. It is going to take a while but it will be something to see once it is complete.
After grabbing a pasty and a vanilla slice it was time to continue north to Marree.
I had hoped to get a flight over the Marree Man and Lake Eyre but as I was on my own, they wouldn’t go up and I had missed a flight with a spare seat by an hour. Oh well, looks like I try again when I come through in 5 weeks time.
After refuelling it was Track time. The Oodnadatta Track was in good condition for most of the way and it wasn’t long to realise why. 100 kilometres in, there were 4 graders working on getting the track into good condition.
Unfortunately the last 50 kilometres into William Creek were rough. It was obvious this was the next section the graders were going to be working. I was just a week too early.
There was a little damage to the van due to this rough section with the toothbrush glass jumping out and breaking, losing one of my chain D shackles and the seal around the door getting damaged and letting in the dust.
I found a new glass, a new D shackle and put some sealing tape in the door so we should be good for tomorrow.
It was getting around 1630, so time for a beer in the William Creek Hotel and call it quits for the day at the Campground.
Diesel was $1.905 at Marree.
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Warm weather – here I come …

A last minute chance to stock up at the local supermarket as there isn’t too much up the Oodnadatta Track and I was on the road at 0930.
The route took me through the rolling green hills of the mid-north, before giving way to the Flinders Ranges with a lot drier and sparser vegetation.
There was plenty of road kill with kangaroos predominately to the south giving way to Bush Chooks (Emus) the further I travelled north. 
In fact, there seemed to be an over abundance of emus running around rather than kangaroos jumping around.
The Flinders Ranges were spectacular especially as the sun was getting lower in the sky.
Digs for the night was the Leigh Creek Caravan Park.
Diesel was $1.529 a litre at Burra (cheaper than Adelaide), $1.667 at Hawker and $1.729 at Leigh Creek.
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That’s it for this years Heartland Rally …

Another cold start to the morning with ice on the car again.
There were a few withdrawals from yesterday but most Rally Cars started Day 2.
Today was not going to be a quiet day with 2 of the Advance cars breaking down and me having to fill in as 0A for one of the wind farm stages. It is not often you see a Holden Colorado with a BBQ on the roof be the lead car of a Rally.
I had just cleared the Wind Farm stage, when there was a rollover with injuries at one of the other stages. This was going to fill in most of the day.
It was not serious injuries that were the issue but due to them being spine related, the ambulance crew were not willing to cause further injury transporting out on the rough roads.
A Rescue Helicopter was dispatched from Adelaide, with part of my duties being air traffic controller assisting with the landing. 
The rest of the Rally was uneventful and following the podium presentations, it was off to the Burra Hotel for yet another BBQ.
Tomorrow I start my trek up to Darwin and since there has been no rain on the Oodnadatta Track, it looks like I will be headed that way.
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Lets go Rallying …

First day for the Rally of the Heartland and wow was it cold. It must have gone below zero overnight as there was ice on the car. It was still only 1C when we got going at 0730.
The town was abuzz with the sounds of Rally cars and there first ones were away at 0800.
Provided all the cars behaved today, my Emergency Crews would have a quiet time and enjoy watching the cars perform.
All went well today with a couple of minor incidents but nothing that required attendance of the crews.
The BBQ Tea went off well but most of the crew were still full from the BBQ lunch they all attended at one of the Wind Farm stages 3 hours previous.
We finished off the night by standing by at one of the most remote locations of the rally for the night stages.
We set ourselves up with a campfire and watched the first run, occasionally getting covered in dust.
It was the dust that became the downfall as the second run was cancelled due to the dust not clearing between cars making visibility a safety issue.
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Looks like there is a Rally in town …

There was no wondering if there was a Rally in town this weekend with the burble of Rally cars driving the street at the edge of the Caravan Park.
First thing on the agenda was a Geocaching Breakfast at the local cafe and given that we were a couple of hours away from Adelaide, it was a good turn out with 14 attending, the furthest from Mildura.
There was time to wander around town to pick up supplies for tomorrows BBQ I was putting together for the Emergency crews then it was reconnaissance time with the Emergency crews that were already here.
Even though I did all the paperwork for last years event, I never attended the Rally due to it clashing with the Darwin V8’s. This year was the first chance to check out the roads being used as our Stages rather than just lines on a map.
Some of the roads were familiar to me as I used to work at Burra 33 years ago as a Stock Agent for Elders Pastoral, however there were new roads on the ridges where the wind farms are located. These wind farms were not here when I was here in my former life. 
Back into town for another pub meal, this time at the Commercial Hotel with the Emergency Crews.
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Done with working for 2 months …

With my last night shift behind me and the preliminary work for the Rally of the Heartland complete, it was time to hitch up the Taj and start on this years adventure.
I have two months off work with a combination of standby’s (people working my shifts), Long Service Leave and Recreation Leave.
The plan is to travel to Burra for the Rally of the Heartland, then take the Oodnadatta Track (provided it doesn’t rain again), then back on the Stuart Highway with a stop at Mataranka for a few days before heading into Darwin for the Supercars.
Jenny will then join me in Darwin and we will head back down the Stuart Highway, turn left and head to Outback Queensland taking in Mt Isa, Longreach, Charleville and Birdsville before taking the Birdsville Track back into South Australia (provided the floodwaters haven’t cut it off).
With some last minute shopping and packing, I was hitched up and on the road at 1030. Making a few stops on the way for geocaches and I checked into a relatively empty Burra Caravan Park around 1400.
There were a few Rally types also camping but this place will be packed by tomorrow afternoon.
Into the Burra Hotel to discuss last minute Rally items with Ivar before hitting the hay.
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Geocachers that qualify for the Indian-Pacific Challenge

The Rats




Team Crackers

Team Robins





Liz and Bruce










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Homeward bound …

The night had been a windy one as well as some heavy rain drops at times. Chris and Sue had packed up their camper trailer early when it had been dry and with the wind blowing very heavy, I was in no hurry to get on the road. We bid Chris and Sue farewell as they would find it easier to travel in these conditions while we waited for the wind to abate somewhat.
About 1/2 an hour of waiting and we starting making moves with the plan to take some back roads through to Naracoorte rather than hold up traffic on the main roads as I was not going to be moving very fast in the wind. As it turned out it was the right decision with hardly any traffic in either direction. We had a couple of heavy downpours and a bit of wind.
The lunchstop was Padthaway where we contacted Chris and Sue to find that they had only just made Bordertown after being held up by 4 lots of roadworks on the main roads.
By the time we had finished lunch, the wind had abated and we could go normal speeds up the Dukes Highway for the remainder of the journey home.
This adventure had come to its conclusion. Now to prepare for the next one – whatever it may be.
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Its tyre time…

Of course the weather had all cleared up now that we were on the homeward journey. Even though we had no more dirt through to home, I was a little concerned not to have a spare tyre. The first large town where I could get a repair made was Sale so after packing up we hit the road to Sale and our last views of the mountains.
We stopped at the first tyre spot in Sale and he took the tyre off only to tell me it was a star fracture in the tyre and could not be repaired. OK, what about a second hand tyre to get me back to Adelaide where I was going to replace all tyres following the trip. After checking his mountain of secondhand tyres, he didnt have one. He did suggest that I try the dealer at the other end of town.
On to Carmody Tyres. They checked their stock of used tyres and there were 2 that would be suitable, hooray. When the fitter went to fit them, he said the boss needed his eyes checked as they were the wrong size. Oh well, looks like I am replacing the tyres here. An hour later and there were 4 new Coopers LT265/60R18 tyres on the tug. He did suggest that I get the wheels aligned when we returned home so that they didnt scrub out on the inside again. Thanks for the $1600 advice. 🙂
It was now just a matter of heading west trying to avoid the Melbourne traffic and we nearly achieved this except for one bit of roadwork that held us up for about 25 minutes. Once we cleared this it was onto the Mornington Peninsula to Sorrento to catch the ferry across to Queenscliff (second time in about 3 weeks). Travelling through Sorrento, we passed the foreshore camping grounds where there were caravans and tents crammed in for miles. It certainly was polar to the serenity that we enjoyed in the High Country.
There was only a 10 minute wait to get onto the ferry and another smooth sailing across the bay.
Some more driving to our final destination at the Craters and Lakes Tourist Park in Camperdown. It was still quiet warm with some dark clouds to the north with potential thunderstorms and a bit of a breeze but it was comfortable as we spent the evening outside under the awning enjoying the last night of the trip and eating what fruit and vegetables we could as there was no taking them back into South Australia due to quarantine restrictions.
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The Hills are alive …

The weather was a lot better today so it was time to head to Mt Hotham. This is the first time back to here after about 25 years. Our previous visit was during winter when there was a whiteout, the lifts were all on wind hold and we couldn’t do any skiing but used a knee board at the back of the chalets which I ended up chasing down to the snow line. We have not been back to Hotham since.
Today there was no chance of white out with blue skies and not a cloud in the sky. As we headed north onto the dirt Dargo High Plains Road, the only traffic was the occasional logging truck coming towards us. Luckily as each one approached we were able to get off the road and find a geocache so missed most of the dust.
One of the stops was for the Treasures Mt Ewan Huts. These are typical high country huts built back in 1939 for the Treasure family who were famous locals back in the time.
Eventually we were up on Treasure Plain which was a large flat grasslands on top of the mountain range which didnt look unlike other large flat paddocks except we were at 1600 metres elevation. These plains were used since the 1800’s to graze cattle.
It was into Mt Hotham for lunch but there was not a great deal open today so we found a table with views and made our own. I had always heard of Dinner Plain but had never been there and since it was only 9 kilometres down the road from Hotham, why not.
Dinner Plain reminded me of a typical snow field village with the style of homes and chalets but there was also the Blizzard Brewing Company, Australia’s highest brewery at 1550 metres and it was open. A tasting paddle was in order with some that were good and others I could leave.
With a bit of a beer buzz going, it was time for a walk before the long drive back to camp. We decided on the Razorback walking trail but only as far as the Big Dipper. Of course there was a geocache there. There was a gentle breeze to keep us cool and views were spectacular along the ridge. You could even spot Mt McKay over at Falls Creek in the distance.
There was one more thing on our list for todays travels and that was to drive the iconic ridge-top track called the Blue Rag Track. This track followed the ridge line to the Blue Rag trig point with drop offs on the sides and steep, shale sections and just steep bits. The girls lasted about half way before grabbing their chairs and books to sit out while Chris and I continued to the trig point. It was probably good the girls waited behind as there were a couple a challenging sections, in particular, the last climb to the trig point. Once again the views along this drive were great.
What was a little worrying was some cloud starting to roll in and it was dark. We did not want to get stuck out here in the wet but luckily it held out and it remained dry for the return journey.
It was about 2 kilometres from the end of the dirt when finally one of my tyres gave up and it was one of the better ones on the car. Unsuccessful in plugging the hole, I needed to put back on the worst tyre to get us back to camp and hopefully to a tyre repair place.
Back at camp we finally had our first campfire for the trip and on the last night. Tomorrow we start the trek home.
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