Cheap fuel over there …

With most of the traffic heading south to the Finke Desert Race, the road north was almost deserted so it made for easy travel with the occasional stop for a geocache.
The distance to Tennant Creek was too much for one tank of fuel so I was going to have to fill up somewhere or break out the jerry cans I was carrying.
At Ti Tree, fuel was $1.75 at the roadhouse but across the way at the Ti Tree Farm Garden was a huge sign saying $1.49. That cant be right but it was. 
The owner told me that after the tanker fills the roadhouse he comes over and fills his tanks. So it is the same fuel but he is not as greedy.
I made it 514 kilometres to Tennant Creek staying at the Outback Caravan Park.
Team Smith had caught up with me and called in to say hello before heading on to Renner Springs for the night.
After a week on the road, it was time to do some washing and I was trying different pipe arrangements from the washing machine but the first one failed being too small resulting in the bathroom getting flooded.
Oh well, the floor needed a wash anyway to get rid of the dust.
I finally found a combination of fittings and hoses that worked without flooding the inside.
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That’s a lot of bikes and cars …

Today was a bit if a rest and repair day. After a sleep in it was time to grab bits from Bunnings and Super Cheap Autos to fix a few things on the car and van after the trek up the Oodnadatta Track
Nothing major, just a few things including missing bolts and some electrical repairs.
With all the activity in town for the Finke Desert Race, I thought I should check out the Scrutiny night to see what the fuss was all about. After all, isn’t it just a little motorbike race in the centre of Australia.
How wrong I was. It took forever to get out to the start line with a huge line from half way out from town and moving at walking pace.
There were thousands out there, all to come and see the 600+ bikes and 100+ cars / buggies up close and the chance to get to see their favourite competitor.
I was suitably impressed by the organisation, talking with some of the officials, teams and competitors.
The only detractor for the night was the dust being thrown up by the car and people traffic. Not sure that could be fixed.
It was back to the van to wash out the dust. Tomorrow I will start the big haul up to Darwin.
Diesel in Alice Springs was $1.579 after a discount.
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Gee it is busy in the Alice …

It looks like it is nearly time to break out the shorts as the temperatures start to rise as I keep heading north.
After filling up at Cadney Park with very reasonable prices ($1.589), I was on the road at 1000 with the target of Alice Springs tonight.
The weather was fine with a little wind which affected the fuel economy but this only lasted a couple of hours.
Stopping into Marla to do some geocache maintenance on my cache here and make some phone calls to find a spot to camp in Alice Springs for couple of nights.
Due to the Finke Desert Race, every caravan park is booked out til Sunday night. The last option was the Showgrounds where they said I should be able to be fitted in.
On arrival, that comment was obviously tongue in cheek as there was plenty of room even with the large amount of campers already here. 
Apparently, the showgrounds open their gates when major events are in town and all the caravan parks are full. Its even cheaper than the caravan parks.
A couple of kilometres short of the NT Border, I came upon a Queensland caravan with Mick and Gwen written on the back. It ended up being some geocachers I know – The X-trailers.
We caught up at the Border Carpark and chatted for a while before it was time to hit the road again.
Stuarts Well was a last chance to throw some fuel in the tank to make it to Alice Springs and made it into the Showgrounds at 1710.
Diesel at Stuarts Well was $1.80 and $2.019 at Erldunda where I avoided fuelling up. I am carrying 30 litres from Adelaide and have used 20 litres so far.
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Finally the Painted Desert …

Woohoo – It has taken 5 years but I have finally beaten the weather even if it is probably only by one day. For the last five trips to Darwin for the Supercars, I have been trying to get out to the Painted Desert and each time there has been rain and the road out has been shut. Well not today.
Leaving William Creek the skies were looking ominous with the cloud starting to build up. There is some rain on the way but I thought I would be able to get through the Painted Desert before it arrived.
The road was in good condition through to Oodnadatta with a few spots with roadworks that were turning it into something better than some bitumen roads. 
Even though there were a couple of rattling spots which took one of my Anderson plugs. Looks like some more maintenance required.
It has taken a couple of days but I finally realised why there were so many motorbikes on the track. They are all headed to Finke for the Finke Desert Race which is on this weekend. There were even teams camped in William Creek last night.
After filling up at the Pink Roadhouse it was time to head to the Painted Desert . The sky was getting darker but the road was still open to 4WD’s and Heavy Vehicles so I ticked those boxes.
The road wasn’t too bad but there were some interesting creek crossings (all dry) and the track even was in a creek bed at times (again dry) and the occasional bull dust hole. Cant wait to see how much bull dust got in the caravan.
Soon I was at the Painted Desert and made the couple of kilometre walk to grab all the Geocaches, keeping one eye on the incoming weather. It was worth the venture out here finally with some spectacular rock formations.
It was 90 kilometres to the bitumen and you could see some rain in the distance. I made it out just on dusk without a drop of rain. I didn’t feel like driving onto Marla tonight and as I was a day ahead anyway, digs for the night was at the nearby Cadney Park.
Diesel was $1.839 at Oodnadatta.
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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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