Today marks the first day of the most adventurous part of our Australia section of the route. We left Wilpena heading north to go via Blinman, Marree, Wilams Creek to Coober Pedy to meet the Stuart Highway. This means we will do a good section of the Oodnadatta track, which is hundereds of kilometers of gravel through the outback.
We got the first taste of gravel on one of the beautiful tracks in the Flinders Range national park. We turned off the black top road towards Blinman to take some pictures at the Bunyeroo valley lookout. We could have gone further through the valley, but I wanted to tag some more lookouts on the Blinman road (and there would be plenty of gravel soon enough), so we turned around.
Stokes Hill lookout gave a nice wide panorama of Ikara from the east. After that, it was another brief push for a good long lunch at Blinman Cafe. The temperatures, around 29°C, called for drastic measures: Ice cream for dessert 🙂 We got some queer look when asked where we were heading and we pointed north. The tarmac ends at Blinman, and most people turn around here.
We took the gravel road east through the Glass Gorge and Parachilna Gorge to meet the the Hawker Leigh Creek road. The gravel was mostly OK, a bit bumpy in the probably 50 stream crossings (all dry but one). Nina still got shaken around a fair bit.
As we came out of the hills the land switched to dead flat. We cruised out the rest of the tarmac on our way north for a camp at Lyndhurst Hotel. Truckies, beer cans and flat nothing. Small downer: A road train with an entire cow herd pulled up just after 6 – thanks for the smell, mate!
All of tomorrow will be gravel – shake it baby!
Note: Don’t worry if you don’t hear from us for the next two to three days, as internet and cell phone reception is a bit of a thing of chance.