24 July – Chambers Pillar

We were planning to drive to Old Andado but were undecided on the route we would take. The road out through Santa Teresa was a likely choice after the ranger had encouraged us to visit Mac Clarke Reserve where the Acacia peuce trees (Waddi trees) had been protected and fenced off by an old pastoralist before they had all been cut down and used for fence posts and building material. A last minute change of choice though saw us on the old Ghan track which would get us near Chambers Pillar.

A first stop was Ewaninga Conservation Reserve which had peteroglyphs – not very clear what they were of but linked to the old Indigenous stories and songlines.

The road followed the old Ghan railway line (of which there’s no evidence visible except for the sidings which still had the huge raised water tanks, some old workers quarters ruins and the occasional sleeper and rusty nuts and bolts.

Ghan

It also followed the Finke Desert Race track (motorbikes and off-road buggies) and you couldn’t count the number of fireplaces where people camp during the race as spectators. The road was rough – a “roads to recovery” sign gave us hope and we hit some smooth driving for maybe 50kms before the same sign (but pointing the opposite way) let us know we were destined for more rough driving.

Finke

We reached Titjikala – a small Aboriginal community and then headed through a gate and across a series of sand dunes out to Chambers Pillar. There was a bulldust hole that effectively blocked the road – it was the size and depth of a backyard swimming pool! We worked our way around the edge. There are two campgrounds and we found one car in each so we opted for the one where we could set up with a view out to the Pillar and the Castle Rock outcrop as well. You’ll have to see the photos because it’s difficult to describe the rock formations.

We got a good fire going and settled in. Only two other cars came in together and camped in the other campground so it was another great remote experience – so far out in the centre of Australia. The Chambers Pillar itself has a short walk out to the base and then a stairway has been constructed to get up a bit higher without creating too much erosion.

Chambers Pillar Camp (2)

Up at the top of the walk there are initials carved in the rock – not usually something we like (and there seemed to be a lot of 2018…like this year is a bad year for vandalism or something..??)  but there are some great old ones going back to the 1800’s – such an outstanding tall geological feature in a flat desert landscape – many people passing were attracted to it – the original telegraph line construction team for example. Being so close we could watch the sunset and the sunrise too (with some incredible star gazing in between – you don’t know dark sky until you’ve been out here!).

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