15 September – Riversleigh Fossil Site

Only a short drive from Lawn Hill we camped at the Miyumba bush camp near the beautiful Gregory River which was flowing strongly over the causeway.

Riversleigh Fossils (13)

It was a warm afternoon and we waited until the morning to visit the open, exposed fossil site in cooler conditions. The fossil beds are recognised as a World Heritage site because of their unrivalled collection of fossils – the mineral rich rivers which we had camped near for the past few nights were part of the story providing unique conditions that allowed a diversity of animals to be preserved and fossilized.

The site is pretty amazing and although most of the fossils are fragments of bone that we couldn’t interpret ourselves, there are some great recognisable pieces such as the turtle shell, crocodile and ‘Big Bird’ that are identified and signposted.

‘Big Bird’ is fantastic – not just a massive leg bone of an emu like bird that stood 4 or 5 metres tall, but also the gizzard stones are preserved next to it in the rock. Not much time is required here as the walk is fairly short and there’s a basic information ‘cave’ that has some good background stories but our plan was to visit the Riversleigh fossil centre and laboratories in Mt Isa anyway so we would learn more from the experts working on the fossils.

Riversleigh Fossils- Big Bird (2)

10 -14 September – Lawn Hill

We left Limmen NP and stopped in at Borroloola to see what tyre repair options we had – none as it turned out with them saying it was going to keep splitting along the tyre wall so we threw it back up under the car and headed off with better options to get a replacement at Mt Isa which was less than a week away. Down to one spare tyre on rugged roads through one of the remotest parts of our whole trip left us with some trepidation but the tyre repair kit was a welcome recent purchase that gave us some hope we could overcome most problems if we got desperate.

Lawn Hill (44)

We did one final bush camp just before the Queensland border before leaving the NT after four months! A bit mind-boggling that we’d spent so long there but eight weeks of that was in central oz with slight deviations into SA and even a few nights in Birdsville in Qld. We crossed the border and went through Hell’s Gate which was the traditional ambush location for the local Aboriginals to rain spears down on their neighbouring enemies and then eventually the first white explorers and settlers copped the same treatment as they travelled through the narrow gorge.

Lawn Hill (43)

We pulled into the roadhouse at Doomadgee for some internet and hot chips, and booked some nights at Lawn Hill campground – unfortunately when crossing the border we left the simple NT “first-in, best dressed, choose your own campsite, honesty-box, cheap camping” behind and entered the Queensland system of online bookings (with what internet in the outback?), having to choose dates in advance when internet is available, numbered sites which may be good or terrible and more expensive prices – not to mention a computer system that tells you there’s no campsites available but then you find out that, in fact, the campground is half empty. But this is Queensland and we don’t expect too much from them.

Lawn Hill (16)

Just after Doomadgee we turned off and did the back road through Lawn Hill Station and then found a nice campsite on the riverbank for the night and then did the short drive into Lawn Hill NP the next morning.

Lawn Hill- wild pig

Quite an incredible spot after driving through dry, arid, pretty over-grazed, dusty land – it’s an oasis with a river full to the brim with clear turquoise limestone water. Pandanus and monstrous paperbarks fringing the water with lush vegetation mixed in between.

Lawn Hill (7)

The campsites are next to the river and there are steps and a ladder providing access into the river to swim (freshwater crocs only here). The boys floated on their inflatable rings and our camping neighbours from Bathurst lent us their pool noodles which were perfect for bobbing around.

Lawn Hill (9)

There are some big catfish that look like sharks which are a bit off-putting but not too many people have lost toes.

Lawn Hill (13)

The diversity of other fish along with some huge barramundi is amazing. We hired a canoe for two hours and got told by the man to pick it up around 1pm so that he would have gone home before it was due back and we could have it all afternoon plus until 8am the next morning.

Lawn Hill (42)

We made good use of that and paddled up the first gorge to the Indarri Falls and then dragged the canoe around the falls to access the top gorge which we explored until we couldn’t get any further up with the overhanging Pandanus choking up the narrow creek.

The swimming at the falls is great – clear water again which makes it safe. We saw one freshwater crocodile who was hanging around a nest that had been disturbed by predators or maybe they had hatched and the birds had spread the egg shells around.

Lawn Hill- croc nest

It was a feisty croc nonetheless and we got plenty of foul looks and sharp teeth bared at us.

Lawn Hill- Freshwater croc- not happy

Josh and the boys did an early morning paddle just up the main gorge which was beautiful with no one else out on the water and lots of raptors and cormorants still sitting on their perches.

The other great thing here is the walking trails which amount to tens of kilometres of tracks in every direction ranging from pretty short and easy to longer steeper walks to some great lookouts from the island stack and upper gorge.

We got through all of the tracks and found each one to be different accessing different vegetation, rock formations and lookouts. There’s some good rock art and engravings at the Wild Dog Dreaming sites and a good cave shelter to see as well.

Lawn Hill

The high lookouts really give the aspect to see what an oasis the Lawn Hill Creek is in this dry, rocky outback and being above the gorge looking down into Lawn Hill Creek spotting fish and turtles is pretty amazing.

Bird- Lawn Hill (9)

Bird- Lawn Hill (4)

9 September – Southern Lost City

We continued our travels through the spectacular gulf savanna and stopped in at the Nathan River ranger station and had a look through the information and displays. Thought we had better get a pic for uncle Nath.

Limmen N.P- Uncle Nath

Hoping to visit the western ‘lost city’ rock formation we were put off by the description of the track conditions and decided that we’d make our way to the southern ‘lost city’ which was easily accessible and had a campground.

Limmen NP- burning time (2)

We stopped in at Butterfly Falls for lunch  – no waterfall so late in the dry season and the popular swimming hole was a murky pool which we steered clear of.

Limmen N.P- Butterfly Falls (5)

Just next to the water a shaded, cool, damp cliff face had hundreds of butterflies which would go still and camouflaged with their wings tight together but then at the slightest movement or noise the air would be full of beating wings.

Limmen N.P- Butterfly Falls

The incredible rock formations of the lost city are almost unbelievable with a great walking track that took us on a winding trail around, up, through and above the sandstone rock pillars.

Our campsite had a view out over the rocks making it a great spot to sit and watch as the colours changed during the afternoon.

Southern Lost City (10)

6-8 September – Roper Bar – Limmen NP

Katherine is just north of where the Gove Peninsular road comes out on the highway so we decided to make use of the shops and had to stop in at the post office for our latest school packages. We tracked down Repco and Josh bought a wheel brace that fits FOUR different nut sizes and some tyre repair plugs and tools as well which we thought might be worth stowing away ‘just in case’.

Roper Bar sign

We headed back through Mataranka for the last time this trip and out onto the Roper Bar road. We camped near the Roper River but far enough away from the crocs to feel safe.

Roper Bar Crossing

The old police station was next to us and there was some interesting history to it all and most importantly for the boys, the original lock-up was still there with the heavy metal door and small peep-hole opening.

Roper Bar- Historical Jail

The Roper Bar store and camping area are closed but the real estate signs say ‘under contract’ so there might be some enterprising person who could fix it up and get it back to the glory days of full campgrounds, river cruises, chopper flights, restaurant, bar and busy roadhouse.

Roper Bar (2)

Our repaired tyre decided to go flat overnight and on closer inspection was found to have split further along the tyre wall – likely due for the tyre scrapheap but we’ll see what the next tyre repair place has to say. The new wheel brace worked well, thanks for asking, let’s hope it doesn’t get much more use!

Roper Bar- flat tyre

We headed into Limmen National Park and found the road to be fairly quiet this late in the season – many grey nomads and other travelers had begun the seasonal, climatically-influenced migration southwards away from the increasing temperatures. This was great because most campsites were empty or close to.

Limmen N.P- River Crossing

We stopped in at most of the campsites along the way, the creek crossings still had water over the road so late in the dry season and the beautiful Lomarieum Lagoon is full of birds and crocs plus spectacular lilies and other wetland plants.

Limmen N.P

Towns River crossing was a good spot so we pulled in there to set up camp – heaps of crocs so we chose a good shady protected spot back away from the river. There were fish flopping around on the surface but there was no interest in our lures but it was a good fishing spot up on a ledge out of snapping-jaw distance.

Limmen N.P- croc

22 August – 5 September – East Arnhem Land

The drive north from Alice was through country we’d already traversed so we pushed on past some places we’d already seen such as the Devil’s Marbles. The drive to Mataranka took three days with camp stops just north of Barrow Creek on Murray Downs Road and a second night just north of Elliot near Newcastle Waters Station.

Lach at Mataranka swimming

We couldn’t resist another float down the Bitter Springs Thermal Creek and it was remarkable how quiet it was compared with the last time we were here probably two months ago when it was cooler and many more travellers passing through here.

Mataranka Thermal Pools (3)

From Mataranka we headed up the highway and then off onto the Central Arnhem Highway….otherwise known as “the track”. Only 700kms to go until we landed at the top of the Gove Peninsular, we settled in for the ride with a mixed bag of road conditions from smooth sailing on freshly-graded dirt to rough-as-guts corrugations and washed out floodways that shook us to bits.

Turtle Beach (5)

We passed through a few small Aboriginal communities but eventually it was a very quiet road through the savannah woodlands, fires trickling along through the grassland, buffalo herds crossing the track and trying to stand their ground by stopping in the middle and staring down their horns at us, and the occasional donkey.

Nhulunbuy Baby Donkey

We decided to break the trip into two sections by camping a bit over half way up the track. We just chose a spot and set up. The second day was pretty good driving with the exception of a convoy of ‘tag-along-tour’ people which was seven 4WDs all driving together creating a huge amount of dust as they went past on the narrow track. We also had to navigate around a road train which was driving very slow trying to find the least corrugated path – we had to call him up on the UHF and tell him we were going to pass him up his left side which is most likely against the road rules but he was going to take a while to rattle back across and let us past on the right.

We eventually got close to Nhulunbuy and found the trails that lead off to the various ‘recreation areas’ that we had received a permit to visit and camp at. We bypassed Macassans Beach which is very exposed to wind from all directions and pulled in at the next camping area on Turtle Beach. In busy times quite a few people would pack in here but really there is only two designated camps – maybe three if you split the back area and put two groups in there.

Nhlunbuy Camp

The beachfront campsite had a couple in there but the rest of the camping areas were empty. We decided to leave some camp chairs set up to claim the spot while we did a dash around to Little Bondi which was the final coastal campground in this section. The track into Little Bondi is boggy sand and a tight, one-vehicle track but we got in pretty easy – mostly just nervous that someone might be coming out gunning it the other way. At the beach there were a few small, undefined spots where you could set up camp or otherwise most people drove onto the beach and found a spot along the sand and set up camp. There was even a camper trailer on the beach and a tinny tied up in the water.

We decided Turtle Beach was the best option and we trundled back around and claimed our spot. Funnily enough, the reason the fire was still warm was because the people at the beachfront campsite had packed and moved from our new spot to the ‘beachfront’ spot when another group had left – the old campsite shuffle trying to upgrade and move up in the world. We had to slum it all of 20 metres back from the sand. Down on the beach we were in awe of the small, secluded, rugged little cove that we had found and quickly decided that we would be staying here for the 7 days our permit allowed.

Unfortunately, just as we were settling in with everything we needed, our fridge started to struggle and the battery voltage seemed to be dropping very low whenever the fridge switched on. We tried keeping the solar panels chugging away and that seemed to keep things ok during daylight when we could soak some rays through the panels but as soon as that power source was gone, the battery failed to provide anything to the fridge. In hindsight, we’d been noticing for a couple of weeks that the battery was holding at very low volts – instead on happily sitting at 12 or 12.5v, it was often dropping down to 11 or less and the fridge would sense this and switch off. Our first trip into Nhulunbuy – about an hour away – was planned – not just for a new battery but also to replenish the food supplies we thought we had – particularly the frozen meat that was starting to all defrost at once.

Reaching the outskirts of Nhulunbuy, we quickly saw what the town was built on – a big bauxite mine and a massive aluminium smelter with all the haul roads, conveyor belts and utes with flashing lights and fluro flags that go with a mining operation. The positive is that – despite the remoteness – the population size means there are various services available. For the battery we started out at Tyrepower and Geoff, the owner, quickly confirmed the battery was stuffed (‘stuffed’ is an expert, technical battery term).


Next question was ‘how do we get a warranty replacement for a battery that’s only 8 months old?’ – unfortunately our brand of battery is not an Australian-wide brand and after we asked at Gove Toyota as well, we realised we were buying a new battery ourselves. Luckily Mark from TJM Coffs Harbour where we got the battery fitted was 100% helpful and, once he got our SOS call from the remote north (very, very remote), quickly covered the cost of the new battery. Keep that kind of customer service in mind next time you are setting up your car for the outback – go TJM! We ended up getting the battery from Gove Toyota who fitted it for us.

Next hurdle was yet another permit – we’d already got a permit from the Land Council to drive 700kms through Aboriginal land, another permit from Dhimirru to visit and camp on their land around the Gove Peninsular, and now we learned that we needed a permit from the ‘Alcohol Office’ to buy some beer and wine. Everyone in Nhulunbuy needs a permit – even to drink in your own home – and definitely travellers need one to buy grog or the bottle shop quickly points you to the door empty-handed. Once we’d sorted that out (we got a two week permit in case we were thirsty later!) we shopped for some supplies and we were back on track. There’s a Woolies supermarket but it’s one befitting the remoteness – small, most things you need but limited brands, the milk section and fresh fruit/veg will be full one day and then completely empty the next time you come in.

We spotted an Op shop that had shelves full of books out the front undercover. They’d just closed but the nice ladies said the books were free to take. We asked about the chances of finding Harry Potter books because Lachie is churning through the first Philosopher’s Stone. No luck unfortunately but Josh and Amy got a new book each to keep us going. As a postscript, we came back through for some shopping three days later and stopped at the book shelves to find the next two books of Harry Potter – in brand new condition – sitting there waiting for us!

We had a crack at fishing at the Nhulunbuy boat ramp into deep water which is dredged so the barge out to Groote Eylandt and other large vessels can dock. We could see big fish and had been told this was the place to catch tuna and mackerel. Pulling a lure across the boat ramp, Josh got smashed and had a good fish on his line and a good fight on his hands. Eventually bringing it in to the rocks we were looking at a big snapper that was going to be difficult to grab not having a net or gaff. Just as Amy got down the rocks and went to get hold of it….snap…..the moment it was slightly out of the water the dead weight just broke the line right at the lure. Devastating because the fish was great but the lure was brand new as well and the fish took it as the trophy for the winner of the fight.

The boys had a good play on the skate park with their scooters – the highlight being the chilled water bubbler that was very nice and refreshing. There’s a good lookout in the middle of town too that is worth a visit. The hill it’s on is some sort of sacred site and there’s a tower you climb up to get a great vantage point over the area.

Nhlunbuy lookout

When you are sick and tired of playing in the saltwater, Goanna Lagoon and the Latram River are worth a visit – the river has shallow, beautiful, crystal clear water running over a sandy bottom and there are some campsites here that are included in your permit.

Macassans Beach is the other camping area which you could walk to from Turtle Beach – maybe 5kms. We pulled in to have a look along the rock platforms and walk through a small area where the story of the Macassan visits has been recorded by the Aboriginal people in the form of loose rock arrangements that have been interpreted to show the boats, cooking techniques, equipment and layout of the Macassan camps.

The Macassans were coming here from Indonesia since at least the 1700’s to collect Trepang – the sea slugs – which they put through various stages of cooking and preserving at this site. They would camp for months each year and then return to Indonesia with their haul to be traded with the Chinese. The Aboriginal people traded with them and worked for them and even sailed to Indo and back with them. They adopted their boat designs and it was overall a friendly cooperative relationship.

Turtle Beach (4)

The second time we headed into Nhulunbuy we managed to pull up in town to a hissing noise and a rapidly deflating tyre. Not having had a flat tyre for the whole trip so far we were devastated that our trusty Mickey Thompsons had taken a hit (admittedly the brand-new, deep-treaded, shiny-black tyres that started the trip with us were now looking old, balding and grey with large chunks missing as a result of some of the harsh tracks we’d been on!!). Pulling out the tyre lever we discovered it wouldn’t fit the new wheel nuts we’d installed – what a shocker! Josh got some foul looks for managing to travel around Australia without the proper sized wheel brace! Rummaging through for the next tool we found a socket and that did the job so we got the spare on and headed out to our mate Geoff at Tyrepower. The puncture was a stake through the wall of the tyre but they managed to repair it ok while Geoff talked us through his orchid collection that hung around his yard.

Turtle Beach (6)

Back on the road and we returned to camp where we switched the spare and the repaired wheel back around. Not possibly able to damage his reputation any further, Josh managed to break the socket while removing a wheel nut (foul looks is a major understatement) and a third tool was called upon – luckily a ring spanner was found that fitted – not ideal but it did the job. Some new campers near us let us use their proper wheel brace – like, a real proper one, that actually fits the wheel nuts you have on your car….- and we were back in business.

Nhlunbuy sunrise (5)

Turtle Beach lived up to its name with turtles coming in each night and digging holes to lay eggs. We did a beach spotlight each night but the turtles came up after we’d gone to bed. Unfortunately, another beach visitor – the resident dingo – also dug holes to expose the eggs and feast on whatever it could. The dingo seemed to be digging up older nests with more developed turtles that seemed close to hatching.

Turtle Beach- Cams first fish caught solo

Two car loads of traditional owners came down one day and, seeing the turtle tracks, used a stick to poke down and try and find the nests to raid for a feed. Lachie was appalled and we quickly learnt to cover the turtle tracks each morning so neither human nor dingo could trace them.

Turtle Beach- Turtle eggs


Cammy has mastered the art of casting his fishing line and spent lots of time at the water’s edge. Finally, while the rest of us were lazing up the beach in the shade of our casuarina, we heard a frantic squeal and ran as fast as we could when we realised Cam had landed a small Trevally – not quite big enough for a keeper but very, very exciting. Dolphins, sharks, the resident buffalo, great birds and the turtles made it an enjoyable place to experience.

Nhlunbuy Buffalo

Eventually we had to depart the Gove Peninsular and made our way back out ‘The Track’ – stopping off to break up the 700km trip for a night in an old quarry site that provided a good spot for camping and a fire.

Turtle Beach

17 – 21 August – North from S.A to N.T

From Coober Pedy, we were on the bitumen of the Stuart Highway and heading north back towards the Northern Territory. An overnight stop just north of Marla at Indulkana Creek and then across the border to leave South Australia behind (again).

Indulkana Creek Sunrise

Just when we thought we’d seen all the crazy, partying, dress-up antics that a Variety bash can have on display….on the border of SA/NT we got tangled up with the NSW bash. The second they spot kids they all delve into the boots of their old cars and pull out stickers and lollies and we even managed to take on two teddy bears as our new travelling companions. A few photos with Hulk and we were back in the Territory having thoroughly enjoyed our ‘little side-trip’ into South Australia.

NSW Variety Big Bash at NT Border

We made it into Alice Springs (again!) and set up camp at the same spot as always at the Emily River. We spent some time replenishing with a gas refill and some supplies and even spent some time at the indoor pool to soak away the south Australian outback dust.  Yet another car service at Toyota but we made sure we got a courtesy car to get around town in rather than being stuck for half a day. Not sure about the service quality – we were meant to have the tyres rotated and balanced but that didn’t look like it was done and then a steering wheel wobble that we asked them to check out was still evident. So we ended up having to book in the next day (at another mechanic) to get the wheels balanced and a wheel alignment done…our brief visits to Alice always seem to drag out!

Bird- Lake Eyre (2)

Our science experiment involving a cup of water being left out overnight to see if it froze confirmed that we were in a cold place. Even while the sun rose and we were packing up, the ice wouldn’t melt. It was then that we realized we needed to head north and enjoy the last of the winter up north – as far north as we could get! We chose Nhulunbuy up on the Gove Peninsular of east Arnhem Land and applied for the permits required.

15 – 16 August – Coober Pedy

After the drive back out to William Creek we used the good Optus base-station coverage to do our school lessons over the phone. Leaving as many flies behind as we could (but still carrying about 50 hitchhikers trapped in the inside of the windscreen) we continued along the Oodnadatta Track and then headed off towards Coober Pedy which was a nice drive.

Coober Pedy (3)

Just outside of town was a great dry creek called Engenina Creek that had a few good campsites and nice, shady trees for climbing. The clean river sand was perfect too for the boys to do some of their own ‘mining’ having been caught up in opal fever after the woman at the Visitor Info Centre  told them stories about people making $5million in a single week when they’ve hit opal and encouraging them to come back and peg out a claim as soon as they turn 18!

We had a go at ‘noodling’ at a site in town where big piles of mining spoil had been stockpiled but mining was no longer allowed within the town boundaries. So you can sift through and find the small fragments of opal that were missed in the initial mining run.

We got a few small pieces but didn’t hit the jackpot. A few of the underground places were interesting to see- the churches are easily accessible and quiet so you can check out how the rock holds itself in place without any shoring-up with timber or anything.

Coober Pedy (2)

The possibilities for living underground are almost limitless with some families apparently joining up to four adjoining houses together to make underground mansions which, from the outside, you wouldn’t know existed.




13 – 14 August – Lake Eyre

Heading off from Leigh Creek we got to Maree and got our first hint that something big was happening (well, something ‘big’ for the quiet, deserted SA outback!). The South Australian Variety Bash was on its way and the town was preparing for an influx of hundreds of people.

We stopped for some lunch and then got on the Oodnadatta Track heading west-ish. The Mutonia Sculpture Park out in the middle of nowhere was good for a stretch-the-legs break.

We made it to near the southern reach of Lake Eyre where we set up camp near an old railway using the, now unused, embankment as good shelter from any wind that decided to blow as it does out here.

Early the next morning, the usually docile Oodnadatta Track was a super-highway as the Variety Bash cars came through with the entourage of support vehicles. With the traffic and dust we decided to sit back and be spectators rather than get tangled up amongst it all. The boys got plenty of honking and sirens and flashing lights as groups of old cars (they must 30+ year old vehicles) came past all decorated with sponsors and themes.

Hopefully KFC was giving some serious sponsor dollar to the car with the monster KFC bucket attached to their roof – the fuel economy of an already old inefficient car was shot to pieces with that!

SA Variety Big Bash- of all the things to see in the desert

Finally the track quietened down and we got on the road. Not far along we pulled in to the Lake Eyre South lookout (we can confirm Lake Eyre is completely dry maybe except for maybe a trickle in the very north inaccessible part). The usually empty car park was full of the Variety mob – what a party!

The beers were flowing at 9.30 even though the local copper had set up a surprise booze bus as they left Maree. The costumes and the effort these people had gone to was impressive. The “Pie-Way Patrol” pulled in dressed in their police uniforms and opened the back of their car which was full of stainless steel pie warmer drawers which had a range of pies and sausage rolls to hand out. Everyone seemed in awe of some big-name AFL player who was part of the Pie-Way Patrol but they are South Australians and we were ignorant New South Welshmen oblivious to anything AFL-related.

The pies were great anyway and the boys got loaded with lollies and stickers from other people there. Somewhere in the middle of it all, Channel Ten decided we were a good angle for their nightly news segment and started filming and asking questions. Available here: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1112936475521471&id=233842463347174&anchor_composer=false

We left the bash people to continue on to William Creek while we deviated off towards the edge of Lake Eyre. A bit of a drive out to the camping area at Halligan Bay with flocks of emus running alongside the car.

Lake Eyre emus (2)

It’s a diverse landscape, harsh and arid. Lake Eyre is amazing in it’s remoteness and the sense of nothing out to the horizon.

We would love to get back here when the water is 10 metres deep and overflowing into Lake Eyre South but that has only happened a few times in memory. The star-gazing is amazing with some shooting stars that were more like watching giant meteorites burning up and raining down through the sky.

The cricket pitch was firm with a nice crust that produced good bounce and turn but the second you broke through that crust – turning to chase a ball or swiveling at the crease –you hit some wet, gluggy mud which required the pitch to be relocated several times! It was all fun and we ticked off the lowest point in Australia being about 15m below sea level.


9 -12 August – Strzelecki Track – Cameron Corner – Gammon Ranges

We left Coongie Lakes and headed back through Innamincka for a fuel top up. Then off down the Strzelecki Track into the guts of South Australia.

We decided that being so close to Cameron Corner we had to make the effort to get across to the intersection of NSW, Queensland and South Australia. Cammy had to see his corner!!

We didn’t last long at the corner post with a horrible wind blowing and were quickly inside the Corner Store where some hot chips were ordered. We made it to a campsite along the Strzelecki Creek and set up for the night.

The next day the wind was howling and we were in a massive dust storm that was blocking out any view. Add to that a pretty ordinary rough road and it was tough going. We turned off heading over to the Gammon Ranges which wasn’t much more than a farm track. Luckily we found a dry river crossing at Mulligan Creek to camp at that had just enough vegetation and steep enough banks that the impact of the wind was minimized.

In the distance we could see the Gammon Ranges (the northern section of the Flinders Ranges) appearing up out of the plain gibber desert.

Gammon Ranges- yards

Interestingly, for such a sparse, rocky landscape, this desert held an amazing amount of wildlife – kangaroos and emus in particular in large numbers. We spent some time in the national park and also up in the Arkaroola Wildlife Sanctuary area – a beautiful area with amazing rocky ridges and gorges and rock wallabies hiding around every boulder.

Gammon Ranges- wallaby

We had some lunch at the wilderness lodge and had a good chat to the people there about the area and what we could get around to see (although with the windy conditions we were happy doing some sight-seeing from inside the car!). That time of day came when we started thinking about a camp for the night and we were mainly focused on a sheltered tent site. Eventually we cracked and, being fairly close to various small towns, we hit the road and decided we’d ride out the wind in a cabin. We opted for Leigh Creek which, as it turned out, had various options for cabins – we chose the “resort” which was pretty good for a basic cabin.

We quickly noticed the ghost town around us – but a nice, well laid out and well equipped ghost town with Olympic pool, school, library, shopping centre, pub, oval, playgrounds, neat streets with small, neat houses…..just very few people. We hadn’t brushed up on recent mining activity – or more to the point, mining shut-downs – and this is one town that has been moth-balled when the local mine closed last year.

Gammon Ranges- L for Lachlan

The town was actually moved to make way for the coal mine’s expansion back in the early ‘80s so everything is only 30 years old and in fairly good condition. There was half-hearted talk of something else – more mining or gas probably – coming along to reinvigorate the town but I wouldn’t be holding my breath on that. The lack of people but continued irrigation of the gardens, oval and any other grass has allowed the emus and kangaroos to move in and casually graze across the area.

Gammon Ranges- emu

The wind kept up and we were happy being inside for a change! The family cabin was two identical cabins with a door joining them so the boys happily had their own TV and their own space which was also a nice change!

Leigh Creek school



8 August – Coongie Lakes

We headed out the recently re-opened track to Coongie Lakes. The machinery work to get the track back in working order after the wet weather was still fresh and it was good timing.

There are not many camping sites out at the lake and we made do with the best place we could find. We could walk to the top of our sand dune, though, and gaze out at another oasis – this time a massive inland sea held between the sand dunes and covered in thousands and thousands of birds bobbing around on the lake and flying in large flocks overhead. What an incredible sight.

bird- Coongie Lake

No fires allowed to try and maintain a wilderness feel about the place and stop people pulling down old or dead trees that are so important for the huge diversity of birds that nest out here.

We did a nice walk in the morning around the edge of the lake to see all the birds a bit more close-up.