Follow the Old Ghan
Coward Springs Travel Blog› entry 8 of 24 › view all entries
Farina is an old Railway Town that was established to service the old Ghan Railway, which at the time ran from Adelaide to Alice Springs. The rail link was replaced about 30 years ago with the new line that runs further west and extends all the way to Darwin. After packing up camp, we wandered first to the graveyard which when you looked around they appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, it was very strange sight. We then pottered around the old ruins before heading back onto the Oodnadatta Track and north to Maree. We soon ran out of bitumen on the track and were back on the dirt in no time. Here and there as we drove along the track we would siight remnants of old Ghan railway and bridges.
Maree is a living town which serves the local community and still has remnants of the old Ghan with its railway sliding. We had a look around the old station and were outside the local store when we met some people travelling around Australia in a tractor! There was a whole group of them, all part of a club, all travelling in bright orange tractors and towing caravans! The people you meet!!
After leaving Maree, we started to head west, still following the Oodnadatta Track. We next stopped at Curdimurka Siding. Although deserted, it has been preserved as a reminder of the Old Ghan with a stretch of rail, a fettlers cottage, water tower and water softener tower still intact. We read that every even-numbered year it plays host to the Curdimurka Ball, a rollicking event that manages to attract thousands of people from around the country dressed in tuxs and ball gowns. When you look around you, it's hard to imagine it happening, it would be like having a ball on Mars!
Our next encounter along the track was the strangest one of them all, some sort of funky art display. The aeroplanes were the first to catch our eye, just two old planes standing up side by side on their tail end and painted with some sort of serpent pattern. We had a look around this very bizarre display of robot type structures made of old bits of car engine, a painted ladder covered in wheel hubs, a metal tree covered in old watches! here it all was out in the middle of no where and no sign of an owner or any descriptive signs as to why these structures were here! A little further down the road was a very large metal structure of a dog, it must have been 30 meters high and looked like K9 out of the old Doctor Who shows!
Our next stop, which was also a good lunch spot, was Lake Eyre South. Lake Eyre is the 13th biggest and most saltiest lake in the world and only fills up about once every 100 years. We went to the southern part which is 64km long and 24km wide. It's companion, Lake Eyre North, is 144km long and 77km wide. The best way to see the lake is from the air so we planned to take a sight-seeing tour from William Creek the next day. After lunch we drove down to the lake shore, taking care not to get too close, as it is possible to get stuck as the ground under the salt crust is quite soft and muddy. We did, however, walk out on to the vast expanse of salt and the further you walk, the softer you could feel the ground underneath, so we only went so far! After having a good look around, we moved on further down the track until we came to some mound springs called the Bubbler and Blanche Cup. The springs are part of the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park and are created by pressure from the Great Artesian Basin. A loop road gives you a tour around the springs with informative signs of their creation. The Bubbler and Blanche Cup are two springs you can get close to and both have warm water, they are a must see on a trip through this area.
We continued on to Coward Springs, where we would be camping tonight. Coward Springs was once a small settlement, now all that's left are a few ruins, a camp ground and the flowing bore sunk in the 1880s to service the local community. The camp was very nice and again hot showers which you heated by putting wood into an a stone-like oven. The camp site also had a hot spring of its own created by the bore which we indulged in for the remainder of the afternoon before settling around the camp fire.