September 1st, 2008 – by: skippyed
The new Ghan railway
After a reasonable night's sleep, (ear plugs helped!) we packed up camp and checked the road conditions. The Finke
track was open although we were told there were some soupy spots, the tracks to the south like the Oodnadatta was still closed so it was a good job we did head north! Having filled up with fuel and stocking up on lollies we headed out. The Finke track was a little wet in places but not too bad and the dirt was very red. Not too long into the track we came across the Ghan railway, the working one not the old one that we had encountered south. We also encountered a very strange looking rock structure with a flat top that we had to take a picture of. Looking at the GPS maps we discovered that 12kms off the track was the Lambert Centre, which is the geographical dead centre of the Australian mainland.
People might consider Alice Springs as being the centre of Australia but the true centre is quite a few kms further South-East. So a few more kms up the Finke track we turned off onto the Lambert Centre track. It was narrow and very corrugated track, you could see that vehicles had veered off the original track and created new tracks in order to avoid the corrugations only to make new corrugated tracks, we were glad when we got to the actual centre. We weren't alone at the centre, there was another couple of 4WDrives already there. The centre was simply a steel triangular flagpole structure (it matches the flagpole on Parliament House in Canberra) complete with flag straddling a plaque to commemorate the actual centre. A visitors book was placed nearby which we signed making a remark about the bumpy ride to get here!.
Wet part of the Finke Track, its like driving on black ice
It was a good spot for lunch so we stayed awhile before heading back down the track. On the drive back, Glen hit some mechanical trouble when he lost a few screws from a plate attached to his shock absorber, I walked back along the track for about a kilometre or so to see if I could find them, meanwhile Glen and Vaughan removed the bent plate and the shock absorber which would have to be fixed at either Finke or Mt Dare.
When we arrived at Finke we found a garage with a caged bowser but no mechanic. Finke was more of an aboriginal settlement and it wasn't a very nice place. Houses were run down and litter and dogs were everywhere, we didn't particularly want to hang around too long. On the way out Glen spotted a car like his and went over to investigate. The car was a wreck but it had the part he wanted in mint condition! Glen went from door to door to track down an owner to see if he could negotiate a price for the part.
Rocky outcrop of the Finke track
While we waited in the car, Glen was negotiating with the aboriginal owners to buy the part and came back 15 minutes later empty handed, they wanted $150!! he offered them $50 they wouldn't budge and nor would Glen so we left. Mt Dare was only about another 60k and we were heading there anyway to stock up on fuel before heading to Eringa Waterhole to camp but I didn't see us getting there as we needed to get the car fixed.
Keeping along the track, we soon entered cattle station country. The track became very wet in spots and we had to divert around these little miniature lakes in quite a few places. It wasn't long either before we left the Northern Territory and were back in South Australia
and we were in Witjira National Park. We reached Mt Dare late afternoon and this is where we were going to camp tonight, the campground was at the back of the pub and wasn't too bad. The pub/hotel was pretty much all there was to Mt Dare, but at least we got a cold beer and Glen's car fixed!