21/10/15 After one night at William Creek, we headed south-east on the Oodnadatta Track to Marree. Thirty kilometres out from William Creek near the disused siding of the old Ghan Rail Line called Strangeways Springs, the alarm on the tyre monitor went ballistic. One of the many sharp rocks on the Track had slashed a rear tyre on the Land Rover. It was swapped over for one of the spares and on we went, but soon after, the alarm went off again. The other rear tyre had developed a slow leak and looked to be delaminating on the sidewall. I reckoned it would probably hold together long enough to get to where we were going, and we carried on.
Along the Track, we came to The Bubbler which are natural artesian springs that have bubbled out of the ground for so long, they’ve formed sediment cones that sit high above the surrounding flat landscape, with the clear pools of water bubbling away at the top.
Over a hill crest, we saw in the distance a huge dog standing in a paddock just off the road. Nearing it, we could see that it had been crafted from a disused metal water tower for the old Ghan Rail Line. A sculptor from Adelaide spends a few months each year at Alberrie Creek – Mutonia Sculpture Park crafting large metal sculptures that stand in a group called Plane Henge, named after the largest of the constructions. In the middle of nowhere on the Oodnadatta Track was the last place we’d expect to come across anything like that.
We pulled over three or four times along the way to air up the slowly deflating tyre with the on-board air pump, and made it into Marree where I fitted the second spare wheel. We were now out of spare tyres for the Landy and could go no further until more could be gotten in from somewhere.
As luck would have it, Brenton, the owner of the Drovers Run Caravan Park at Marree where we were camped, operated a mechanical and tyre repair workshop at the park. The next morning, he organised for two new tyres to come up from Port Augusta by transport to Leigh Creek, where they’d be put on the mail truck that has a twice weekly run to Marree. As things turned out though, something got screwed up with the transport company, and the tyres ended up at the small town of Copley and missed the Tuesday mail truck. The next one wouldn’t be until Friday. Once the tyres were located, Brenton gave me a lift the following morning to collect them. Great bloke. It was fortunate that this trouble happened at a caravan park that had a workshop with a tyre fitting machine. There were no other mechanical services in Marree.
With two new spares on board, the Landy was back in business.
With the tyre repairs, we had four nights at Marree and got to know the owners, Brenton and Jo, very well, over drinks and dinner and lots of laughs each night under the lean-to. They were great people and we hope to remain in contact with them.
The Oodnadatta Track had not only cost us two tyres. My one and only beer glass was a write-off as well. What a cruel act. I’d picked it up for the princely sum of $0.20 at an Op Shop last year, and reckon we’ll be calling in to the next Op Shop we come across for a replacement.
We have another 40kms of gravel road beyond Marree until the hard surface starts at Lyndhurst, and I must admit to looking forward to that. Di reckons she’s had enough of the dust for a while too.
“It is not the destination where you end up but the mishaps and memories you create along the way!” – Penelope Riley, Travel Absurdities