Maree to Coober Pedy

Water tower to service the old Ghan railway
(Click on the image above to see images of the Oodnadatta Track)
Setting out from Marree our first real stop for lunch was to be William Creek. As we drove past the General Store and Service Station, we noted the sign saying that the road was closed. We headed back to the Service Station to check what was going on as people had come down that way the day before. Lisle, who virtually owns Marree is seems and has been there for 70 years, assured us the sign was wrong and the road was open.

Consequently we set off on the great adventure. The track was slightly corrugated and then in places very smooth and in other places the corrugations slowed you right down. It was always a balancing act between riding out the corrugations at an appropriate speed and going so slow you felt every one of them individually. Of course you can only judge this based on the car you are driving and so the caravan was another issue.

We stopped at several places along the track and took photos at points of interest. Finally we arrived in William Creek for lunch so it had been a rather slow trip with all our stops and low speed travel. The caravan door was opened to something that resembled a war zone! The stove had fallen out and the table had fallen off the wall. On top of that there was dust everywhere as one of the window catches had shifted and the van had been sucking in dust. It was heartbreaking to see our van in such a state. I thought I had researched the issues quite well. The van was fitted with Simplicity Suspension and I had seen a video on Youtube of this suspension being hauled over country I would never consider. Given it was on our van I “assumed”, obviously incorrectly, that the van would handle the track. It seems the corrugations were just too much despite we were never out of 2 wheel drive in the car the entire trip. I was a bit too distressed to be taking photos at the time.

There was no alternative but to press on after some running repairs. I packed the table up and placed in on the bed and replaced the stove into its frame and screwed it in properly. Fortunately I was carrying the right tools and bits and pieces to allow me to do these jobs.

The options were to do the 202km to Oodnadatta and then a further 200km to Marla before hitting the black top again or take the shorter route of 166km to Coober Pedy. The latter was obviously the safer option and we headed off hoping we would do the other 166km without further incident. It all worked out well and we arrived in Coober Pedy around 5.30pm and booked into the caravan park there for 3 nights. This would give me 2 full days to do some proper repairs and hopefully time for some sight seeing.

The caravan park was horrible. People were crushed in like sardines and parked on top of one another. Still, there was no other choice given our predicament so we just made the best of a bad situation.

After what had probably been a complete disaster of a day, the opening of the bottle of red that night with some cheese and biscuits was a positive highlight of the day.

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