Farina to Coward Springs

From Farina we got a good start and stopped first at Marree which is the start of the Oodnadatta Track. Marree was originally a large trading town with teams of bullocks and camels mainly run by Afghans. Now it’s mainly an oil and mineral mining town and tourism mostly consists of scenic flights. We took the opportunity to fill up with petrol and to check that the road ahead was open. Our route is open so we head off for Coward Springs (220km). The track is good in parts and we were able to do 40mph but equally poor in others and we could only manage 25mph (poor old Geoffrey).

The Oodnadatta Track follows a string of springs forced to the top of the ground from a massive artesian basin that lies under Lake Eyre. Aboriginal ochre traders followed this route many thousand of years ago and later of course European settlers followed. Eventually in 1891 the now abandoned Ghan Railway also followed the same path.

We stopped to look at a few points of interest along the way. The first one we passed was the dog fence that stretches right across Australia built to protect sheep from dingoes. Next is a sculpture park with huge sculptures made from scrap that’s been left laying about for years (odd people inhabit these remote areas). The next thing we passed was the very southern tip of Lake Eyre. It covers 1,170,000 sq km of arid Australia. The southern tip is just salt beds but quite an amazing sight shimmering in the heat.

We arrived at Coward Springs late afternoon. This is not a town but just a basic campground with an honesty box. What a little oasis in the desert. It’s beautifully shaded and the best thing of all is that it has a natural spa with cool water pumping in and out continuously. We took a glass of wine and headed off for the spa. A wonderful way to relax after a hot days driving.

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