Saturday, September 30, 2006
Outback Trip: Days One and Two
There's photos from the entire trip in that set, but you're cheating if you look ahead. And don't think I don't know about those of you who have already gotten into them. Inquisitive scoundrels, I'll find you...
Day one was quite uneventful. After classes on Friday, we packed up our stuff and got right on the bus. We drove straight through most of the evening, heading north through Port Augusta, stopping at a truck stop/grocery store/restaurant for a pizza dinner, and then continuing on to the campground at Wilpena Pound where we were spending the night. It was dark when we got there, so we set out our swags and pretty much just went to sleep.
The next morning, we got up nice and early, and after a quick breakfast, we hiked up Mt. Ohlsson Bagge. It was a steep hike and the sun was relentless, but the views of the surrounding area were fantastic. From the top of the "Bagge" we could see all of Wilpena Pound. The area is a flat plain encircled by a rim of hills (see an aerial photo here), so it made for some very impressive scenery. If you don't mind the large file size, there's a hastily stitched panorama I took here.
After hiking back down, we ate lunch and got back on the bus for more driving. A lot of the afternoon driving took us along the Oodnadatta track. A "track" in Australia means an unpaved road, usually privately maintained, and often of questionable quality. The Oodnadatta is one of the more well-used tracks, but it was still a rather rough ride at times. At one point they sent a student out to tramp through a flooded section of track to see how deep it ran before we tried to drive through it.
Later in the afternoon we stopped briefly in Farina, a ghost town. Built around the railroad, the town died when the railroad line closed down. Now all that's left are slowly collapsing ruins. It was pretty eerie, especially set in the vast emptiness of the outback. Later we passed through Maree, the home of the Maree Man (we didn't stop, though). Camping that night was ostensibly a bush camp in Muloorina, the only indications of an actual camp were a road sign and a couple "long drop" toilets (lovely descriptive name, isn't it?) that we had to walk about 600m to get to.