Col's Big Trip (1) inc.(Finke 4x4 River Track)


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This is the first report of many that will cover a five week trip that I recently did which was essentially made up of three parts. The first part of the trip I was solo, I would then meet up with my partner Jenny for 2.5 weeks and then I would return home alone which would be the final part.

As this forum doesn’t have a multi state trip report section (as other forums do) I will post them in the state where the majority of the report was from. I will number the heading to help those who wish to follow my trip across a number of states through some of Australia’s most scenic places.

Hi all,

I was on my way to Broome where Jen would join me in around 10 days. My plan was to drive to the Alice then take the Gary Junction Road across to Marble Bar and then head up to Broome.

I left Melbourne early, my only concern that first day was some bad weather which was forecast for the area I was intending to camp at that first night.

With the real possibility of being dumped on that night I decided to head for Port Augusta and take a room and then make a fresh start in the morning.

When I arrived there, there was still a bit of light left so I popped down to the shores of Spencer Gulf. This next pic is the old Great Western Bridge which was built in 1927 and then decommissioned in 1972 when the new (current) bridge was opened. Only recently it has been closed to foot traffic which was the only thing allowed on it for the past 40 years, it is feared some sections may soon collapse.

On the northern side of that I was amazed to find the ruins of a Viking Long Boat, well that’s what my first thoughts where when I saw it Ha! The interesting things I find whilst pottering about continually amazes me.

In fact it was the remains of what was called The Number Four Barge which was built in the mid 1880s at Mannum on the Murray River. In 1910 it was brought to the Spencer Gulf to carry ore from Whyalla to the Port Pirie Smelters. In 1944 it was going to be used to carry the pile driver in the extension of the main bridge across the head of the Gulf, it was never used for that or anything else and has rested where it is today since that time.

With the calm conditions there were some interesting reflections on the water from the pylons of the current main bridge, and then a photo of a piece of street art that had been painted on the main concrete abutment under it.

I drove to the main wharf to photograph the scenes there. The wharf was built in 1885 but today it is used for recreational purposes only.

Here are some general shots of various subjects that I photographed that evening.

My culinary exploits on my camping trips are said by some to be legendary, well on this my first night on the road I decided to pull out all stops to show you all how far my skills have grown over time, Ha!!!

Not only did it look good but it was so tasty, what an end to my first day on the road.

The next morning I was on way early as I was keen to put some ks behind me for the further north I drove I knew the weather would quickly improve.

Around dawn I was near the edge of the cloud band that had brought the previous days inclement weather. I pulled over to the side of the road to capture these sunrise pics.



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By mid morning there was nothing but clear skies and when I stopped for a break this was the type of countryside I was now in, there was even the occasional spring flower to be seen.

As I had done the previous day, it was mainly drive drive and then more ks driven. I pulled up late in the afternoon about 70ks west of the Stuart Highway along the Ernest Giles Road where on the banks of the Palmer River I decided to stop for the night. The sun was very nearly gone so I quickly captured the scene around me before darkness engulfed my camp.

The stars that night were absolutely brilliant, it had been a little while since I had camped out in the sticks and I had nearly forgotten just how sensational the night sky can be once your away from civilisation.

I was pretty buggered as it was the second consecutive day that I had done over a 1000 ks. A total so far of 2171 ks since leaving Melbourne the day previous.

I was now only a very short distance from my first adventure for the next day I would visit the Illamurta Springs Conservation Reserve and then drive the Finke River 4x4 Route which was something I had wanted to do for a number of years.

Sunrise, my camp and then making my way to the start of my route north.

I was about to embark on a remote track in a remote region of central Oz, this sign said it all, be prepared. All was under control with my preparation but the minimum two vehicles would have to be given a miss.

The first part of the track traversed a variety of habitats and was pretty good driving as it was the main access route to the Illamurta Aboriginal community. It was certainly more substantial than what the main Finke 4x4 Track would be.

A lot of the vegetation out here has adapted to the extreme conditions found in our central deserts. The plants/trees foliage have in many cases evolved so they can survive, their needle like or very thin type of leaves are proof of this as they prevent excessive evaporation or moisture loss in extreme heat.

These trees are Desert Oaks, the one on the left is a semi mature tree and the ones on the right are immature specimens.

Once beyond the community the track deteriorated and at each dry creek crossing I found different vegetation due to those areas having slightly more water concentration than the surrounding plains.

An old well site that was once used to bring water up from the Great Artesian Basin for cattle that were once run there, you can see just how harsh the environment is.

The reason I made my way through this region was to visit the Illamurta Springs Conservation Reserve. This protects an area of historical significance for over 120 years ago a police station was built there as an administration centre which helped distribute rations to the local Aborigines due to the loss of their land and food sources from them by the expansion of the Europeans cattle runs.



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The remains of the station, this is a remote area today and few make the effort to go there or even know of it’s existence. How remote and lonely it would have been all those years ago?

Time to fully engage 4wd and head further north, I just love the quiet and sense of isolation you get when you travel through remote parts of the Australian outback.

The track now made It’s way onto the Finke Rivers course, at times the sandy bed of the river was the track but it mostly followed it’s banks. The River very rarely flows and does so only after torrential periods of rain which are usually connected to summer storms. These events leave a number of water holes which in drought often dry up but last summers wet season brought above average rains so along it’s course there were still a number of magnificent water holes.

This is an area called Running Waters, what a sensational beautiful place it was. After taking a number of pics I was in for a swim off a magical inland beach. The waters were a bit chilly as the weather had only just started to warm up but hey I’m from Victoria and any water temperature over about 10 degrees is quite balmy for us Ha!! (We are bred tough down south, or silly!)

The track at times passed through deep soft sand and at others it crossed gravel, loose rocks and rocky platforms, and then another magnificent water hole was arrived at.

I then entered the National Park proper.

The start of Boggy Hole, the main camping area is located here but you are allowed to stay anywhere along quite a long section of the mostly dry river.

I decided to camp here due to the time of day and of course I had the place all to myself.

Even though you could hardly find a more serene or beautiful spot, it wasn’t always as peaceful as I found it that day. In the 1880s a police camp was set up there to manage conflict between the local Aborigines and the recently arrived graziers. A Constable Willshire was put in charge and he quickly became infamous due to his punitive attacks and violence inflicted on the local people. He was charged with the murder of two aboriginals at a time when very few Europeans faced court for such crimes which is proof of his cruelty.

Later in the day the slight breeze there had been, dropped off altogether.

That was how I spent the last bit of my third day on the road/track, how sensational. Wouldn’t be dead for quids, and that is also the end of my first report.

If anyone was contemplating doing this trip and having a dip might be on the cards, try to make Running Waters your campsite, Boggy was nice but access to the water was not as easy as the other.

I didn’t find the southern part of the track difficult at all, lower tyre pressures are required and picking the right line in a couple of places. I suppose how hard you find it is relevant to your experience in that sort of driving.



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Great post Col, thanks for the inspiration. That area is high on my to-do list. Good to see that you made it (that far) without major dramas.
What camera are you using? Nice pictures.


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Thanks Fellas,
I use two cameras, a Canon 60d and a Canon Powershot S120. Both cameras have been well and truly superseded now but I find they still do the job for me. I also use a polarising filter on the 60d which I feel is just about a must for the glare of Australia's outback.
Shaun this is obviously really early in my trip so definitely no dramas so far, you'll have to keep reading right to the end to see what if anything happened!


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All ways nice to see the many colours of the outback, great pics.
Thanks for taking the time to share with us.


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Thanks everyone for your comments, and a special thanks to Mrs Rum, lovely to here from you and I hope you get to read the rest of them and get some enjoyment from them.



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Thanks everyone for your comments, and a special thanks to Mrs Rum, lovely to here from you and I hope you get to read the rest of them and get some enjoyment from them.

I am taking notes for 'must visits' on our next trip! ;):D planning on more than enjoyment! haha