Madigan Line 2017

Julian Myers

New Member
Madigan Line Trip July 2017

Explorers: Julian Myers & Ben Myers

Vehicles: Prado 120 & 100 Series Cruiser

The Plan was to leave from Woodend Vic, head up to Mt Dare, pick up Sat Phone and last Fuel. Then head east across the Madigan to Birdsville.

Day 1 (30th June) 730.50 Km

My Brother came up the night before so we could get away relatively early. After sorting out a bit of camping gear and some food we hit the road at 7.20 am. First stop was Malmsbury to fill up the veins with Coffee. (20 Mins away). We then pushed on to Charlton for more coffee. Next stop was Ouyen for lunch. We then made our way north-west crossing to SA and gaining half an Hour. On to Renmark for more coffee and a few supplies. On now to Morgan, our destination for the first night. We caught the ferry across to south side of the Murray where we set up camp in the Morgan Conservation Park down by a Billabong, we had just enough light to collect some firewood and get the fire going. It wasn’t long before the serenity was interrupted with some campers setting up on the other side of the Billabong. Sound travels well across water on a crispy still night! It took me a while to work out why we would see a bunch of cars go past and then nothing for a while and then a bunch more, then the Penny dropped, the Ferry!

Day 2 (1st of July) 530km

Woke up Pre-dawn to a misty Billabong, watched it all slowly come to life (except for the other campers). Back on the ferry and over to Morgan to fill up on Diesel (why is it so much cheaper than Vic? $119.9) On to Peterborough for more coffee, and then to Hawker for lunch and more coffee. The road north from here gets more scenic driving past the Flinders Ranges, and the road -kill was prolific. South of Leigh Creek we stop for a bit of firewood on the side of the road, then into Leigh Creek for more Fuel. We then pushed on to Farina, where I had my brother excited about the Bakery that is temporarily open, the Bakery shuts at 4.00 and we pulled in at 2 Minutes past… He had visions of crusty bread to go with his Minestrone soup. All that was left was 2 pies and a sausage roll. Oh well. Down to the campground where finding a spot wasn’t easy, it was packed. It’s a beautiful little spot with grass and shady gums.

Day 3 (2nd of July) 404km

Bit of dew on the tents so we went to look around the ruins of Farina while the sun did its work. We had a little tour of the Wood fired Bakery and saw the days pies coming out looking and smelling very tempting. The Volunteers here are doing great work and a building a Bakery (The current shop is in a tent). Back to the Camp site to pack up the tents, where we discovered a new Bird species, it hovers and buzzes about like a Honey Eater. One bloke was mooning it to try and scare it away, turns out it is called a Quad Prop Drone. Off to Marree where I spot a sign on the side of the road spelling C O F F E E at the Hotel. The Coffee took a while as we were the only customers at 10-00am, so we had time to take it all in. Time to hit the Mighty Oodnadatta Track. We get up to the Mound Springs for a look around and a bit of lunch. And I spotted that strange bird again hanging around the Spring. The Track had some good patches and some corrugated sections, we were aiming for Algebuckina Bridge for that night. Just short of there the corrugations took their first casualty, I announced to my brother that I thought my aerial was about to fall off and just then it did, Bugger! It was a Brand new Aerial, so not happy, (that bloke who installed it is hopeless, me) All I had was the Coax sticking out, but it still seemed to transmit and receive if my brother was close. But being close on the Oodnadatta is not an option if you don’t want to choke on the dust. I luckily packed a spare aerial and a few spare masts because me and aerials don’t get along. Onto the bridge to set up by a water hole, starting to feel like we are getting away from it all, except for the other campers..


Day 4 (3rd July) 253km

Packed up and checked out the bridge and surrounds, and then back on the road. The road from here to Oodnadatta was beautiful, the road crew were working on it , even had the water truck out. Into the thriving metropolis of Oodnadatta to fill up the tanks and the coffee intake needed another blast too. The only thing that wasn’t pink was the coffee (now there’s an idea). We filled the jerry cans here too, deciding to save a few $ as compared to Mt Dare. (Sorry Mt Dare). Just North of Oodnadatta, we peel off to the right and head for Hamilton, we let a bit more air out as it was getting a bit rougher. We pulled in at Eringa Waterhole which was an Oasis in the Desert for a look around and the ruins of an old Homestead. Then the final push for Mt Dare, the closer we got the worse the corrugations, we had to stop and tighten the odd bolt and adjust a few rattles in the back. Finally we crawled into Mt Dare, looking a sight for sore eyes. We squeezed in a bit more diesel and booked into the campground. It was announced then that the pump was broken, so no showers or toilets were working. Damn! I haven’t had one of those for a few days! We camped among some trees that are full of nests and there were finches nesting in them. Later that evening the Mt Dare Ute came tearing around to announce that the pump was fixed! Yay. There was a stampede, so we left it till the morning. The gentle hum of the generator had me to sleep in no time.

Day 5 (4th of July) 213 km

After 4 days of driving, now the driving begins proper. But first that shower, wow, it was hot and plenty of pressure. Second, we need to sort out our Sat phone hire because we are going into “very remote country”. Once we had our little back box (orange) we were set to go. So off we went out of Mt Dare and turned right into the Never Never. Well Bull dust actually, it looked like the Finke Desert race had been through.. We then realized we were in the vicinity of the Finke River, but couldn’t tell for all the cattle tracks, yards and pads. It was about here the Radio Crackled into life and we on a collision course with 5 Vehicles heading our way. Oh no, well at least they are going the opposite way. I did replace my aerial back at Mt Dare, so I was able to communicate with them managing to avoid any collisions.:) Onwards to Old Andado which is hidden behind the first of the dunes. As we slowly approached, surveying the situation I could start to see the station had been completely surrounded by the Khaki Camper Trailers of the Southern Tablelands 4WD Club. They had taken over the Job of Caretaking for a Month and doing a fair bit of maintenance. They were very friendly and invited us in for scones freshly baked and tea. Thanks guys, doing a great Job. We had a good look around and got the lowdown on all things including the group of 10 one day in front of us. While I was shoving in one last scone a phone rang, and I joked that it was the land line, and they told me it wasn’t a joke, it was a landline of sorts….Then I was told I could make a call, just leave some money in the jar. I couldn’t believe it, so I had to take them up on the offer. I didn’t get round to it back at Mt Dare, and thought I better tell the family I am about to go off line, or rather on the Madigan line. So after we bid farewell to our new friends we headed off up the Old Andado Track, onwards to the Mac Clark Acacia Puece Reserve. We checked out these rare trees and enjoyed the sound of the ocean whistling through them. Luckily a little birdy had told me to go back out of the reserve and turn left to continue on the Madigan Line. We made our way to Camp 1A to pick our First Madigan Camp which isn’t really a camp, but good enough for us. Time was marching on so we kept on to camp 2, but couldn’t find it, we didn’t look too hard as we had a keen eye on that sun getting lower, we then came across the lonely tractor sleeping by his tree. From here our camp at the twins was so close. We followed the track between the hills and down behind them, we started looking for a suitable site when I spotted a tell tale Orange flag waving in the breeze, then I spotted another, and then another. What’s going on? We are meant to be in the middle of nowhere. There was a group of 4 Vehicles spread around amongst the trees, so we went back out and decided to camp with a good view of the sun setting on the Twins (2 mountains). We made our way up the closest Twin and noticed the ground was littered with stone chippings so treaded carefully. At the top we were greeted with a wonderful view and a number of cairns and Plaques for Madigan. We could see the track that we came in on and the tractor in the distance, but couldn’t really see the next section, tomorrow’s problem.

Day 6 & 7 (5th & 6th of July) 86 km

Ben reckoned he saw the track winding back around the side of the twin, and he was right, so off we went, it wasn’t long before the radio chat told us we were being hotly pursued by the other 4.

We pulled up in the Hale River Bed, and let them pass, and gave them a bit of time to move on and the dust to settle. We started getting into the Dunes, and it wasn’t long before we caught up with them airing down a bit more to get over a Dune. We passed them and compared PSI, 16 was the order of the day. I think this is where it felt a bit weird where the track you are on is not the one on the map so it messes with your head being so used to following a map that matches the ground. You basically head east from the Twins avoiding Camp 3 and 4, and eventually intersecting the Colson Track. It was slow going until we hit the Colson and then that feels like a freeway as we flew up to where it intersects with the Madigan Line again. A good spot for Lunch we decided, and to let the other 4 get ahead again. A couple of Dunes along we come across 2 Vehicles, a Land Rover and a Jeep, but not the sort of Jeep you would expect to see out here, more the Toorak type. I wasn’t sure how they were in front of us as we hadn’t seen them before and they didn’t look like they were moving along too well. They had come from 1A and bypassed the Twins so that was how they got in front of us. It was starting to feel a little crowded in this very remote part of the Country.

We then made our way along to Illogwa Creek half way between Camp 6 and 7, and Decided this would be the spot to stop early and camp and put a bit of time between us and the other 2 Groups. We decided this would be a good spot for a 2 day break and as it turned out we needed to as we might of eaten a dodgy Takeaway… The Shovel got some good use.


Day 8 (7th July) 89.5km

Finally back in the Saddle and feeling a bit better we put in a big day passing Camps 7,8,9,10,& 11. Just after Camp 11 we camped in a nice swale that had plenty of Gidgee Trees and Wood. There were lots of Stone Chips around too, so this has been a good Camp site for many a year. The Moon was almost full and coming up just as the sun was going down, making everything very photogenic.


Day 9 (8th of July) 79km

Today we back on Track, time for a Fry Up. Onwards along the Track we go picking up Camp 12 and 13 before Lunch. Then onto 14 and 15 which was on the Hay River, finally a break from that constant rocking and swaying that was starting to make us feel sea sick. We cruised down for about 10km enjoying this smooth flat ride, but kicking up the dust again. I was aiming for a spot on the Ian Stabler guide that mentioned a good Camp site, but wasn’t impressed, so moved along a bit further to where you pass the end of a Big red Dune, now this was the spot for a Camp. It was spectacular spot with cloud formations, sun setting and moon rising, all with the backdrop of the Dune.


Day 10 (9th of July) 110km

After Travelling Down the Hay River Track to Camp 16 it was back into the Dunes again, rocking and Rolling all the way to the Border, Madigan put in a big day today I thought. The Distance between the Dunes is now increasing which tells me we are getting near the end. We pass 18 and 19 getting into flatter country. We camped halfway between 19 and 20, the cloud had been building all day and we thought it might rain, but all we got was a spot or 2. We were on Adria Downs now, but didn’t feel this was very good cattle country, more your Camel country which we finally spotted one here close enough to photograph before it disappeared into thin air.

Day 11 (10th July) 195.5km

We made our way to Camp 20 which brought us out of the Dunes and onto Eyre Creek flat country and Cattle Country. It was now high speed down along the Eyre Creek past the last 21 & 22 Camps. Before we knew it we were on the QAA line, suddenly it felt like it ended too quickly, we were out of Red sand and now into yellow, not nearly as nice. After a bit of Lunch, time to head for Big Red and Birdsville. I had a couple of goes at big Red and just couldn’t quite make it, and Ben was having the same problems. But then another bloke in a Prado was getting over so I asked what the secret to his success was? So after he told me I gave it another crack and Yay, I made it. This was my 3rd time here so 3rd time lucky. Onto Birdsville and onto the Blacktop, back in range and back in civilization. What’s my pin number again? We dropped off the Sat phone and filled up with Fuel and headed down the Birdsville Track, we weren’t really sure where we were going, we didn’t really plan this end. We had a sudden rush of blood and thought we could head home via Innamincka via the Walkers Crossing. So we made a b line for that. By the time we got to it the sun was setting and we were in Gibber Country. We went along for about 20km and decided we needed to camp right now, this is stupid. We found a patch that wasn’t stony and camped in the most awesome middle of nowhere you could imagine, it was flat in every direction, and it looked like you could see the curvature of the earth. The Full moon came up and it was magic. Luckily we still had some firewood on board cause there wasn’t a stick within a 100 miles. We had a proper look at the map and decided to forget about our detour, it was way too far and the track was going to be slow.

Day 12 (11th of July) 570km

Last night way off in the distance the Dingos added to the atmosphere with their mournful tones, as well as first thing in the morning. We packed up and headed back out to the Birdsville Track. Not far from Clifton Springs I could see a shape on the Side of the road so started slowing down in case it was a cow about to cross, but it turned out to be a Kiwi, not the Flightless bird, but a bloke whose truck had broken down and was walking back to the homestead, we gave him a lift down to meet up with the Station Owner. Not long after that a strange noise came from the back, it sounded like plastic bags rattling in the wind, turned out my side rear window had shattered, but was held together by the tinting film so was cracking like ice. I dunno if it was the corrugations or a rock flicked up, but we taped it up and it held all the way home. We saw the Maccas sign at Mungerannie so had to pull in for a Coffee. It was then a big push back to Farina, not so crowed this time so we got a better spot.

Day 13 (12th July) 500km

Today, after 20km from Farina to Lyndhust we are back on the Tar. We fill up on Air and head south. We decided we couldn’t just drive past the Flinders Ranges again, so pulled into Brackina Gorge for Morning tea, Oh no more corrugations and Dust, but it was worth it. We pulled up at a little spot with a bend in the river, and up I looked on the cliffs and spotted a Yellow Footed Rock wallaby. This turned out to be a spot where they must come down to the creek for a drink as there was plenty of Tracks and Droppings. Back on the road and all the way to Burra Gorge.

Day 14 (13th July) 390km

We were woken early by a howling wind just about blowing our tents away. So we just grabbed everything, chucked them in the cars and took off, it was still half dark at 7.00am when we left. I suggested we head for Morgan for Breaky, we were too Early for the local Café so went to the Road house for a Fry up and some Fuel. I think we were looking like a bunch of Hobos by now, (10 Days since our last shower) as we were getting odd looks, or maybe it was just the smell…On to Renmark for another Coffee, and then we decided to head for Hattah-Kulkine NP to camp on the Murray for our last night. We found a good spot and set up. We had plenty of firewood here so there was no holding back. Lucky we had a good fire going as we then had a decent shower of rain, once that had passed we could get back to sitting by it and cooking up a storm.

Day 15 (14th July) 459.6km

Today we head for home, last Fry up, pack up and on the road by 8.20. Down the Calder we go always sad to come back down the Calder as the weather certainly gets colder too.

So it was a great trip, way too much driving, but unavoidable to do these things. Travelled 4766km in 2 weeks. Weather perfect, only rained last night. No Break downs, no punctures, only broke a window and an Aerial.