Outback to Flinders: Coward Springs to Arkaroola

Trip Start Mar 30, 2013
Trip End Apr 13, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Sunday, April 7, 2013

The four of us enjoy breakfast in Cafe Schöning (our tent) in the relative luxury of no flies and other creepy crawlies!

We hit the road early (8 am) and soon reach Lake Eyre. Soon thereafter - we come across a young man on a bicycle frantically waving at us with one hand holding an empty waterbottle. Andre is from France and is cycling through Australia. We refill all his water bottles and Anna gives him one of our head fly nets as a gift - we feel very sorry for him - cycling in this heat with all the flies around his face! We tell him about his countrymen at Coward Springs (about 20 kms down the road) - a young French couple we met last night at the toilets, asking about bins (there aren't any - you have to take everything with you).

Soon after we see a dingo close to the road. He looks skinny, but has caught something (a bird, mouse or rabbit?). Although not trusting us - he hangs around for a couple of minutes to finish his breakfast.

At Marree Anna buys 3 new head fly nets (one to replace Andre's gift, one for Jonathan whose head net has been damaged in a gas stove adventure and one for Walter, who, in real Prussian spirit (this is the man who swims in Canberra in an unheated pool every morning in winter) insists he doesn't need one! Coffee at Marree sees all four of us happily wearing head nets while sipping good quality plunger made coffee from the flask (my daily gift to my fellow travellers).

Last night's strong winds brought a welcome shower or two south from Marree. We drive through mud and some pools for the 70 kms south to Lynshurst. After lunch at Leigh Creek on the green grass at the oval, we head East to Ita Warta - an aboriginal settlement. A hand written sign IGA encourages us to stop, which we do, hoping to stock up on some provisions. Unfortunately, IGA, does not mean the shop as we know it, but it is the Aboriginal word for a native orange! We buy an ice cream in the tiny shop as it is a hot day. One of the locals, the manager of the camping grounds, starts chatting to us. He gives us a lesson in the Adnyamathanha language. "a" is pronounced "a" as in "but" and "u" is pronounced "u" as in "put". He tells us visitors from Europe have no difficulty in pronouncing words in his language. We tour the exhibition on Adnyamanthanha culture - very interesting. I would have loved to go on one of the cultural tours.

We travel another hour till Arkaroola, a privately owned resort in the Northern Flinders - a Geologist's dream. The owner is keen on Geology, as can be seen from the different rock formation samples on the way to reception (e.g. sandstone, tillite, quartsite, etc). We hit the showers - oh what luxury - hot water and en suite bathrooms - after our bush camps of the past two nights! Scrubbed and dressed in our last clean clothes at 6 pm we walk to reception area to hear about the birth and death of stars, nebulas, novas and globular clusters. At 7 pm we head to the bbq area for an Arkaroola bbq with a huge spread of steak, sausages, kebabs and chicken. The Apfel Streusel desert is popular and tastes good.

Then, for the highlight - we arevgoing to look at stars! A small bus drives us the few kms to the observatory. It is a perfect evening for star gazing - not a cloud in sight! The 12 of us can't help to "ooh" and "aah" when seeing Saturn and its rings, a globular cluster, Orion's nebula cluster or star nursery (the middle "star" in the pot's handle), as well as an example of a dying star (Bertelgeuze). Walter suddenly feels dizzy and steps outside for fresh air. It has been a long day - we fall into bed at 10 pm.
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