Members Trips

stories from Australia


Birdsville Track Trip Notes 2008

by Mark Sherritt


   So, dear reader, the big trip to the Top End and Gulf had to be called off but we had 10 days to go somewhere until we had an appointment we must keep on 16-6-08. So, where to go? Well the first leg of our planned big trip was going to be to Birdsville so I said, “how about we go for `a toodle on up to Birdsville`?” “Okey doke” Mumps replied, so off we went.


Day 1: 6-6-08

   We left Sharon’s parents farm in the Mallee nice and early on Friday 6th with the aim of eating up as much bitumen as we could. We got to the SA border before lunch and at the Quarantine point we soon realized we would have to pay an `admission fee` to enter croweater territory. A nice chap searched our car and camper and took our 2-week supply of fresh fruit and veg just so we could cross the border. So then it was into Renmark to buy more of their SA fruit and veg, have some lunch and drive until teatime.

   We finished up north of Hawker and camped the night at Hooking Creek. It was a cold and windy night so we bedded down early for another big day on Saturday as we planned on spending Saturday night camped at Mungeranie Pub on the Birdsville Track.


Day 2: 7-6-08

   We were up and gone early once we got the billy boiled in the howling wind at Hooking Creek. We arrived in Marree around lunchtime. Filled up with diesel and were ready to hit the track. We saw a lot of people gathered in town.

   At the roadhouse I was told that the legendary mailman of the Birdsville track, 94 yo Tom Kruse had been flown up from Adelaide to unveil a commemorative bust of himself with his offsider Henry Butler’s son Robert, in honour of their work and exploits on ‘The Track’. Tom and Henry were immortalized in the famous 1954 film `Back Of Beyond`. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth a look. With the local community dishing up the best damper I’ve ever eaten washed down with billy tea we hung around for a gander.

   After lunch it was time to hit the track, air down the tyres and head off to Mungeranie. We soon came to Clayton Bore and stopped for smoko. This is a great spot to camp along the way or stop for a break with flushing toilets, hot showers, solar lighting, drinking water and a free artesian hot tub if you want to unwind a bit.

   Having a chat with a group of grey nomads during smoko at Clayton Bore - We learnt that the crew of 3 x 100 Series Landcruisers towing big vans had a great trip from Walkers Crossing up to Birdsville on the outside track and down the inside. “ No probs mate, a real good drive”. One of the blokes said “Keep an eye on the weather. Rain is forecast and if they get 5mm rain they shut the track.”

   Bewdy our plan was to go up the inside track and down the outside and spend a few days heading from Walkers Crossing to Innamincka, Tibooburra and onto The Corner Store at Cameron’s Corner for some milk, bread and beer. At the corner we would have a rest before heading out to Broken Hill and home to be back in time.

   After we left Clayton Bore we came across a couple of chaps changing a tyre. Pulled up to offer a hand and I tried to plug their tyre. But the plug wouldn’t take, as we found later when they got the tyre off the rim at the pub it was badly fractured. After introducing ourselves to Rolly & Peter we decided to follow them into Mungeranie in case they had more tyre probs and we ended up camping nearby and having a few ales to get the dust from the track out of our throats.

   After a few pre dinner drinks with the boys it was then off to have a hot shower before a real bewt countery and cleansing ale in the pub for tea.

   It transpired Rolly and Peter had also been planning their trip for some time as we had. For a couple of Adelaide Crows supporters and Cooper’s drinkers they were bloody good blokes.


Day 3: 8-6-08

   I woke early from a blissful sleep in the Kanga with rain falling on the tent. Sounded like it would set in and on getting outside it looked to me like we’d had about 5-6mm. But no one new exactly how much. This dear reader is where things started to turn to sh-1-t!

   There were rumours around the camps that the road to Birdsville was shut, then that it wasn’t, then it was gunna be shut at lunchtime. No one could find out. The publican was on the phone but no one seemed to have any reliable info. No reports of how much rain had fallen or what more was predicted were forth coming either.

   Around 1000 a couple of Hilux utes pulled in for fuel. They said they left Birdsville at 0500 and had driven down to Mungeranie in 2wd. “Mate the first 20 klms of clay out of town was a bit sticky”, “some of the creeks had water in them but nothing to worry about”, “the Birdsville copper told us he isn’t closing the road”

   Initially I was pretty worried about the weather, as I knew towing a camper in the wet was asking for trouble. We decided to camp at the pub another day and see what happens. Then the report came through that there was a break in the weather and if anyone wanted to get to Birdsville now was the time to go.

   Rolly and Peter decided they were off to Birdsville in their petrol auto Jeep Cherokee with worn tyres and only 1 spare tyre left. The 2 couples driving Nissan Patrols camped on the other side of us who had been traveling the Simpson, Birdsville and other desert tracks for 30 years decided it was worth a run. The chap in the brand new Prado camped behind us decided he didn’t want to risk getting his new rig too dirty on its first trip and headed back south to Marree. “ I’ll have another go at the track next year” he said. I thought about this bloke a lot later on and I reckoned he was one of the smartest blokes I’ve ever met.

   Me and Mumps decided, “ok, we’ll go too”. We decided with Rolly and Peter if the going got too tough we’d all meet up and camp together that night at the cozy camping area at Clifton Hills just south of where the inside and outside tracks diverge.

   So, Rolly and Peter had been gone a bit over and hour when at 1120 on Sunday 8-6-08 we locked the Prado into 4wd and me and Mumps continued to `toodle on up to Birdsville`.

   We got a few clicks up the track and guess what? It started to drizzle rain. Then it started to rain a bit heavier and then it set in. Oh-oh I thought. After I’d blinked a couple of times the Birdsville Track had turned into the Birdsville Bog and all we could do was keep the Prado heading north. There was nowhere, and I mean nowhere to stop, pullover or turn the car and a fully loaded camper trailer around and chicken out!

   Not long after, our first obstacle appeared. A big Isuzu tour bus and trailer with a load of tourists heading for Mungeranie. I had to move over and give way. I asked the driver, “ how’s the track ahead mate?” “Oh it’s a bit greasy but not too bad…. Yet.” As he moved past I went to take off and we were bogged for the first time in the porridge on the side of the track. A bit of a gutsful on the throttle in Low 1 soon had us back up on the track and we continued to `toodle on up to Birdsville`.

   Well, the rain stayed steady and the track got more dangerous. It got bloody dark bloody quick and ALL the creek crossings had water in them and most of them were running! Just on dark we were passed by the 2 Nissan Patrol drivers who had camped beside us. They were doing it tough too but as they weren’t towing they passed us and in no time were out of sight and radio contact.

   I got bogged again in the mess they had made of the track. I had to keep moving the car and trailer back and forth, and reefing the wheel left to right so the side lugs of the tyres could bite in and get some grip until we ever so slowly started to inch forward.

   All we could do was drive. As we kept moving I noticed I was becoming bloody anxious (the missus actually was mopping sweat off me brow at a couple of stages). The degree of concentration required to maintain forward propulsion had me `shakin` like a dog shitting razor blades` at times. Whenever a road marker appeared stress would hit. The three main ones were BEND, CREST and GRID. A bend was the most fearsome as this meant I had to get around it without the camper skewing sideways into the porridge and bogging us. A crest was bad too as it meant an uphill run and heavy going with the risk of also getting stuck uphill. But a grid sign was good. Here I could pull up, get a drink out of the fridge have a stretch and a piddle and kick some of that bloody mud off me boots.

   Somewhere around this time, to go with the cracked windscreen we sustained earlier in the trip, I cracked one of me driving lights and blew the globe on the other going through the many creek crossings. Visibility (or lack of) was now a major issue. Thank God for snorkels!
Somehow through the rain and foggy windows we saw the sign to Clifton Hills where we were supposed to meet Rolly and Peter but there was no way I was pulling off to look for them or a camp.

   I said to mum; “gee I hope those poor buggers aren’t stuck there for too long waiting to get that bloody petrol Jeep with stuffed tyres back on the track”

   We continued along for a while as the Birdsville Track narrowed. Now we started to panic as we began to get really worried that in the poor visibility we might have accidentally strayed onto the inside track, which is totally impassable with a bit of moisture on it. The inside track is the most scenic (when you can see) but it runs through the Goyder Lagoon floodplain.

   We were most relieved to see two sets of headlights coming up behind us. I pulled up in the middle of the track so they could negotiate to pass us. A GU Patrol stopped for a chat and out hopped Birdsville local Robert Butler on his way back from the Tom Kruse show we saw him at in Marree the day prior. “Shit bloke, look at this bloody track! We musta had a cupla bloody inches I reckon”. Our hearts sank as I warily asked, “ummm…. we aren’t on the inside track are we?” “ Nuh, shit bloke if ya were on the inside track you’d be stuck for months in this wet”. Anyhow, he said the “way ya goin` ya should be in Birdsville by midnight”. It was about 1830. We were emotionally exhausted, hungry, thirsty and a wee bit worried. Robert and his wife and the following vehicle wished us well, headed off and said they’d keep and eye out for us like the Nissan drivers had said as they 4 wheeled past us. But we knew in reality there was no one to help and until we got to Birdsville it was `every man for himself`.

   After they overtook us we got badly bogged for the third time and each time the track was wetter and muddier and self-extraction more difficult and harder on vehicle and passengers. By now most of the driving was in very heavy low range 4wd due to the people overtaking us and wrecking the track for the camper. Another minor concern at this stage was the fuel gauge was dropping quicker than I liked too. If we never had to tow the camper the Prado would of got us to Birdsville that night and ahead of anyone else it was doing that well. But the camper was just about 700kg of dead weight in the slush.

   As we continued to `toodle on up to Birdsville` I had a double whammy… we came to both a slight crest on a bend. I gave the old girl the onions and up we went but the camper lost the Prado’s line and it hit the porridge on the side of the track and dragged the Prado in with it.

   This time we were stuck, bogged, in the goo, ROO-TED! I tried all the previous tricks that had got us this far but to no avail. With the donk roaring up around 3500 to 4000 RPM and the clutch starting to give off a nasty burning smell, I shut down the engine. We were beat. It was 1945 on Sunday night. We’d been going solid with no food or rest for over 8 ½ hours (I shoulda called the union!) and had managed to cover only around 230 klm’s! The speedo showed more than this but from the track signs we must of clocked up a lot of extra k’s in wheel spin.

   I got out and had a look with the torch and in the dark things looked a bit dour so it was back into the car out of the rain. Until daylight we would have no idea where we were or just how badly we would be stuck.

   Now dear reader this is where things got a wee bit tense between my beloved and I. “What now?” I was asked. “Get some sleep and we’ll check things at daybreak”. “Sleep where?” “ In the car, we can’t set up the camper in this slop hole”. Mumps had a cry; I felt like it but was too buggered. I was a jibberin` idjit inside. The rain finally stopped around 11pm.

   By about midnight the last feed I had had at 0800 that morning had well and truly been digested. I was that hungry I could of jumped into Bass Straight with a broken beer bottle and fought a white pointer for a lump of horsemeat. So, it was out into a foot of mud, grab the snags out of the fridge and set up the gas cooker and frypan on the special fold down table I had made on the Prado’s rear door for just such an occasion!

   Well I rustled up a few snags in bread in no time. I managed to struggle from the back of the car to the passenger side window and pass in a nice hot feed to Mumps just like at a McDonald’s drive through. What thanks did I get for such a feat? NO “this is bewt”, “yummy”, “great cook you are”. NOPE. All I got was, “where’s the sauce?” GRRR. Then it was back in the car for a doze in the cold thinking of the comfy queen size nuptial cot hitched up behind us we couldn’t use. As I nodded off I realized Mumps hadn’t had a pee for a while. A bloody long while come to think of it.


Day 4: 9-6-08

   The daylight showed we were stuck half a k on the Marree side of the Birdsville 83k sign. In the light of day I had a pink fit when I saw what we had driven through. I was also apoplectic when I looked ahead and saw what we had to go through to get out. Fair dinkum if we could have seen what we were doing we would not of made it as far as we did. The track was sheer turmoil.

   As Mumps was returning from a dune after leaving a part of her in the desert she looked half a k behind us and discovered we had neighbours. About a kilometer behind us through the binocs we could see a mob of blokes and 2 vehicles that also must have been bogged.

   Now it was light we had to think how to extract the Prado and Kanga. I had a really nice winch up front but with no tree or other anchor point in sight it was about as handy as an ashtray on a motorbike. I reckoned the best thing to do was wait a while for the track to dry out a bit in the sun and wind. I would have a go later in the morning and if that was no good wait until about 3pm that arvo for another shot.

   In the meantime we had some work to do. I let more air out of the tyres. We mucked round for over an hour finding sticks to build up under the tyres, filled in the wheel ruts the best we could and waited for sun and breeze to hit the track. So about 10am we were ready to have a go. We loaded up, fired up and gave her the onions. After all the work and preparation, we gained a metre and then in no time were stuck straight back in the soup.

   So, disheartened we set up the kitchen for smoko and we would wait until later in the arvo for another go. I filled in time by walking down the track to watch it dry. I daydreamed about having a nice new ARB air locker diff and what I would give for one. Shit, I might even trade in the missus for one. No I wouldn’t, but for front and rear lockers, mmm? Mum did Sudoku puzzles `only the easy ones though`.

   One of the cars behind us was on the move and heading our way. We prepared for visitors with excitement and anticipation. Soon 3 burly Queenslanders crammed into a Landcruiser ute stopped by for a chat. One bloke had on gleaming white sneakers, which we thought was odd then before he got out for a chat he took them off and stood ankle deep in the bog in bare feet. They told of their horror story of coming out of Walker’s Crossing which was under water and that the Navara ute stuck was busted not bogged. It had no snorkel and its engine was full of water and buggered. They were low on diesel from the heavy conditions and going to get help. They said Innamincka hadn’t had rain in 8 years and it started the day they arrived. They were also the support crew for a group of blokes on trailbikes and were worried about them. We told them we only saw their bike tracks.

   Their cruiser was loaded with gear and just maintaining traction. Getting it to snatch us out wasn’t an option at that stage, it was just too greasy. As they left I noticed it had a set of skinny tyres and they were making good tracks. I thought if I can get the Prado just 2-3 meters up into those wheel ruts we might get somewhere. I went for a stroll, a bit of a long stroll actually. Working on the principle if I can walk on it I should be able to drive on it. Although not 100% accurate it would prove near enough.

   After a while of meandering me pea brain went EUREKA! - On the side of the track I spied something better than a gold nugget. A steel star picket fence post! I said to meself “ I wonder, I bloody well wonder”. You see dear reader we used to be able to de-bog the old pig shootin` buggy from the black soil bogs in New South with these but we needed to lash 3 together as the first one would always give way in the black dirt. Anyhow, beggars can’t be choosers so it was back to camp to show Mumps me find. I told her we’d give it a go in an hour when the track had more sun on it. I warned her not to get too excited, as I doubted whether one picket would do the job. I was also worried that the winch wouldn’t be up to the task of pulling a cruiser and fully loaded camper out of the suction. But it was me last trick available so we had to try. If this failed we would just have to wait…and wait…. and wait. The time was nearing. I let more air out of the tyres. I put the picket on a 30-degree angle. 105 whacks with the head of the axe later and the picket was driven through the slush down into hard gibber with just enough protruding to hook the winch up to. This job alone would have been a 2 stubby recovery job for me but I had a bigger recovery job on me hands. (Hence no time for photos unfortunately).

   All I needed was a 2-3 metre pull up into the skinny tyre tracks before the picket would come up to 90 degrees and pull free. So, with much trepidation I got Mumps to stand aside and to keep an eye on the picket. I started driving the wheels and winching. We got a metre and the winch overheated and stalled. Revving the engine around 2000 RPM the winch pulled a bit more and stalled again. Click! Click! Went the solenoids. We were still stuck. I gave it a minute to cool down the winch and let the battery recharge. Gave the old girl another guts full and the winch was screaming in cable…. We were nearly out! Another rest for the winch along with a good rev and the winch had pulled us out the full length of the cable and up into me mates wheel ruts. I was dumbstruck. WE WERE OUT!!!

   Next problem. The star picket was stuck in the track. It never moved as I expected and it was now a deadly obstacle for not only us but also any other vehicle that would hit it. I tried to dig it out. No go. Mumps dug down a couple of feet along its length while I let out some cable. Hooked the winch back on and gave it a pull. The winch busted the picket free and so were we!

   If anyone along that track had heard the whoopin`, hollerin` and larfin` as we were going down that crest they would of thought we had won the 50 million Powereball jackpot. We were back on the track so we could continue to `toodle on up to Birdsville`.

   It was just after 2.00 pm. We had been bogged for 18 hours. We were now in flat boggy sand dune country. Following the skinny ruts was mostly good going as my wider tyres compacted down on the skinnier tracks. But whenever we lost concentration and his line we were in trouble. We lost count of the number of times we got bogged but we followed the Queenslander’s tracks until dark and had to decide whether to risk another bog or find somewhere to camp for the night and make a run for Birdsville the next day. We pulled over and set up the camper in the porridge. At least tonight we’d be tucked up nice and warm in a comfy bed. We had made 57k in the 3 hours before dark. We were still about 30-40k from Birdsville. That night we watched the sunset, celebrated the Mighty Pies lucky Queen’s Birthday win and had T-bone steak and veges washed down with a nice bottle of red.  Mumps even had sauce on her steak!


Day 5: 10-6-08

   Here we were bright and early watching and waiting for the track to dry and pretty sure we were bogged again due to the way we were both walking 10-foot tall with the mud on our boots and the ground sheet was more brown than green.

   Around 0830 a car was approaching us from Birdsville! It was me mate from Queensland with the skinny tyres heading back to pick up some more gear and blokes from the busted Navara. With Birdsville Auto charging a lazy 3 grand for vehicle recovery they had to do as much as they could. 3 grand- SHIT! Gee I was glad I upgraded me RACV cover to Total Care before we left. Only problem was with me useless next G phone I couldn’t ring them for help if I wanted to! Also, he expected to be back in a few hours and if we were still bogged he would be able to snatch us out. So, we got packing up ready to make the final effort to `toodle on up to Birdsville`.

   After he left another vehicle was approaching. It looked to be doing it pretty easy too. Soon a new V8 cruiser ute with a couple of good ol’ Queenslanders in it dressed appropriately in moleskins and Akubras with swags on the back stopped for a mag, - “gees mate ya look a bit stuck” the driver drawled. “Yep,” I replied just a dryly. They told us we had about 30k to get to town and they reckon the going was pretty tough. They were pretty amazed we had managed to tow a camper as far as we did. When I told them that this was `easy` going compared to what was ahead of them they left us a bit less cocky but that big V8 diesel with nothing hitched behind it just idled off into the distance heading for Mungeranie like it was on its way to church.

   Not long after the V8 ute had gone more visitors were coming. Next it was 2 Nissan Patrol utes coming toward us with big fully inflated muddies ruining the track I was gunna hope to drive out on. It was Don Goldney from Sydney and his mates who only just got out of the Simpson in the wet a few days earlier. He was pretty worried about us when he saw we had a camper on the back. He tried to talk us into ditching it and driving into town and picking it up later when the track dried out. After hearing from him how they couldn’t afford to stay any longer in town due to exorbitant accommodation, food, beer and fuel costs - leaving the camper was never an option.

   He also told of the horror stretch for the first 20k out of Birdsville. I assured him that it could not possibly be worse than what we had done already. And if he let 10lb of air out of his tyres he’d be amazed what a difference it would make. When he told me that the Diamantina River was running a banker and flowing pretty hard I went into a panic and asked him, “ how am I gunna get the camper across that?” “Same as me mate, just drive over the bridge and into Birdsville”. Yep, the strain was showing all right. He offered us food, water and even BEER in case we got stuck. All this with him not knowing what was ahead of him. Another bloody good bloke met. But we had enough tucker, good water and lots of BEER! I could live here… not! He got our phone number to ring me when he got back to Sydney. He was concerned and wanted to find out how we got the camper into Birdsville. Anyhow with their tyres aired down they got going a lot easier.

   So we were packed up and ready to roll. We were bogged, but by now it was nothing major. A bit of rock ‘n rollin’ back and forth and we were on the way.

  In a couple of hours we had `toodled on up to Birdsville`!

   We got to town mid afternoon and as you can guess we were both pretty keen to have some of life’s little luxuries like a flushing toilet instead of the shovel and a hot shower instead of a lick and a promise with a puff of powder!

   First stop was the servo where we discovered Don was right about prices. Due to the heavy 4 wheeling in the 520 k’s from Marree to Birdsville the Prado had used 123 litres of diesel @ $1.93/L it cost $238.00 OUCH! Then the nice lady at the servo directed us to one of the few things in town that was free, the car wash. After getting a bit of the goo off the car and camper it was into the caravan park to get some goo off us. I even lashed out and shouted Mumps a powered site with shade!

   After we set up camp and could stand the smell of each other again it was time to meet the locals. One of the ladies in the Patrols we left Mungeranie with was there and they were rapt that we had made it. Her husband commented, “In 30 years of traveling this area that’s the most severe driving I’ve ever done, I was a nervous wreck when we had to stop that night at Pandie Pandie”. I replied, “Ya not alone there sunshine”.

   Apparently people were worried about us and couldn’t believe we had towed a camper up the track after it was hit with 3 inches of rain from the Saturday night. We asked them if they had any news about Rolly & Peter? “Oh they are fine, they traveled with us for a while and they got into Birdsville yesterday”. Well bugger me, them bloody Croweatin`, Jeep drivin` Cooper’s drinkers had beaten us into town by 24 hours. Where are the bastards? So we found their site and it was over there for pre dinner drinks and then them over to our place `The Birdsville Hilton ` for after dinner drinks. We had a great night catching up as all the `horror stories` from the track unfolded around the caravan park.

   Before our arrival the park had been flooded and fourbys were actually being snatched and winched in and out. It was chockers with grey nomads with campers, vans and barra boats all waiting to make the break to Darwin when the roads reopened. The only vehicle to get through that night was Robert Butler who got home to Birdsville at 0100 on the Monday morning. One of the Nissans ran out of fuel at Pandie Pandie station 28k from Birdsville. The vehicle with Robert’s mates in it had to stop as well and helped them get a jerry of fuel the next morning from Pandie Pandie and they got to town on that. The trailbike riders had to pull up and spend the night sleeping on one of the cattle grids. There was a story of an over loaded Hilux with a broken chassis and sheered off wheel nuts also waiting to be recovered.

   Now what about Rolly and Peter? They got to Clifton Hills and left us a note to say they had kept going. They too couldn’t stop and drove the Jeep as it coughed and spluttered and missed through the creek crossings. They also eventually got bogged and had to sleep in the car that night. Like us, they kept reminding each other how much fun they were having. In daylight they de bogged it and made it to Birdsville. Like us they were on a time frame. They wouldn’t be doing the same trip we planned either. They were heading off bright and early the next morning and they intended to drive all the way back down that bloody track and home to Adelaide. With a stop at Mungeranie to give the publican some feedback on the quality of his road and weather reporting no doubt.

   Towing the camper all the way back down the Birdsville Track was never an option for us. We needed to hit bitumen. The quickest way was to head 400k northeast to Windorah then south to Victoria and bewdiful Beechworth. But the Birdsville Development Road was in as bad a condition as the track and looked like being the last road to open. We had to wait.


Day 6: 11-6-08

   Next morning there was movement at the caravan park. The road to Mt Isa and the territory had been reopened and the grey nomads were loading up vans and barra boats and shooting through! By the time we had finished brekky Rolly and Peter were long gone and the park all but empty. We were having a well-earned rest day and anxiously waiting for road reports to be faxed through ASAP. We did some washing, dried out some gear, fixed one of the broken driving lights etc. and did a tour of the town. We had smoko at the bakery where I sampled one of Dusty Miller’s famous curried camel pies and it was good-o. I also bought a bewt souvenir from him as a good reminder of our trip! He told us the road to Windorah was still a bit dodgy as he had recently done a vehicle recovery 50k out. Shit!

   Later that arvo I was wandering around the caravan park when I spied a car with a `Ballarat` sticker on it. There was bloke strumming a guitar and I asked him, “ hey mate, you from Ballarat?” “Yep” he replied. “ Who are ya?” I asked. “Neil McArthur”. “Bloody hell Noddy is that you”? I asked taking off me shades and hat. It’s me, ya old mate Ben Sherritt from St Pats and Lakeside”. Well we had a bit of a chat and Mumps met his charming wife Colleen who was an ex Lakeside girl and we all had a great time. We were straight off for a proper catch up and reminisce at the famous Birdsville Pub. Turns out Noddy has been on the road on and off for a few years traveling around and making a quid doing MC work at festivals like Tamworth and selling cd’s of his bush poetry and songs and putting on live performances around the outback towns.

   The next night he was putting on a show in the Caravan Park and Coll was catering with a camp oven stew of curried camel (a Birdsville staple) with apple crumble for afters. Going by the great quality of the work on the couple of cd’s we got off Noddy we would of missed another great night no doubt.

   So after our arvo session catch up it was off to get groceries then to the info centre for a road report. Then a leg of lamb in the pressure cooker for tea with the plan to meet back at the pub that night to catch up with Noddy and all me new found mates from the track, who I would probably never see again to watch the 2nd State Of Origin match.

   The road report I was given was that the road to Windorah was open to high clearance 4wd vehicles only and the first 30k out of Birdsville was still pretty dicey. There had been a Greyhound bus stuck in town with a load of runners who had been bussed in the Friday prior from Brisbane for the $10,000 Diamantina Gift. It was due to leave on the Sunday and everyone was getting pretty cranky at still being marooned in Birdsville. Rumour was the bus was gunna make a run for it next morning. So was I. I wanted to beat that bus outta town.

   That night the Birdsville Pub was rocking. The runners were still waiting to catch the bus. The Queenslander’s were all there getting excited about the Maroons. The bloke with the shiny white sneakers was wearing them but they were finally a grotty brown like I knew they would end up. The bike riders were relaxed. There would have been up to 50 people in the bar.

   Just before the game started the publican announced, “ righto, it’s free grog until the first Try is scored”. The crowd roared. There were blokes grabbing cans of Bundy and Whiskey. Pure Blonde stubbies, which before they were free were selling for $7.00 a pop (a slab would set you back $68). It was great and here’s lil ol’ Victorian me cheering and praying for a nil all draw! We all had our ears laid back in bliss, which lasted a full 5-6 minutes when the bloody Maroons scored a Try. On their way to a 30-0 drubbing of the Blues. SHIT! Noddy pointed out the look on the publican’s face as the colour drained from it when one of the barmen presented him with the bar tab for that few minutes of madness. At the time of writing the Birdsville Pub is on the market for $6M. With a bed @ $140/night, VB Beer @ 5.50/ stubby and a main meal about $30 plus another $5-6 for a side salad if ya have a few million to spare you’ll make ya money back in no time. The pub atmosphere is worth a trip. After the match it was back to the Kanga Hilton for a kip before heading off early next day.


Day 7: 12-6-08

   We were up and packed ready to rock n’ roll at first light. Noddy and Coll wandered over to wish a safe trip. As soon as we hit (literally) the Birdsville Development Road to Windorah we knew that Greyhound bus wasn’t gunna be leaving that day or the next at least.

   The trip to Windorah was as bad as the Birdsville track for the first 60k not 30k as reported. Worse in parts due to half the road being washed away sometimes which would of destroyed any suspension and vehicle hitting it a bit fast. But by know we were well used to a average top speed of 20 kph. We only got bogged once getting out. Then the road gradually got drier and better. After hitting the bitumen about 280k’s from Birdsville it was then on to Windorah. Then lunch with the `Cunamulla Fella` before starting heading south.

   As promised we put on Noddy’s cd's at the bitumen to celebrate and we larfed and larfed and larfed. As me ol' mate Noddy would say,” We were happier than a kiwi with a sheep!” They’re grouse mate thanks a lot!

   We made Quilpie that night.

   After a night in Quilpie it was then a days drive and we spent the next night in Bourke. From Bourke we drove all day and arrived in Beechworth on Saturday night with a day to spare and in time for the appointment on the Monday. Due to the 3 days we lost stuck on the Birdsville Bog we only got one full rest day but shit we met some great folk and had a ball in the end once we got out of the mud. It was one of life’s great adventures.

   The day after the appointment I asked Mumps, “What’s on today?”
“Not much”.
I asked, “How would ya like to go for a `toodle on up to Birdsville`?”………
And that dear reader is why I currently have 2 black eyes!


Our first nights camp at Hooking Creek


Fuelling up at the Marree Roadhouse


Robert Butler and son with Tom Kruse


Great Mate the roads open!


Smoko at Clayton Bore


The facilities at Clayton Bore


 Filling the hot tub


Camping at Mungeranie


Camping at Mungeranie


One of Tom Kruse’s old trucks


Leaving Mungeranie – bad move!






The pix don’t really


show the severity but we were



 stuck in goo proper!


I’m dreaming of a ……. ARB Air Locker or two!


Where we came from after the bog


 Where we’re going to


Camping on the track


Cooking T-bones with sauce!


Mumps doing Sudoku -`only the easy ones`


Our 2nd camp was as muddy as the first


Here comes me mate from Queensland again.


End of the track- Diamantina in flood


Made it! Qld border- Birdsville!


Birdsville car wash


 The Birdsville Hilton – very comfy


Peter and his Jeep Cherokee


The must have shot of the Prado at the Birdsville Pub



Birdsville Pub


Reliving the track with the Queenslanders


Over 25 years later I meet me old mate Noddy in Birdsville!


Leaving Birdsville was proving just as


 hard as getting there for a good while.


Lunch at Cunamulla with the `Cunnamulla Fella`