Trouble on the Oodnadatta Track: Marree to Lake Eyre South

Not being in a 4WD, roads like the Oodnadatta Track are greeted with gritted teeth and apprehension but with all sections reportedly accessible, we left Marree to see what it has in store for us.

Some way up the road we found a strange commune of new age types. Huge sculptures glistened in the distance and as we drew closer we saw two small planes welded together and something akin to a sculpted freemason’s eye swinging in the wind. We had been told of crazy raves out in the desert by locals and surmised from the dreads and decks that this must be the location of the desert doof.

Sculptures on the Oodnadatta Track, South Australia
A budget Burning Man
Planehenge sculpture, Oodnadatta Track, South Australia
Cut ‘n’ shut job
Upsidedown car in sculpture park, Oodnadatta Track
Does the car drive the wheel or the wheel drive the car?

A series of unfortunate events

By the time we arrived at Lake Eyre South, the sun had dipped so we decided to stay at what Camps Australia called a ‘railway siding’ in Curdimurka. It turned out to be a very creepy looking, deserted 19th century rail building. We stepped out of the van to explore the place only to be scared out of our wits by a number of nesting birds inside the building. We scurried back to the van, and at which point, Gaz says to Shelley:

“Please tell me you have your keys?”

“No”

“Bollocks!”

Stuck on the Oodnadatta Track, the most remote place we’ve ever been to, in the desert, at night, in a creepy abandoned settlement from the pages of a Goosebumps book, we had locked ourselves out of the van and had nothing in our pockets. No phones, not that there was any reception anyway, no lighters for a fire to keep us warm and no pocket knives for MacGyvering our way into the van.

We ferreted at the windows and locks and door jams for a while with bits of leftover railway metal, knowing our attempts were futile. We weighed the likelihood of someone coming down the track before morning and returning with assistance with the immediate and more concrete option of breaking a window. The certainty of the latter appealed to us so we went and found a really big rock, which bounced off the front passenger window a few times before Gaz got a bit more aggressive and shattered the goddamn thing. The rest of the evening was spent cleaning up the glass that went EVERYWHERE while the guarddog galahs squawked at us from the eaves of the shack.

Curdimurka railway station sign, South Australia
Locked out of your van? An easy stroll to the nearest city
Steam engine water tank, Curdimurka, South Australia
It’s been a while between services
Curdimurka railway siding building, South Australia
Mind the broken glass

Roaming the salt flats of Lake Eyre South

Breaking the window didn’t affect our trajectory, as we were planning to head back south after visiting Lake Eyre anyway. Walking the salt flats in the early morning was a very calming experience that temporarily distracted us from our monumental f-up. The lake bed went on forever and trying to find where the water officially began (yes there’s water in there at the moment) was like trying catch the end of a rainbow.

Wildflowers, Lake Eyre South, South Australia
Told you there’s water in it
Dry river bed, Lake Eyre South, South Australia
Where they staged the moon landing
Salt flats, Lake Eyre South, South Australia
… yep, tastes like salt
Walking the salt flats, Lake Eyre South, South Australia
Something tells me we’ve been here before…
Rearview mirror, Oodnadatta Track, South Australia
Fangin’ it
Shelley walking salt flats, Lake Eyre South, South Australia
Is that Megan Gale in Fury Road?

Highs: The whole time we had a passenger side window 

Lows: When the van decided it had had enough of our shit and deployed central locking for the first time in its life

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