There was a magnificent sunrise and no ice on the cars. Cloud had kept some warmth in.
We packed up and drove up the west side of Lake Poeppel, crossing the salt encrusted surface near the northern end. Light rain settled the dust.
Having made our northing we headed east along the QAA line towards the Queensland border. One desert but three states and three different regulatory authorities. In South Australia we’d travelled through the Witjira National Park and then a Regional Reserve, in the Northern Territory we appeared to be on vacant Crown Land. At the Queensland Border we entered the Munga-Thirri National Park.
The QAA line is initially similar to the French Line, rolling dunes. The dunes are quite high and the swales quite broad often with a clay surface. The amount of vegetation seemed to be slowly declining.
We had a decision to make regarding our camp site. Beyond Munga-Thirri lies Adria Station. After leaving the National Park there would be nowhere to camp until Eyre Creek. Off to our north-east lie the three major rivers of the channel country, the Georgina, Diamantina and Cooper. Georgina joins with Burke and Hamilton to become the Eyre Creek, this is the driest of the three. Some years water flows down these channels into Lake Eyre, some years there is no flow at all. When we set off we knew that the Warburton was flooded and that Eyre Creek was dry.
We could smell the impending rain. The big question was would it be enough to bring us to a halt? There were three options
- a mad dash for Birdsville
- a longish day to the far side of Eyre Creek
- short drive, camp in the park
One of the highlights of the trip was still ahead of us, the most famous dune in the universe – Big Red. We had no wish to rush this. The mad dash was rejected.
A camp in the park would be on sand. Wet sand is absolute luxury compared to mud. The black soil along the creek would only be fit for hippos after just a couple of millimeters of rain. And surely there would only be a couple of millimeters, big rain events are usually summer phenomena …
We camped just inside the park.
One of the locals was also happy to smell the roses ..
By evening it was cold and raining heavily. Overnight there was a very impressive thunderstorm. My guesstimate is we had 25 mm of rain. We piled out of our tents in the morning to a landscape full of little lakes.
We got the weather forecast by satellite phone. They’re was much more to come and the Eyre Creek flood plain ahead of us. This was going to be interesting.