Day 34-36 May 29 -31 , 2022

Flinders Ranges – Maree – Port Augusta – Balranald – Sydney

Sunday – May 29th, Day 34

Another chilly morning (3°C) with a gentle pink sunrise. We had frozen hands as we packed up and headed out for another traverse of  Branchina Gorge.

As we were early, we were very fortunate to have another successful sighting of the Yellow-footed Rock- wallaby.  We saw quite a few in the same locations as previously. We could have watched them for ages. Such shy and gentle looking animals. We were very conscious of not disturbing them. We reluctantly  left and got on with our trip out of the Park.

As we headed north of the mining community at Leigh Creek we were on the Oodnadatta Track, which heads to the Simpson Desert. I could feel apprehension building in the pit of my stomach  something about the big open landscape always scares me a little. I feel so vulnerable and insignificant in this vast sparse landscape.  Although today, this arid landscape did look remarkably green. A result of the recent flooding rains in this region.  

Rain accompanied us all the way to Marree, a small township at the junction of Oodnadatta and Birdsville tracks.   The Birdsville track was open to 4WD all the way to Birdsville, 550 km away,  which was our intended destination. Looking at the  road closures north  showed that travel north into Queensland out of Birdsville was not possible due to flooding.  And our planned scenic flight over Lake Eyre was also not possible due to rain and low cloud with more adverse weather approaching.  Studying the state maps of inland road closures made us realise that our only option is to turn back south towards Port Augusta and from there reconsider our options. The publican at Marree told us it was best to get out if we didn’t want to risk getting stuck in town.

Marree Pub

So reluctant to turn back, but we really had no choice. In hindsight it was the right decision as the Birdsville Track out of Marree was closed by lunchtime.

It was a long boring drive back to Port Augusta under grey skies, strong winds and pouring rain.

Monday – May 30th, Day 35

A weather pattern bringing strong winds, rain and elow temperatures is sweeping across the south and southeastern parts of the continent. We looked at our options overnight and many places we though of visiting were closed to flooding so we made the decision to head home.

It was a grey and foggy start to the day.
We left Port Augusta and turned east through the mountains towards Peterborough.

Driving through the foggy range was pretty but as soon as we descended on the other side it was flat, sheep grazing and pasture country. It stayed pretty much like that till we reached Balranald in New South Wales.

Crossing the Murray River is always interesting. Today it was wide and swollen. The countryside was sodden and it won’t take much rain before it floods again. 
So happy to be warm and dry in a hotel room overnight as the rain pelted down outside.

Flooded farmland
Murray River

Tuesday May 31, Day 36

Our No Sunglasses Required Tour 2022 ended the way it started – raining.
Home is only 850km away. So all day was pedal to the metal, to get home. We made it just after dark, crawling through evening  peak-hour traffic. Over the past five weeks we have covered a distance  of 8,500 km (5, 282 miles).