Friday, 23 August 2013

A road less travelled .. Part 5 .... Birdsville to Bourke via Innamincka

Leaving Birdsville the next morning we headed to Innaminka; a journey of 420 kilometres which would take us around 7 hours. Our first stop was only a short distance from Birdsville at one of the Burke and Wills slash trees - a reminder of their historical journey and the site of their last camp before entering the Innamincka area. 

In 1860 - 61 Burke and Wills  led an expedition which intended to travel 3,250 kilometres across Australia south from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north.   This was an ill fated journey as they both died near Cooper Creek in June 1861. To find out more search Dig a Burke & Wills research gateway.

Next stop was Cadelga Station;  once a thriving station its now in ruins and forms part of Cordillo Downs.

Next stop was Cordillo Downs Station.  This station once ran around 85,000 sheep and shearers would make the 4.5 hour journey on bicycles to work at what was the largest wool shed at the time. The owners continually struggled with drought and dingoes and in the seventies after dingoes killed virtually every lamb they moved to running cattle. 

The shed is a heritage listed monument to bygone days

We arrived in Innamincka late afternoon looking forward to exploring the surrounding area and in particular seeing more of the sights connected with the Burke and Wills expedition. There are 2 trains of thought regarding this expedition one regards them as great explorers who ran out of luck whilst the other regards Burke as "a bit of a boffin" and a political appointment ill equipped to head such an expedition.

Whichever you believe the fact remains to make a journey of that scale in those times is an incredible feat of endurance. The fact that they missed their support members by a matter of hours is just another disastrous event that affected them.

From Innamincka you can visit "the Dig Tree" where their support crew left supplies for them. Burke's grave site along with Wills are easily accessible as is the site where the rescue team found King the sole survivor in very poor health.  

The Australian Inland Mission Building at Innamincka houses a fantastic display of the history of the mission and many other facts about the history of the surrounding area.

Of course a visit to the Innamincka Hotel is also a must. The bar is full of interesting trinkets left by previous travellers and we had an amazing dinner before retiring back to camp along the Strezlecki Creek.

The creek is currently dry but last time Garry camped at its edge heavy rain turned it into a raging force during the night. This made for an emergency dash back to Innamincka with the water coming up over the bonnet of our Defender when they crossed the creek.

The next morning we followed dingo tracks on the creek bed until we reach Cooper Creek. The Cooper's many channels spread out across a vast area stretching from Queensland to South Australia. Many of these are dry most of the time but when the rains fall its waters flow into Lake Eyre.

Today we were lucky to see a number of pelicans enjoying feeding on the fish within the waters of the Cooper.

After breakfast the next day we were on our way again, this time heading to a couple of outback Queensland towns made famous in poems and songs. We stayed at Thargomindah and then travelled through Cunnamulla, the home of the Cunnamulla fella, and then onto Bourke. Along the way we saw many emus, kangaroos and wedgetail eagles. 

Bourke is said by many to be the gateway to the real outback and this is encapsulated by the saying "back o'Bourke".  The information centre houses an amazing Back o' Bourke show spanning 3 buildings each complex telling elements of the history of the area. 

The next day we returned to see the outback show which was fantastic and lots of fun. It was basically a one man show with authentic bush poetry and demonstrations of how camels, horses, dogs and bullocks were used. 

If you ever get out that way we'd recommend taking the time to see visit both the displays and the shows. Bourke also has a number of other attractions which unfortunately we didn't have time to explore.

1 comment:

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