Tom's mail truck on display in Marree
Tom delivered mail and other supplies including fuel and medicine to remote stations from Maree in outback South Australia to Birdsville in outback Queensland. This was a journey of 523 kilometres (325 miles) over roads that were little more than a track including sand dunes. The trip 2 weeks and Tom regularly had to manage break-downs, flooding creeks and rivers, and getting bogged in desert dunes. The documentary Last mail from Birdsville tells the story of Tom.
From Maree we set off up the Birdsville Track. The track was originally a stock route where stockman drove sheep and cattle from stations along the track to Maree and onto Adelaide to market.
Road condition signs are important to check before travelling on outback roads
This is a beautiful but harsh part of Australia and the struggles of the early settlers are evident as we travel along the track and come across ruins. The first just 30 kilometres up the track are the remnants of an old date palm plantation.
The date palms were planted in 1895 and florished for a little while but as there were no insects around that could pollinate the flowers hand-pollinatation was the only option. This led to poor crops and then drought and large flocks of birds devastated the crops the plantation was eventually abandoned.
Another 25 kilometres up the track we stopped at Clayton Station where we had the opportunity to enjoy a spa filled with hot artesian water. It was an amazing experience to sit enjoying the healthy warm waters in the middle of nowhere.
There are camping sites and toilets available where the spa is located but there is also luxury accommodation available at Clayton Station.
Completely relaxed we ventured further along the Birdsville Tack to the old Mulka store ruins. This store and the station it is on have a wonderful history.
2 children are buried out the back of the ruins both died from pneumonia a simple illness nowadays to cure but in days gone by and in such a remote location it was often a death sentence.
From Mulka we drove onto Mungarannie where we camped in amongst the trees which lined an amazing wetland created by water from the artesian basin. The tranquillity and bird-life were amazing.
It was also great to be able to have a hot shower, use a clean toilet and enjoy a drink at the Mungarannie Hotel.
The pub had lots of character, the locals were very friendly and we certainly felt welcomed. We wandered back to camp and lit a fire and settled in to enjoy a home cooked meal.
The Galahs made sure no one needed an alarm clock waking us up bright an early to enjoy sunrise over the wetlands. Its amazing to realise the other side of the wetlands is desert but sand dunes are easily seen in the morning light.
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