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In This Issue
Back 2 Birdsville
A new itinerary!
Mungo Loop
Trip itineraries
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Issue: 12January 2011
Dear Subscriber,

I hope you have had an enjoyable Christmas and New Year break and are ready to face the new year and all that it brings with renewed vigour!

2010 was a year of extremes, and we have gone from drought to flood. The Cooper Creek ferry will be operating on the Birdsville Track again this year as water continues to flow from the Thomson and Barcoo Rivers. Further south, it is possible Lake Eyre could be the centre of attraction again, with predictions the Queensland floodwaters could help fill the Lake for the first time since 1974. If the monsoonal summer season is as wet as forecast, the Lake could hit a depth of 6m for the first time in more than 35 years.
It is all a matter of "wait and see" , but if it does happen,
what a bonus for wildlife and tourism!

Floodwaters are also bringing with them fish, like Lake Eyre Golden Perch, Cooper Creek Catfish, bony herring, desert rainbowfish grunters and yabbies. Authorities  have launched
a crackdown in the state's north to prevent overfishing of native species flooding into Lake Eyre in huge numbers.
A senior ranger from Innamincka has been given the authority to act as a fisheries officer, providing a permanent presence in the region

In the Darling River catchment, the Weather Bureau is forecasting the floods to reach a moderate level at Bourke around mid April, and Menindee Lakes in May.

With all this happening, our 3 day Lake Eyre trip (including plane flight over the Lake) will be departing according to the interest.
"Back 2 Birdsville"...Hotel celebrations

Despite the Cooper rising, yet again, cutting access from the east, around 200 people managed to find their way to Birdsville on 22nd October last, for a weekend of festivities based around the 30th anniversary of the rebuilding of the old pub.Birdsville Hotel

In 1979 the Birdsville Hotel was in a rundown state. A fire had caused significant damage to the building. Owners at the time continued trading from the rear of the hotel, using a domestic fridge and two 44 gallon drums supporting a plank of timber which was the makeshift bar.

In 1980 a syndicate of Adelaide businessmen purchased the building with the idea of repairing the front bar in time for the upcoming Birdsville Races. The story goes that it was during this rebuilding that the workmen drank the hotel dry of beer, so they resorted to the next available choice - creme de menthe. As a consequence, the lounge bar of the hotel  is named the "Green Lizard Lounge", and there is a statue of a lizard on the bar.

One of the syndicate was Kym Fort, and he was also a builder.
When he stepped on the tarmac at the airstrip located straight across the road from the pub, he fell in love with it and the endless possibilities. In 1981 the kitchen was rebuilt, followed soon after by the restoration of the dining room. By the end of 1982 the original syndicate had reduced to two- Kym and local pastoralist and close friend David Brook.

It is interesting to note that David's  mother's family ran the Birdsville Hotel and shop in the early 1920s and 30s, while his father ran their cattle station, Adria Downs. David eventually took over managing Adria Downs, spending 35 years there.
He was also a councillor for 18 years in the Diamantina Shire, the last 10 as mayor.

In 1981 the new partnership set about developing and restoring the complex, with a new wing to the motel section completed a couple of years ago.

The weekend opened in the dining room with an exhibition of paintings by local sisters and Elders Jean Barr-Crombie and Joyce Crombie, entitled "Kuku Kurri Thangkarda Wangka Yanhirnda  - "The sisters sitting talking".

Tired and happy at the end of a long 3 days, Kym's wife Jo said: "Birdsville is a unique place and equally this is a unique pub. These people are all part of it and know they belong to the special group who over the years have helped it all happen"

And for the record, Birdsville won the cricket match against Bedourie by one run!
Jo & Kym Fort
Jo & Kym Fort

On the 18th November 2010, the Innamincka Hotel won the award for Culture and Heritage at the South Australian Tourism Awards.
Jo and Kym Fort and the Innamincka Hotel Managers, Michelle Hoffmann and Leon Cartledge, attended the
black tie event at a gala dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
This win qualifies the Innamincka Hotel to represent our very special
part of the Outback at the
Qantas Australian Tourism awards in Perth in March 2011

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Birdsville News
Roads upgrade
Work will commence early this year on the Birdsville to Windorah Road, with  gravel crushing at various pits from Roseberth towards Betoota. Road crews will resheet ten kilometres of road from the Cadelga turn off towards Betoota, and doing gravel work towards Cordillo Downs and back towards Durrie. High quality crushed gravel is being used to improve the roads for future bitumen work.
I can remember a number of occasions leaving Birdsville before dawn on our way to Innamincka, and having to contend with a rough road and rising sun!

Federal MP for Maranoa, Bruce Scott has thrown his support behind a proposal to establish a local action group to kick start
the urgent upgrading of the Birdsville Track. The group would investigate funding and grant opportunities.

"I encourage the new group to apply to Regional Development Australia to seek funding assistance towards a long-term solution for the Cooper Creek which could include building of a bridge. I see this as a very positive step forward for these communities, which can only lead to increased pressure on governments to invest money in not only the Birdsville Track,
but other critical outback roads such as the Strzelecki and Oodnadatta Tracks".

Whilst some 4WD Clubs may oppose such a move, the Tracks are nevertheless strategic roads for tourism and local businesses. It is doubtful any cattle will be going south for a few years due to the Cooper Creek punt not being able to transport stock.
Airport Terminals - Birdsville and Bedourie
Offsite work has commenced on both buildings with structural steel now fabricated and galvanized and awaiting delivery to site. The buildings will be completed early/mid 2011 weather/flood dependent!

New Terminal

Lyle Morton MBE

Mr Lyle Morton was born in Birdsville, and managed Roseberth Station. He spent 35 years on the Diamantina Shire Council, and was instumental in obtaining an electric light service
for Birdsville and laying bitumen on the local airstrip, even though money was tight.
Mr Morton passed away 18th November.
Read a speech by Hon Bruce Scott MP on the life of Mr Morton.

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     A new addition to our itineraries !

The Sapphire Coast
The Sapphire Coast on the South Coast of NSW, is a wonderland of natural beauty featuring pristine beaches, forests, mountains and waterways.

The Sapphire Coast
In planning the itinerary, we were mindful of the many local attractions such as Lakes Entrance, Eden Twofold Bay and up the coast to Pambula, Merimbula and Bega - (cheese and milkshakes!! )  These are included, together with a two hour cruise around Twofold Bay aboard the Cat Balou cruise boat.

The Otway FlyWe also wanted to include points of interest on the way to the Sapphire Coast, and these include The Coorong, Great Ocean Road, and the Otway fly Tree Top Walk near
 Apollo Bay!!

After two days  on the Coast, using the Bayview Motel Eden as our "base", we return home through the Victorian coastal towns of Port Albert, Welshpool and Toora for an overnight stop in the picturesque town of Meeniyan.
There is an overnight stop at the Mt Shadwell Stables Motel Mortlake, with our final day journeying through Dunkeld to Naracoorte and the South Australian wine growing district of Padthaway to Keith and Tailem Bend.

The package fare for this 8 day itinerary is $2950pp and you can read a copy of the itinerary here.

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Mungo National Park Loop Drive
The itinerary for our 5 day Mungo and Hattah Kulyne National Parks trip now includes a 70km track which takes us on a round trip across the lake floor to the Walls of China, over the dune to the mallee country and then around the north eastern corner of the Lake. Points of interest along the way are shown on a map here. The highlight of this trip is the Walls where you can walk back in time through layers of a dune and stroll to the top of drifting sands for a view across the Lake floor.
Leaving the less adventurous behind, the road becomes one-way, crosses the dunes, known as lunettes, and continues through the eastern end of the park across Allans Tank.

There's the remains of a hut on the plain that was dragged there on a sled from the homestead. Rabbits burrowed around the foundations so much it has collapsed. Both the corrugated iron and the rabbit holes are all that remain today. The rabbit plague at the end of the 1800s forced huge reductions in the number of sheep each station could run. It was some time later that goats became a problem. Round Tank in the northwest corner of the drive has an ingenious goat trap built around it, one that probably still works when the tank is full.
Abandoned fence
Abandoned fence near Vigar's Well

To get the wool to market, and transport supplies, shearers plus farmhands, the Cobb and Co coaches had to cross the lunettes. There are still hard packed tracks through the sand
at Vigars Well.

Vigar ran the Zanci Station, and dug two wells where the teams rested before crossing the dunes. The remaining well still has water in it, and is rarely dry. Little comfort, I would have thought, to the teams about to drag a fully laden coach up and over a sand dune. It's hard enough in the 4WD!

There's little left of Zanci now, except the woolshed and the cellar in the remains of the homestead. It is a full height room built underground for food storage and surprisingly it's still
cool, as if someone had left it running. As a last look, to the south of the loop, on the way out of the park is the spectacular Mungo Lake lookout.

Guarded by a lone cyprus pine, the view stretches over the whole lake, with the dunes of the Walls of China in the background.

Personalised 4WD trips 2011
These trips are in a Toyota Landcruiser vehicle with a maximum of 4 passengers:

Click on thumbnail - itinerary opens in new window


North Bourke Bridge
   Back O'Bourke
   (9 days) - $3250pp                
ednesday February 16

Broken Hill, Mutawintji NP, White Cliffs, Wilcannia,Tilpa, Louth, Bourke,(accommodation Bourke Riverside Motel), Lightning Ridge,Gilgandra, Cobar, Balranald, Murrayville, Pinnaroo.

Birdsville Hotel        Birdsville & Innamincka
        (9 days) - $3250pp              
        Saturday July 9
         Friday August 5


Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, Mungerannie, Birdsville,
Innamincka, Cameron Corner, Sturt National Park, Tibooburra,
Broken Hill, Old Pastoral route to Burra, Adelaide.

       Coongie LCoongie Lakesakes and The Cooper Creek
days) $2450pp
       Tuesday May 10
       Sunday   May 22
  Sunday   June  5

Old Strzelecki Track, Innamincka, Coongie Lakes, Camp LXV, Cameron Corner, Sturt NP, Tibooburra, Broken Hill, Loch Lilly & Quandong Stations, Burra.

Close Up Emu

s Hill Circuit
     (2 days) $650pp
     Friday April 29

Gilbert Valley,Terowie, Peterborough, Franklyn, Ketchowla, Dares Hill, Mt Bryan, Clare Valley.

Skytrek Logo
    Flinders Ranges & Skytrek
    (4 days) - $1400pp                  
    Saturday August 27


Rawnsley Park, Wilpena Pound, Willow Springs Station,
Skytrek, Arkapena Scenic Adventure & Chace Range Spectacular,Arkapena 4WD Moralana Scenic Drive.

Sillers Lookout - Arkaroola
      Flinders R
anges & Arkaroola
      (5 days) - $1950pp                  
      Monday September  5
      Sunday September 18       

Rawnsley Park, Wilpena Pound, Bunyeroo Valley, Brachina Gorge,
Blinman, Arkaroola,  Ridgetop Tour,  Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole,
Gammon Ranges, Moralana Scenic Drive.

 Frenshmans Rock
  (4 days) $
March 15
  Tuesday March 22
  (Includes Sealink ferry)

Penneshaw, Antechamber Bay, Cape Willoughby, American River, Kingscote, Flinders Chase National Park, Cape Borda, Admirals Arch, Cape De Coudic, Seal Bay, Emu Bay, Stokes Bay, Snelling Beach, Western River Cove.

The Painted Desert  

    The Painted Desert

   (9 days) $3250pp
    Sunday April 10

Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, William Creek,Coober Pedy,
The Breakaways, Painted Desert, Woomera, Roxby Downs, Andamooka, Port Augusta, Arid Lands Botanic Gardens, Horrock's Pass to the Flinders Ranges, Orroroo and Burra.

Naracoorte Caves
   Limestone Coast & The Coonawarra

  (5 days) $1500pp
   Monday February 7

Tintinara, Mundulla, Naracoorte Caves, Penola, Mary McKillop Centre, Kalangadoo, Tantanoola, Pt McDonnell, Cape Nothumberland, Mt Burr, Millicent, Robe, The Coorong.
During this trip there is oppoertunity to visit a number of wineries, including Rymill Coonawarra, Di Giorgio, and Mt Benson.

     Mungo and Hattah Kulkyne
     National Parks

     (5 days) $1525pp
     Wednesday March 30

Pinnaroo, Kow Plains Homestead and Cowangie, Murrayville,Pink Lakes, Underbool, Mildura, Wentworth, Old Zanci Station, Mungo Woolshed, Walls of China, Grand Canyon, Vigar's Well, Perry Sandhills, Paddle Steamer through Lock 11 Mildura, Red Cliffs, Lake Hattah, Lake Victoria, Rufus River, The Riverland.

Tumby Bay
    Tumby Bay and The Eyre Peninsula

    (5 days) $1525pp
    Saturday October 15

Port Germein, Arno Bay, Port Neill,Trinity Haven Scenic Drive, Poonindie , Port Lincoln, Sleaford Bay, Tod Reservoir, Cummins,
Mt Hope, Point Drummond, Greenly Beach, Dutton Bay, Coffin Bay, Koppio Museum. Enjoy a Clydesdale Horse and trolley ride!
Return is via Horrock's Pass 
to Flinders Ranges, Orroroo and Burra.

Wilsons Prom
    Wilson's Promontory
    (9 days) - $3225pp                
    Tuesday March 1

Grampians NP, Halls Gap, Penhurst, Mortlake, Colac, Queenscliff Ferry, Sorrento, Meeniyan, Tidal River, Waratah Bay, Walkerville, Agnes Falls, Strzelecki Ranges, Tarra Bulga NP, Grand Ridge Road, Skenes Creek, The Great Ocean Road, Mt Gambier, The Coorong.

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Thanks for your continued interest in Desert Sky Tours

Howard Humby
Desert Sky Tours
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