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In This Issue
John Conrick
Lake Eyre
Edmund Paul Dignan
Broken Hill CST
Murray Town Auction
Hallett Wind Farms
Outback News
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Issue: 5 July 2009

Welcome to the July edition of our newsletter.
During the past month we have had 2 trips to Lake Eyre and one to Cooper Creek. I have included a couple of items from these in this newsletter.
Our first trip for the year to Birdsville is coming up on 18th July, and in August we have the last Birdsville trip in our bus vehicle. (There are 2 seats available on this trip).
Our website "blogger" has been updated with a report on the Cooper Creek trip, and can be viewed by clicking here !

 Hope you find interesting reading in the newsletter !
Cooper Creek - John Conrick
Our blog report  mentions John Conrick and his pioneering journey down the Strzeleck Track, closely following the route of cattle thief "Captain Starlight" - (Harry Redford) in the famous novel "Robbery Under Arms" by Rolfe Boldrewood, who took this country as the scene of the cattle stealing episode.
The reference used for this article is a booklet of around 60 pages entitled: -  "Story of Pioneer John Conrick - told by himself ". It is a collection of 17 "chapters"  published in the Adelaide News 1923-4, and is available for $20 from Cooper Creek Homestay or "Bomber" at Nappa Merrie.
If you would like a copy, let us know.
Lake Eyre
Two trips to Marree provided passengers the opportunity of a plane flight over Lake Eyre.
Whilst the focus of three day itinerary was an hour and half flight with Central Air Sevices, we also visited a few of the attractions along the way, travelling up through the Clare Valley and returning through the Gilbert Valley.
The Wilpena Panorama at Jeff Morgan's Gallery in Hawker
is as good as it gets - a 360 degree view of some of the most beautiful country in South Australia as seen from the highest point of Wilpena Pound, St Mary's Peak and the Flinders Ranges. The history of the Panorama can be found on the  Jeff Morgan Gallery website.
Our base for 2 nights was the Copley Pub,- managers Terri and Mick welcomed us with great hospitality - and yes, quandong pie was on the menu!!
Ford Consul - Farina Ruins
The  unsealed section of road from Lyndhurst to Marree was in excellent condition, and we stopped at Leigh Creek mine,  the Ochre Cliffs and later Farina Ruins for morning tea.

Now, what was the make of that vehicle at Farina again?
With the second trip coinciding with school holidays, it was a little busier in Marree, but the plane was well organised and after a quick refuel we were in the air.
All who have taken the flight agree it is worthwhile to see the different colours of the water and the vast expanse of the Lake, bearing in mind it is approximately 150 km long by 80km wide at the extremeties. The flight concentrates around the southern section of Madigan Gulf.
Lake Eyre is an amazing sight - with or without water, and the best way to see it is from the air.
Talc AlfHeading back to Copley, we stopped at Lyndhurst for a visit to Talc Alf. For 34 years he has chipped away at his beloved talc and pursued an obsession for unravelling what he declares to be the true meanings of alphabets and word origins. It is possible to quickly summarise Talc Alf's theory - which he demonstrates to visitors - by taking random words and using a stick of talc to dissect them. (photo courtesy Noel)
Edmund Paul Dignan
Challenge Wheat Stripper
Mr E P Dignan of Wilmington South Australia, designed,  patented and manufactured the "Challenge" wheat stripper machine in the early 1900's.

The design of the "Challenge" differed from the wheat stripper machine of John Ridley (1843) and John Wrathall Bull, in that the off wheel (opposite the operator)  was 16 in. clear of the crop, enabling the offside horse to walk clear of the crop and not through it.

View an interesting article from The Adelaide Advertiser  Monday 19th September about Brian DignanMr Dignan.

Edmund Dignan's grandson (Brian) joined our recent Lake Eyre trip, and he is pictured at the interpretive display in Wilmington SA. (photo courtesy Noel)

Photographs of the "Challenge"  from the National Library of Australia can be found here
Broken Hill Time
clockThe question arose during our Cooper Creek trip - why is Broken Hill on South Australian (Central Standard) time?
When mining at Broken Hill was started the company wanted the New South Wales government to build a rail line for transport of ore. However, the government refused. The South Australian government built a line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie; hence, the whole of Broken Hill operates as an adjunct to South Australia, including being on the same clock time as South Australia.
The success of the Big Australian is due more to South Australia than to New South Wales, and it has managed very well on our time.
Murray Town  

Murray Town Sign
The practice of pay as you go policy is carried out at Murray Town, and  the Progress Association has no bank overdraft. Following the revival of the Football Club in 1978, a new complex building at the Oval was commenced and as funds were available building took place until it was finally completed in 1982 at a cost of $20,129.

To raise the finance to complete this project, an auction of surplus farm machinery, cars, trucks, household items and in fact anything that was saleable was undertaken. The auction that started as a small venture is now a major event with seven volunteer auctioneers selling at the same time and many local people giving their time in support.
The Murray Town Spring Auction is now an icon event and this year will be held on Sunday September 27th 2009. Proceeds from these auctions have provided finance to complete the amenities block on the Memorial Oval, public toilet block, to assist in replacing the roof of the Institute, assist the Tennis Club to erect Clubrooms and provided a pressurised water system to the amenities block on the Oval, the public toilets and water to the Institute.
Over $10,000 has been spent in the last 12 months at the Complex, Institute, old school and camp ground by the Association to make Murray Town a better place to live and visit.
With assistance from the District Council of Mount Remarkable, over 100 shade trees and 50 shrubs are now being planted on the land and the public toilet block is being renovated from a grant from the infrastructure fund of the Federal Government.
Hallett Wind Farm
The Hallett Wind Farm comprises four wind farms near Hallett in the mid north of SA.
Hallett Wind Farm 
  • Hallett 1 (Brown Hill): completed
  • Hallett 2 (Hallett Hill): under construction
  • Hallett 3 (Mount Bryan): probable
  • Hallett 4 (North Brown Hill): committed

Hallett 1 wind farm, consists of 45 Suzlon S88 turbines each of a rated 2.1 megawatt (MW) for a total of around 95 MW. It is adjacent to an existing 180 MW gas fired peaking power plant The wind farm construction was carried out by Suzlon Energy Australia Pty. Ltd.

AGL has announced its intention of building the Hallett 3 wind farm, and has purchased the rights to develop Hallett 4 which will have a generation capacity of 132MW, and will cost A$341 million to build.
Outback News
 Snippets from around the outback!
  • Bill Mitchell has left the Cameron Corner Store, though he assures us he will "still be around somewhere".
  • The Diamantina Shire is seeking $10M from the Qld Government to help it build houses in Birdsville and Bedourie. Mayor Robbie Dare says there is a severe shortage of houses in the shire and that is stifling development. He says the council is asking for low-interest loans to ensure it can build five houses a year in both communities.
  • There have been reports of fewer waterbirds in South Australia's Lake Eyre this year, and the prolonged drought in the region is being partly blamed. But Mayor Robbie Dare says millions of waterbirds have flocked to the outback Diamantina Shire and are now breeding."It's definitely a sight to see and anyone going down there just pull up at any creek crossing and you'll see millions of birds - fair dinkum it is unreal.
  • Shire Mayor Robbie Dare counts the progress of Diamantina in terms of numbers of houses and kilometres of bitumen roads.
"In 1986, there were 10 houses and 60
people in Bedourie and 18 houses and 120
people in Birdsville. Today, there are 54 houses
in Bedourie and 140 people and 54 houses and
120 people in Birdsville," he said.
"In 1986, we had just two kilometres of bitumen.
From 1992 we put all the rates we collected into
roads and today, we're putting more than we
collect into them to encourage Main Roads to
do more. In six weeks time, there will be only
25km left unsealed on the Bedourie-Birdsville
(200km) road.

  • Summer's inland floods have carried cane toads closer to Queensland's border with South Australia.  Professor Michael Tyler, from Adelaide University, says toads are at the headwaters of Coopers Creek, south of Longreach, and it'll take just one more flood to carry them into the Coongie Lakes wetland area, near Innamincka.But he says he's not too worried because not many creatures in the wetlands would be harmed by eating the toxic toads.

"Then you'll get a dry period," he says.

"The creature will become extinct and then nothing will happen for some time until you get another flood then the toad is washed down, becomes established again in South Australia and then dies once more."

Our next trip is Saturday 18th July - to Birdsville and Innamincka. This departure is fully booked, however as I mentioned at the start of this newsletter, we have 2 seats on the August 15th Birdsville trip.

  • We have one seat available on the 5 day Gawler Ranges trip (including Lake Gairdner) departing Monday 7th September.
  • Seats are still available on the 5 day Flinders Ranges/Arkaroola trips September 20th and October 14. We visit Warren, Bunyeroo and Brachina and Italowie Gorges. The trip also includes the famour "Ridge Top Tour" at Arkaroola.
  • "Sky Trek" - a personalised 4 WD trip of the Flinders Ranges has 2 seats available on the Friday 28th August departure.
Details of these trips can be found on our website under "Maps and Itineraries". or for further information please contact us - 08 8356 1874 or email

Our  regular printed Desert Sky News will be mailed early September.
Kind Regards,

Howard Humby
Desert Sky Tours
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