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enews@desertskytours  Top  Gray
In This Issue
Birdsville Races update
Worthy Departures!
Head Of Bight trip
Trip itineraries 2012
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Issue: 25September  2012
Dear Subscriber,

Included in this issue are some comments from two recent trips - particularly Flinders Ranges "SkyTrek".

I have two interesting trips coming up in the next few weeks  and these will possibly become regular itineraries.

The first is to The Head of Bight, and explores Eyre Peninsula up to Ceduna with an overnight stay at the Nullarbor Roadhouse which will give time to do some whale watching!

This trip is fully booked, however the 4WD Adventure to
Mt Samuel (Alpana Station in the Flinders Ranges) on October 22nd has two seats available for anyone who might like to join us! An itinerary and details are at the foot of this newsletter.

Our itineraries for 2013 will be finalised at the end of this month, and details advised in the next newsletter.
I have listed our regular destinations below - if in the interim you would like any further information on any of these trips, please do not hesitate to contact us.
I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter!



Birdsville /Windorah trip news

A couple of interesting things from our recent Birdsville/Windorah trip:

A marker and plaque
to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the first crossing of Australia from Adelaide to Van Diemen Gulf by the South Australian Great Northern Exploring Expedition under the command of John McDouall Stuart (1861-2) has been erected alongside the Marree road on Mundowdna Station.

Principally as a result of Stuart's expeditions:
  • South Australia annexed the Northern Territory.
  • The Overland Telegraph Line linking Adelaide to the world, via Darwin, was construted along his route.
  • The original Ghan Railay Line to Alice Springs, subsequently followed a similar route.
The marker has been placed by the Litchfield  Family of Mundowdna & Wilpoorinna Staions together with the John McDouall Stuart Society.
On an adjacent cairn is a plaque  recording these details.

One of the most important Dreamtime stories from Central  Australia is that of Thutirla Pula - the "Two Boys".

A series of interpretive signs
at a significant Aboriginal ceremonial site in Birdsville, in the Queensland Outback, presents a local telling of the story.

The project creates an important cultural attraction for the town and it also commemorates a significant story place in Aboriginal country and culture and tells the local chapter of a big Dreamtime story that spans the desert.

The walking trail is divided into the Men's Site, the Lookout, and Women's site. It commences diagonally opposite the Birdsville Clinic in Adelaide Street.
Walk along a winding trail through creeks and rocky crevices while learning about the story of two young boys who walked to Birdsville in the dreamtime.

The information shelter also contains information about early families in the Birdsville District. Included are the  Morton, Gaffney and Brook Families. (click names to view)

The new passenger terminal building at Birdsville airport is now 1 year old and this was the first opportunity I have had to have a good look at it!

The $1.5 million work included a new airport terminal, resealing the pavement, installing new runway edge lighting and extending the apron area.

The safety upgrades mean the airport can meet increases in traffic using Birdsville as a staging point  for people flying over Lake Eyre as well as the Skytrans passenger service.   

I am grateful to Helen for the photograph.


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Birdsville Races update

Betoota kicked things off, where one of the biggest crowds for some years saw some great racing.

Birdsville followed with what was considered a record crowd
on the Friday and the usual big crowd on Saturday!

It was a fantastic weekend with two performances from the RAAF Roulettes over the race course (as well a number of smaller displays over Birdsville).

Crowd numbers on Friday were up on last year and with the numbers for Saturday there were well over 6000 in attendance.

There were twenty stalls in the area near the Wirrarri Visitor Centre, including around eight food vendors. A number of media were represented over the weekend and the "Weekend
Today Show" broadcast the weather live from the Birdsville Racecourse on Saturday and the Birdsville Hotel on Sunday.

It also appears that aircraft numbers were up on last year with nearly 140 aircraft taking advantage of the Special Event Zone at the airport.

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Skytrek - Willow Springs Station


I recently took people on "Skytrek" - a 4wd experience on Willow Springs Station in the Flinders Ranges.    


Part of the Track has been re-routed, following ongoing conflict with the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby Preservation Association after the recent lease renewal fee was issued.

A copy of the letter from Willow Springs Station advising the changes can be viewed here.


I have had several enquiries from people interested in doing "Skytrek" and wondering how the re-routing of the Track has affected the overall experience, so I have copied comments from an email I sent just after our trip a couple of weeks ago.
First I wish to mention we enjoyed perfect weather and the guests I took thouroghly enjoyed the 4 day experience.
The Skytrek track is unchanged from the Willow Springs homestead to point 25. This section of the Track has a number of interesting features including aboriginal engravings, various vegetation (Native pines, Black Oaks, Bullock bush, mallee, mulga etc), and Moxan's Hut where we had morning tea.

This is mainly flat terrain with a number of creek beds and views to distant Ranges.

From point 25 the new track diverts easterly to a Range called the Pinnacles and climbs through a gap in the Range to the other side.

It was here that we passed through sections of deep bulldust, the car being enveloped in the dust a number of times!

I spoke to Brendan about this 10 km section which does not have any particularly interesting feature.
One of the reasons for the inclusion is that it leads to a very nice lunch stop in a creek bed and we found this to be a very pleasant place indeed. It would be possible for Brendan to divert the track earlier and omit this section (and maybe save an hour travelling time), but it would  mean losing this lunch spot, which would be a real pity. We felt the lunch stop venue was excellent and worth the perhaps sometimes "boring" section of the 10km drive.

The track then continued to a couple of interesting features - a boulder lined gorge and about 2km of ochre cliffs and the original Willow Springs Waterhole.
The Track notes notes warn to engage 4wd at point 39, and here the exhilaration commenced as we began climbing to the tops of hills - with great views from Prominent Hill and beyond to Wilpena Pound.
At Upalinna Lookout there is a visitor book and I agree with a number of comments stating the new course is an experience in it's own way, and that from point 39 on, the excitement is as good as the previous track.

I feel the new track provides good vantage points for scenery with a mix of excitement and history.
There was probably a sense of achievement in the old track when the traveller could say they reached the top of Mt Caernarvon, but the Upalinna Lookout comes very close and the steep climbs/descents still provide  thrills and challenge.
We had a chat with Carmel and Brendan when we returned the gate key at the end of our trip.
They are well aware of the difficult bulldust section and are waiting for rain before bringing in filling and re-grading that part of the track.

I have bookings to do the trip in March next year. 


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Worthy departures!
Domestic Tourism Growth ! Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP,  has welcomed an  impressive growth in domestic tourism throughout Australia highlighted in the release of the latest National Visitor Survey.

A copy of the media release can be viewed here !

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Planting the seed
We had fun on the Windorah trip identifying various native trees, shrubs and plants.

Thanks Helen for the photographs of :-
  • Crotaleria  - this is one of more than 600 species of Crotaleri, also known as Rattlepods. This particular one was on a beautiful red sand dune near Windorah.
  • Is this for real? -  Sighted in the Nature Drive loop between Cooper Creek bridge and Windorah!   

You may be interested to read the Friends of The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden (Port Augusta) August Newsletter (click here)   



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Eyre Peninsula and The Head of Bight

I mentioned in the last newsletter that I have a personalised trip departing this month to Eyre Peninsula and Head of Bight.

A number of people have expressed interest in the itinerary, and I will let you know more after I return from this trip.

The 8 day itinerary will travel to Tumby Bay and Port Lincoln (via Sea SA ferry from Wallaroo), then drive up the coast to attractions including Murphy's Haystacks, the sea lions at Point Labatt, and on to Streaky Bay, Ceduna and Yalata to Head of Bight and the Bunda Cliffs.
Bunda Cliffs - Nullarbor
We have an overnight stop at Nullarbor before returning along the Eyre Highway to Wudinna and the Gawler Ranges then to Adelaide via the Flinders Ranges and Clare Valley.

This trip takes in many of the attractions of the west coast, plus some great scenery!

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Upcoming Personalised 4WD trips

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

Itineraries 2012   


s Hill Circuit

                        (2 days)                 

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






          Kangaroo Island 
                (4 days) 

     (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.  





           Wilson's Promontory 

                     (9 days)  






Grampians NP, Halls Gap, Penshurst, Mortlake, Colac, Queensciffe Ferry, Sorrento, Meeniyan, Tidal River, Waratah Bay, Walkerville, Agnes Falls, Strzelecki Ranges, Tara Bulga NP, Grand Ridge Road, Skenes Creek,  

The Great Ocean Road, Mt Gambier, The Coorong.               





            The Sapphire Coast 

                      (8 days)



Portland, Great Ocean Road, Otway Tree Top Walk, Apollo Bay, Metung, Lakes Entrance, Eden, Twofold Bay, Pambula, Merimbula, Bega, Victorian coastal towns, Meeniyan, Camperdown, Dunkeld, The Coorong.   


          The Gawler Ranges
                   (5 days)          


Port Wakefield, Port Germein, Port Augusta, Iron Knob, Corunna, Siam, Nonning, Mt Ive, Lake Gairdner, Yardea, Hiltaba, Paney Station, The Organ Pipes, Pildappa Rock, Tcharkuldu Hill, Minnipa, Wudinna, Kimba, Wilmington, Melrose, Gladstone, The Clare Valley.

                Lake Eyre
                     (3 days)  

              Includes Plane Flight!




Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, One and a half hour plane flight over Lake Eyre, Farina Ruins, Ochre Cliffs, Hawker, Orroroo, Terowie, Burra. 

           Back O'Bourke 
                   (9 days)  

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

           The Painted Desert 
                       (9 days) 

Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, William Creek, Coober Pedy,
The Breakaways, Painted Desert, Woomera, Roxby Downs, Andamooka,
Port Augusta, Arid Lands Botanical Gardens, Horrock's Pass  to the Flinders Ranges, Orroroo and Burra.
            Mungo and Hattah  
             National Parks 
                   (5 days)  

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.


 Coongie Lakes

           Coongie Lakes
              (7 days)

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


          Birdsville & Innamincka 
                      (9 days)  


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

             Birdsville & Windorah
                    (9 days)


Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, Mungerannie, Birdsville,
Betoota, Windorah, Quilpie, Toompine, Thargomindah, Cunnamulla, Bourke, Cobar, Broken Hill. 

            Flinders Ranges
                    (4 days)                              
Rawnsley Park, Wilpena Pound, Willow Springs Station, Skytrek, Bunyeroo Valley, Brachina Gorge, Blinman, Parachilna Gorge, Moralana Scenic Drive, Melrose, The Bridle Track. Port Germein, Laura, Orroroo, Burra, Eudunda, Kapunda. 

           Flinders R
                  (5 days)

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

             Tumby Bay  
           The Eyre Peninsula
                    (5 days)

Port Germein, Arno Bay, Port Neill,Trinity Haven Scenic Drive, Poonindie ,
Port Lincoln, Sleaford Bay, Whaler's Way, 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.   

        Coongie Lakes
      Mount Samuel 
         4WD Alpana Station                   (4 days) - $1525pp 
          Monday October 22

I have Two seats available on this new itinerary! 

Clare Valley, Wilmington, Quorn, Hawker and
Oraparinna to Alpana Station. Using Blinman as a "base" we travel Glass Gorge to Oratunga Creek and Alpana Station.
Splendid views which include Mt Samuel, Mt Samuel Proper,
Lake Torrens, Nilpena Sandhills, Mt Buggery, Mt Deception and Patawarta Hill!
Picnic lunch Green well Creek before continuing to Valley Bore where it is common to see kangaroos, emus, feral goats.
The Parachilna Gorge Road takes us past Angorichina Station and back to Blinman.


                        (The Gawler Ranges
                    departure  6th October is
                               fully booked) 

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Thanks for your continued interest in Desert Sky Tours

Howard Humby
Desert Sky Tours
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