Motorcycle Explorer Issue 17 - Page 32

Travel Story: leigh wilkins - australia

The next morning, we were woken by the sound of aircraft taking off. William Creek also has an airport, it’s certainly no Heathrow, but was busy on this morning as a group of friends celebrating a 60th birthday were off on a sightseeing flight over Lake Eyre. No doubt hoping to be able to appreciate the vastness of the landscape from altitude.

Refuelling at William Creek was the second most expensive of the entire ride at $2.00 per litre and it was only 91 octane. Heading south we came across the only two other bikers we had seen on the entire track, heading into William Creek. They’d obviously camped on the roadside somewhere the previous night. A quick wave and they rode on.

Our first stop on day three of the track was at the ruins of Strangways. In many ways, a welcome stop after traversing the flood plains and dune fields that lay south of William Creek. The land is extremely harsh out here and it was no surprise to find what was left of what could only be described as a small township lay in ruins.

Strangways Springs, as it is really known, is a little off the track and was a struggle to get to. The way in, almost 2km of thick bulldust, not bad in a four-wheeler but a bloody struggle on a bike packed with gear.

The ruins consist of a large stone water tank, numerous buildings for workers and family, as well as sheep and cattle holding yards. It was built between 1870-72 and only lasted until 1896 when ironically William Creek, built to accommodate the railway, forced it to be abandoned. Strangways is now considered to be of national heritage significance.

We spent around an hour wandering amongst the many buildings and wall, discovering relics of the past scattered amongst the dirt, before heading off. The heat in the air had already intensified and from what we had been told by numerous people the last leg was going to be the toughest. The numerous ‘tourists’ that make the trip from Marree (at the southern end) to William Creek destroy the track with heavily laden four wheel drives driving at speeds that mean they often see nothing of their surroundings. The road gets the same attention it does on the other legs but sees far greater traffic. We were told to expect deep corrugations, wheel ruts, bulldust and gravel.

Revenue Raising? Believe it or not, the only strip of bitumen for hundreds of kilometres has a parking metre, and if you don’t pay you do get booked. All revenue raised goes to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a great cause.