THE STRZELECKI TRACK
Polish Count Paul Edmund de Strzelecki was an early Australian explorer whose main achievement was theclimbing and naming of Mt Kosciusko in New South Wales, our highest peak. The loose surface track from Lyndhurst in the south to Innamincka in the north is one of the driest and most remote of Australia's outback tracks. While it is now a major supply route for the Moomba and other gas fields, for transport of cattlefrom stations in the area. and as a popular touring route along with the nearby Birdsville andOodnadatta Tracks from Marree.
The southern start of the track is at Lyndhurst, on the road between Port Augusta and Marree and justnorth of the northern Flinders Ranges. The 465km road is loosa surface with some testing patches but issuitable for conventional vehicles except during or after heavy rains. Persistent rain not only makes theroads slippery and treacherous, but can cause flash flooding of creeks and rivers which can cut you offbetween watercourses, sometimes for sevaral days. Always check local conditions before venturing onto outback roads.
The first explorer to visit the area was Captain Charles Sturt in 1844 on his search for anextensive inland sea believed to exist, and searching for a route from Adelaide to the north coast throughthe vast inland. He named Cooper Creek and found a colourful flower beside the creek which is now called theSturt Desert Pea and is the floral emblemn of the state of South Australia.
His expedition was unsuccessful on both counts and it was not until 1862 that John McDouall Stuart navigated a route through the centre to the north coast at his third attempt which closely follows the Old Ghan Railway line.
The track gained some notoriety in 1870 when cattle duffer Harry Readford (Redford) stole 1,000 head ofprime cattle in Queensland and drove them down the Barcoo and Cooper to Blanchewater where he sold themfor $10,000. Also known as 'Captain Starlight' he was the subject of the book 'Robbery Under Arms' byRolf Boldrewood which also became one of Australia's first movies. He and his two henchmen were eventually caught and sent to trial in 1872 but were acquitted, partially due to the folk hero status which grew aroundhis exploits. The road still passes the ruins of Blanchewater which was first taken up by John Baker in 1857.
The Strzelecki Track was last used by drovers during the 1930s.
In earlier days the track terminated at Farina and cattle from outlying stations including Avondale, Blanchewater, Cadelgo, Coongie, Cordillo Downs, Cullamurra, Haddon Downs, Innamincka, Merty Merty, Monte Collina, Mount Hopeless, Mount Lyndhurst, Murnpeowie, Nappa Merrie, Tinga Tingana, Titcha, and Wallelderdine were walked to its railhead to be transported to southern markets.
There are several waterholes along the Strzelecki Creek with camping spots and accommodation is available atLyndhurst and Innamincka. Basic supplies are available in both towns. Emergency medical attention isavailable at Moomba but it is closed to the public otherwise. There is a lookout over the gas fields nearMoomba.
For detailed information and map select the Strzelecki Touring Map below left.
If you are planning to do this adventurous journey you can obtain up to theminute information on conditions from the
Northern Area Road Condition Hotline on 1300 361 033
OUTBACK TRAVEL TIPS
Further enquiries to P.O. Box 41. Port Augusta, South Australia 5700. Ph:08 8642 2469: Fax: 08 8642 0781.