Saturday, June 2, 2012

Old Beltana and Leigh Creek

Friday 1st June

As we have left the Flinders behind, so too have we said goodbye to Rob and Carol as we head north and they head for home. The day was dismal with light rain as we headed for Leigh Creek to stock up on food and other essentials for the next stage.

About half way between Parachilna and Leigh Creek is Beltana Roadhouse, and nearby are the remains of the once vibrant town of Beltana. Several substantial buildings are still occupied and privately owned.  These include the Overland Telegraph repeater station, the school, and the old Ghan railway buildings. The Dunesk Mission building is owned by the Presbyterian Church and was part of the Australian Inland Mission. Reverend John Flynn was stationed here early in his career,  and his early work built the foundation for the later establishment of the Flying Doctor Service.
The old Telegraph Station
The Dunesk Mission building
The old schoolhouse, now a venue for art tuition
The Old Ghan Station

Our first stop was to attempt to have the tyre repaired as the two holes were beyond the scope of our tyre repair kits, and the combined expertise of Rob and David. The Copley repair shop deemed it not worth repairing or patching, so a new tyre was necessary. Ouch! The rain continued through the day as the Caravan Park filled with travellers unable to proceed to Oodnadatta or the Strzelecki Track, both closed because of the wet conditions. The excellent camp kitchen was a boon in the wet, and as it was Friday, and there was also a TV David was exultant. But he had to share the coverage with the AFL fans

Saturday dawned bright and fine, the mud dried out, and the hopefuls headed off northwards. We drove to the Leigh Creek mine site north of the town where an array of old machinery was on display. The coal there is brown coal, unlike most coal in NSW. The coal train goes south to Port Augusta once each day and is 2.8 km long. It returns north in the middle of each day, to be refilled and dispatched again.  The town of Leigh Creek was totally moved in the 1980s to its present site as excellent coal had been discovered there. The present town has a sameness due to all its buildings being a similar age, not unlike the feeling you sometimes get in Canberra suburbs. However it has an excellent supermarket which stocks everything the community of 600 needs. In fact it is more like an old style emporium with all kinds of things not normally found in a supermarket.

One of the pits at the Leigh Creek mine, not currently in operation due to a water problem

A superseded dragline


This tyre held the world record for its type when removed from service in 1988

We were told today that there is practically no phone or internet coverage north of Lyndhurst, not far from here, so after we set off tomorrow it may be a while before I can provide another update.

Sunset at Leigh Creek

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