Thursday, June 7, 2012

Oodnadatta Track to Coward Springs

Monday 4th June

Coward Springs, originally a station on the Old Ghan,  proved to be an excellent overnight choice, so we decided to stay an extra night. The wind was a bit chilly to take a dip in their artesian spa, but the showers are fine, also powered by a donkey (If you don’t know what a donkey is better you’d look it up) The shower and toilet buildings are built of old railway sleepers, and some of the fences are built of old railway track. The original fettlers' hut (now a museum) and station master’s house (a private residence) have also been preserved. Adjacent to the spa is a wetland area, fed by the overflow, which is home to a number of waterbirds.

Just five kilometres from Coward Springs are two magnificent mound springs – Blanche Cup and The Bubbler. The Oodnadatta Track follows a line of mound springs which are fed from the Great Artesian Basin. They were used by aborigines for thousands of years as a constant source of water. The advent of Europeans and sheep fouled many of the mound springs and made them unsuitable for aboriginal use as well. Blanche’s Cup is a delightful waterhole in the middle of a barren salt pan. A sizeable tree grows at the base of the mound, the only tree to be seen for miles.

Blanche Cup
The view from the topof the mound

Tree growing in the seepage and overflow form the springs

The Bubbler is quite different. It bubbles constantly creating coloured patterns in the muddy bottom. Prior to white settlement it was much more vigorous and dynamic, but the large number of bores and wells now tapping into the Artesian Basin has reduced this activity to gentle bubbling only. Nevertheless it is fascinating to watch.
The Bubbler

The wind has been fairly strong for a few days, and we were camped in an exposed position, so time for another first – move the camper to another more sheltered spot. It’s amazing how quickly you can pack it up enough to move it 50 metres behind a stand of mature trees out of the wind.

That night the moon was fairly full, but there was also a lunar eclipse which we could see very clearly. A nice surprise.
Coward Springs Artesian Spa
Fettlers' cottage and museum
Old Station master's house, now with satellite dishes and solar panels
Sunset over Coward Springs

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