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Australian 4x4 Tag Along Tours - Strzelecki Track

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Strzelecki Track - Australia

Just in case you are interested, before we have a look at the Strzelecki Track, Australian 4x4 Tag Along Tours visit this area and drive the Old Strzelecki on their Simpson Desert and Outback 4wd Tag Along Tours. If you go to our 4wd tag along tours section on the menu above and follow the links to our 4wd desert tag along tours.

Australian 4x4 Travel runs tag along tours through this area and has done for several years, if you would like to see this country with an experienced guide, plus many other iconic regions, tracks and towns along the way give us a call. According to the many who been out here with us before you will have a ball and an experience that you will remember fondly for a long time to come.

The Strzelecki Track runs from the north of the Flinders Ranges at Lyndhurst to the north east corner of Southern Australia at Innamincka.

The trip can be done in a normal two wheel drive vehicle but a 4wd is advisable if you wish to follow the original Old Stzelecki Track which runs along the Strzelecki Creek. 

This is a more scenic route although it bypasses the oil and gas field viewing platform at Moomba.

In round figures the trip is approximately 450km long, slightly shorter along the creek, longer on the road. The trip is best done in the winter months from April to October.

From 2010 until today I have watched the Old Strzelecki Track go from definately a 4wd track to a probably 2wd track for most, if not all, rge way. Why - because the Cooper Basin is subject to relentless oil and gas exploration and, therefore, the tracks have been made and re-made to get heavy drilling equipment and other machinery and equipment in and out.

This part of the Australian countryside is harsh. It was first travelled by Charles Sturt around 1844 and was named after a Polish count who had settled in Australia.

It is the same area, at Cooper Creek near Innamincka, that famous Australian explorers Burke and Wills perished some 15 or so years later during an ill-fated expedition led by Burke and including Wills, Charles Gray and John King. 

They had been on an expedition north, having left a support party in the Cooper Creek area. The expedition had taken longer that expected and, on their return, discovered that the support team had given up and left only a matter of hours before. 

Whilst they had left some provisions behind just in case, Burke and Wills later perished on the banks of the creek having made unsuccessful attempts to reach the Blanchewater Homestead. King, the third surviving member of the expedition party, was the only one to survive. 

King had stumbled upon a group of local Aboriginals further up the creek, after the others had died, who took care of and looked after him.

The Strzelecki really only opened up some 12 or so years after this episode when a cattle rustler, Harry Redford, stole 1000 head of cattle in Queensland and was taking them to Adelaide.

He was later charged and tried for the theft but, as he had become somewhat of a folk hero for his pioneering spirit , was found not guilty. He went on to become a very famous drover in the area.

Thereafter the route become a popular stock track, that saw thousands of animals pass annually.

In the early 1930's the stock route started to become less popular as cattle were being transported more and more by truck and the vehicles found the sand ridges too hard to cross. A few years later the mail service was discontinued and the once thriving town of Innamincka was ultimately abandoned in 1952.

In 1963 gas was discovered at Gidgealpa, west of Innamincka, and the rebuilding of the town was started in the early 1970's mainly to service the gas fields that were being discovered around it.

Today it is thriving, being a very popular tourist and four wheel drive destination. It is the start, or end, depending on which way you are going, of several major 4wd treks.

The Strzelecki Track, which by now had fallen into complete disrepair, was again being used by the exploration parties and continually upgraded.

The trip starts of at Lyndhurst in South Australia and travels through remote, desert, country. Vehicle preparation is paramount, as is the carrying of adequate fuel, water and supplies.

Whilst not much happens at Lyndhurst it is a good re-fuelling point, diesel only, no unleaded.

Leigh Creek, to the south is a larger town with more facilities, however, with the closure of Leigh Creek Mine at the end of 2015 the future of Leigh Creek is uncertain. There isn't a lot there for the traveler except a servo, supermarket, cafe and a couple of other stores. Get there on a public holiday and most of it will be closed anyway.

Head east out of town and you are on the Strzelecki with a couple of hundred kilometers in front of of fairly ordinary countryside. 80 odd kilometers out of town sees the turnoff to Calcutta Outstation, Mt Freeling and the Mt Freeling Talc Mine area.

Whilst this is a viable detour off the Strzelecki, running eastwards and just north of the northern end of the Flinders Ranges, although there is not much of them to see at this stage as they are starting to flatten out and become part of the rolling countryside. Be warned some stretches of the track are often badly damaged by water
following rains and it is important to check with the locals before continuing.

There are also a maze of tracks around the mine area that often become confusing and, if you are hoping to view the mining operation, your out of luck as there is not much that you are able to see.

In round figures the trip is approximately 450km long. Slightly shorter along the creek, longer on the road. The trip is best done in the winter months from April to October.

The road becomes increasingly rockier as you approach Moolawatana Homestead, where the road from the lovely countryside around the Arkaroola Village, on the eastern flanks of the Flinders Ranges, and the Gammon Ranges National Park.

Some, in fact, prefer to start their Strzelecki trip at Leigh Creek and head eastwards via Nebabunna to Moolawata. At Moolawatana the road veers northwards on the stretch to Mount Hopeless and the Mount Hopeless Outstation some 50km away.

A little past here the track re-joins the Strzelecki Track at a T junction and continues northwards.  Had you not turned eastwards towards Mt Freeling, and simply carried on northwards on the Strzelecki you would arrive at the Dingo Fence some 30km north of the turnoff and about 100 kilometers from Lyndhurst.

The Dingo Fence is the longest fence in the world and has a length almost twice that of the Great Wall of China. It was constructed to keep the wild dingo dogs to the north of the fence separated from the sheep areas to the south of the fence.

It stretches from Western Australia up into Central Queensland. Around 20 kilometers north of the Dingo fence is a turnoff to Murnpeowie Homestead, which is 10 or so kilometers off to the west.

About 50 kilometers from the Dingo Fence you the track crosses the George Creek which drains into Lake Blanche to the north east, and the turnoff to the Blanchewater Homestead ruins.

About 40 km further is the junction that heads south to Moolawatana, as mentioned earlier in the alternative route. 20 km past the junction the track enters the Strzelecki Regional Reserve and a little further arrives at the Montecollina Bore adjacent to the Strzelecki Creek, which is normally dry.

Being the only water point constructed along the Strzelecki the Montecollina Bore is a very popular camping area with the bore supplying an abundance of water. Being an oasis in the middle of a very dry region it attracts thousands of birds.

About 50 kilometers on, and into an area known locally as Cobbler Desert, there is a track to the west that heads a couple of kilometers to Yaningurie Waterhole situated on the Strzelecki Creek, which also, on the rare occasions that it has water, empties into Lake Blanche.

Yaningurie normally has water and, from time to time, also serves as an attraction to bird life and other native animals. It is not a bad camping spot and many have enjoyed their stop over here.

A word of caution - the Dingo looks like a domestic dog but always remember that this is a wild animal and, if it is encountered, treat it as such.

Just north of Yaningurie Waterhole the Strzelecki Track crosses the Strzelecki Creek. If the creek is dry, more often than not, there are some pleasant, shady spots on the creek bed to rest a while.

North of here, and bypassing,  Mundibarcooloo Waterhole again on Strzelecki Creek, sees a turn off east that heads 10 kilometers to the Merty Merty Homestead and the junction with the Old Strzelecki Track, or Strzelecki Creek Track.

It is interesting to note that at this point you are approximately 70 kilometers by reasonable track from Camerons Corner, the most north west point of New South Wales, at the point where New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia meet in the Sturt National Park.

From this turnoff it is about 50 kilometers into Moomba and its oil and gas plants of Big Lake Gas Field and Moomba Gas Field operated by Santos.

Whilst there is a viewing platform on the Strzelecki track of the oil and gas operation, visitors are not really welcome at Moomba itself. In emergency medical help is available and that's about it, just high barbed wire fences and security guards.

Just for the record, Moomba is a huge operation of a combination of oil and gas fields that have their product piped and consolidated to Moomba and then on piped to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Just a little further on past the Moomba Viewing Platform the track forks. Take the main track to the right, heading almost due east.

From Moomba you have some options as to how you get from here to Innamincka.

The main road, the 15 Mile Track and via Merty Merty and the Strzelecki Creek Track.

So via the Main Road. There is a junction shortly after passing the viewing platform, take the right track. Continue on what is obviously the Main Road for about 45 kilometers past the viewing platform, having gone over the Strzelecki Creek a couple of kilometers before you will see the Old Strzelecki Track leading off to the right.

Continue on the Main Road, past the Delta Gas Fields on the right until you come to what is clearly a main junction. Turn left here and, having travelled east for the last 60km or so the track now heads almost due north.

About 45km past the junction there is a junction where the Adventure Way and the Nappa Merrie road joins the Main Road.

At this point you are literally almost in Innamincka.

To go via the 15 Mile Track continue north from the viewing platform for about 7km across the flat, very dry, plains and turn left at the junction. Continuing north there is a junction about 30 kilometers from the viewing platform where the Walkers Crossing Track leads of to the left.

This is the main route from Innaminka to Birdsville and joins the Birdsville Track just south of the Koonchera Dune and the Page Family Grave and about 160km from the 15 Mile Track junction.

Walkers Crossing Track from here to the Birdsville, although it is the main access route from Moomba to Birdsville, can be very rough going. Continue going straight past the junction, you are now on Walkers Crossing Track, and still almost due north and the road will soon start swing eastwards.

As the track enters the Innamincka Regional Reserve, where a Desert parks Pass is required, it veers northwards for a while before again heading east. About 15km from the reserve entrance there is a track leading off to the north that takes you about 5km to the banks of Cooper Creek.

It is here that Burke and Wills perished and, whilst they are buried in Melbourne, there is an appropriate memorial here to them.

A few kilometers past this turnoff is another north bound track that goes to the Minckie Waterhole, where there is reasonably good camping.

Four kilometers past the Minckie Waterhole turnoff is another track off to the north leading to a point a couple of kilometers down where John King, who was the only surviving members of Burke and Wills' exploration party, was found by a search party led by a bloke called Howitt.

From here there are several other track leading of to Cooper Creek and camping grounds along the creek. Having crossed the Strzelecki Creek you are almost in town. Camping is allowed on the Innamincka Common if you haven't found a spot to your liking so far.

The third route from Moomba to Innamincka takes you along the Strzelecki Creek Track, or Old Strzelecki Track. If you go back to before we arrived in Moomba there was a track off to the east, about 50 kilometers before the Moomba Viewing Platform, that heads to the Merty Merty Homestead and about 120 kilometers to Camerons Corner.

Take this turning and about 12 kilometers down the junction with the Old Strzelecki Track leads off to the north. Whilst this track was definitely not for conventional vehicles in the past, being literally just a track that required a 4wd vehicle, today it is well graded for almost the full length of the track thanks to the oil and gas exploration going on in the area.

This is the original Strzelecki Track before is was re-aligned to the west. It is a shorty distance from the turnoff to Innamincka than going via Moomba and is certainly a more picturesque route.

Not far up from Merty Merty there are some tracks leading off to some small oil wells. Whilst the public used to be welcome to have a look at them they are
not for touching, and the tracks to them are no longer for public acess.

The Strzelecki Creek Track runs for about 70 kilometers amongst trees and the sandy creek bed until it reaches the T junction with the Walkers Crossing Track. Here it is a turn to the east and a short distance into Innamincka.

If you want to visit the Burke and Wills Memorial it would be a turn to the west for about 12 kilometers until the north bound turnoff to Cooper Creek and the memorial is reached.

Innamincka is one of my favourite places in that part of the world, it is an oasis in the middle of desert, some of which is harsh. You could quite comfortably laze around here for a few days and still not see it all I reckon.

Disclaimer

The information provided on this web page is for use as a guide only. If you are planning to undertake this trip you must seek out other authorative advice and information. Desert and Outback travel can be very hazardous and should only be undertaken after lengthy and careful planning. The owners of this website shall not be held responsible for any damage or injury that you may experience during any conventional vehicle or four wheel drive trip, desert or otherwise. Distances between places mentioned on this page are as a guide only. You must verify these details yourself using professional maps and/or mapping equipment before you set out on a the trip. Do not attempt to access desert or other remote regions in an ill-prepared vehicle and without adequate communications equipment. Do not under estimate the
limited supply of fuel, water and provisions in these areas as well as the possibility of encountering extremely harsh elements and conditions.


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Australian 4x4 Tag Along Tours - Strzelecki Track Information

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