Travelling Australia - Journal 2009
12 June 2009 - Cadney Park to Erldunda
The weather this morning was generally bright although there was quite a bit of cloud and a strong northerly wind promising to increase fuel consumption alarmingly. The Pathfinder can comfortably tow the van for 300 kilometres on a level road with no wind but today's leg was longer than that and the wind would increase fuel consumption by an unknown amount. We would start the day by refuelling at Marla leaving less than 300 kilometres to Erldunda

Marla was a well-equipped roadhouse with a large area of bitumen and a small supermarket with tavern alongside. There was mobile telephone coverage at Marla, the first after moving out of range of Coober Pedy's base station.

The Stuart Highway climbed gradually after passing Marla (324 metres elevation) to be 512 metres at the Northern Territory border. This increase in road elevation can only be detected with a GPS system displaying elevation but other changes were more obvious. Widespread saltbush and bluebush around Cadney had been replaced by grass, sometimes extensive. Scrub increased in general height from 2 metres to 3 or 4 metres and trees became more common. The Marryat Creek beside The Marryat rest area south of the Northern Territory border was a wide stony dry bed with many large gum trees growing in the bed. Around Cadney there are no wide stream beds and no gum trees growing in the few stream beds that are there.
Red Gum River Red Gum in the bed of Marryat Creek in northern South Australia.

When we stopped at The Marryat rest area a couple of butcher birds approached us as if expecting food. Eventually we threw them some bread scraps and ended up feeding a couple of adult pied butcherbirds, three juvenile pied butcherbirds and three yellow throated miners. I was bit surprised butcherbirds ate bread so readily but apple was not acceptable.

Just across the Northern Territory border we passed through a belt of granite country for a while as the road continued climbing to 520 metres.

Fuel consumption for the day was high, as expected because of the head wind and the long, gradual climb. Analysing the figures indicated a 20 per cent increase in consumption caused by head wind. If fuel had been tight an increase in consumption like this could be serious.

At Erldunda we fuelled then booked into the caravan park. This was not a pleasant park. Taps on sites provided bore water labelled as unfit for drinking and alternative sources of drinking water were not available. Several other aspects also indicated the management wasn't interested in maintaining a welcoming park.
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