The Birdsville Track is one of Australia’s most iconic outback tracks. Starting in Marree, South Australia, this 517km historic cattle route transverses the Tirari and Sturt Stony Deserts, ending in Birdsville, Queensland. Traveling along, the scenery seems to never change until you realise abruptly that it has; from stoney plains, to white, elongated dunes to yellow, sandy swales there is incredible diversity if you only just pay attention. This is some of the most arid terrain in the country where the landscape seems inhospitable to most, but surprisingly this region provides prime fodder for the organic beef industry. The rich abundance of mineral salts in the scrub vegetation gives cattle a complete diet without the need for supplements, so unfortunately even the driest of deserts isn’t spared the affects of cattle grazing!
Mungerannie Station, complete with a mandatory outback pub, is an oasis in the desert marking the halfway point of the track. The thermal springs on the Derwent Creek are their claim to fame and the creek also attracts a diverse array of waterbirds and the loudest mob of white corellas known to man. If you visit in Autumn or Spring you can share the bizarre experience of standing in between a simultaneous full moon-set and sunrise, which leaves you feeling like you are in a sci-fi film.
With the exception of the odd cow, there is not a soul to be seen on the horizon as you drive along, yet if you stop and get out of the car you will soon be greeted by a plague of unwanted visitors – the flies! The hours of driving affords plenty of time to ponder the psyche of the fly; What are they living off in the middle of nowhere? How are they as ubiquitous as the rocks? Are they listlessly hanging around in every crevice or do they fly as quickly as the car to stalk you?
So why not frock up and join the throng of people that make the trek each year in September to enjoy the infamous Birdsville Races, and you too can contemplate the fly conundrum… but be sure to carry a yoga mat; it may come in handy as a proxy window as one rock on a road of thousands might very well shatter your back window!
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