Hamilton Station to Mt Dare

Departing Hamilton Station and heading towards the kick-off point of our Simpson Desert crossing was exciting for all concerned. We knew that we had one more night of being surrounded by some level of amenity before we were really and truly on our own for a few nights in one of the most remote places in the world.

The road to Mt Dare was similar to the previous roads although the corrugations were starting to increase the closer we got to our stop. It wasn’t a long drive but it pays to take it easy when you’re this far from civilisation.

On the way to Mt Dare we stopped off for some lunch at Eringa (ruins). There is quite a lovely creek/waterhole here and it’s an ideal stop off point for a break on the journey from Oodnadatta to Mt Dare. We stopped here for lunch before exploring the ruins a little. It’s pretty impressive to see what’s still standing all the way out here.

Eringa would make for a lovely campsite also just due to the nature that is attracted by the waterhole.

Pulling into Mt Dare came with its own challenges with the road leading to the entry being more akin to a long lake than a road. Along side this lake was an alternate road, which, while less lake-like, was certainly not flat nor straight, with plenty of undulations to work our way through.

As we approached the homestead there was some mild confusion as to which way to go, but we just headed in the general direction of a windmill that seemed to be the only indication of civilisation in the landscape.

As with much of the track towards Mt Dare, the final leg was quite moist with us dropping down to low-range. We didn’t need low-range in the end, but it’s better to have more torque than less when you find yourself bogging down in a river of mud.

After making it through the entry process, we stopped by the petrol bowser to fill up for our crossing. Being that we’re driving a 4.0L straight 6, automatic TJ Wrangler meant that fuel was an ever-present concern and with this crossing, we weren’t taking any chances.  With a long range tank holding 115 litres, and 4 x 20L plastic jerries on the roof of the TJ, and 2 x 20L steal cans carried by my folks on the roof of their trusty diesel Land Rover, we were making sure, in no uncertain terms that fuel wouldn’t be an issue.

Filling all these, however, was an interesting and time-consuming task and at the end of the processes, it looked like this:

Yep, $2.20 per litre for Premium Unleaded, which is actually about the same price for normal unleaded on Fraser Island, so I was relatively happy with that.

After filling up we headed to the campground to set up for the night. We found a lovely spot beside some trees that seemed to be the home of some budgerigars and they went about their business as we went about ours.

As part of a regular maintenance check, and due to the fact that I’d just added 80 litres of fuel to the roof, I was busy checking the roof rack for any signs of fatigue. With the TJ being traditionally a soft top, the roof rack set up that I have relies upon fairly beefy uprights which the rack is mounted to. These connect at the rear of the vehicle on custom brackets bolted to the chassis, and at the front, they connect to the bottom of the A-Pillar via 5 bolts that make up the windscreen hinge.

Upon checking these I came across one that I thought was loose. On closer inspection and after tightening the bolt it appears as though it had been sheared off half way along. This was not a good position to be in, remembering that this had happened without the additional 80 kg’s on the roof.

Ok, so we need a plan of action. My first thought was how glad I was that I’d actually brought along 6 spares of this particular bolt. The second thought was how do we get the sheared part out in order to put a new one in?

We sent Kath over to the workshop to see if they had an EZ-Out. Super handy for this sort of thing, however, to use one you need to drill a hole in the end of the sheared bolt. My father had brought along his cordless drill so we set about trying to tap this hole. It wasn’t really working out as in true Murphy style, the end wasn’t flat so trying to get purchase on the bolt proved challenging.

It didn’t really matter in the end though as in attempting to drill the hole, it actually worked the bolt further through to the point that it fell out the other side! We heard it drop into somewhere, and to this day it’s never been seen again. I guess it’s just one of those rattles we still hear when driving off the blacktop. So with the old bolt removed and the new one added, we were all good to keep moving the following day.  Albeit ever present that this could and most likely will happen again, given the roads we’ll be driving on will get worse before they get better.

After setting up the tent room we ducked off for a quick shower before heading to the restaurant for drinks and some dinner.

We had a meal and even some dessert, ice cream with an interesting delivery of some chocolate topping, you had to be there to experience this though. We picked up some souvenirs before turning in for the night.

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