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outback

Outback and onwards

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Outback and onwards

We are 350km northeast of Adelaide, the sky an endless sea of blue, the only sound an occassional surf-like roar. But we are a long way inland, the roar just wind rushing through hardy conifer-like indigenous black oaks that proliferate these scrubby plains of red dirt and bulldust, the occasional rock and sand ridge drift.

We are in the Danggali Conservation zone, once a 253,000Ha South Australian sheep farm, now just ruins, but declared Australia’s first park classified under UNESCO’s 'Man and the Biosphere Program' - a living laboratory and hopefully a successful balance between conservation and sustainable use.

Yes, we've camped out in the middle of nowhere before - the wilds of WA's Cape Arid, on a fast-eroding beach at the northern point of Qld's Fraser Island. But this may be our first truly 'wilderness' camping experience - in our Troopy truck at least - no facilities, no shelter - toilet duties needing a hole to be dug, the paper burned and all buried.

We are many miles from anyone, no other vehicle for days on end, but equipped with 4x4 recovery gear, a week's supply of food, wine, beer, our 70L water tank and 2-90L diesel tanks... us having driven north from the outpost town of Burra, over the Goyder Line and finally arriving here, in the middle of nowhere - the South Australian 'Outback'.

It's autumn, but the days' temperature still in their 30s, lots of animal tracks in the red sand, but no animals to be seen. The night silence is deafening, the clear sky ablaze.

Next, it's further north, headed for Broken Hill, passing nothing but 'stations', 'outstations' , 'homesteads' - and through gate after gate - the sandy tracks and ridges, the occasional emu, the recent carcass of an unfortunate kangaroo... the smell of rotten sunbaked meat... and the special treat of five magnificent wedgetail eagles jostling on a single branch, momentarily disturbed from their roadside feast.

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