Day 86 | civilisation at Oodnadatta: nice people but not much here

60 km | Heading west total: 3,228 km


She’s the longest bridge by quite a long stretch in South Australia with nineteen 30.9 m spans. That makes it close to 600m long. Even bigger than the Curdimurka edifice from a few days ago. There’s no water currently below but the Neale River must be a big in flood because the tracks are a long way up.

350 blokes worked on construction before it opened in 1892, hot riveting all the component pieces together. There were a few stories of the crew from those days out here, no doubt, now long forgotten.

I spot a mangled and rusted car wreck, an early 1970s Holden EB, it’s hard to tell now, near the bridge.

There’s a great story here but you already know the ending. Back in 1976 there was a huge flood that isolated Oodnadatta from the rest of the world. The road was covered with 10m of raging torrent: the bridge was just above it.

A clever bloke, Fred, needed to get into Oodnadatta for some important reason, perhaps containing the word beer, and decided to drive over the railway bridge.

One issue: no road and the railway sleepers carrying the tracks were well spaced. Ever resourceful he grabs a few spare sleepers and drives a few metres across shuffling the wood from back to front over the car roof. Not such an easy task.

That’s a clever idea.

Second issue: not so clever when an unscheduled work gang train reverses around the bend and, with Fred leaping aside, knocks his you beaut car into the hugely flowing river.