When Travel Outback Australia got sponsored to attend the 2016 Big Red Bash in July we were excited to be heading off on a trip to what must be arguably, the most iconic location in Australia’s outback, Birdsville.
Massive rainfall causing road and track closures that threatened travel anywhere in the outback had occurred in the week preceding the event. The area around Birdsville, like most of inland Australia, was no exception.
This meant that while the event was to be staged at Big Red, a massive dune just 40 or so kilometres out of Birdsville, the organisers had to move the location from Big Red into Birdsville itself at the last minute and did a magnificent job of turning the town into a stage for a rock concert.
Numbers just in have the official stats at over 7000 people attending the concert and this meant Birdsville had an unexpected windfall with all these people landing on its doorstop for almost a week in some cases.
For three days revellers listened to a diverse range of acts from Brian Cadd and Glenn Shorrock to Christine Anu, country singers Adam Harvey and Troy Casser Daley. To top it off Amanda and I finally got to see Paul Kelly sing which was a bonus for us. From here it was onto big guns, The Angels and Jimmy Barnes.
The music could be heard all over Birdsville and while most attended the concert site many people sat in their camps just outside of town and enjoyed the party atmosphere.
Most people we talked to thoroughly enjoyed the event and can’t wait to attend the 2017 event back out on Big Red itself.
Our route took us from our new home base in the Riverland, what we like to call the southern extent of the outback, up through the Flinder’s Ranges to Lyndhurst where we then took the Strzelecki Track up to Innamincka.
From Innamincka we skirted further road closures to end up in Birdsville 7 days after we left home, lucky to have made it with all the rain around the desert country.
So how did our trip go? The first day of travel saw us encounter road closures.
Heavy rain meant that the Strzelecki Track and every other road north of Lyndhurst was closed. We unexpectedly found ourselves as guests of the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna whilst we waited for the roads to reopen. Host Jane Fargher and family looked after us for a couple of days and we can recommend to anyone to spend a few days in this part of the world.
Several days later we arrived in Lyndhurst to see a stationary traffic jam, there were cars, 4wds and trucks all waiting for the moment that the road would be opened. People were everywhere, sitting in the street, standing talking to other travellers, the pub... just waiting.
All of a sudden there was a stirring, motors started, people yelled the road to Marree was open. From packed streets to a stillness that we hadn’t heard since arriving, Lyndhurst eased back into normality.
Once the rush was over we made our way to Farina, the old railway town being restored by volunteers, just north of Lyndhurst. Bakers operate the old half buried baker’s oven here for 6 or so weeks a year and Gary was after his fix of pastry delights.
We left Farina after staying for a couple of days and headed back and up the Strzelecki Track once it too, had opened. While mostly dry with some wet patches, especially between Moomba and Innamincka, the Strzelecki took us through stony gibber country, rolling hills and sand dunes...this is a place to feel both the perceived emptiness but also the size of this country we call home.
From Innamincka it was onto Birdsville and, whilst many roads were still closed, we made it to Birdsville with a day or two to spare.
Four wheel drives could still get to Big Red and from all accounts it was so busy they had to have Police out there each day for traffic control.
While we were disappointed in the venue change, like most other people, we just accepted it and moved on. Looking back it may have been a good thing as I’m not sure we would have liked to camp in such a small area with 7000 other people.
So I guess you're all wondering how our Cooper S/TMAXX tyres performed during the trip to the Big Red Bash? The range of different terrain encountered during this trip was amazing and the tyres, even though exposed to rock, mud, water and sand, barely show signs of wear and tear.
Thus far I'm more than happy with these tyres and I'll continue to report back on their wear and performance as we continue our journey.