We left Dalhousie Springs and headed to Mt Dare which calls itself Australia’s most remote pub. It did rather feel like this. It is in the Simpson Desert National Park and has camping and basic accom and meals, as well as car repairs and recovery. We had seen one of their tow trucks when it had to come out to Dalhousie Springs to rescue someone who’s oil pump had died on the horrible corrogated road out to there. We nearly lost the boat on that same road and had to tie it back down. We filled our water tanks with their bore water after filtering it and set out on the Binns Track towards Old Andado. M
We were told the road to Andado was “good” by one of the locals but I wondered what it was like when it was bad?! It was the worst road we had been on so far on this trip with long, wide stretches of soft sand and ruts left behind by the big cattle trucks. Also a very long soft sand Finke river crossing that just kept going. We stopped and further lowered our tire pressure and the van got through with no problems. I did have my fingers crossed at times even though Steve is a great driver on the rough roads. We had to keep the van moving, so we wouldn’t get bogged but we also had low tree branches to avoid suddenly. We crossed the Northern Territory Border and the terrain changed with trees at the sides of the road. I had the image of digging the car/and or van out of the soft sand in my mind, in 30+deg temps and millions of flies. There were some horrible sections of bull dust too where we could not even see the van behind us! We saw nobody else on this road that day. We quite like this but not so good if you get bogged. Out here if you are pulled over on the road someone always stops to check on you, even if you are looking at a bird. This is one of the nice things about rural/remote Australia. M
One of the most interesting camps on a property this entire trip, was this one at Old Andado Station. Nestled in between pink sand dunes at the edge of the Simpson Desert. Part of Andado Station is 18kms inside the Simpson desert. It was the final home of Molly Clark who was a real character and is a bit of a legend out here and for good reason. M
Molly Clark was born in 1923 and wanted to be a wool classer but this was not a job for a woman at the time, so she took up nursing. In her first year she contracted TB and that ended this career path. She ended up working on Mungerannie Station as a Governess. It was here she met her husband Malcolm (Mac) Clark and they married and had 3 sons. They managed a number of stations together and by 1969 owned their own place- Andado Station. They lived in the old 1920’s homestead but built a new one a few kms west. In 1972 Molly and her family began to restore the old homestead to it’s former glory and she started a tourism business showing people what life was like in earlier days in the outback as alternative income during drought years. M
In 1978 Molly lost Mac to a heart attack after crash landing his light aircraft. In 1979 she lost her oldest son when his semi trailer was hit by a freight train at night. Andado station was one of the first cattle stations to undergo Brucellosis and Tuberculosis testing and because it bordered South Australia they had to de stock the property (slaughter all the cows) and as a result of this loss Molly had to sell the property in 1984 for less than it was worth.
Molly did manage to secure a crown lease on 45 square kilometres around the old homestead, renaming it Old Andado. She lived there until she was forced to move into Alice Springs due to frailty and failing eyesight. The homestead today is just how she left it, when she retired to a nursing home in Alice Springs. Well nearly. Molly lived to 89yrs.
Molly was disappointed when she visited the Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach and saw how few woman were mentioned, so she did something about it. She started the Pioneer Woman’s Hall of Fame in Alice Springs. M
Visiting this house was so interesting. Yes it was covered it red dust as the verandas were only enclosed with shade cloth and the charitable trust seems not to have been able to get a caretaker for some time. But you could really get an idea of how hard it would be to live out here and get an idea of the woman that Molly Clark must have been. The royal flying doctors radio was still on the desk and her prized salt and pepper shakers inside the glass cabinets. There was her perfume bottle on the dressing table ready for a special occasion. Books on birds and Aboriginal culture on the coffee table. A tea pot covered in a tea cosy. It would have been lovely to sit down at the table and have a cup of tea with her. She even looked a bit like my Gran. Molly won numerous awards and her last home, Old Andado was finally listed on the Heritage Register in 1993. Molly died in 2012. M