Day 26: Talc Alf, the Oondadatta Track, William Creek

We left the Beltana Sheep station and continued our drive north through more stunning desert landscapes.  Our first stop of the day was close to the town of Lyndhurst where we visited the Talc Alf Art Gallery.  The gallery is located outdoors in a home that looks like a set for a post-apolycalyptic movie, strewn with automobile and machine parts, slogans, but also filled with fascinating sculptures that depict important events in Australian history and elements of Talc Alf’s own intriguing personal cosmology and theories of etymology.

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Talc Alf is a Dutch-Australian (actually named Cornelius Johan Alferink) who makes beautiful sculpture from talc from the deposits found close to his home in a somewhat remote corner of Central Australia.  He is an eccentric, but wonderfully sweet old man with a Santa Claus beard.  He advocates a redesigned Australian flag, replacing the Union Jack with the Aboriginal flag, the design of which is displayed throughout his gallery.  Listening to Talc Alf’s theories about how people and places got their names, analyzing each name by letter, is a rare treat.  For example, A is for Adam (because it looks like an erect penis) and B is for Eve (showing us how the letter B turned on its side resembles a pair of breasts).  The theories are quite far fetched, but behind them is actually a deeply spiritual and compassionate perspective on life.

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From there we made our way to the outpost of Marree where the signs warned that the area we were entering is remote and to make sure you have fuel, spare tires, food, water and supplies.  We entered a landscape where I never ceased to be amazing by the emptiness.  It was mostly flat, with gradual undulation with colors changing from green to yellow to red.  A few mountain peaks sat off in the distance.  The sky was intensely blue and cloudless.  Here and there, we also saw various sculptures along the road.  Talc Alf is certainly not the only eccentric sculpture artist inhabiting this empty country.

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We crossed The Dog Fence, one of the worlds longest fences, is designed to keep the dingos out of cattle farms and away from more populated parts of Australia.  It goes up through Victoria to New South Wales and cuts inside the Queensland border.  Dingos came to Australia about 8,000 years ago and are related to the Tasmanian tiger, which is now extinct.  Wild camels have damaged large sections of the fence.

We followed the Oodnadatta Track, an unsealed outback road, and stopped by an observation point for Lake Eyre, which is a typically dry salt lake.  Walking on the dry lake bed felt like walking on another planet.  The sand was slightly damp with moisture and the sun left mirages of pools on the horizon.

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We stopped for a refreshing swim in a small swimming hole at Coward Springs, a nice resting point on the desolate Oodnadatta Track, before finally reaching our rather spare accommodation in trailers at William Creek.

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