Maree proves to be as fascinating as Leigh Creek was banal. Notice the date on this old painting on a wall in the centre of Maree – 1981 – is it forecasting the demise of the human race because of global warming?
Maree is a dry flat settlement of about 150 people with a big sky, almost more historic memorials than people, and is the setting off point for both the Oodnadatta and Birdsville tracks. Populated mostly by desert trekkers, we find an odd hotch-potch of travellers – some of the usual portly caravanning couples, but mainly parties of blokes on boys’ own holidays in convoys of RV’s. Then there are buses of elderly tourists, mostly women, some on sticks, residing in the porta-homes that double for hotel rooms, and young couples getting some RV travelling in before they have to take life seriously.
It’s free to camp behind the hotel, showers and toilets also free, as long as you patronise the hotel – though we didn’t find anyone checking…
The Marree Hotel, just under new ownership, is thriving, catering to every taste, and serving surprisingly good food – Atlantic salmon rare, steak blue, just as we asked…
Cameleers – the ‘Afghans’:
Early morning exploration of Maree with Charlie takes me to the first Mosque ever built in Australia, hand built by the Cameleers who opened up the centre of Australia, Afghan, Indian and other nationalities.
I stand, sad that this first emblem of faith and peace, so lovingly created by some of our earliest pioneers, has not been followed up by greater respect for all those later immigrants of the same faith, their good works sullied by the actions of a few. Are we all to blame for the actions of the poor man who implemented the Port Arthur massacre? Or the other nameless killer of the worshipers in Christchurch?
I am ‘cornered’ one day by a descendent of the Cameleers, still bitter that they are shunned as Muslims by both the Aboriginal and white population of Marree.
Lake Eyre Yacht Club:
Is it a joke? The members, who sport some dusty broken catamarans round the side of the building, claim it’s not. Formed in 2000, its goals are stated to be “collect and disseminate accurate information about the Lake. Provide support for those wishing to go boating on the Lake, and, when circumstances permit, hold boating events on the lake.”
There’s no sign of life, however, even though the Lake is reputed to be gradually filling – last time it was full, btw, was 1974!
Tom Kruse (not a spelling mistake):
Famous in Marree also are the works of the early postmen who delivered the mail across the deserts of Central Australia, and particularly of Tom Kruse, who delivered both post and people from Marree to Birdsville for between 1936 and 1963 and was honoured in a documentary The Back of Beyond, in the days when the Birdsville Track was still hard to find and blown with sandhills if you didn’t know your way. A dining room in the Marree Pub is dedicated to his memory and we eat there with delight. He was finally honoured with an OBE for his work.
Time to fuel up and move on to the Birdsville Track – so you think your diesel is expensive? Check this out:
2 thoughts on “Maree”
Diesel is very expensive out in Maree! I loved my visit to Maree & flying over Lake Eyre to see the exquisite colours of the lake which was full at the time. We also flew over in 1974 as well. The Birdsville track was closed but a ferry operated somewhere between Maree & Birdsville. I have some amazing photos from the air. We were the bus load on Outback Spirit! Wind & snow on the Tops so I spent the day picking up limbs etc & getting ready for my cousins to arrive from Brisbane on Friday. We hope to go to the Cycling Festival in Dungog on Saturday & the Stibbards are coming for lunch on Sunday as Howard is a retired Lawyer too. Love to you both.
Cas & Marty
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What amazing little parts of history, human endeavour, and persistence!
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