So what can we say, what an amazing holiday. Couldn't have asked for a better way to spend our honeymoon. We are so privileged to have been able to spend time in some of the places we did, it truly is a blessing to have been able to travel our great country.
The people of outback Australia are some of the kindest, laid back and most genuine people you could ever meet. It really is a totally different world out there. You could not get any further from the hustle and bustle of Sydney if you tried.
We met some amazing people on our travels, both in the towns and our fellow like-minded campers. To think that we set up camp and then spend the whole day out exploring, leaving to tent unattended, unlocked, suitcases and belongings inside, chairs and table outside and you come back at night and everything is how you left it. There is a mutual respect and no-one would even think to touch your belongings. Yet at home we close the windows and deadlock the door before driving to the shops for 5 minutes! It really was refreshing being able to live in a world where everyone looks out for each other and respects others and their property .... even if it was unfortunately only for 7 weeks.
Everyone is amazingly friendly, you rarely pass a car without getting a wave (even from the truckies and coppers!). We even had a truck driver stop his truck and get out to warn us about a huge pot hole on one of the dirt tracks we were travelling on. The road train drivers are equally courteous of fellow drivers, a quick chat on the CB will often let you know if its safe to overtake or warn of any upcoming traffic/road issues. It really does remind you that there are still good people in this world, unfortunately in the city many people are just too busy to worry about anyone else but themselves.
Each day we would set up camp and there was always someone walking by, beer in hand, ready to have a chat! Always someone who has been where you are heading and ready to answer questions or give advice and always someone waiting to hear stories of our adventures.
We visited some wonderful places, saw some amazing things and experienced so much. We stood on the northern most point of Australia, drank beer in Australia's most northerly pub (on Thursday Island). We stayed in a refurbished train carriage and went on a tour through million year old volcanic lava tubes at Undarra Volcanic Park. We stayed in an underground motel at Coober Pedy (where 80% of the population live underground), we toured the Rio Tinto bauxite mines in Weipa, learned the history of the gold mines in Tennant Creek and explored an opal mine in Coober Pedy. We saw the sunrise over Uluru and watched the sunset over Uluru and Kata Tjuta from on top of a camel!
We travelled in the footsteps of some of our early explorers, we followed the Old Ghan Railway line and we had the chance to drive some of the 4WD tracks on every true 4WDers 'must do' list. We drove through bushfires (and even had one surrounding our campground), we survived gale force winds at Captain Billy's Landing and we met Ron and Viv Moon in Cooktown. We ate camel burgers at Kings Canyon and Crayfish pie at Thursday Island! We felt the magic and beauty of being at the Devils Marbles and we were overwhelmed by the sheer size and presence of Uluru. We saw more wildlife than you could ever imagine, birds, eagles, crocodiles, emus, camels, dingoes, lizards, cows, snakes, goats, horses, dogs, sheep, kangaroos. We even had the awesome opportunity to hold and play with a baby orphaned wallaby at Wycliffe Well.
We swam under waterfalls, bathed in the 43 degree natural springs at Innot Hot Springs, drove through croc infested rivers and near cried as we were constantly teased by the fact that we were surrounded by all this crystal clear, bright blue water that we couldn't swim in (crocs, sharks, jellyfish, stingers, snakes .... the list goes on!!)
We were covered in red dirt, went days without a shower, toilets were few and far between at places. We encountered more flies than you could ever imagine (even one in George's beer ... nice surprise!). We got used to eating the odd bug in our dinner and having sand and dirt throughout the car, the tent, the sleeping bags and your belongings was just normal. We encountered a 2 degree night and 40 degree days, wild winds and torrential rain, had dingos stalking us for our dinner and we had spiders living on our chairs. We wore the same clothes more than one day each and washing with baby wipes was the done thing.
But we loved every single part of it, it is all part of the adventure! And at the end of the day, every single person you meet is in the same position as you so no one even comes close to caring!
So to say that we enjoyed our time away is an understatement, we loved every minute of it and cannot wait to get back out there again. The chances of us moving interstate or to a more remote location is definitely more of a possibility now than ever before.
So here is a bit of a summary of our trip.
Total KM travelled 13,367 km
Total time away 49 days (7 weeks)
Total amount of money spent on petrol $4,240.20
Average overall L/100km 18.49 (combination of weight, a batch of bad fuel, low & high range off road driving, highway driving, few days of bad headwinds)
What we missed the most while away The kids, the dogs, family and friends
Best Chips n Gravy Archer River Roadhouse, QLD
Best Coffee Cobar, NSW
Best Burgers Archer River Roadhouse, with Musgrave Roadhouse a very close second
Best Pizza Outback Pioneer Kitchen, Ayers Rock Resort & Alfrescos, Broken Hill
Best meal Loyalty Beach. Not just the food, the whole package .... Food, location, atmosphere and service
Biggest surprise How much we loved Alice Springs, could totally see us living there. Also the sheer size of Uluru.
Most Scenic Flinders Ranges, SA and Finke Gorge National Park, NT (Boggy Hole in particular)
Favourite campground (remote) Bramwell Station and Chili Beach
Favourite campground (city) Cairns Big 4 Coconut Holiday Resort - amazing service and awesome caravan park.
Most expensive petrol Jardine River and Bamaga (Cape York) - $2.55 / litre for normal 91 octane unleaded petrol
Most expensive beer $56 for XXXX Gold cans in Weipa
Most expensive place in general Ayers Rock Resort
Most expensive campsite Kings Creek Station ($19 per person).
Cheapest Campsite any of the National Park camping in Queensland ($5.45 per person)
Biggest rip-off Jardine River Ferry Crossing Ticket & Permit ($129 to cross the Jardine river - about 40 meters wide)! don't have much choice though as the crossing is too deep and dangerous to attempt, and infested with crocodiles!
Biggest Adrenalin Rush Palm Creek, Old Telegraph Track (Cape York)
Best 4WD Track Old Telegraph Track, for its diversity. With the slightly damp CREB track a close second
4WD Tracks driven Old Telegraph Track, Frenchmans Track, Battle Camp Road, CREB Track, Oodnadatta Track (in part), Ernest Giles Road, Mereenie Loop (in part).
States travelled to NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia
What exceeded our expectations Boggy Hole, Uluru
Strangest place Wycliffe Well, NT. Did enjoy our night there, but really is quite a strange little caravan park!
Where we wouldn't go again Captain Billy's Landing - the corrugations to get there were back breaking and the howling wind, crashing waves and pouring rain made for a not so fun night! Also the Pebbles (Kunjarra) outside of Tennant Creek - if you've ever been to Devils Marbles and also seen the Pebbles, you will understand!
Biggest disappointment That Stewy, Kristy and Rori couldn't complete the Cape York portion of our trip with us, due to their car problems
What we wouldn't take with us again The kitchen (our smaller table was sufficient and we never took the larger kitchen bench/table out at all!), the toilet/shower tent, so much food!
Best Purchase before the trip Our satellite phone, SPOT tracker
Best 4WD modifications that have made our lives easier for off road travels Rear ARB Air Locker, custom made shelves to replace rear seats, CB radio, Raised King Springs/Bilstein Shocks on Bridgestone tyres & new touring seats.
Scariest Moment Camping at Captain Billy's Landing - gale force winds, didn't sleep at all! The severe weather warning of 120km/h winds while camping at Port Augusta, Palm Creek crossing on the tele track!
Nicest people Alice Springs in particular, but Northern Territory as a whole. Although while travelling we had many great encounters with people everywhere!
Lastly we have a few people we need to thank that helped us out.
Firstly, thank you to all of our wonderful family and friends who bought activities or donated cash towards our honeymoon fund. We appreciated it very much and certainly enjoyed spending your money!!
Now a big thank you to Vic Widman from Great Divide Tours, who helped us plan our itinerary for this trip. Without your help, advice and friendship we wouldn't have seen half the amazing places we did. You knowledge is invaluable Vic!
A huge thank you to our mechanic, Adam Hales, for once again getting the Prado in shape for this trip and for your ongoing work on all our cars. Adam was even on call for an emergency phone call from Weipa when our 4WD gears would not engage. Adam walked us through how to fix it over the phone, who could ask for better service than that!
Big thanks to Tony Tsitsikronis for your help in arranging our tyres. Yet again the Bridgestone's didn't let us down!
Thank you to John Vahanian and Sharon Madden for looking after the dogs and house while Kylie was away for the week. We are glad that Gelly and Charli were so well behaved for you, if only they were that good all the time! Glad everything ran smoothly (except for a few cricket escapees!), and funny that the frog managed to make a game out of hearing your alarm! He's barely made a noise since we got home!
And last but not least, Kylie! Thank you for looking after everything while we were gone - the dogs, fish, birds, frogs (oh that's right, there is only 1 now after you killed Hemi!). Although you had to put up with Charli's separation anxiety and Gelly's constant need to be near or on you, we know you secretly loved it!!
A very huge thank you to all of you for your help and support.
Love always, George & Shelly
Well, what a night it was last night! There had been severe weather warnings for the Port Augusta area of storms, rain and gale force winds of up to 120km/h. They were warning everyone to stay inside, away from windows and to tie down and secure anything that could blow away! I can say that we weren't exactly looking forward to the night.
We got back to camp about 6pm and it was just starting to rain. We spoke to the new guy staying next to us and he mentioned that the winds had been pretty bad throughout the day, it had apparently been too much for the girls camped next to us and they packed up and left, they weren't waiting for a night of that wind aswell!
Luckily we had already heard about the weather heading our way so had made sure the tent was tied down and chairs and table were inside the tent before we left in the morning. The only damage we saw when we got back was that some of our floor mats we use at the front of the tent had blown around!
There was a lot of thunder and lightening around and then the rain started getting heavier so we moved into the tent, just in time for the wind to start! We had positioned the Prado right across the front of the tent to try and block the direction the wind was coming from, I'm sure it helped, but the wind seemed to be blowing from every drection. The tent and guy ropes certainly we working hard.
Anyway we survived the night, it turned out not being too bad. I think the weather must have changed direction and we only got the edge of it.
We spoke to another camper this morning and his tent had been leaking pretty bad last night, so bad that his wife and kids left in the middle of the night to go stay with relatives nearby, haha.
We were fine though, no leaks and no damage this morning. I think after Vic sending us to Captain Billy's Landing as part of our Cape York itinerary the tent already had its training for windy and rainy conditions and was prepared for anything after that!!
So it's nearly over, 7 wonderful weeks away come to an end tomorrow.
Yesterday we drove from Port Augusta to Broken Hill. The nice caravan park at Broken Hill was packed so we just found a cheap hotel to stay in for the night. Shelly wasn't feeling too well so it worked out well.
We have been to Broken Hill previously so didn't need to do any sight seeing so we just relaxed in the room and then went out to grab some dinner.
Today we drove to Dubbo, another long and boring road. Stopped in at Cobar for lunch and the continued on, arriving in Dubbo around 6pm.
We checked into the Ibis Budget Hotel (previously a Formule 1 hotel), cheap and clean, that's all we needed! We met a guy while checking in and ended up talking to him and drinking beer in the car park for about 2 hours! He used to live in Alice Springs and was telling us about that and his 4WD experiences, nice guy and we had a nice chat.
Tomorrow we head off home, can't say we are excited to be heading back home or back to work - but excited to see the pups tomorrow though!
Will update the blog again with a summary of our trip in a day or so.
So today we decided to spend another day in Port Augusta and go out and explore the Flinders Ranges. We have never been and as we were so close we thought we would take a drive out and have a look around - after what we saw today, we will definitely be back to do some more exploring.
It was about a 2 hour drive out to the National Park, but the scenery was beautiful. Many ruins scattered around, the first one we stopped at was Kanyaka Station Homestead, built in the early 1850's. The photo below shows all that remains of this once huge sheep station of about 950 square kilometres.
It's amazing though seeing these remains of properties and buildings that were built over 160 years ago. Just to be able to see these buildings and relive a little piece of history is such a priveledge. I cannot imagine any of the structures or houses built now still being around in 160 years!
A stop at the Sacred Canyon was next on our journey. A short walk through the canyon over rocks lead you to some Aborignal etchings and then out into the dry riverbed.
This is such a beautiful part of our country, there are lookouts everywhere, which is great as you cannot get enough of the views! Couldn't tell you how many photos we took today between us!
And the flowers, wow, even George was impressed - and if you know George you would know he isn't the slightest bit interested in flowers, plants or gardens in general!
I would love to come back and see this place after some good rain, have never seen so many wild flowers in our travels.
There is so such to explore around here, we only had a day and made the most of it, but we will be back.
To be honest, the Flinders Ranges was never high on my list of 4WD locations I wanted to visit, but after today, I can highly recommend it!
Despite the weather being overcast and windy, the views were still spectacular, imagine what it could look like on a clear sunny day. Even the dust/sand storm that swept through during the day and destroyed our views didn't spoil our day.
On our way back to Port Augusta we called into Quorn for an ice cream. Very old, quaint little town. We found out that Quorn has been the backdrop for alot of Aussie films, including 'Sunday too Fare Away', 'The Shiralee', 'Gallipli', 'The Last Ride' and also 'Tracks' (which is soon to be released). The guys at the camel farm at Uluru actually told us about Tracks and a few of their staff are appearing in it.
So you will probably all remember that back on our second or third day with Stewy and Kristy, they had major car issues and had to be towed (after numerous calls on the sat phone and a subsequent 4 hour wait on the side of the road).
We had stayed with them for most of the time, but then went ahead to set up camp for us at Musgrave Station. We actually passed the tow truck on our way so knew they were safe! The tow truck driver then dropped them all off at Musgrave Station to give us our sat phone back and also grab some dinner. They then continued on to Archer River Roadhouse for the night. The tow truck driver turned out to be the owner of the road house and he given them a cabin for the night.
The following day they were taken to Weipa to get the car looked at.
After making the 3 hour drive from Archer River to Weipa Stewy and Kristy made their way to the mechanics, only to be told they can't look at it until Friday!
The mechanic asked why the car had been towed there and not Cairns, their response being "this is where RACQ and the tow truck sent us!".
One of the locals then drove them all into town to arrange accommodation and argue with RACQ on the phone! Luckily they found a great girl in the RACQ call centre who helped them out and the car was then arranged to be towed back to Cairns, as should have happened in the first place!
RACQ advised that they would be covering all the towing costs and flights out of Weipa back to Cairns for the 3 of them. Really goes to show that you need the top NRMA/RACQ cover when travelling, well worth the extra cost.
Stewy and Kristy managed to hire a car to get them around while in Weipa and had arranged to stay there until we arrived so we could catch up again. We ended up arriving a day earlier than expected so we could find out what was happening and spend a bit more time with them all.
We said our goodbyes to Stewy, Kristy and Rori on Sunday morning as we headed off to start our cape adventure and they were flying down to Cairns to meet the car.
As it turns out, the car left Weipa on the Friday and didn't arrive in Cairns until the
Tuesday! Nothing happens too quickly up there!
Stewy was pretty sure it was a new motor that was required and had already sourced one from a wrecker in Cairns (the one and only motor there to suit his car, so he didn't have much choice!). As it turned out, the motor only had about 20,000km on it less than his motor, but what can you do.
They then received the call from the mechanics that yes it definitely was the motor, so the wheels were set in motion to get the car up and running again.
None of them had ever been to Cairns before so at least they still made a holiday out of it, even if it wasn't exactly how they planned it! While in Cairns they managed to see Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, the night markets, Kuranda and even the local music festival. They also travelled back down to Townsville for the weekend to visit relatives, so overall they did have a great holiday anyway.
They finally got the car back (and were then delayed another day due to another smaller problem, but the mechanic was straight onto it and they were on their way to meet up with us in Cooktown.
We met them in Cooktown at the Big 4 caravan park and we all stayed in motel rooma there due to the weather. Luckily we did because the wind and rain just got stronger as the night went on!
Went to the local pub and had a great dinner and filled each other in on our previous weeks travels (and gave Stewy his stubby cooler we bought him - "my friends went to the tip and all I got was this lousy stubby cooler", haha couldn't help ourselves!!
The next day we all explored Cooktown (in torrential rain!), they had never been before so we went to all the places of interest, as well as the shops.
Next day we drove to Lions Den Hotel and stayed in our safari cabins, Kristy was happy they didn't miss this one! The boys played with their cars, Stewy did an oil change, George fitted up the new spot lights, the girls sat around and chatted!
Next day it was on to Cape Tribulation via the CREB Track, they finally got some true 4WDing in! And what a track to do, think this made up a little for everything else they'd missed!
We were then back to Cairns (no sightseeing required as I think Stewy and Kristy had managed to cover every square inch of it! - and we have been before too), so straight to the camp ground. The Big 4 at Cairns is the best ever! Rori got to play in the water park and I got to play on the jumping pillow!
Our last day together was spent at Innot Hot Springs, which everyone loved. We had a campfire and my yummy choc-chip damper for dessert and it was a nice way to spend our last night together.
So it wasn't the Cape York adventure they anticipated, but they still got a holiday. They still got some 4WDing in and to spend a few days wih us.
The car and associated costs cost them a bit, but nothing they could do about that. You can do all the preparation in the world, but some things just can't be helped. The car is still going strong, they have actually just gone away beach camping again for the weekend, so all good!
It was sad we didn't get to spend the whole trip with them, but glad it all worked out well in the end. They are now planning their next trip to Cape York in 2015!!
Decided to just take a drive around the city this morning to have a look, didn't take long! Very pretty city, but nothing at all is open on a Sunday!
It's a lot like Burke or Stockton. Very quiet and older style cottage houses, very similar feel to driving around either of those suburbs. The thing we did notice was that alot of the newer built houses are still build in the cottage style to fit in, they looked great. A mix of old and new all melded together.
The foreshore looks over the harbour, very pretty with walking/bike tracks, grassed lawns and picnic areas. There is also an excellent BMX/skate park, didn't have anything like that when we were kids!
We then drove out to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. This place is located on the shores of the Upper Spencer Gulf and overlooks the Flinders Ranges. Entry is free and they showcase some amazing flowers and plants.
The Sturt's Desert Pea is currently out in flower and looks great. We have seen a few along our travels, but it's not as common out here as I initially thought it would be. During our two last outback desert trips, we haven't seen any significant displays of it.
We took a drive out to Blanche Harbour - had a little trouble finding it to start with and our GPS decided to take us on a 40 minute drive along the highway and round in a circle to take us back to where we initially were before it told us the correct turn!!
Worth the drive though, wow, what a beautiful place. The colour of the water ranged from green to aqua and all shades of blue. There were houses right on the waters edge, great place to live. A quick google of house prices in the area and we now want to move here!
Blanche Harbour is one of the rare places where the desert meets the sea. This environment occurs because the coastal waters of The Spencer Gulf run more than 350km into Australia's arid inland country.
After lunch we headed off to check out one of the beaches. We were able to drive along the beach aswell so got some good photos of the ranges in the distance. The water was a bit cold though, may explain why there was noone swimming at the beach, dispute it being 35 degrees today!
Whilst on the beach we also witnessed a Commodore sedan drive onto the beach and proceed to drive along it, stopping to do burnouts along the way. We were waiting for him to get bogged, but he did manage to get back off safely! Guess most people can't say they took their commodore for a drive on the beach!
Last stop for the day was the Water Tower Lookout. This water tower was built in 1882 to provide a reserve water supply for residents. Wish we had of read that it was built in 1882 before we climbed to the top!! Great views from up there though, but very windy today and was kind of glad to get back down!
As we were driving the long and boring Stuart Highway today we could see something out to our left and weren't sure if it was a salt pan or lake, it was huge.
There were 4WD tracks everywhere so we pulled off the highway to drive down one for closer inspection. It was a salt pan, a huge one! We found that it was called Lake Hart. If you look closely in the photo you can see the new Ghan railway line which runs along the edge of it.
Today's drive wasn't too exciting, it was 5 hours of driving along basically a dead flat straight bitumen highway, not the most interesting of drives.
On and off the scenery was very pretty though, which was a nice break. The saltpans are always great to see as its not something you see very often (well over here you do, but not in Sydney!). As we headed towards Port Augusta it was nice to see the change of scenery as the Flinders Ranges came into view.
The other thing we noticed that there was a lot of today ..... Road kill! Now when you have been travelling the outback for 6 weeks like we have, road kill isn't anything new, but today was particularly bad! Kangaroos, cows, foxes, sheep, rabbits, even an eagle! You barely travelled a couple of meters before you saw the next body on or beside the road, some more recognisable than others!
We did discuss taking photos to play "guess what I used to be" with you all when we get back home!!! Haha, I know Kylie would love that game! George also suggested that if we could bottle that great smell that comes with it, it would be more realistic for you all!
Arrived in Port Augusta just after 4pm and checked into the Big 4 caravan park ... Back to camping for the next 2 nights at least.
Great park, quite big, very clean and great amenities. Pity about the flies though, they are here too! They are definitely something we could live without. Shooing 100 flies off you every second and then jumping in the car while trying not to let any in with you is quite a skill! These flies just don't learn though, they may be small, but they are persistent!
Coober Pedy is situated in the South Australian Outback, and basically exists thanks to a 14-year old boy named William Hutchison. William found the first pieces of opal at Coober Pedy in 1915, whilst on a gold prospecting trip with this father.
The name Coober Pedy comes from the Aboriginal words 'kupa' and 'piti', meaning 'white man' and 'hole in the ground'.
The town is world renowned for its precious opal and also for its unique method of living underground in 'dugouts'.
About 80% of the people living here live underground. It is the largest producer of opal in the world.
Coober Pedy is different from anything you would have seen, unless you've been to Lightening Ridge! They are very similar, both very much still mining towns, but Coober Pedy seems a bit more modern.
Our accommodation is great, we love it. We wanted to stay underground in Coober Pedy and had picked this motel as it was the first underground motel built here, and one of only a few that are truly underground. All rooms have been dug out into a sandstone hill, it's amazing.
The rooms are great and the staff are great too. Our room has a bedroom, bathroom and living area with tv and table, as well as a small kitchenette with microwave, kettle, toaster, crockery and cutlery and microwave dishes if cooking. We also have tea and coffee and supplies for continental breakfast (toast, cereal, spreads, milk etc) all included in the price.
The gardens of the motel are great too, considering very few people appear to have gardens here due to all the sand (no grass around!), they have done an awesome job here. We both absolutely love it and even commented that we'd love to buy and run a small motel like this.
A visit to a few opal shops and a few purchases later we were off to visit a mine. We had been told to visit the Old Timers Mine, so that's exactly what we did! What a great tourist attraction, the mine and museum gives more than enough information on what it was like being a miner and the history of the area.
So we donned our hard hats and entered the mine!
This particular mine dates back to 1916, but for some reason, whoever the miners were, concealed the mine by back-filling the shafts. Noone knows why they never returned to dig out the remaining opal though.
It was then in 1968 that the hidden mine was discovered by Ron Gough, when he was digging out to expand his underground home. As he broke through, he exposed 3 seams of opal and opalised seashells.
Next stop was to visit Faye's Underground home. This dug out was initially one area which housed the first mail truck driver over 60 years ago.
This was originally a one bedroom home that was converted by Faye Nayler and two other woman, using only picks and shovels, into a kitchen and bedroom. Later in 5 other rooms were added, including a wine cellar and swimming pool (the first in Coober Pedy).
This house and tour was excellent, would love to live in a dug out after exploring this house! The temperature all year round underground is about 25 degrees, so no need to use heating or cooling. This really does seem to be the way to live to escape the harsh and hot environment around here.
The other amazing thing about this place is that it is actually currently lived in. The current owners take you on a tour of their property they are living in! It's great that people can take such pride in their home and the history of it and still be willing to share it with the public so that the history isn't lost.
Faye Nayler must be an amazing woman. She is apparently still alive, in her 80's and living in a suburb near Brisbane.
Went to check out the local golf course, we were going to have a game, but it was just too hot. With no trees or shelter on the course, it was far too hot to be out there. It's quite strange seeing a golf course without a single blade of grass anywhere, and surrounded by opal mines!
Coober Pedy is also the only golf club in the world to have reciprocal rights at the 'home of golf' St. Andrews, Scotland.
Apparently in 2002 the Coober Pedy Golf Course clubhouse was destroyed by fire and after the new clubhouse was built, the president sent a photo of the course to St. Andrews, with a note telling them it was about time they got their course in shape and asked if they would like reciprocal membership!
What started as a joke, turned into surprise when a letter arrived back from St. Andrews Links Trust granting reciprocal rights on the provision that they grant St. Andrews an opal mine!
The mine and reciprocal rights were given and therefore making Coober Pedy Golf Course the only in the world it have reciprocal rights with St. Andrews.
Early morning start today as we headed off down the highway to Cadney Roadhouse where we turned off onto the dirt Oodnadatta Road which took us through Copper Hills, Arckaringa Station and the Painted Desert.
It was pretty cold this morning, the wind had blown up overnight and was still blowy this morning. My driza-bone jacket was definitely required today.
The drive was an easy drive, but very scenic. We had phoned the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta yesterday and they recommended that we take this route because of the scenery. They weren't wrong!
The Painted Desert was amazing, seeing the colours in the desert floor and hills was something you just don't expect to see, we couldn't take enough photos of it!
The Painted Desert is actually an ancient inland seabed and the hills are the result of rain, weather and erosion.
It was then a short drive up to visit Oodnadatta - a small town with a population of about 180 people. Not too much of anything there, except the well known 'Pink Roadhouse'. Umm, what to say about this place! You walk in and feel like you have stepped back in time to the 1950's. Some of the staff need a few lessons on customer service, but at least we can now say we've seen it.
After leaving here we traveled down the Oodnadatta Track towards William Creek. This track follows the Old Ghan Railway line and you can see old ruins of cottages, bridges and sidings along the way. The rail line is kind of in tact in places and you also see remnants of the old Overland Telegraph line.
Finally arrived at William Creek, not much to see there, a pub and a caravan park and not much else! William Creek has a population of 12 or so people!
Being close to Lake Eyre, William Creek apparently does get busy when there is water in the lake as people come from everywhere to see that (doesn't happen very often!). Scenic flights over Lake Eyre also run out of William Creek.
After a big day of driving we arrived in Coober Pedy around 5pm and checked into our accomodation .... Wow! More to come on that later.
Kylie messaged to say that she got home today and Gelly was so excited to see her, but Charli couldn't care less about her, she was just over the moon that Kylie's dog Gucci was home!! Good to see she has her priorities straight!
Big thank you to John and Sharon for looking after the pups and our house (and frogs, birds and fish!) while Kylie was away.
Not a real exciting day today, we are heading towards Coober Pedy so drove 5 hours today and are staying at Marla tonight.
It was another fairy straight, long boring drive today. Today we also crossed over into South Australia.
One thing we did notice today - when refuelling before leaving Yulara this morning, the premium unleaded petrol was locked and you had to get a key to use it. We normally use premium unleaded in the Prado, but didn't actually notice any of this until after we fueled up, so we used Opal fuel instead.
Opal is a direct substitute for normal unleaded 91 petrol, except that it is low aromatic. It has been specifically designed without the properties associated with creating the high from petrol sniffing, and therefore helping to discourage people sniffing.
Petrol sniffing is a major issue for people living in remote communities, especially the Aboriginal communities around these areas.
A few days ago we actually went to the Aboriginal community of Hermansburg and they have signs up to say that you cannot enter the town if you have normal (not Opal) unleaded petrol in the car.
Tonight we are going to decide whether to head direct to Coober Pedy tomorrow via the highway or take the Oodnadatta Track out to Oodnadatta and down to William
Creek and then on to Coober Pedy.
We have spoken to the people at the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta and they have given us some advice on where to go, so will check out the maps tonight and decide what to do in the morning!
So last night was camel ride night!
Kylie and I had been looking forward to this, but George wasn't so excited. He was scared, even though we have all riden camels before!
Anyway, we were picked up from our hotel at 5pm and taken the short drive out to the camel farm, there were two buses of people going to the sunset tour. When an elderly couple (I guess in their 80's) got on the bus we told George he couldn't complain any more if they could do it!!
We arrived at the camel farm, received our safety talk, visited a baby camel for a pat and were then lead to our camels we would spend the next 1 hour riding.
George and I were introduced to "Murphy", our camel. He had been with the cameleer for about 20 years and was one of his favourites. Murphy had accompanied the cameleer on numerous across Australia safaris that he has undertaken.
We were talking to one of the cameleers about the camels and he said that they currently have about 50 camels on site. 5 of these are new camels that they recently caught and took to the farm to train for riding.
We had no idea they just catch wild camels and can then train them. Apparently they adapt fairly quickly to being confined and are happy to hang around as they have shelter, constant supply of food and new friends!
Within 3 months they can have a wild camel trained and ready to take people riding, just amazing.
Camels have been in Australia for a long time, many were imported and used for exploration and working.
Camels were a big part of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition in 1860, as well as many others. Camels were also used in the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line.
Once motorised cars and machinery came around, camels weren't required and as such, were let lose.
Over the years, these camels have continued to multiply to the point that they are now a pest in the outback. There are currently culls going on to try and reduce the numbers.
The ride took us out across the sand dunes towards Uluru and then around to watch the sunset over Kata Tjuta, a beautiful sight. The photos we managed to take were awesome, but again, they didn't come close to capturing the true beauty of this place.
We all had a great time, even George!
After the ride we all headed back to the camel farm for a few beers and wine and some beer damper.
It was a great end to the ride and such an amazing way to spend our last night at Uluru and NT.
On return to the hotel we went to the bar where we found Johnny sitting having a beer - not an unusual site for dad!
We all then went to the Bough House for a bite to eat and their dessert buffet!!
Last night we went to dinner at one of the other hotels here, Outback Pioneer Resort. It is one of the cheaper accomodation options and the meal prices reflected that! It was the cheapest meal we've had so far and it was great! Pizza was awesome, one of the best ever, so much flavour!
We also happened to meet up with a couple we first met in Mt Isa and then met up again with at Tennant Creek and Wycliffe Well. Just happened to be dining in the same restaurant last night, so we all shared a table and meal together for a chat and few laughs.
On our return to the room last night we saw a snake slither off the path outside our room! As long as it stays outside the room that's fine! Also saw a few rabbits hanging out on the lawn near our room.
This morning we drove out to see Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas. Its only about 40km to the west if Uluru.
We took the Walpa Gorge walk (Walpa means windy). This is a fairly easy track, a little rocky and slight inclines, but not too strenuous. Only took us about 45 minutes, which was enough as the 37 degree temperature forecast for today was definitely getting up there.
There is another walk, The Valley of the Winds, which is a harder and longer walk. Due to the current temperatures out here this walk has been closing at 11am each day.
Kata Tjuta means "many heads" and with the 36 rounded steep domes rising out of the deser floor, it seems the perfect name. the tallest is said to be around 546 meters high. The formation of rock domes extends 6 km into the grund and is the remains of erosion that began more than 500 million years ago.
This area is sacred under Anangu men's law and under this law, details of many of the stories of Kata Tjuta cannot be revealed to us. Women did visit the area to gather food and water, but always behave appropriately.
In comparison, Uluru is one of the largest monoliths in the world. Made of arkosic sandstone, Uluru stands 348 meters high (but most of the mass is below the ground) and has a circumference of 9.4 kilometres.
After our walk we drove back out to Uluru to take even more photos! We then took a drive around the whole rock.
We also called into the Cultural Centre again for a bite to eat and to purchase our didgeridoo. Yet another souvenir to take home to remember our travels. George is busy now googling how to learn to play the didgeridoo!
This photo shows the walk up the rock, the chain rail starts part way up and doesn't go the whole way. Look how steep it is, don't know how you even climb something that steep with no stairs and nothing to hold on to, just looks dangerous! When you stand at the bottom and look up, it's far higher and steeper than appears in this photo.
A very early morning today, we were all up at 4.45am! We had booked on the 'Desert Awakenings Tour' to see the sunrise over Uluru and then take a tour of it.
The bus picked us up from our hotel and took us out to a location overlooking Uluru to view the sun rise. We drove through the darkness along a sand track and then climbed a sand dune to arrive at a purpose built area with tables and chairs, toilet and small cooking hut.
As we waited for the sun to rise, we watched the colour of the sky change to pink, orange and yellow. The colour of the sky creeping through the darkness was beautiful. Then to see the sun slowly pop up over the horizon was truly amazing.
We were also able to get our first photos of Uluru, again .... amazing.
While our small group was busy taking photos and taking in our beautiful surroundings, our guides, Eric and Ned, were busy cooking us damper and bacon & egg rolls for breakfast!
The climb was closed today, not that any of us had intended on climbing it anyway.
To be honest, even if we had wanted to climb it, after seeing how steep it was I think that would have changed our minds anyway!!
It is also now frowned upon to climb the rock, the Anangu traditional owners request that you don't climb it and respect the fact that it is such a sacred place for them. Ultimately the decision is yours, but it is made very clear that they don't want you up there.
The climb can be closed for 3 reasons - it's windy, the temperature during the day is predicted to be 36 degrees or over, one of the Aborignal elders or family members has passed away.
Although this area is a very sacred and special area to the traditional owners, apparently no-one ever lived here, Uluru was used for ceremonies, hunting, teaching and the like. Generally the Aboriginies would be camped a fair way out from the rock.
The area around Uluru was first settled about 10,000 years ago, and is sacred to the Aṉangu people of Central Australia. In Aṉangu culture, Uluru marks the site of significant events from The Dreaming, when creator beings formed the landscape.
In the 1940s settlers developed a tourism industry around what was then known as Ayers Rock. More recently, it has become a world heritage site, with ownership returned to the traditional owners, Anangu, in 1985. It is now known as Uluru.
There are plaques on the side of the rock for the first 5 people who died climbing Uluru, one of them being a 14 year old boy. These plaques were placed there during the 1960's and 70's.
This is no longer done and although the traditional Aboriginal owners would never deface the rock like this, they respected our practices and way of remembering our deceased and allowed the plaques to remain on the rock when ownership was returned to them.
There are nearly 40 recorded deaths of people who have died while climbing Uluru. A lot of these people died of heart attacks or falls. One thing we never even thought of was that many people died after being blown off the rock.
There is no solid number of people who have died, as after they leave the rock you are not a statistic, ie if you leave and head back to the hotel and have a heart attack, you are not counted. Suicides are also not counted as a statistic.
During our tour we were told dreamtime stories from our Aborignal guide. It was very personal, hearing these stories told to us, rather than just reading about it.
All parts of the rock of Uluru was believed to have been created in the Dreamtime by about 10 Dreamtime spirit people. Most of the southern face was created by the battle between the Liru (poisonous snakes) and the Kunia (carpet snakes). Minor parts of the southern face were created by 2 other totemic creatures, Linga (sand-lizard) and Metalungana (sleepy-lizard). The northwestern corner and most of the northern face were created by the activities of the Mala (hare-wallaby) people.
Parts of this section of the rock was created by a number of other Dreamtime creatures, Linga (sand-lizard), Tjinderi-tjinderiba (willy-wagtail woman) and her children, the Yulanya. Kulpunya (the spirit dingo) who destroyed most of the Mala men and their families. Lunba (kingfisher woman), who tried to protect them.
After our tour of the rock we went to Cultural Centre, which was quite interesting.
We also went for drive around Yulara. Yulara was a purpose built community to cater for the tourists coming to Uluru and the staff living and working here. There are two schools, shopping centre, numerous hotels/bars, child care centre, airport etc.
Ayers Rock resort has numerous types of accomodation from upmarket resort to hotel to self contained units to backpacker and camping.
It's hard to describe seeing Uluru for the first time, it's just truly amazing.
The natural beauty, the colours, the history, it was a priviledge to be looking at something so beautiful.
To see one of Australia's greatest landmarks up close was an amazing experience. It's nothing like you expect after seeing it in photos. The height and size of it is overwhelming and we had no idea of the numerous caves and waterholes scattered around.
We could write a million words to try and describe it, but we still wouldn't do it justice, this is one place you need to come and visit yourself!
We had breakfast included with our accomodation last night, so headed off to the breakfast room this morning for cereal, bacon, eggs, toast, tea & coffee.
After a last minute play with the station animals, we headed off nice to early to do our walk at Kings Canyon.
We only did the Kings Creek walk, an easy 2.6km return walk. As we are all lazy and broken (Shelly - bad knee, George - bad foot & ankle, Kylie - asthma & bad back and Johnny - well, he's just old!!) we weren't even going to attempt the rim walk. We had been told how good it was and well worth doing the walk, but we just couldn't have done it, just looking at the 500 stairs that go up vertically at the start was enough for us!).
The walk itself was easy enough and it was amazing to be standing between those giant cliff faces, so can only imagine how good the rim walk would have been.
We were back to the car about 10am, and that was good because it was already well on its way up to the expected temperature of 36 degrees.
After the walk we headed in to the resort to grab a drink and petrol and then started the 4 hour drive to Uluru.
After a night of camping at Kings Creek Station last night, we packed up the tent this morning and headed out for a look around the area.
We took a drive out along the Mereenie Loop to a nice lookout. View was great, but the wasps dive bombing us and chasing us weren't that inviting! George did find himself a new pair of sunnies though!!
Next stop was the Kings Canyon Resort for a beer and some lunch. The food was great and staff were really friendly. George had a camel burger for lunch, it was the first try of camel meat for both of us. It wasn't bad, similar kind of flavour to beef really. George really enjoyed the burger.
Arrived back at Kings Creek Station and checked in to our accommodation for the night while we waited for Kylie and Johnny (aka daddy!) to arrive. They were driving down direct from Alice Springs.
Tonight we are staying in two safari cabins, basically an on site permanent tent with beds.
This afternoon we went for a swim, water was freezing, (as has been the case everywhere we've been!), but we still both went in. You could tell it was cold as even the kids weren't swimming!
Also got stung by wasp while at the pool, and to think that I'd just saved it from drowning in the water! Ungrateful little wasp!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYLIE!!
We had the coldest night camping that we have had so far. It was absolutely freezing in the tent last night. Our sleeping bags are rated to -5 and we were both still freezing!
Last night at the campsite the ranger gave a talk around the campfire at 7pm - talks are given every Thursday night and we just happened to arrive on the right day.
Quite interesting, he spoke about what the National Parks main aims are in relation to controlling weeds, pests, animals and fire control. Explained what animals are found in the park and also discussed the basics around what he does as a Ranger, qualifications needed etc. Then he just answered questions from all of us. Interesting night, We all learned a bit and had some laughs.
Left camp this morning around 8.30am and drove to Boggy Hole. We had spoken to the ranger last night about the road to Boggy Hole and he said that it was a bit "how you goin'!", but we would be fine in our 4WD. He just said to make sure we have recovery gear, water and food with us as its fairy remote and if you get stuck it could be 3 days before anyone comes through to find us! As it turned out, we saw 1 4WD in about 6 hours of driving, so he was right about the remoteness of the track! The track itself wasn't hard though, a few little sections that could get you caught up if you were inexperienced or didn't have your 4WD set up sufficiently, but nothing too major.
Perfect 4WD track though, gave you a bit of everything - sand, clay, rocks, sandstone ledges, gravel. We drove in and out of the Finke River, which had absolutely no water in it though.
It was a great track and truly beautiful area, Boggy Hole was so quiet and beautiful. No one anywhere in sight and totally pristine in every way. We can see why Vic told us that this is one of his favourite campsites in Australia, totally agree. We were going to camp here, but as we arrived so early in the morning it seemed a bit of a waste, so we spent a while exploring the area and taking photos and then decided to continue on to Kings Canyon.
The whole drive today was so nice and differing scenery which kept it interesting. The fact that there were no other cars around made it even better, it felt like we were the only ones in the bush. Found what appeared to be a shortcut to Ernest Giles Road, may have been a shortcut, but don't think anyone had driven it for quite a while! Few trees in the middle of the track and very, very overgrown.
Probably got quite a few new scratches, but we made it! Hema maps are great, but if only they could tell you track conditions too!!
Arrived at Kings Creek Station to camp for the night, got a great campsite in one of the tour operators sites! Huge grassy area, with table and chairs and separate under cover sink and lighting. We also have our own exclusive use of the toilets and showers are there are no other tour groups in the surrounding areas tonight!
Called in to the supermarket for a top up of groceries before leaving Alice Springs and grabbed a bite to eat at a cafe, great food. George's sausage roll was huge and would have weighed about 2-3 kg! Apparently the 'wicked dogs' were pretty yummy too!
On the way out of Alice Springs we called in to see the John Flynn memorial. This site contains the ashes of Rev John Flynn and his wife, Jean Flynn.
The Royal Flying Doctors Service was founded in 1928 in Cloncurry, QLD, by Rev John Flynn, a minister with the Presbyterian Church. He had seen the struggles of people living in remote areas, who had only 2 doctors providing medical assistance to an area of around 2 million square kilometres.
The memorial features a huge boulder, but this was not the original one placed there. Originally an eight ton boulder had been removed from Devils Marbles (near Tennant). The stone was removed from the highly sacred women's site of Karlu Karlu at the Devils Marbles, but was taken without approval or discussions with the local Aborignal elders. Finally after years of negotiations between the Arrernte Aboriginies and the white custodians, the original stone was returned to its sacred site and replaced by the present one in 1999.
Made our way out towards Palm Valley, making a brief stop at the small Aboriginal community of Hermannsburg.
Palm Valley is located within the Finke Gorge National Park and is home to the rare Red Cabbage Palm.
The drive our to Palm Valley was quite nice, very nice scenery with the tall cliff walls on either side of you. Nice 4WD section with some rocks to drive over, always fun!
This dingo came by our camp this afternoon and then went to explore the camper trailer next to us for a while!
Came back for a visit after dinner, smart pup must have been watching and knew food was around! George was off washing up while i tidied up around the camp and the dingo came back to watch, I stamped my foot and told him to leave and he just walked towards me and sat down! He was only about 4 meters away and just sat there watching for a while before heading off to the camper trailer next to us (found out later he stole some crackers from there!).
Left early this morning to drive out to Chambers Pillar. We were initially meant to stay here, but due to our extended stay in Alice Springs, we now don't have time, so took a day trip out there instead.
An easy drive along off-road tracks, but nothing difficult. The view from some of the areas along they way was great though. We arrived at Chambers Pillar and took the walk up to it, which was great, the view was amazing, but the flies were unbelievable! Not sure if it was worse here or at Devils Marbles, it's a close call!
The 50 metre high pillar towers over the red dirt below, its amazing. The pillar has been shaped by wind and rain over 350 million years. The local Aboriginal people believe the pillar got its skin from a gecko ancestor named Itirkawara. He was banished from his family as he took a wife from the wrong skin group, they then retreated to the desert and turned into stone..
My fly veil hat came in very handy today - I may look like an idiot, but it kept the flies off my head and that's all that matters!
On the return trip we took a drive along part of the Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail and stopped at Rodinga (one of the original settlers camps established during the extension of the Old Ghan Railway to Alice Springs in the 1920's) to see the ruins. While we were there looking around, 4 soldiers from the Australian Defence Force turned up as well. Not sure where they had come from or what they were doing, but they stopped for a look around and chatted with us for a while. Nice guys, they were talking about their army vehicles and were showing us all around them, George loved it!
Kylie and Johnny arrived in Alice Springs today so we met up with the at the lookout after we returned, then we all headed back to our villa for a chat and to give Kylie her pre-birthday presents! All headed off to the casino for dinner tonight, this time we tried 'Sukra' - the fine dining restaurant within the casino. Meals were great, kind of a Chinese/Thai fusion style.
We have decided that, due to the car repairs and not being able to see/do as much around here, we will stay in Alice Springs for a further 2 nights. So now we won't be leaving here until Thursday morning, which means we see Kylie and Johnny for a bit as they arrive on Wednesday. We will then meet up with them again at Kings Canyon on the weekend.
This morning we headed off to the Alice Springs Desert Park, only a 10 min drive from the city centre. Quite interesting, the free flight bird show was great. They give you personal audio guides to carry around with you to give you information about the various displays and areas. Good place to learn about desert life, Aboriginal culture and how they survive in the desert, as well as the various birds and animals that live in the desert.
The alternator did arrive today so we took the car around to Scorpion Auto and got it fitted. An old workshop, full of crap everywhere and this older guy - you know when you see that, you are going to get the job done well. These guys have been around for years, they are old-school and know exactly what they are doing. This guy was great and fitted it all up while we waited.
This afternoon we had a quick walk around the Botanic Gardens and then headed up to the Anzac Hill lookout.
Just a little peak at our accommodation in Alice Springs. Stayed at the Desert Palms Resort, which we loved. Only just down the road from the casino and a 5 min drive into the city (15-20 min walk, not that we did that!).
The phone calls started early this morning to try and source an alternator for the Prado. Finally found one which can be freighted here to Alice Springs by midday Tuesday, hopefully! Next step was to try and find someone who could fit it, luckily we managed that too. Everyone has been so friendly and helpful.
As we couldn't do anything about the alternator until tomorrow, we arranged to get the exhaust fixed today. We took the car to Sprint Mufflers & Exhaust, who were so nice. George had spoken to them a few days ago and they had said they could do the job for us and to just bring the car in whenever we reached Alice.
After we dropped the car off, the lady from the exhaust shop gave us a lift into the city so we took a walk around the shops, bought a few presents for family and friends back home and even bought ourself some authentic Aborignal artwork.
Only about 2 hours after we dropped the car off we got a call to say that it had been finished! They fixed/replaced the exhaust flex pipe, replaced the rear pinion seal and also found and fixed the source of one of our noises - broken rear upper control arm.
Couldn't believe how quickly they had done the job - and the fact that we just rocked up this morning without being booked in. The price was great and the service was great and all staff members we dealt with were ultra friendly. Even had a chat with the owner and his wife and compared stories about our Cape York trips!
Couldn't recommend these guys more. And to think that when we broke down in Dubbo, NSW, we were ripped off by Toyota, yet here we are nearly 3000km from home and all these mechanics/spare parts stores etc are going out of their way to help and treating us as if we have been dealing with them for years. Really is a nice change to deal with people like this, Sydney is really lacking in this area at times!
This afternoon we went to the Alice Springs Reptile Centre, which was really good. After George whinging that we even had to go there, I think he ended up enjoying it more than I did!
We got to hold and play with Blue Tongue Lizards, Frill Neck Lizards and snakes. George held a snake for the first time and loved it! For years I have been telling him how cool snakes were and asking to have a pet one at home - after today he is converted, he loves them as much as me now!
There were heaps of snakes and lizards to look at, a big salt water crocodile, frogs, geckos and goannas. The staff were great, so helpful with their information and super friendly. Recommend a visit to this place if you are travelling through Alice Springs.
Anyway, gotta go, heading off to the casino for dinner and a look around!
Today we arrived in Alice Springs, a first visit for both of us.
The journey here today wasn't so easy though! Last night we were driving and all these lights lit up on the dash and we realised the batteries weren't charging. We quickly made our way back to camp, and after some checking, worked out that the alternator must have gone and therefore isn't charging either of the batteries.
We managed to get a bit of charge into the batteries and started off early this morning to make the 365km drive from Wycliffe Well to Alice Springs. Thought we better leave ASAP as we weren't sure how far we would get!
We were monitoring the charge in the battery as we were driving, started out at 11.9v and stayed steady for a while and then started going down, gradually at first and then getting quicker! We were watching the voltage drop, while checking how much further we had to drive!
Amazingly we made it right into Alice Springs, albeit with no taco, speedo etc - everything had started shutting down one by one. We managed to coast into the servo - only about a 3 min drive from our accommodation! After a quick jump start from our battery pack, we put enough life back into the batteries to get us to the resort ... only just!
Checked into the Desert Palms Resort and its beautiful, such a pretty place. Little villas set amongst the tropical palms and bougainvillea, overlooking the MacDonnell ranges, but still only about 1km from the centre of the city. The island swimming pool is great too, surrounded by palms and waterfalls.
Not a huge drive today, we were initially going to drive straight through to Alice Springs, but decided to break up the drive with a stop at Wycliffe Well.
First stop though was The Devils Marbles. These are huge granite rocks, some more than six metres across, which are perched one on another, defying gravity.
There are numerous stories of how The Devils Marbles started out. We are told that millions of years ago, a surge of molten rock reached the surface, spread out and settled into a solid layer.
That one block of granite then developed horizontal and vertical cracks and split into many rectangular blocks. The following millions of years wore away the edges. Some parts still hint at the original rectangular shapes, some blocks have their corners worn of, and some have been totally rounded.
In the Aboriginal mythology the Devils Marbles are the eggs of the rainbow serpent, and many "dreamtime" stories and traditions of the Warumungu, Kaytetye and Alyawarre Aboriginal people are linked with this area. It has a deep spiritual meaning for both men and women (Aboriginal cultural sites are often specifically for either men or women.)
The traditional Aboriginal owners of the area regard the marbles as having extraordinary powers. Damage to them can have life threatening consequences for their custodians.
Such an amazing place, it's hard to describe just how big these rocks are and how many of them there are .... And how they balance on top of each without falling is unbelievable!
There is a feeling around this area too, not sure how to explain it, but you felt a little venerable being there amongst these huge natural structures. Truely amazing place.
Our accommodation for tonight is at the Wycliffe Well Holiday Park - UFO Capital of Australia. Coincidentally, the bar here also stocks the largest range of beer in Australia!!
Wycliffe Well was established in the 1860s as the main watering hole for the stock route, and later the telegraph line. It was the Territory's first place to be given rights to sell water.
During WW2, a two-hectare vegetable farm provided for troops who were stationed further up the Stuart Highway.
There are those who believe Wycliffe Well is on a cross-section of ley or energy lines, so that any UFOs which happen to be in the area will pass through. Wycliffe Well is ranked fifth in the world for reported UFO sightings. Hundreds of UFO sightings have occurred here since WWII.
In 1960 a petrol pump was installed to supply fuel to travellers. Since then Wycliffe Well has become a tourist stop over point.
Quite a strange park, but it was clean and that's all you really need! Spent a bit of time with the owner as well, ended up having a great stay!
A few resident animals in the park kept us entertained for a while. "Scratchy" the galah was very cute, constantly putting his head down for a scratch.
The donkeys were friendly and liked their pats too - George was amazed as he had never seen a donkey make its "e-or" noise before!
The emus were very cute - mum, dad and the three little babies (plus the angry one on the outside of the fenced area - some strange love-triangle rivalry had to keep them separated!!).
But the cutest by far would have to be this little one. Her mummy was killed by a car and she is now being hand raised by the owner of the caravan park. Bottle feeds every 3 hours!
One of the highlights of the trip so far to be able to hold and play with this little bundle of cuteness.
What a perfect way to end off a day with a sunset like this. Considering it was raining and overcast a couple of hours ago, we were happy to even see this sunset.
Today we went exploring around Tennant Creek, first stop was the Battery Hill Mining Centre for a tour.
Took a look around the museums and found out a lot of information on the local history and mining processes and then went on the mine tour.
This tour was great and we found out a heap of information on how they mined for gold in the area and the process, wouldn't trade my life for theirs any day! Working for a year or so under ground manually chipping away at the rocks in 50 degree heat, to end up with nothing. The example we were given is, if they mined and found gold worth $1 million - they lose $250,000 straight up to pay to use the government run battery etc. Then they have to pay back the mine and general store for their equipment, clothing, food etc over the past year, pay their bar tab, truck hire, water etc.
After all this they may be left with say $10,000 - to then be divided between up to 4 people, seems a complete waste of a years hard work, doesn't it.
Some people did make a lot of money from gold mining, but for the vast majority of people, the above scenario was closer to reality. It was more of 'making a living', rather than getting rich quick.
We took a drive out to Lake Mary Ann, a man-made dam just outside of the town. Such a nice place. The grass is so green and lush and there is so much space to picnic and enjoy the surroundings. Swimming is allowed in the lake, although there was only 1 person in there today, even though it was 37 degrees!
We did hear from a local that there have been numerous deaths at the dam over the years and all have been males, so the locals think that it may be a sacred Aboriginal woman's area. We were told that the locals definitely still use the area, but that thought is always in the back of their mind.
Went to see The Pebbles and the Telegraph Station and took a drive out to see the Speedway.
Went for a walk around the town, not too much to see, but they have all the facilities they need, grocery store, butcher, mechanics, tyre store (Bridgestone!), clothing store, repco, a few service stations, and a really good store that sells a bit of everything, guess its like a mini department store, selling othes, furniture, toys, manchester etc.
There are dogs everywhere here roaming the street, not as bad as up the cape though. Speaking to Caroline last night, she said that they have a ranger come up from Sydney once a year and he does a mass desexing and that is definitely helping, within 5 years they expect to have it under control.
Tonight we met up with a local by the name of Caroline. She is the sister-in-law of one of my friends back home and he had put us in touch when he found out we were in Tennant Creek (thanks Alan!).
We met up at the Memorial Club (the memo, as the locals call it). Caroline was lovely and we had a great night drinking with her and her friends. She has been living in Tennant Creek for 17 years now and she loves it, as does everyone you speak to - people seem to arrive for a short stay with work, visit family etc and just never leave! We heard the same kind of stories about the people living on Thursday Island.
So thank you for a great night Caroline, it was nice to get out for a few drinks and meet some of the local people.
And still 30 degrees when we were leaving at 11pm ... wow!
What a boring drive today was, so flat and dead straight. At least it was all sealed, but still an amazingly boring 6 1/2 hour drive!
It did see us make our way over into the Northern Territory though, first time to the NT for both of us (and Froggy!)
Llittle Sally car back home would love these roads and speed, but not the best speed for the fully loaded Prado and our fuel consumption!!
Arriving in Tennant Creek, we were surprised at what a big town it actually is, considering it only has a population of about 3000 people.
Will take a look around tomorrow, but for today we just checked into a cabin in one of the caravan parks for the night. After another 37 degree day, the thought of putting up the tent wasn't sounding that exciting ... whereas, the air con did!
Can you believe that my legs are still so sore from our lava tubes tour the other day! These poor muscles must still be in shock that they had to work so hard!!