Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Pebbles to Katherine

We left the Pebbles and headed for our next destination – Daly Waters. It is an amazing place – 4 kms off the highway, but everyone heads in there for a feed of Barra or Beef, happy hour and a bit of musical entertainment.. There is also a small swimming pool, which we used a few times.
We were put up the back on a dust bowl, and fairly close to our neighbour. We set up our toilet tent out the back, as usual, and got the generator out to charge up a few things and run the washing machine.
Another van was put in behind us, and as they put up their awning and put their chairs out, they were facing our dunny and listening to our generator noise, and, to top it all off, the washing machine spewing its water onto the ground!! (Generators were permitted there, so we weren’t actually breaking any rules)
They weren’t all that friendly to start with; anyway, they didn’t like us, so they moved camp!
We stayed 3 nights and really enjoyed it. We had drinks with our back neighbours on the first night. They were enjoying life on the road and travelling with their sick dog. We got talking and heard that the woman was battling cancer along with her dog. After we left we thought it might be a toss up who was going to go first!  She was vey positive though.
We also enjoyed happy hour with our Tasmanian friends, Mary and Grady from up the road from us at home the next night. For a person who doesn’t drink beer much, I really enjoyed the ones I had at the Pub there.

 They had upgraded the floor since we were there last. It was blue metal chips last time, now it had tiles. They weren't very good though - probably sitting on top of the old chips as I kept tripping on them! (I know what people would be thinking, but I hadn't had too many beers!) Occupational Health and Safety wouldn't have approved!

The musical entertainment wasn’t as good as it was last time we were there, but we had a bit of fun just the same.



Our next stop was to be Mataranka, which is the setting of We of The Never Never by Jeannie Gunn. We drove in to a place called Bitter Springs first and went for a walk around the area. We got changed into our bathers and went for a dip. The water was crystal clear and warm! It was magic.





We then drove into the Mataranka springs and had a walk around there, and decided to keep going towards Katherine. We had one overnight road stop with heaps of other caravans.





We arrived quite early into Katherine. They cater quite well for caravans and there is a huge shady parking area for us, so we set up for the day and caught up with emails and stuff, and headed out of town for a free camp spot for the night.
We caught up with people we met at our previous spot, and all had a drink together sitting around a big picnic table. There were some other Tasmanians there, 2 from Queenstown and 2 from near Oatlands, as well as a Pommie from Sydney and a young girl from Holland.
 Randall pulled out the pipes and had a play, which was much appreciated by all.


 The next day we headed into the Katherine Gorge for another look. We didn’t do the cruise as we had done it last time, but we did do the walk up the gorge a bit then in a circuit back to the Information Centre.
We took some photos at the Lookout, and then turned to head off down the track.





 It was hot and a clear blue sky, but I had a drink before we left. A guide called out to us to ask us if we had water, as it was very hot. Randall brushed her off –“Don’t worry ducks, I ‘m a 59-year-old camel – I don’t need water!” And he is!! He can go all day without water – not me though; I just fuel up before we go as I know there’ll be no stopping with Randall!

We decided that we needed to stop at one place for a while, so we checked into a caravan park at Katherine for a few days, and had a really good relax – swimming in the pool and at the warm springs at the back of the park and reading.
There must be some Army happenings around here at the moment, as we can hear the roar of aircraft overhead and a lot of movement of army vehicles.





Monday, June 15, 2015

Alice Springs to The Pebbles

We arrived at Alice Springs and planned to stay a few days for a bit of rest from travelling and to catch up on friends and do the finances. Randall also wanted to look at replacements for things that had broken, like the satellite TV box.
We stayed at a Caravan Park, as it was fairly central to town. We set the Satellite dish up to catch up on the latest news – we both like watching Sky News in the morning while we are having our breakfast.
We went back to a store we discovered last time we were here – Desert Dwellers –If we haven’t got it you don’t need it! It had relocated and we browsed around at all the camping bits and bobs. They had our fire pot there, and it had a newly designed door that you could shut off the air to inside, so, you guessed it – we bought it –the door that is! We took it straight outside and fitted it on the fire pot straight away, just in case it wasn’t right, but it was.
We also went to Randall’s favourite (not) store – Bunnings to get a gas exchange for a 4.5kg gas bottle. Not to be – but they do have a cafĂ©!
There are some lovely bird sounds around. One of them reminds me of the movie called The Rabbit Proof Fence – there was some really haunting birdsong at the beginning, and that’s what I heard around the campground.
It was quite cloudy most days and one afternoon the thunder started rumbling all around and continued into the evening, when the rain bucketed down. It is quite unusual to have rain at this time of year.
We met some interesting people camped near us – from Kalgoorlie, Port Macquarie, Cairns and even some people from up the road from us at home!!
We didn’t do any sightseeing, we keep saying we are going to but we end up doing other housekeeping stuff! I’m sure we will be back again.
We left Alice Springs for our next destination – The Pebbles. We had lunch at The Tropic of Capricorn, then kept driving. 
                     

There are lots of termite mounds now, and some people have put T shirts on them so they look quite funny. We saw a lot of that along the highway.
Diesel is quite expensive when you get out of Alice Springs, so we filled up with an extra 50 litres in diesel containers before we left. Just as well, as one place the cost was $1.99 a litre!
As we drove up the highway we passed what looked like a vineyard, and there were signs advertising mango icecream! Randall thought that maybe the vines were mango trees, but when we got to our overnight camp spot there was a monument to the man who established the vineyard here. We got talking to one couple who had stopped and sampled the mango ice-cream and said it was delicious. They also bought some mango wine. 
      
      

The next morning it was very misty, and there was a heavy dew on the car. It was quite strange driving off in the mist. It soon cleared to a lovely day.
We stopped at the Devil’s Marbles for morning tea, and did a walk around. They really are quite fascinating.

     
     


A circus was also travelling our route and we kept on seeing them wherever we stopped. They must have been doing some sight seeing as well.
There isn’t a lot of road kill around, but I did see 3 or 4 dead cows at the side of the road. No dead kangaroos or anything like that.
We headed for Tennant Creek and ultimately The Pebbles – a mini version of the Devil’s Marbles.
We got fuel and had a drive around the back blocks, which is quite interesting, then drove another17ks to our destination.
It was very warm and I got out my shorts and put them on. Hooray! When it got dark, there was a very heavy downpour of rain, and we scrabbled around trying to put things away, as we were caught on the hop.

We did a walk around the pebbles, then back up the road to the turnoff, all up about an hour. We saw more termite mounds with clothes on!
                             

We saw a sign for a women’s camp and also another for no entry to aboriginal freehold land, both roads that I had to talk Randall out of going up. He always likes to challenge things!
     
     
There were some lovely wild flowers on our walk.
                    
 
There was a beautiful sunset the second night we stayed
As it was such a warm evening, we watched telly outside.
We've now swapped all our warmer clothes for lighter ones, and have got our sandals out instead of shoes and socks. We are both looking forward to warm weather!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Uluru to Alice Springs


We headed into Yulara in the morning to suss out a few things, then went to Ayers Rock. We decided that if it was open, we would climb the rock. When we got there and I looked up to where other climbers were, I was a bit nervous, as it is very steep. I took a deep breath and we headed up. The first bit was scary as there was no chain to hold onto and my shoes, although new, were not as grippy as I would have liked, and I was scrabbling along with my hands and feet to reach that chain, and thinking about how I wasn’t going to like getting down!!
However, I did get up to the top, and was very pleased to be able to say that I had got there. I was glad I had Randall as a support person though.



When we came back down, the bottom bit wasn’t as bad as I thought which was a bonus.
We headed back to Yulara and did some washing next to a tap. Randall got the generator going and put the washing machine on the back of the ute so we could get a couple of loads going.
The next day we decided we would do the walk around the rock. We have done it before and knew it would be enjoyable, which it was.


Randall has no fear or shame – we went into the caravan park recreation room, plugged his computer into their power and did some much needed catch up!
We picked the best days to visit Uluru - the sky was so blue and it was quite warm.
We stayed one more night at our camp spot then decided to stay at Curtain Springs. We had passed it on the way in to Uluru, and thought it looked a nice spot. It is a fuel station, accommodation, pub, camping place.
I bought a roaming Internet package - $5 for 100 mega bites. I logged in and had a quick look at Facebook, then went back to the van to sort out tea. When I logged back in it said that I had used all my data! I tried one more time, and lost that lot too!! I gave up after that!
Randall and I have been trying to improve our photographic skills. Below is a picture I took at Curtain Springs of a plane trail in the sky at sunset.

That night when we had gone to bed, Randall got up to get a drink, only to discover that the fridge wasn’t working and judging by the state of the things in the freezer, hadn’t been for some time. So, up we got to try and sort out what was wrong. Randall wasn’t going to go to bed until he sorted out what was the problem.


3 hours later, he worked out that it was an isolation switch that was causing the grief, not the actual fridge, which was a bit of a relief. Luckily we had our Waeco fridge in the car as well, so we emptied out the caravan fridge into that, and only had to throw a few things out. We didn’t get to bed until 1am.
The next day Randall made a temporary fix of the fridge, so we decided to do our first bit of rough road, and headed towards a couple of campsites along the Ernest Giles Road. When we got to the start of it, we pulled over, and prepared the caravan (so we thought) for a bit of rough stuff.
When we next stopped, there was a fair bit of stuff dislodged inside the caravan, which we picked up and tidied up. I checked inside the fridge, which, at that stage, was going again, only to find that half the jars of mustard and horseradish cream were out on the bottom of the fridge. Randall hates all that kind of stuff, so you can imagine what he said when I discovered it!!
We stopped at a bush camp which was 8 kms off the highway. It was lovely and peaceful, but not a soul around, so we had lunch and then kept going to the next stop – a site where meteorites had crashed into earth 4,700 years ago.

 A check of our damage from the road was not good. The pay TV box and Vast satellite TV box were both badly damaged. They were both in a specially designed under bench shelf, which gave way when a rivet broke. And the fridge was not working again! We got chatting to a few people who were staying there, and Randall got a 12 volt joiner that would fix the fridge from one of the guys there. It worked, so hopefully no more troubles for the fridge.


In the evening, we sat around a communal campfire, which was nice, along with 3 other groups of campers.
The sunset was amazing that night. It must be because we are always outside that we manage to see some amazing sunsets and sunrises. This is a sunset at the meteorites.

When we packed up this time we were very careful about securing everything in the van, and when we arrived at Rainbow Valley, south of Alice Springs, all was in order.
We needed to check the satellite and pay TV box, so we set up the satellite dish to check them. The pay TV box worked although the casing was badly damaged. The satellite TV box had things rattling around inside it, and unfortunately it blew up in a puff off smoke and did not work after that. We were glad to catch up on the latest news watching Austar, as we had not been in touch with the outside world for quite a few days!

Rainbow Valley is a lovely area, named for the rainbow colours in the rocks of the escarpment. We stayed two days, as we were sick of the stop start of previous days, and did a couple of walks around the area. There is a clay pan in the distance that Randall thought was full of water. It was kind of shiny, but it couldn't possibly have been! On closer inspection the next day we saw that it was most definitely dried up mud.




I enjoyed sitting in the sun and reading for a while. Believe it or not, I haven't done that for a quite some time!

After two nights we packed up and drove to Alice Springs, only about 80 kms away, where we checked into a caravan park for 3 nights to recharge our batteries and other stuff and get back in touch with people again.

Coober Pedy to Uluru


We did a good lot of driving to get to our next camp spot. It was at a dry riverbed, and there was lots of birdlife.
I made hamburgers for tea and they were delicious. I got out my trusty gadget called a slap chop to chop up the carrots and onions and celery. It certainly helps make the hamburgers faster!



         





It was my birthday the next morning, so we had breakfast by the fire - freshly squeezed orange juice and some muffins with my yummy homemade relish. It was a popular spot and there were lots of other campers there enjoying the peacefulness.
We were out of phone service, so no birthday messages until we arrived at a fuel stop called Erldunda. Fuel was $1.80 a litre!! There were lots of cars with caravans lined up, so I got out of the car and scanned for diesel on the fuel cap side of our car. I signalled to Randall, who went past about 5 or 6 vans to get to a vacant bowser that no one thought to check. They were all lined up like sheep!!
Randall took a photo of our van next to another one that was much bigger, but we aren't envious at all!




I caught up with my birthday calls and messages before we left as we knew there would be no more phone service until Uluru, 200kms away.

We camped a few kilometres outside of Uluru, at a recommended site. We have a 'bible' called Camps. It is up to Camps 8 and I think every camper should have one. When we arrived at the site, it looked  very ordinary, however, it said to go over the back of the dunes, which we did and there was a lovely area with other campers there.





We settled in for the night and Randall fired up the bagpipes and played up on the hill. They sounded beautiful!































Thursday, June 4, 2015

Pimba to Coober Pedy

The road is now a reddish colour instead of the traditional colour. We stopped for lunch at The Twins road stop. Oh no, the flies have appeared! We got out our trusty Desert Cream that we bought from Alice Springs last time we were here.
                   
  

We put our UHF radio to channel 40 just as a VERY wide 7.5 metre load was heading towards us, with a lead car warning us to get off the road. It was a huge mining truck on the back of a huge truck. We enjoyed listening to the banter between the pilot car and the truck!
       



We arrived at Coober Pedy and headed for diesel. We learnt where the locals filled up last trip, not in the main street – turn right at the drive in. It was 10 cents a litre cheaper!
We did our washing opposite Centrelink, where you could buy 30 litres of water for 20 cents. Randall fired up the generator and we sat the washing machine in the caravan. The soap suds went down the main street. I didn’t know which way to look!! It’s sometimes hard being married to Randall!! We got 
talking to a dairy farming couple from Gippsland, who sprung us, but had a good laugh.
                               



When we had finished we headed off to our camp spot for the night.
We hoped to stay just outside of the town about 1.5km along the William Creek road. Sadly the William Creek Road was closed, so that put an end to our hopes of visiting Lake Eyre. We were both very disappointed. The man at the information centre told us that they had had 20ml of rain each day for the last 4 days and that the road was a mess. He said that Lake Eyre was full, and mostly from rainfall, not water from Queensland, which is unusual. He also said it would take up to a week to evaporate. We heard on the radio that tourists were stranded at William Creek.


We camped overnight at the site of a monument to Stuart – Randall reckoned if it was good enough for Stuart to camp here, it was ok for us! It was a bit lonely though!!
In the morning we did a bit of a checkout of the town, and discovered a great IGA store that Randall reckoned was better than Bunnings. It had a bit of everything! We did our shopping and when he went to pay Randall was asked for his Pensioner card! (I know we’re old but….)
As we left Coober Pedy we were stopped at a big Police setup for alcohol and drugs.
There are signs everywhere telling you to watch out for holes in the ground. You can see why!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Adelaide to Pimba

We left Adelaide on a rather grey and overcast day. Our aim was to get to a campsite 30kms north of Port Augusta. We stopped at Port Augusta for diesel and a walk around, then stopped at a lovely little country town called Crystal Brook. We had a walk around and bought some meat from the local butcher, then finally arrived at our camp spot early afternoon. We had some damp clothes to dry, as it rained quite heavily in Adelaide the night before, so we put up a clothes line on the only tree in the area! All the rest areas are quite big and flat. We got our fire pot out, and Randall went looking for firewood. At one stage I couldn't see him and it felt quite peculiar to be all alone in the middle of nowhere.  Of course, Randall found a nice chunk of firewood and he got out his chainsaw and cut it all up. We had a nice little stash of wood.


Another caravan parked near us and we got chatting. Their names were Brian and Marie, and they were from Melbourne.  They came and sat by the fire with us for a while. 2 motor homes also arrived later in the evening, so there ended up being a few of us stopped there.
Our next stop was a place called Pimba, 6kms away from Woomera. It is a huge caravan stop and the caravans roll in in the afternoon to stay the night.

We met a nice couple from Shepparton, Ray and Loretta, and ended up chatting with them in the pub. They were heading to Darwin to meet their son and we may catch up with them as we head up and they head back down.
We also chatted to Lyle from Claremont, who was 82 and sprightly, and met a rather dour Deloraine couple in the pub - they seemed very negative about everything!
We headed into Woomera in the afternoon - a very interesting town, all the more for being like a ghost town! It was Saturday afternoon, and Randall and I walked around the town and did not see one   child on a bike, no families out walking, no washing on the lines, nothing! The only people seemed to be people like us - travellers. We did see a tree with lots of boots hanging off it!
       

 

We called into the Visitor centre and museum which had some interesting history. The public was not allowed into Woomera until the 1980's.
The next day we went to Roxby Downs which is a big BHP Biliton mining town. We had a drive around, and saw that they had an airport to rival Hobart. We have a chemical toilet and went to use the dump point, only to find you have to get a key from the petrol station nearby! This must be the only place that would ever lock up their dump point!
We drove on to Andamooka which is another opal mining town and is very interesting - nothing like our towns in Tassie! We walked up Christmas Hill to get a view of the town and then had a look at some historic cottages that the opal miners lived in. We had a drink in the pub, before checking out the road to Lake Eyre. Closed. It doesn't look like we will get in to Lake Eyre. There has been a lot of rain recently and the road is apparently a mess.