Monday, July 2, 2012

INTO THE NORTHERN TERRITORY,132.495117&spn=19.714644,35.639648
We got away from Mt Isa late as for the first time since leaving home we had to go to a Laundromat.
Finally $21 later all was clean and after a quick cuppa we set off for the west.
Standing beside a young Leichhardt Tree which reminded me of a jiant one that stood where we waited for Mum to pick us up from school in Proserpine in the '50's.

At the border, kids climbed up on top of their trailer and jumped up - this is my version
We got to the border at about 3pm and had to turn all time pieces forward ½ hour. Our first night was spent at a free camp called Woranah Bore Camp which is about 220 kms from the 3 ways on the Stuart Highway. This is signposted all along the road as SH and so Stuart is chuffed that it is named after him –yeah right.

As we travel along I am having de je vieu moments about the trip we did when the kids were much younger in 1974 with Terry, Val and Troy Moore.

We have already mapped out some of the places we hope to see including Kings Canyon, Flynn’s memorial, people sleeping in the bed of the Todd River, Devils Marbles, Ayers Rock, Standley Chasm, and hopefully find the caravan park where I thought native persons were trying to attack us running up to us brandishing spears, nulla-nulla’s and woomera’s when they were only trying to make a quick sale to some unsuspecting tourists.

So many places that we thought were such great tourist attractions apparently have closed down in Alice so I hope I don’t get too disappointed.

On our way along the barkly highway we stopped off the road for timber for a fire. It was here my hunter-gatherer collected firewood by starting up the chainsaw (newly purchased in Mt Isa) and filled the tray in front of the van.

Had a great stop at Devils Marbles. We arrived at the camp spot early and went for a walk through the marbles. It was so hard to imagine they started out as one solid rock mass millions of years ago and through erosion are now the round rocks we see today.

After dinner a park ranger had a big fire going and we were all invited to sit round while he gave us a bit of history about the marbles, the area and the local people.

I didn't crack this one open - it happeneds before I got here!!

A real native came wandering through the camp about 5 pm to check us all out and then again a bit later on and again in the morning to see us off.  The ranger said that he would have been as pure a dingo as we would see on the mainland.

What was very interesting was the straight road.  Going west from Camooweal to the Stuart highway and then south to Alice was like driving on the Nullarbor.  Fuel at tenant creek was $1.89 litre fortunately we didn’t need any.
About 50 Kms out of Alice we did a inside drivers tyre on the back of the beast and crawled into town to get 2 new tyres.
A camp still on the Stuart highway was it for the night and when we woke at 6.00 am it was -3' outside and 2'inside, we made a cuppa and set off for Stuarts Well where we had breakfast and saw the local tourist attraction, the singing dingo which was about 12 years old and not singing at 7 am.
ON the horizon on the left near Curtain Springs on the Lasseter Highway we saw Mt Connor which seems nearly as big as the Rock but with a very flat top.

We booked into a caravan park at Ulara with the backdrop of Uluru and Kata Tjuta ( the olgas). What a community - there were designated areas for different levels of accommodation over a vast area with a shopping area in the middle with a supermarket, post office, news agency and about 4 eating places and half a dozen touristy type places. It must be quite a permanent community as the post office had a bank of about 30 mail boxes. servicing the Rock, as I remembered how cold it was back in the '70's when we stayed there and I needed power and heated air con.
We set up on our site and gathered some nibbles and wine to drive to the designated viewing place to watch the sunset and had to stop at the entry into the sacred site and pay a fee of $25 each for 3 days entry. This is because the government purchased a 99 year lease of the area from the traditional owners.

The changing face of Uluru til about 6.00pm
 We set up our chairs and table and waited along with hundreds of other people for the spectacular event to unfold.  The colour Changes just had to be seen to be believed and with the lowering of the sun so too came the lowering of temperatures so we headed back to camp.

Next morning we headed back to the base where intrepid (interpreted brave or silly) made the climb to the top.
We had discussed it the previous evening and I suggested that Stuart not attempt it and stated that I on the other hand definitely wouldn't.

Next morning I relented and felt that it wasn't my place to say no and said so and after reading the safety notes about health requirements of climbers he set out - but not for long and came back to the ground to a much relieved wife.
A visit to the native cultural canter didn't tell us much except that not a lot has changed.   The guide for a bus tour didn't turn up for work (apparently a common occurrence) and the desk was unattended for over 1/2 an hour while we were there.
That afternoon we drove the 35 Km's further on to the Olga's where we took one of the shorter walks (2kms) in between 2 of the 32 large boulders that make up the Olgas.  This certainly gave us a glimpse of the magnitude of the boulders

We arrived home to a lovely corned beef, white sauce and veg in the dream pot that I had prepared before leaving camp in the morning, and got up next morning to go and watch the sun rise over The rock in the piccaninny dawn.

 I wanted to drive around the rock because I remembered many markings on it that I had seen 30 odd years before but the road now travels a fair way out from the base to protect sacred sights but I did get to see this one that stuck in my memory.
It is just a breakdown of the surface but depicts a warriors face in profile.

On the way out of the area we stopped at Curtain Springs for smoko and thought fuel at the rock where we filled up was dear at $2.04 but here it was $2.34 a litre.  We also didn't get any stubbies ($7 ea and $81 ctn) or cans of bundy and cola ($11,80 ea or $145 a carton.  We did get a nice bottle of port for $19 which included 2 commemorative small pannikins.

We travelled through to Kings Canyon Resort and checked in for the night on an unpowered sight. ( I hope it doesn't get too cold.) Kings canyon proved to be an expensive stop but in my opinion, worth it. 
 While there we walked 2.6 Kms into Kings Canyon along the floor and back which was spectacular.  A better walk would have been the 6 kms walk around the rim but it started with an almost sheer climb up the side and I knew my limitations.

That night we had a barbecue tea in the restaurant with live entertainment and were adopted by a little 8 year old named Zoe from Victoria
We found out that the road we intended to travel back to Alice Springs, was very rough and really only designed for 4 wheel drive and off road vans so we had to fuel up and head back the way we came which was an extra 250 k’s. Stuart only put $100 in the tank as the fuel was $2.33 a litre - the dearest we have struck so far.

Next day it was back to Alice to the show grounds where we will have no accommodation fees for the next week.
I make no appologies for the length of this but we saw such wonderful sights and I had to share.

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