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Down the Middle of Australia in 2013

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 28 May 2013 | Views [516]

 

Trip 2013

So our journey begins again…

Wednesday 8th May arrives and I head out to the airport for my flight to Darwin.Meanwhile Peter has the camper trailer already packed and sets of on his long drive to Alice Springs. Our plan being is we will meet up there on the 16th.

My flight is delayed for 15 minutes while we sit out on the tarmac in a queue of planes all awaiting for a flight time.

Once we have taken off it’s the usual breakfast and coffee thrown at you as they only have an hour to dish it out and clear it up.

I chose not to have anything on this part of the journey.

Adelaide where we all hop off for a 40 minute wait then get back onto the same plane as we head for Darwin.

Arrival in Darwin and of course the heat is the first thing I notice. This time I thought ahead and left a bitter freezing cold Melbourne in summer clothes.

As I come down the escalator the first person I see is Jane. My bag had just come into sight on the conveyor belt so the timing was perfect.

The first day was just catch up time with Jane and Lidija which is always great.

Thursday 9th May.

Jane is chair person on the committee for Mother’s Day Classic which is a charity event to raise money for research into Breast Cancer.

It is held nationally around Australia every Mother’s Day. The event is a walk or run 4k or 8k. The organization for the day is huge. So I was up there volunteering both on the day and before.

The preregistration had tripled in one year so we knew the day was going to be huge and it was.

Darwin raised nearly $50,000 dollars which is a fantastic effort from a small town.

We were all exhausted by the end of Mothers Day and after a lovely Mothers Day dinner it was early to bed.

The rest of my time in Darwin was spent just doing the tourist bit and spending time with Jane.

 

Wednesday 15th May  I catch the Ghan down to Alice Springs and I am like an excited school girl.

The Ghan  http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/site/the_ghan.jsp  is so long that you can't see both ends at the same time from the platform.As the train leaves the station, I am delighted to find I have four seats to spread out over.

We arrive in Katherine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_of_Katherine for a four hour stop over whilst people can catch their tours around town and the Katherine Gorge http://www.nttc.com.au/katherine-gorge

As I had already seen those places I chose just to wander around Katherine.

Once we were all aboard again we journeyed through some of the most arid parts of Australia. Dry and dusty is how it usually is but today we were luckier as it had been raining so there was green grass and water laying around.

Dinner on the Ghan is probably very nice in Gold Class but we had I would say just as nice in Red Class and for a fraction of the price.

Soon it was dark outside and nothing to see. So out came the books and journal and I was lulled into sleepiness. Truth is I should have been but I am such a light sleeper and any noise or light awakes me very easily.

I head down to the restaurant carriage and grab a coffee and am ready for the day.

As we pull into Alice Springs I recognize the car in the car park which means Peter has arrived here safely.

First stop is a coffee with Jane who flew down on business yesterday and is driving out to Yulara shortly.

We are booked into the Wintersun Caravan Park which is well set up and very packed.

Spent the next day doing the tourist things around town http://www.roadtransporthall.com/ 

Over the next two days we went out to the West and East MacDonnell Ranges. Talk about spectacular colours and scenery. My camera shutter was working overtime.

Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm then out to Emily and Jessie Gap and Corroboree Rock.


Took the old station wagon for a bit of four wheel driving and ended up in a dry creek and thought we best not go any further for the day.

Sunday 19th May:

We left Alice and drove to Curtain Springs where we will set up camp and drive into Yulara and visit Uluru and maybe the Olgas.


Talk about rain, we have never had to set the camper up in such torrential rain. Once it was all set up there really wasn’t anything we could do for the next 24hr as the rain came down.


The caravan park was turned into a lake. We were amongst the lucky ones who were camped on a rise so we had no flooding. Others had their tents floating like houseboats in the lake that had appeared.

The couple camped beside us were from Safety Beach but not only that I used to work with her back in the pathology days !!

When the rain finally eased up we were able to drive out to Uluru. http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/

Although you know it is going to be a big rock I don’t think anything prepares you for just how big it is.


The weather was still very dull and overcast, so we were unable to see the true red that most photos of the Rock show.

Yet, somehow, I thought seeing it with the rain running down the rock and a deeper darker colour was probably something a lot of people would never have the opportunity to see.

 

Sadly we didn't get out to the Olgas due to the weather but hope we can visit another time.

Wednesday 22nd May

We are now setting up camp at Kings Canyon and I am so looking forward to doing the Canyon Rim Walk. The sun is shining and it is an amazing view from our campsite as we look straight across to the Canyon.

Today we did the short walk into the Canyon and along the Canyon floor with it's rock pools and ferns.

Ones breath is taken away by the sheer size and oasis setting.

Saturday morning we set off bright and early to tackle the Kings Canyon Rim Walk.

The first part we already know is the hardest as it is 400(approx) steps straight up the 100m high cliff. Surprisingly we managed with just a few recovery stops.

The walk takes over 4 hours and covers 6 ks of rugged terrain along the top. The view is stunning and the colours just keep changing.

Half way there we descend down the steps to the bottom of the canyon and into what is called the Garden of Eden. It is even more beautiful than the short walk on Wednesday as we are deeper into the canyon and the pools are darker.

After stopping for our lunch break in this tranquil setting it is another 200 steps back up the canyon onto the other side.
We have been taken aback by the lack of wildlife and flora but is probably due to a large fire that had been through recently.

The walk has come to an end but we both feel like we will come back and do it again some day as it really is incredibly beautiful.

Monday 27th May

Heading off to Coober Pedy for a couple of days. On arrival we find a very tired old mining town. One that was not thought out of what the land may look like in the future (now)

The landscape out at a place called the Breakaways is like a moon scape. Apparently a lot of the Mad Max movies were filmed around the area. I am sure the photos show why it was pick for filming.

The town itself has run down old buildings which are mainly closed or for sale.

The historic home of Faye Nayler is worth a visit. She was an incredible woman who dug out her home with the help of another couple of ladies back in the 60's.http://www.cooberpedy.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=181&c=399

Of course back then the opal mining was taking off and life was pretty tough for a woman. Yet Faye made a huge business of accommodation and opal collecting. Most of what she found whilst digging out her home.

Tomorrow we will be heading for the Womera area and Roxby Downs.

Womera

Once this town was harder than North Korea to get into today it welcomes visitors to freely wander through the town.

The town was well known for long range missile and rocket testing during the Cold War. Back then the town was shrouded in secrecy and closed to the public.

Today is a bit different it is still a testing range and remains vital to the defence force.

Most of the old aircraft are on display in the centerer of the town. Unfortunately it was a miserable overcast day for photos but I did get a few.

Roxby Downs

I loved Roxby Downs even though I arrived there and ended up in the hospital with bronchitis. Pleased to say a few antibiotics later and I am on the road to recovery.

www.roxbydowns.com

What I enjoyed about Roxby is it's cleanliness and how modern it was. It was also a very well purpose built town. built for the Olympic Dam Mine. There were lots of schools and Churches and a large shopping precinct (with free wi fi). Plus sporting facilities for all sports.

The Hospital and Medical Centerer was one of the most up to date ones I have ever been in (or worked in)

There appears to be an abundance of work both in the town and of course out at the mine. I could live there quite easily for a six-twelve month stint.
I was quite sad to leave there.

http://www.theolympicdamstory.com/

Whilst we were there we did a drive out to ANDAMOOKA. this was a place Pete and Rob had tried to drive to nearly 50 years ago but just didn't quite make it.


Well Rob, you didn't miss anything.


Apart from some of the old home sites there really is nothing at Andamooka believe me!!

Port Augusta

We moved down to Port Augusta for a couple of nights.

Didn't really do much here as the weather wasn't particular nice and I was still recovering. What we did see was enough for a quick visit and not a place I would hurry back to.


Although it was nice to see the ocean again as that is something I do miss.

 

The Australian Arid Botanical Gardens are new but are no way near as good as the one out at Cranbourne( Vic)

 

Pichi Pichi Railway was an interesting place to visit.

 

www.prr.org.au

www.wadlata.sa.gov.au

www.aalbg.sa.gov.au

I shall put the photos on up to here and will end this for now.

We are now in the Flinders Ranges so a lot more to follow......

 

Hello again, I am always amazed at how diverse this beautiful country of ours is.

Wilpena Pound

www.wilpenapound.com.au

I don't know what I expected but it certainly wasn't these magnificent mountains and plateau that seem to go on forever.

The pound is a haven for bush walkers and hikers or anyone just going for a ramble.

Of course it is a photographers paradise, which I was enjoying of course.

One of the best views of Wilpena is from the top of Stokes Hill lookout. 360 degrees of uninterrupted views.

I tried to capture a video panorama but I am still mastering my camera and it was too fast and a bit shaky.

We were camped at Wilpena for two nights and then moved out to the National Park campsite Dingley Dell.

Here we spent the next week walking, reading and doing a lot of nothing.

We didn't even have to share the camp with more than a couple of others on any one night.

The wildlife seems to be in short supply as in the week we saw only 4 cockatoos, 3 kangaroos, 4 galahs and 2 eagles around the camp area.

We did have a pesky little mouse that visited one night and enjoyed our loaf of bread. We didn't see him again as we made sure everything was put away.

The sunsets were marred most nights by the dark overcast skies. One night the sky was so black and there was a new moon giving off the effect of a Alfred Hitchcock movie.

 

Leigh Creek

 

We certainly know how to get to know the locals in one night....just put the tent peg straight through the mains water pipe !!

Okay, so it wasn't in the right place and it should have been in the ground deeper but it wasn't.

So while the park caretaker and Pete tried to fix it I just took photos. Then the owner arrived and she called in her son-in-law to help. Well he didn't have the right size pipe so he then called in another guy. Unfortunately that wasn't successful either, so it was decided that the camp would be without water until the plumber could arrive in the morning ! So everyone went home.

That wasn't good news to the rest of the campers but what can you do ?

A little while later the fellow who was called in last arrived back and he had another pipe fitting that he had found in his shed. After a little while it was fixed and the water was return to the park leaving a lot of happy campers!

What is good about all this is not one of these fellows did it for any money as this caravan park is actually run by all volunteers of the town.  www.leighcreekcaravanpark.com

 

Farina

This town was first proclaimed in 1878 and is now just a historical dig area. The narrow gauge railway reached Farina in 1882 and the town flourished transporting stock and supplying outstations.

Some of the photos have a bit of history and I will try and fill you in.

Transcontinental Hotel this was built in 1878 and the foundation stone was laid by a local Aboriginal woman on June th 1878. It changed

 over the years from a hotel to a boarding house and then a Cottage Hospital before reverting back to a hotel before closing in 1918.

Underground bakery was restored in 1980 and is used by the Farina Restoration Group when they are working out at the site. Which just happened to be today so we enjoyed a fresh pastie just out of the old oven.

Thats it for today I will now try and get the photos on......

 Brachina Gorge


The gorge is an important refuge for the Yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby which we were fortunate to see. The Brachina Gorge passes through 130 million years of earth history. The signage provides an insight into past climates, the formation of the ranges and the evolution of early life forms. Whilst walking through the gorge I realised just how small a part we are in this truly ancient land.


I watched daily an Eagle flying in and out of a nest built 200 metres up into the steep mountan side. The willy wagtails twittering from tree to tree including blue wrens and a robin red breast. No matter how patiently I sat trying to capture him. I just never could. Also the feral goats, clinging to the mountain side whilst grazing.

The highlight one night was when a Yellow- Footed- Rock- Wally popped into our campsite. I raced into the camper to grab my camera and huriedly tried to change the lens and settings. I started snapping away just to make sure I at least got one photo of this truly rare animal. Pleased to see when reviewing them I did have a couple. He was beautiful with such an unusual tail (rather like a tigers) he did come back another night but only hopped through very quickly.Still I was privalaged to have seen him as apparently there was only about 50 left and now the numbers are growing again slowly.

I certainly recommend this area for anyone wanting to visit, you won't be dissapointed.

 

My writing for this trip has come to an end a little abruptly as we are now home. We drove the rest of the way home over two days as I was still unwell.

We went through the Clare Valley and the Barossa Valley which were so green and picturesque and we will return for a longer visit.

Also call around for some chocolate at my friends http://www.chocolateno5.com.au/   so thank you Alison for spoiling us with your delightful coffee and chocolates. I suggest if you are ever in the area to do yourself a favour and drop in. You wont be disappointed.

 

So until next time safe travels folks.....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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