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Beginning of a Great Adventure On the road for a year with Nik, Dunc, Maeve (6) and Ella (4): 8 months in Oz with 4wd and Campertrailer, 6 weeks in NZ and 3 months in Asia.

4th update_ Penululu, The Tanami and into Alice 31st august

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 31 August 2008 | Views [1014] | Comments [7]

We are now in Alice, staying at a caravan park with bouncy castles and playgrounds and enjoying relative luxury....its been a hell of a trip since my last update!! 
Pernululu, (Bungle Bungle Ranges) was increadible....perhaps the most spectacular place i have visited so far:  really out of this world....it's like Gaudi got together with mother nature, took some high grade acid, and just went for it....thousands of giant domed rocks, striped like giant bee hives, they change colours with the shifting sunlight, glowing red in the afternoon light...we spent 4 nights, and had some wonderful walks through the rocks and gorges. The road in was rough, and very twisty, with lots of blind rises, so i was always praying some nutter in a hired Britz 4wd was not charging over the other way (in general these drivers are bloody terrible and worth avoiding), ....52 km took 2 and half hours, and we damaged the jockey wheel on one  creek  crossing....more cosmetic than serious, but it was a hell of a drive. One tip, in most national park campsites they have generator area's and “quiet” areas.....so far, we have found in every case, the “quiet “ area's are much busier than the generator area's....so, sure there is no noise from generators, but you may have 3 or 4 other tents or trailers all around you, while there may be no-one at all in the generator section, and given any generators have to be turned off at 7pm, and most new generators are very quiet anyway, i recommend checking out the generator areas when you pull into a park.
We fueled up in Halls creek and then headed off down the Tanami track.....1050 kms of dirt, with one road house at 500kms....Rabbit flat- which bills itself as the most isolated roadhouse in Australia....we were 300kms in when disaster struck. The road was rough, straight but very corrugated with deep holes every so often covered with bulldust, so you're never sure hope deep they are, and we slamnmed into a couple....There was no particular incident I was aware of, but when we stopped for a wee and a drink, i checked the suspension on the trailer....and found the front hanger on the right hand side, into which the suspension fits and which is one of the 4 points that holds the trailer to the suspension, axels and wheels, had completely broken its weld....the traier was simply balancing loose on the leaf suspension, and as this lowered it by a good 4 cms, we had about 1 cm clearance between the right hand tyre and the mud guard...i hadnt seen one car in 300kms, we were 200kms from the roadhouse, and i was seriously worried that we could loose the whole right hand suspension, and wheel at anytime....if this happened, it may just dropdown and i'd stop and pulll over, or it may cause the trailer to jackknife, and the car to flip or crash off the road.....this was my bloody birthday present, and i was not happy....i played it down to Nik, but i was suddenly very, very worried. Sure we had the sat phone, or we could leave the trailer and head off in the car, but i would risk never seeing the trailer again, or paying thousands of dollars to get it picked up and towed to Halls creek. I decided to drive very slowly, and we limped the next 200kms, kidneys jarred to pieces on the corrugations, but in one piece, until we finally got into Rabbit Flat. 
There we met Bruce and his wife....they have run the roadhouse for 40 years, and his wife was originally from Paris....talk about contrasting places....he firstly advised us to keep moving, as he expected rainfall, and he warned this was not a road to be on in the rain, but i explained our situation, and we deicided to camp there for the night.....and then when i came back to the car, the left hand tyre on the trailer was flat.....AAARRRGGGHHHHHH! Bruce pointed out it could have been worse....could have lost the whole axel or gotten the flat 200kms down the road, and at least we were safe and sound in the campsite. Love the bush philosophy! And he was right. 
I quickly changed the tyre and fixed the puncture- it was a nail whole, and i am getting pretty good and plugging these type of holes- and then managed to place the hanger back almost in position and used some “liquid steel” glue to hold it in place......very mickey mouse but it gave me another cm of clearance and it was better than nothing....that night it rained- first time in months and Nik woke upto her 40th on a cold and cloudy day, but at least the glue seemed to have bonded pretty well, and pouncture had held.....Bruse came over to wish Nik Happy Birthday, and told us he had called the Granite Mine 52km down the road....he advised to stop there, and ask for John, the head of security....maybe the workshop could help us, but it would cost us, and it would depend on what needed to be done and how busy they were.....he was worried about us, especially our little girls, and thought it a wise thing to do.....I was speechless- what a lovely bloke!! 
So we headed off sown the road, and then after about 20kms, we came across a woman sitting by the side of the road. About 30 meters off the road was an upside down landcruiser, smashed to pieces. The lady was alright, but in shock, and she had no working communication equipment. I used my sat phone to call the mine (where she worked) and they sent out  car to pick her up. We then limped on to the mine. 
It was a big operation: about 800 poeple worked there, and John put the girls and Nik in the well equiped rec center, and i headed off with him to the workshop area, where i dropped off Reggie, our wounded camper trailer. They then spent 2 hour and half hours working on him, and found another couple of cracks in other welds They fixed it all, welded big steel plates on, locked the suspension back in place and went over Reg with a fine tooth comb. They seriously made `Reg better than he was when we bought him, and then I asked what I owed them, they replied “nothing”. John told me he had explained i had helped the lady mine worker out and they decided to help us for nothing in return....I almost started crying., i was so blown away by this kindness and generosity...this wondeful feeling of good karma flowing around me that left me almost speechless...i just didnt think shit like that happened anymore in this dog eat dog world of ours
So we headed off again, Reggie better than ever, and we found the Grader had been down the road, so the road was like driving on a highway....suddenly everything was back on track, and we were safe and sound.
Because we had spent so long at the Mine, we had to camp by the road that night.....that was bit spooky. John advised me to get well off the road....”is that because of road trains?”, I asked..”yes, but also so no one can see you....you never no whose out on these roads at night”, he replied....we found a spot where road trains had pulled off, and then went further into the bush, so we were pretty well hidden. Around 7ish, I was cooking away, and had the light on.....suddenly i saw car coming down the tanami....Nik turned off the light, and then thinking the car had gone past, turned it back on....but the car had stopped....i could'nt see it, so i had no idea if it was travellers in a 4wd, or aborigines or what....Nik thought she heard a door open, so we waited, but after a few minutes, the car drove off... I did'nt say anything to Nik, but visions of Ivan Milat, and that bloke who kidnapped the english couple and the wolf creek movie all flashed through my mind...I did'nt light a fire and we went to bed as soon as we finished din ner....i had the sat phone with me, plus large chef's knives under my pillow, and tyre irion and a shovel....and hardly slept a wink....I still dont know if was silly to feel so paranoid....logic tells me, i am more likely to run into a nutter in a crowded city, but the feeling of isolation out there in the middle of no-where was pretty indimidating....especially travelling with the girls. Anyway, the sun rise was beautiful, the rain had gone, and the road was in tip top condition, so off we headed.
After 300 kms we made it to Yendumu, an Aboriginal community with a rather famous art center. It's a dry community, like One arm point or lombardina up on the Dampier Pen, but that was the only similarity. It was like driving into a town in Indonesia or India.....Garbage everywhere.....really everywhere....the school playground was covered in rubbish, the streets, the houses....mangy dogs and burnt out cars....welcome to the third world....I found it very depressing, and kept thinking of the aboriginal stickers i have on the back of my car i bought in Karijini: “look after the country and the country will look after you”....where was this attitude? Where was the respect for the land? How could any of these people claim to have a connection with the land but then desecrate and destroy their own living spaces? Then the other voice in my head says, “ dysfunctional people behave  like this....this is a manifestation of the dysfunction”...but could'nt someone in the community simply walk around and pick up rubbish.....one of the problems seems to be lack of jobs...could'nt local people  be employed to remove the rubbish. We then visted the art center.....filled with amazing canvas's there was a little old lady sitting cross legged doing an enormous dot painting of the evening sky....absolutely beautiful and fascinating to watch....thought it a bit strange-sad- that the 5 women walking there were all white, and they take a 40% commission on all the art work sold.....could'nt some of the local people be working there too (not as painters but being trained in adninistration or computer skills)....could'nt the white people who lived in the community and who profit from it, also do something to clean up the town? I did'nt ask them....maybe they do.....but it struck me that it would be a great school project or scouting task for a bunch of school kids to travel in and simply pick up the rubbish sometime, super simplistic and i know the problems run deeper and longer than this sort of cosmetic touchup, but it has to be better than living in shit....hopefully as the community drys out, the locals will get their lives more in order, and will do it themselves.....
Anyway, this has been a lot of writing- hope i have not bored anyone too much with it but so much has happened.....we had a lovely day yesterday in Alice at the Hedly on Todd.....for those not familiar with thiscrazy event, google it....it was a lovely family day, and the girls loved it. Got to say i like the feel of Alice, and the prohibition of drin kiing in public, really seems to have had a major positive effect on the vibe of the town. We will spend a few more days here, then it's off to explore the west mac ranges and then 4wd down to Ularhu, then up to the east macs, then back to alice around the 12th of september, then we plan to head up the Stuart to Darwin.
Peace, Love Happiness to all,
Mave, Ella, Nik and Dunc.

Tags: alice springs, pernululu, rabbit flat, tanami track



Amazing story Dunc. Great reading. May the great travel spirit go with you...

we just had the last game at the club yesterday, two mixed teams. Matchett needed a six off thelast ball to win and was caught on the boundary (I was in the other team) it was poetry:)

  Robert Wolfe Sep 1, 2008 4:18 PM


Hey Dunc and Niek,

You know I had to think of something for mty 40th birthday. Well, reading this story, which is pretty amazing by the way, I always wanted a nice aboriginal artwork but whas never able to find something. If you Niek or you can find something small and afordable artwork I really would like that for my birthday. Just a thought so no musts here!

Lots of love Jacqie

  Jacqie Sep 1, 2008 4:19 PM


awesome story. Reads like a thriller but with a good ending. Nice thing to see that positive reciprocity works!

regards, Jurjen

  Jurjen Nielen Sep 1, 2008 4:41 PM


Excellent reading! I am glad everything worked out well.. Scary though!


  Joakim Sep 1, 2008 5:00 PM


Hey Dunc,
Got your blog of Di, been meaning to see how you were going for ages but have been lazy! Sounds like you and your girls are having an awesome time and the photos are amazing!
Got to say the Ivan Milat story would have been going through my mind up there as well, especially in the middle of nowehre! sounds like there are still some amazing people out there, sometimes we forget about the aussie spirit!
We've been back about 8 months now and the time has flown! glad to be back at times, but other times, we really miss the DAM.
Had to write quickly to and say COME ON THE CATS!!! had to get it in, hopefully you will be getting some footy news where you are staying currently! Should be a good match, got tickets, but they are standing/restricted viewing which is a bit of a bummer!
Anyway got to toddle and get some stuff done, safe trip back to Melb and hopefully catch up with you and the girls when you get back to the home of AFL!

  Danielle O'Brien Sep 24, 2008 5:22 PM


Hey Niekje,

Ik heb hier een pakketje liggen met jullie naam erop maar geen adres. Ik ben dat op een of andere manier verloren. Kan je het nog eens mailen? Graag snel want anders is het niet meer op tijd. Geprobeerd jullie te bereiken maar lukt niet. Vandaar dus even op deze manier. Hopelijk lukt het zo.

Kus Jacqie

  Jacqueline Sep 28, 2008 7:17 PM


Beste Dunc. en Niek!
Heb nu begrepen dat de gekantelde 4w-drive gelukkig niet die van jullie was!!
Verder hartstikke leuk en spannend om jullie verhalen en foto's te lezen en zien. Zie verder mailtje aan Veronique!
Liefs en goede reis verder, Margot.

  Margot Oct 9, 2008 2:56 AM

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