Saturday, May 30, 2009

Darwin NT

Hi! Here we are in Darwin, we arrived here Thursday about lunchtime. We couldn't get a camping spot on Wednesday night at Hayes Creek so we travelled on to Adelaide River and spent the night at the Showgrounds there. We met some more fellow travellers from Bunbury WA there and they arrived in our Caravan Park here yesterday. Thursday night we went to the famous Mindil Beach Markets. It was packed but lovely. Lots of food, stalls and entertainment. Also beautiful sunset views on the beach. We didn't take the camera so we will have to go again.
Yesterday we caught up with an old friend (Nola) from WA who we haven't seen for over 15 years. We lunched at the Pint Club a favourite haunt of hers. Today we ventured around town mainly to Cullen Bay Marina and the Fisherman's Wharf and did a quick drive through the city. We have caught up with all our washing but still have a few maintenence jobs to do. We are staying in the Coolalinga Caravan Park a small drive out of town on the Stuart Highway a lovely green spot. Happy Belated Birthdays to Keira (4th),Kai (21st), Jess (23rd) and Bill (29th) they are dates not ages. There is so much to see here so hopefully we will get some more photos soon

Talk again soon

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mataranka NT

Looking up into the Palm Trees
Nestled beside the Stuart Hwy and right at the headwaters of the Roper River, Mataranka is the home of the famous Thermal Springs in Elsey National Park. The Rainbow Springs thermal Pool at Mataranka Homestead with its lush palms, crystal clear (34degrees) warm waters offers a beautiful relaxing swimming pool that has been an icon for tourists for many years. That's what is states in their brochures. We spent today in the other thermal pool a bit more upmarket than Bitter Springs where we bathed yesterday. It wasn't quite the fountain of youth as I came out more wrinkly than when I first hopped in. Actually more like a prune. Afterwards we had a mango smoothie at the Stockman Gallery.

The path to the Mataranka Thermal Pools

The Thermal Pool if you look closely you may see me.

The climate was quite pleasant today lovely cool breezed took the edge of what would have otherwise been quite a warm day. The park we are staying in is quite pleasant nice green grass among the bush.

A natural pool at the Caravan Park

We will pull out tomorrow and head towards Darwin spending Wednesday night on the road somewhere, probably Haze Creek. We should arrive in Darwin on Thursday or Friday.
Talk again soon

Monday, May 25, 2009

Barrow Creek, Renner Springs, Daly Waters & Mataranka

The Army Helicopters taking off Wednesday Morning

It seems ages since I've blogged but we have been out of mobile phone coverage since we left Alice Springs last Wednesday. Tuesday night the Showgrounds was invaded by the army. They had a group of 20 trucks and 7 helicopters they have just been from darwin to WA and were on their way up to Darwin again. Wednesday night saw us pulling up camp at Barrow Creek another free camping spot and again with a quirky pub. It boasts walls of money, must be thousands of dollars (all nationalities) pinned to their walls. I had to seriously cull the photos so I hope the chosen ones do them justice.

The Barrow Creek Pub with some of their collections the back wall is covered with bank notes.
Thursday night we camped at Devil's Marbles another camp where they have an honour system where money is placed in an envelope in a specially marked box $3.30 pp pn. The Marbles are arrangements of boulders balanced on other rocks. The winds and weather over the years have eroded the rocks so they appear to falter on top of other rocks. Magnificent colourings rich ochre and bronzes.

Some of the rock formations in Devil's Marbles

Friday and Saturday we chose to spend at Renner Springs. Another lovely spot with another quirky pub.

We met up with a group of cyclist who were travelling from Adelaide to Darwin to raise money for breast and Prostate cancer. We also met them again in Daly Waters and in Mataraka. I managed to have a massage, I had a really bad back so one of the riders was a remedial masseuse and for a donation she made it bearable again. I think she has riden over 2000 kms up til then.

Parked up in Renner Springs

Sunday we ventured to Daly Waters and viewed the town quite a lot of quirky things here, The "Chookman" has set up shop opposite the pub and appears nightly in the pub. The pub has walls of money, bras & knickers and in the beer garden there is a thong tree. We had a lovely meal here of Beef and Burra.

The Daly Waters Hotel

I recommend the baramundi it was rather nice. We opted to stay at an old WW2 Aerodrome, very neglected which is a shame. We nearly camped on the runway but lucky we didn't as a plane coasted in on Saturday afternoon.

The Hangar at Daly Waters

Apparently the airport is still used a couple of times a week. We arrived in Mataranka lunchtime and after setting up and a bit of lunch we spent a couple of hours in the thermal pools. I went in as an old chook and came out a spring chicken. Just kidding. But the water was very nice.
Talk again soon

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Alice Springs and Simpsons Gap

The view in front of the bus

We had another hectic week with the usual dramas re mail and radio. When we approached Alice Springs through a gap in the McDonald Ranges it was like going into another world. It is surrounded by mountains and is as green as green. We are camped in the local showgrounds (too big for the Caravan Parks) but it is absolutely beautiful and peaceful here. We overlook the dressage area so we often see the horses in action everywhere we look it is green grass. (They use reclaimed water on their lawns and gardens) there is dog trials, remote control car club, BMX etc etc. We have plenty of space and we have grass under our feet. I had a bout of depression this week but I seem to be on the mend could have something to do with Mothers Day and being away from the family. By the way thank you Finn, Kai and Keira for the lovely cards, I will cherish them. I enjoyed calls from the family and I also received a surprise in the mail. It was a lovely teddy charm for my bracelet. Thank you very much. We drove out to Simpsons Gap this week and to Standley Chasm both very nice spots.

We also spent an afternoon in the Truck Museum which also houses the Hall of fame.

We are still awaiting on mail so will probably be here until at least Tuesday. Tonight we are dining in the Casino, there are 16 of us booked in Seafood Buffet for $20 a head. It will be strange putting on the glad rags in place of the shorts and t-shirts.Talk again soon

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Alice Springs NT

King Canyon NT

Taken from the road showing the ranges
Jan and Hady on the walk in the creek
Its great to be back in civilisation again. We have spent the last few days without phone coverage. We parted company with John and Carol and again in convoy with Russell in the lead we left Marla and our first break after crossing the NT/SA border was at a roadhouse at Erldunda. After they assured us that our big rigs would fit into their caravan park and after we did a walk through and seen that it was impossible. We asked them if we could stay outside on a dirt clearing opposite. We were told that it would cost us $20 to park there with no power no water no facilities at all. So undeterred we decided we would have a coffee before travelling on. We ordered the coffees but were told that the urn was cold so no coffees were available. So again we thought we would get an iced coffee out of the fridge, but the last straw was when their till was down and they were unable to process any purchases. So we and several other customers put our goodies back and jumped into our motorhomes and headed off to the next stop. On the road out to Ayers Rock we stopped the night at Mt Ebenezer for $10 a night for power and facilities or free with no power.

Parked up at Mt Ebenezer

Wednesday morning saw us driving up towards King Canyon and we booked into the King Canyon Resort. A lovely little oasis. Several Restaurants, Motel Units and Caravan Park. They parked us in a coach bay so we had our own patio and sink facilities. We drove out to Kings Canyon and did the walk into the gorge. Very spectacular I chose a few photos for you to view. We camped Thursday night at Mt Ebenezer and rejoined John and Carol. We ate in the restaurant then settled around the bonfire that we lit. Friday after a brief stop at Erldunda for an internet fix and catch up on our phone messages, we set off for Alice Springs. We arrived in Alice mid afternoon after a brief lunch stop at Stuart Well. We are parked in the showground on a beautiful grassed area. Plenty of room, power, water etc. We intend to spend a week here. Happy Mothers Day everyone for tomorrow.

Jan Hady and Russell in the gorge
If you look closely you can see Jan & Hady waving
Talk again soon

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our Flight over Lake Eyre

Underground Houses in Coober Pedy

The Terrain

Lake Eyre

Stuart Range Caravan Park (we are in the right hand corner)

Bill & myself Russell, John & Carol in front of the plane

Inside the William Creek Hotel

The William Creek Hotel

We left Coober Pedy today and traveled 246km to Marla. We stopped briefly at Cagney Homestead Roadhouse about half way for lunch. The photos enclosed are from our flight over Lake Eyre, Anna Creek and into William Creek and back. I had a hard time deciding on the photos as we took about 100. Lake Eyre is a dry salt lake that occasionally floods and it was here that Sir Donald Campbell once set the world land speed record of 645km/h in a jet powered car. The best way to get to there is by air or 4 wheel drive when the road is accessible. Coober Pedy reaches temperatures of over 47degrees so a lot of the houses are built underground for coolness although there are some now above the ground. Tomorrow we will be travelling North again and should cross the border into the Northern Territory we intend to stop at Kings Canyon overnight

Talk again soon

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Breakaways Coober Pedy

I have a fair bit of editing to do with the photos we took yesterday on our flight so in the meantime I will show some photos we took on Friday of the Breakaways. By the way I survived the trip. The Breakaways Reserves lie 32km north of Coober Pedy. It consists of colourful low hills which have broken away from the Stuart Range, hence their name "The Breakaways". I have only selected a couple of photos but hopefully they will highlight the open space and colourful environment, leaving an impression of the long gone inland sea our early explorers dreamt of. The white and yellow outcrops are locally called the "Castle" or "Salt & Pepper" the aborigines call these outcrops two dogs a white dog and a yellow dog.

Some of the outcrops have been used in movies such as Mad Max beyond Thunderdrome and Ground Zero. On the return trip we went via the dog fence. This 2m high barrier stretches for over 5,300km across three states to protect the sheep country in the south from the native dog the dingo.

Coober Pedy is well known for its Opal Mining. Pricilla Queen of the Desert was also partly filmed here. I did my share of digging for opals and purchased a lovely solid chrystal pendant. Very nice.
Talk again soon

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pimba, Roxby Downs and Woomera SA

The Map showing the road through the centre of Australia

We arrived in Pimba about 160 kms from Port Augusta at lunchtime Tuesday to a perfect day, the sun was shining but gee the terrain is very barren.

The local Terrain taken through the bus window

You can tell we are nearing the desert, the ground is very flat with not much vegetation.

Pimba lies at the junction for travellers going to Roxby Downs

Roxby Downs Main street

The Opal Mining town of Andamooka or the famous Oodnatta track.

Both the Indian Pacific and the Ghan Train pass through here on their way to Alice Springs. There are also several salt lakes nearby such as Lake Hart and Island Lagoon. After lunch we swapped the bus for the car and drove off to Roxby Downs (about 82km)which is a fairly new modern town created around the BHP Olympic Dam Mine. It was rather like a Oasis in the middle of nowhere. Gold some silver, nickel and copper are mined here.

A wedged tailed eagle paused on the side of the road

On the way back we called into Woomera which was established in 1947 as a site for the launching of British experimental rockets. NASA also operated a Deep Space Tracking Station at Island Lagoon between 1960 and 1972. The defence Department did operate a communication facility and testing range at Nurrungar, which is a prohibited area.

Wednesday we packed up and drove to another free camping area called Bon Bon Camping Spot about about 160 kms south of Coober Pedy. We joined fellow travellers we met in Port Augusta namely Hady and Russell and Carol and John. We are now travelling in a convoy and we arrived in Coober Pedy Thursday and are staying in the Stuart Ranges Caravan Park. We ate the famous Pizzas for our dinner and they weren't too shabby. Saturday we are taking a flight over Lake Eyre and the Oodnadatta Track about 4 hours in total.
Talk again soon