This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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1999 Travels June 21

MONDAY 21 JUNE     ALICE SPRINGS

Another beautiful day.

After a lazy morning, we set out to visit some of the tourist attractions of the town, but soon got distracted.

Drove through town and up Anzac Hill, just to the north, from where there are good views over the town and surrounds. The size and spread of Alice Springs is evident from up here.

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Central Alice Springs, seen from Anzac Hill. Heavitree Gap is straight ahead.

06-18-1999 west Alice Springs from Anzac Hill

Looking to the west, from Anzac Hill, over the light industrial area.

Then my plans were hijacked, when John saw where the light industrial area was and decided to drive around exploring that. Doesn’t everyone? He spied an auction house, so had to go look at what goodies they might have on offer. He really enjoys auctions, and needs to be watched closely!

There were all sorts of offerings that might have tempted him – had we not been living in a small caravan! But amongst the very diverse items were windcheaters and T shirts from the Desert Park, bundled in assorted sizes. I was not sure whether these were discontinued lines, or whether the place had changed its name. We decided to come to the auction, being held tomorrow, and bid on some of these, as they would make good presents for the family.

For someone setting up house in Alice Springs, this place would be a great source of necessities. It appears as if it is more economic for people leaving town to sell their goods, rather than have them transported elsewhere.

After a couple of hours at the auction house, it was too late to do much except go back to camp.

Tea was sausages, potato and salad.

John phoned S and had a long talk.


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1999 Travels June 20

SUNDAY 20 JUNE     ALICE SPRINGS

This was another morning of just pottering about. A somewhat late start, then we sat outside in the sun, reading.

Lunch was early again, because we both went to bowls at the Memorial Club, for the afternoon. We were in different teams. The afternoon was reasonably pleasant. My bowling was adequate, for once. The people were friendly. I was given, as a new visitor to the club, a badge pin.

Tea was cold roast chicken, potato and salad.


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1999 Travels June 18

FRIDAY 18 JUNE     ALICE SPRINGS

The day was sunny and warm, after a rather chilly night. I remember learning, in high school geography, about the large diurnal range – hot days and cold nights – in the arid inland of Australia. They were not wrong!

John phoned the bank to check about the house insurance. They assured him all was well, just slow processing of paperwork at their end.

Finalized paperwork arising from our mail, related to shares. Had to set up the printer to do so – always a pain in the small space of the van.

Drove to the town centre, posted the mail, did some banking.

Wandered the shops. There are a number of galleries selling aboriginal art works and artefacts. Not all of the latter are genuine products – nor made in Australia! We browsed in a couple of the better-seeming galleries. There was some really attractive aboriginal art, especially a luminous blue dot “Milky Way” series, in one gallery. It was very hard to resist, but I did.

At an excellent gemstone shop, I purchased a small carved stone frog, for $20. That will keep my plaster one company on the shelf above the bed, along with the flawed sapphire.

At a bookstore, John bought a book on using Word Perfect and a little one for me on using Windows. I am such a novice – think it will be really helpful.

Checked out the cinemas – John is always keen to visit these. Did not see anything of note.

We did the grocery shopping.

Oven fried fish from a packet, and fries, for tea.

Cold night again.


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1999 Travels June 19

SATURDAY 19 JUNE     ALICE SPRINGS

Another pleasant day.

Although this caravan park is a busy one, it is not all that noisy in the mornings and we are able to sleep in.

I went and bought the paper and we read that.

After an early lunch, John played bowls at the Memorial Club.

I read. Went for a walk around the park, which is a large one. It has a backdrop of the range that bisects Alice Springs. Originally, the settlement was on the northern side, and the major part of town still is, but there has been some spread to the south. The Todd River passes through the range at Heavitree Gap, as do the Stuart Highway and the railway line.

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The range, seen from the caravan park

Roasted a chicken and vegetables for tea.

John was able to watch football on TV in the evening.


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1999 Travels June 18

FRIDAY 18 JUNE     ALICE SPRINGS

The day was sunny and warm, after a rather chilly night. I remember learning, in high school geography, about the large diurnal range – hot days and cold nights – in the arid inland of Australia. They were not wrong!

John phoned the bank to check about the house insurance. They assured him all was well, just slow processing of paperwork at their end.

Finalized paperwork arising from our mail, related to shares. Had to set up the printer to do so – always a pain in the small space of the van.

Drove to the town centre, posted the mail, did some banking.

Wandered the shops. There are a number of galleries selling aboriginal art works and artefacts. Not all of the latter are genuine products – nor made in Australia! We browsed in a couple of the better-seeming galleries. There was some really attractive aboriginal art, especially a luminous blue dot “Milky Way” series, in one gallery. It was very hard to resist, but I did.

At an excellent gemstone shop, I purchased a small carved stone frog, for $20. That will keep my plaster one company on the shelf above the bed, along with the flawed sapphire.

At a bookstore, John bought a book on using Word Perfect and a little one for me on using Windows. I am such a novice – think it will be really helpful.

Checked out the cinemas – John is always keen to visit these. Did not see anything of note.

We did the grocery shopping.

Oven fried fish from a packet, and fries, for tea.

Cold night again.


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1999 Travels June 17

THURSDAY 17 JUNE     ALICE SPRINGS

This was my dad’s birthday – he would have been 89. Had he not died a couple of years ago, he’d have enjoyed hearing and reading about our travels.

After breakfast, drove into town. John found the Memorial Bowls Club and arranged to play this afternoon – a “fix” at last!

We went to the Information Centre and found the staff there very helpful. I collected quite a lot of reading matter and we spent some time looking at displays in the Centre.

Next stop was the Library, where I found I could borrow paperbacks for free. Wonderful. I would have to pay a $10 surety on each hardback book borrowed, though. That’s alright – I have no issues when I will get the money back. So I did a book stock up.

Then it was the Woolworths supermarket for a few food items. I found a film processor and put in four rolls of film to be done. We collected the mail from the Post Office.

Back to the van for a quick lunch and then John was off to bowls. I sorted the bag of mail. There was a letter from my brother and nephew, a card from John’s sister H, a card from friends C and H, travelling in India, written whilst on a train between Madras and Delhi. There was no other personal stuff. I received a Coles Myer discount card, now being a share holder.

Checked the bank statement received – am concerned that no deduction for the house insurance appears on it – surely that is still not a problem? John must check that out, tomorrow.

John came back saying he had not played well at bowls. Out of practice, I guess.

I made veggie soup and we had some for tea, folowed by chow mein and rice, and fruche, as a change from yoghurt.

John tried to phone S a couple of times today – left a message for her at work, and then there was no answer at home at night. I phoned K to let him know where we were and that we had received the mail.

John watched World Cup cricket on TV – no problems with TV here, although the stations are different; there is a local one, Imparja, that seems to replace Channel 9, with some elements of 10 as well. He stayed up till the cricket finished, in the early hours.

I went to bed early, with a book. It is so, so very good to have books to read again!


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1999 Travels June 16

WEDNESDAY 16 JUNE   KINGS CANYON TO ALICE SPRINGS   342kms

It was another beautiful sunny day with a cloudless blue sky.

We got away quite well, at 9.30am.

The Mereenie Loop Road was varied going, but always interesting scenery. There were some corrugated sections, some areas of road works. In places, surface runoff in storms has cut into the road and made channels and sections where only one vehicle can squeeze through. This damage does not look all that recent.

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Gives a new meaning to “beware – soft edges”! Mereenie Loop Road

 

We stopped at a lookout point back over the George Gill Range.

Encountered a couple of different and amusing road “signs”, each end of quite a sharp bend: Lift um foot………..Puttum back down! Painted on old drums. Guess some of the locals had come to grief on that corner, over time.

06-16-1999 02 meereenie loop sign

Means there is a sharp corner coming up – slow down!

06-16-1999 03 meereenie loop more sign

Beyond the corner. Can speed up. Some punishing corrugations though.

We saw a drilling/bore crew setting up, not far from the road, and from that assumed that the Mereenie oil/gas field is producing. There were also pipeline markers as we got further along.

There was not much traffic on this road. We just took it steadily and carefully, but were passed by a Disco, towing a camper trailer, at speed. He threw up stones over our front.

Came upon a broken down rig – vehicle and trailer – with a couple and two young children. A bracket under the trailer had broken, affecting the axle and wheel. He was not in the NRMA – not that there is any easy way of summoning roadside assistance out here! John helped the guy chain the axle into place, using some chain we had, and we followed them as they drove slowly towards Hermannsburg.

Some time after the road swung back to the east, we could see, coming closer, the hills that mark the Gosse Bluff. This is an old impact crater – probably from a comet that hit the earth a very long time ago, and exploded. Back then, the hills that form the rim of the resulting crater, were very much higher, but erosion over time has worn them well down. But the feature still stands out, very strongly.

06-16-1999 05 gosse bluff

Gosse Bluff from the Mereenie Loop Road

The road deteriorated markedly after the junction with the Gosse Bluff road.

Just before Hermannsburg, we came around a bend – and there was the Disco and camper trailer, all flipped over with wheels in the air and the roof torn off the camper. Two men were getting things out of the interiors. One was the driver, the other was presumably someone from Hermannsburg. The accident had obviously happened a while ago, because it had been a while since he had passed us, and we’d had the other stop since then.

We stopped to see if help was needed. The driver said he was a doctor and his wife had been taken into see a doctor at Hermannsburg, with sore ribs. He seemed remarkably unshocked. It all looked a hell of a mess. He said that he had gotten into the soft sand on the shoulder of the road, lost control, snaked all over the road, hit the bank and flipped, finishing up facing back the way he’d come. He said he’d only been doing about 5kms an hour at the time – no way! Given the speed at which he’d passed us – and, likewise the young couple we were following, who said he’d been doing at least 80kmh – we found that extremely hard to believe. He also said it was a new rig, and he’d left Adelaide the day before. All the hallmarks of a traveller in far too much of a hurry and driving far too fast for these conditions.

06-16-1999 06 oops

Oops! How quickly it can happen

The driver said they were going to try to pull the vehicle back over onto its wheels – like he thought it might still be driveable!

We passed police coming out of Hermannsburg, but no sign of any tow or help equipment.

In at the Hermannsburg settlement, the young couple found they would be able to get welding done to fix their trailer, so we left them there and continued on our way to Alice Springs. Going in along the Larapinta Drive – which became a sealed road about 40kms after Hermannsburg – was really pretty, with the West MacDonnell Ranges looming.

06-16-1999 larapinta rd.jpg

Better road and West MacDonnell Ranges

After an eventful trip, we reached there at 4pm. Booked into the MacDonnell Ranges Caravan Park, at a cost of $113 a week, after Big 4 discount, for three weeks. John thinks we will need that long here, to explore thoroughly – and play bowls. I’d have been more inclined to book in for two weeks. We have been here before – briefly – and on that visit explored out to the east, as far as Trephina Gorge.

We were given a nice big site, with shade trees, looking out towards the ranges to the east. This caravan park is south of the town, through the Heavitree Gap that cuts through the range. We stayed here for a couple of nights on our LSL trip and liked its quiet and security, being out of the town, plus it is modern and very clean.

Just on dark, we drove into town, only a couple of kms away, to buy wine – which we have been out of for a while now – and to get a pizza for tea. Took this back to the van to eat, and it was very nice too.

John’s “good” hip is very sore today, after yesterday’s walk, and he took some Surgam today, to try to ease it.

06-16-1999 kc to alice.JPG


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1999 Travels June 12

SATURDAY 12 JUNE     KINGS CANYON

Rain began during the night and it continued raining steadily through the morning. This made it a day for vegetating around camp. It was cool as well as wet.

I knitted and listened to the radio. Bought some more postcards and wrote some.

John made Chelsea buns.

At least, with the gravel surface on this site, there is no mud problem – unlike at Yulara.

Later in the afternoon, the rain cleared away and the sun came out.

Tea was potato soup, chelsea buns, baked potatoes with a tuna filling.


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1999 Travels June 15

TUESDAY 15 JUNE     KINGS CANYON

Another sunny, superb day.

We decided to tackle this end of the Ernest Giles Track. John was feeling up to it. For once, we managed to get a reasonably early start.

Drove to the Kings Canyon carpark. The first part of the walk is up the “down” part of the Canyon Rim walk track, for about a km. Then our track branched off to the right.

06-15-1999 01 from tk up view across to Giles Tk.jpg

That is where we are going – taken from the Rim Track

The track went through absolutely brilliant dome terrain, for about 3kms. This was even better than the similar country encountered on the Canyon Rim walk. The domes just seemed to go on and on. The track wound around between them. In places, it went along little ledges, with quite a drop below.

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The track can be seen, winding through the domes

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The track was clearly marked

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Erosion into the side of a dome

The red sandstone of the domes was broken up by little ravines in which ghost gums and shrubbery grew, providing green contrast.

06-15-1999 05 domes on giles tk.jpg

Little ravines provide shelter and moisture for trees and shrubs

I could have spent all day in this dome section – and used up a ton of film!

We emerged out onto a flatter section of the plateau, into shrub and spinifex country.

Walked as far as the 6.5km point. We had intended to have lunch at Penny Springs, shown on the rather vague track guide we had. But somehow missed these. Decided they must be lower down and off the main track. We certainly did not see any sign – or a viable side track.

Instead, we lunched at a high point near Reedy Bluff, where we could see out over the plains, and also behind us to more range country. That looks pretty interesting, too. I can believe the Resort staff who told us they have been shown places “out the back” that are even better than Kings Canyon! Hmmm – maybe this would be a more interesting place to work than Yulara? But, being much smaller, there would not be as many job openings – or the mod cons of Yulara.

06-15-1999 08 Kings Canyon Resort from edge of range.jpg

The outlook from the track onto the plains. The Resort is in the centre of photo

06-15-1999 09 watarrka lo and rim tks

Outlook from Watarrka Lookout, showing the canton entrances

06-15-1999 10 the domes beyond Kings Canyon

From Watarrka Lookout showing the domes and the country beyond

This top country was open and a bit hot from the high afternoon sun.

We came across some unusual small rock features – other than domes! The sediments that eventually formed these sandstones were originally deposited under inland lakes. In one place we found the solidified remnants of what looked like the leavings of some aquatic snail or crab.

06-15-1999 11 Giles Tk interesting rock.jpg

Unusual and suggestive rock

In another place, erosion had created an ultra small scale version of domes.

06-15-1999 14 Giles Tk rock patterns.jpg

Tiny domes. The grass clump gives an idea of scale

John’s hip was hurting by the time we stopped for lunch. He’d had a scheme for walking on to the Lilla Spur and following that down, then going back to the car park on tracks that paralleled the main road. But I felt this would be too far – I calculated somewhere around 16+kms, whereas we had walked almost 7kms to where we were. John agreed – reluctantly – to retrace our steps, though he toyed with the idea of trying to go straight down the escarpment from Reedy Bluff. I would not agree to that – really prefer not to do mountain goat if I can help it.

I really enjoyed the walk back through the domes – the afternoon light was superb.

06-15-1999 13 Giles Tk ghost gums.jpg

Back in the domes section of the Giles Track

Part-way down the main Rim Track to the car park, we met a lady resting on her way up. She was a professional photographer (Bette Devine) going up to the top to get sunset shots. We told her about the domes we’d been through today. After some chat, it was discovered that she had taught at a suburban primary school with John, years ago. They had not gotten on too well then! She has a camper van and travels on her own, taking photos. What an interesting life style! I would have liked to talk photography with her, but John talked school stuff with her, and then it was time to move on.

06-15-1999 15 corner Giles and Rim tracks.jpg

The corner of the Rim Track and the Giles Track

We walked about 14kms today – and it was excellent.

At the Resort, refuelled Truck – $1 a litre. Ouch.

Tea was rissoles and mashed potato.

We packed up as much as we could.

I am so glad that we made the effort to come this way – has been a wonderful place to experience, and one that I will long remember.


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1999 Travels June 14

MONDAY 14 JUNE     KINGS CANYON

Today was another beautiful, sunny day.

06-12-1999 camp kings canyon.jpg

Our scenic camp site at Kings Canyon Resort

John’s hip was rather sore after the uneven ground walking of the past couple of days.

We did not want to just spend the day around the camp ground, so took a packed lunch and drove to the Kings Canyon car park. It was our intention to walk the King Creek valley track again, much more slowly than on our first afternoon here, looking at plants and birds and just generally enjoying the place.

06-14-1999 01 holly grevillea.jpg

Holly Grevillea

We sat in the creek bed, not far from the end of the track, away from the track and the crowds, and ate lunch. John had a nap after lunch, while I sat and spotted birds. Didn’t manage to identify any new ones but saw a number of ones first seen in other places.

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John napping in the creek bed

Then we spent some more time by the track, unfortunately often being annoyed by the hordes from the touring coaches – some of them make such silly, dumb comments. I am afraid that I could not bear to travel in such groups.

John made a rather ambiguous statement to me, about some birds being more attractive than others. He was taken to task by a lady who overheard him! Possibly it served him right! But we were wearing binoculars and carrying a bird identification book at the time.

Then he got into a bit more bother, trying to be friendly and chat to another lady walking on the track, about the fact that she was limping. I think he thought that here might be a fellow hip replacement case. But she had an artificial leg. Whoops. After that, he stopped trying to be sociable.

06-14-1999 02 canyon rim from valley

The Canyon rim from the end of the Kings Creek walk track

Drove back to the Resort and, at Reception, obtained our permit to drive the Mereenie Loop Road. This unsealed road loops around the western end of the ranges here, then turns east, eventually leading, via Hermannsberg, to Alice Springs. We’d debated whether to go that way, or take the Ernest Giles Road east to the Stuart Highway. They are a similar distance – about 330kms. There is only 99kms of unsealed road on the Ernest Giles Road, as opposed to about 230 on the Loop Road – but the latter seemed potentially much more scenic. It is designated as a 4WD road.

Because the Mereenie Loop Road transits aboriginal lands, the permit is needed to travel it. The rules forbid camping, or stopping anywhere along the aboriginal land section, apart from at a couple of specified lookout/rest points. It cost $2 and we received an accompanying information booklet.

The staff people at Reception said they’d had to deal with several vehicle emergencies, recently, especially on the Ernest Giles Road – rollovers and the like. They commented that so many travellers do not seem to know how to drive safely on unsealed roads, and travel too fast.

The power had been off during the day. It is generated here. There were signs up around the place saying no EFTPOS, no TV, no radio. We think the satellite dish that brings these services must be not working. There were no telephones, either.

Tea was veggie soup that I made in the late afternoon, lamb backstrap – marinated in oil, lemon juice, garlic and dried oregano, then pan fried; potato and peas.

Just after we finished washing up from dinner, the power went out again. We were alright, because we have 12v lights that work from the battery, but plenty of other campers were scrambling about in the dark. It came back on after about 90 minutes.