This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

1999 Travels July 7

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We were up at 7.45 and away at 9.45. Not bad, as John had a lot of stuff around our camp and still to pack into Truck. Plus, we dawdled a bit over breakfast. I ended up doing quite a bit of the outside pack up, to help speed things along. It does not usually take very long to pack the inside – most loose things from surfaces go on the bed, and I now have a system for where everything goes. The electric jug and dishwashing items go in the sink, with the cutting board. Then I put the securing screw in the bottom corner of the fridge, drop the poptop and that is my work done!

We were trying unsuccessfully, to contact our real estate agent, yesterday and today, regarding the new tenant for the unit, but not long after leaving Alice Springs, we were out of mobile range.

It is good to be on the move again.

Some 30kms north of Alice Springs, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. Again! Is it my imagination, or does it seem hotter today, already?

07-07-1999 tropic of capricorn

Truck with its nose at the Tropic of Capricorn

It was an interesting drive to the north on the highway – always hills and ranges somewhere to look at. Once we turned east, onto the Plenty Highway, there were ranges ahead and on our right. The road was sealed, all the way to Gemtree, although the Plenty Highway section  was mostly just a single width strip of bitumen.

Just after we crossed the shallow dip/floodway that is the usually dry Gillen Creek, was the entrance to Gemtree campground. The entrance roadway wound around, past a large dam, with water, and then on to the office and reception building. It was a more substantial place than I’d been expecting, not nearly as rustic or rundown.

Gemtree’s weekly rate is $107 for our powered site – not cheap, but it seems a pleasant place. The managers are very jovial. They told us they have allocated us one of their best sites – number 33. We booked onto their zircon fossicking trip, for tomorrow, and that cost another $40.

Found that our site was in between two clumps of mulga, so there was some sideways shade. All the campground is red earth – no water to promote grass. out here.  It is very attractive, though, with clumps of mulga about the place and quite a bit of shade, and interesting outlooks to surrounding ranges.

We have our own tap that we can connect to, for washing water and the like. Because we have the dual tap set up at our sink, we can still pump water from our van tanks for drinking. The power comes from their generator, which does not run from 10.30pm till 7am; we will still have lights from our battery then, though. There is no site on one side of us, and the one on the other side is a fair distance from us – so all very nice. We have a fire pit and BBQ plate, shared with a few other sites, in a sort of circle, on the far side of a couple of mulga trees. They supply firewood, which we can gather from a large central heap. I guess that stops campers from denuding their trees.

When I went to explore the ablutions, found them adequate, somewhat rustic and very clean. There is a wood fuelled “donkey” hot water service, which means rather variable temperature hot water. They encourage campers to keep an eye on this, in passing, and to stick in a piece of wood if the fire seems too low.

07-17-1999 donkey.jpg

The Donkey – hot water heater. The stack of mulga logs beside it shows the typically dark centre of this timber.

Set up camp, had late lunch, then set out to do the camp’s Nature Walk, which is a couple of kms long. It took in an area behind the campground and along Gillen Creek and was interesting. Trees were identified. Saw the holes and mounds made by the mulga ants at the entrance to their nest, which we had not seen before; they thatch them on the outside to make them more erosion proof. I picked up some blue coloured parrot feathers to add to the feather collection that seems to be happening.

07-13-1999 mulga ants.jpg

Mulga ant nest

It was almost dark by the time we got back from our walk.

John lit a fire in our pit for heating water – to save our gas and because the thought of a campfire on the chilly nights was a pleasant one.

Tea was soup, cold roast chicken and vegetables.

After tea sat round the fire, looking at the myriad of really bright stars. It was not too cold.

07-07-1999 to gemtree

The route to Gemtree, which is in the rugged Harts Ranges

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