WEDNESDAY 23 MAY ARKARINGA TO KULGERA 340kms.
We were getting pretty good at efficient morning starts, without pressure, after a few in a row.
Continued west on a reasonable gravel road. The Driver – and I – were ever so glad that there was no need to cross the Arkaringa Creek again. But my Road Guide and map did show a number of watercourses to be crossed , so we hoped they were just little, minor ones.
The first part of today’s driving was brilliant for scenery. The mesa like formations of the Painted Desert were replicated in a range that stretched along to the north of our route, and in isolated other formations.
There were regular creek lines with mulga and low trees along them, and lots of wide vistas.
Despite our concerns, there were no more wet and boggy creeks.
We passed the Copper Hills Homestead. This was a small, private, conservation area, excised from Evelyn Downs Station’s normal activities. A camp area had been established there, that I’d read about, back in the late 90’s, at what was reputed to be an especially beautiful area. I had wanted to camp there when we were passing nearby on the highway, a couple of times, but on both occasions John was in a hurry to get south. Now the camp ground was no more, so the opportunity was past. Apparently the place had been bought by a professional person from Adelaide as a private retreat.
Our track emerged onto the Stuart Highway just south of Cadney Park Roadhouse. A sealed road again!
We stopped briefly at the Roadhouse. I phoned and booked us into the Mc Donnell Ranges Caravan Park in Alice Springs, for a week from tomorrow. At this time of year, thought it advisable to book, especially as we had a preference for sites close together. It was a longer time than I would have chosen to spend there, this trip, as we had spent considerable time there before, but John had visions of playing lots of bowls!
Stopped again at the next roadhouse up the Highway – Marla – to refuel. $1.62cpl. It was ridiculous that the fuel cost here – with all the volume it must do – was more expensive than that at William Creek!
Since Cadney Park we’d had the “new” Ghan Railway off to our left, often not far from the road. North of Marla we crossed it on an elevated section of road, not to be seen again until the outskirts of Alice Springs.
We had decided, last night, that we’d try to offset a little of what the week in Alice would cost, by free camping tonight. I thought that the area at Agnes Creek, about 100kms north of Marla, read in my camps book as though it was pleasant, but John was not quite ready to stop then. So, after a slightly tedious run up the highway to the SA/NT border, we checked out the roadside stop there.
The large area was sealed, and there were composting toilets. There wasn’t much in the way of shade, but it was getting late in the day anyway. It would have been much nicer back at Agnes Creek, I thought. However, it would do for the night. We parked up, put out the table and chairs, and considered ourselves set up – at a prudent distance from the toilets!
I was pleased when another van pulled in and set up for the night, and then another one after that. There was some security in numbers, with a main highway so close.
The couple who came in not long after us had a fire container made from a sawn off gas bottle. Great idea this. The ring stand on the base of the gas bottle meant it could sit on the sealed surface, and have a fire going without doing any damage, or leaving any trace. I wouldn’t mind one of those!
They invited us over, after tea, and we sat round their “campfire”, talking. It was all very pleasant.
The place was not as noisy from traffic through the night, as I had feared.
The night was very cold.