FRIDAY 1 JUNE ALICE SPRINGS TO DEVILS MARBLES 405kms
So now it is officially winter. That seems such an artificial designation in parts north.
It felt so good to be leaving town, and heading bush again. John didn’t get anywhere near the amount of bowls he’d intended – certainly not enough to justify the time spent here.
Today, it was straight north on the Stuart Highway.
An initial slight climb for some 20kms, brought us to the highest point on the Stuart Highway – about 792m above sea level. Downhill all the way north now ………. with a few slight local variations!
Crossed the Tropic of Capricorn a bit further north of Alice Springs. This landmark is easy to overlook here, because it is part of a rest area.
Back in the tropics again! That really makes me happy.
The 400kms drive north was varied enough to maintain interest. Often, there were low ranges or lines of hills in the distance. There tended not to be too many dead straight sections, either. So the route was not a boring one, despite having driven it before.
We found that Wauchope had the best fuel price, by a long way, in that stretch north of Alice. $1.65cpl. Had previously fuelled up at Barrow Creek – $1.74cpl. We needed to keep the tank topped up as much as possible because of tomorrow’s planned deviation.
I was conscious of this Barrow Creek roadhouse having attained notoriety by being the place that British backpacker Joanne Lees was taken to when rescued after the possible murder of her boyfriend in 2001. That all remained somewhat of a mystery, despite a man having been convicted and jailed.
A little further north we would pass the spot where this event occurred, but of course there was no marker to show where it was.
Arrived at the camping area at the Devils Marbles just after 3pm. It was already quite crowded, but we were able to slot in together to a camp spot, albeit much closer to the very smelly long drop toilet, than we would have liked!
The fees for tonight’s stay were $6.60.
Campers were confined by barriers to the designated area -which was sensible in an area like this. Otherwise, like ants, they would have over run the whole place.
By about 4pm, the later arrivals were cruising the camp area, destined not only to miss out on any halfway decent spot for the night, but any spot at all! This was not a place at which to arrive later in the day.
There were some low tables as well as the rather unpleasant toilets.
After the usual basic set up for an overnight stay, we went walking, spending a couple of hours wandering around and between the Marbles rock formations.
Gravelled paths wound through the spinifex.
There were some small gum trees and shrubbery growing, in places. Some of the shrubs had fruit on them which, us being woefully deficient in identifying much of the native flora, we could only guess was a native plum?
The Devils Marbles were originally formed as molten granite intrusions up through weaknesses like cracks, into overlying sandstone, where the granite cooled. Over time, the sandstone has eroded away, leaving the blobs of granite as the feature we see today.
The granite formations were fascinating- many varied shapes and configurations, and balancing rocks – all of them begging to be photographed!
There were some interesting contrasts, too, with the red rocks and the vegetation growing around them.
The rock formations were spread out over a fair sized area – it took a while to follow the paths that wind all through the spread.
There was a smaller section of Marbles across the other side of the access road. It did not seem that quite so many of the visitors bothered to walk that far, but we did, and were rewarded by the sight of some interesting split rocks.
There were a couple of small rock pools on sections of the flatter, sheet like rock that occurred in parts.
The aboriginal story explaining this feature is that an ancient Dreamtime ancestor walked through here, making a hair-string belt as he went. He dropped clumps of the material along the way and these became the rock shapes. To be truthful, what came to my irreverent mind was an ancient enormous wombat-like mythical creature, wandering about, leaving his droppings to become stones!
The sunset was brilliant.
Received a text message from son – from Darwin! Obviously, he was on business with the Darwin branch of the motorhome company he worked for.
Then the full moon rose in the east.