This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2004 Travels September 14

TUESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER  PORT AUGUSTA TO MILDURA   590kms

We refuelled on the way out of town, at the servos by the long causeway that the trucks use. $1.11 cpl. Then got fuel again at Parina, later in the day – $1.07 cpl.

It was yet another long, uncomfortable driving day. All covering routes we had done before and which were quite familiar.

Turned a little south of Port Augusta, and headed up through Horrocks Pass to Wilmington, then Orroroo, Peterborough, Burra, Morgan, Renmark, Mildura.

We stopped at Morgan to eat lunch. This little town beside the Murray River had a very good park area by the punt crossing of the river. We had to turn right to go into town to this park, but it was worth the little back track we had to do to get back on the way to Renmark. We had previously stayed at the caravan park that was across the road from the park.

In Mildura, went into the Desert City Caravan Park – Top Tourist. $18.90 for the night, after discount.

We unhitched Truck and went and bought pizzas for tea.

John decided that he still wants to go to Canberra to see his daughter and grandson. More long days in Truck! I was contemplating a slow few days travelling beside the Murray, as far as Echuca or Corowa, then home. Damn!

In occasional phone calls, he had mentioned that we might end the trip by visiting them. Now he phoned and confirmed our intentions.

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2004 Travels September 13

MONDAY 13 SEPTEMBER     PORT AUGUSTA

John worked on the van brakes, with encouragement from our van neighbour, who hailed from WA.

Whilst the rig was laid up, I decided to wash our bedding and towels. It was a good drying day for these.

The brake problem apparently lay in the fact that John hammered the magnet into place on its arm, at Yulara, thus ensuring it could not move as it was supposed to do. I was not sure what he was thinking when he did that! Anyway, he seemed to have now fixed the problem.

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Hooked up to test the brakes – Port Augusta

I appreciated having the day when I could walk around the caravan park, as well as just stretch out and relax. I love Truck and it had been an excellent vehicle for our purposes, but passenger comfort was not its greatest attribute.


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2004 Travels September 12

SUNDAY 12 SEPTEMBER   COOBER PEDY TO PORT AUGUSTA   540kms

Refuelled at Coober Pedy before leaving – $1.25cpl, and again at Glendambo Roadhouse – $1.33cpl.

It was another uncomfortably long day in Truck, with my legs becoming painful again.

John realized that the van brakes were not working, despite his best efforts at fitting them in Yulara. Fortunately, the highway was pretty level and there were no big towns to go through. But it added a degree of tension to the driving.

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Attractive display information boards by the highway

We had lunch at the roadside stop at the picturesque Lake Hart, one of many salt lakes, large and small, that occur in a great swathe across this area. This would be an attractive place to bush camp, overnight – or longer.

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Lake Hart

Went into the Port Augusta Big 4 Caravan Park – a place we’d stayed on several previous occasions. $21.60 a night, after discount.

John decided we would stay an extra night here, so he could work on the brakes tomorrow.

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2004 Travels September 11

SATURDAY 11 SEPTEMBER   YULARA TO COOBER PEDY   750kms

We left Yulara at 8.30am. At least John did not insist on a really early start!

Today’s was a long drive, not improved by being all over roads that we’d travelled before, more than once.

Refuelled at Erldunda – $1.29cpl – and Marla Roadhouse – $1.38cpl.

In keeping with his usual attitude, John was determined to push on and make Coober Pedy. I had wanted to take two days to do that distance – not because of wanting to sight see, but because I get so uncomfortable just sitting, over so many hours. Even doing an hour or so of driving, periodically, did not help, but just changed the location of the cramping bits!

Ideally, I should be stopping every hour to walk around for 10 minutes or so, to boost the leg circulation, but that did not happen.

My legs were really painful by the time we reached Coober Pedy, just at dusk.

Travelling like that was just not enjoyable.

We went into the Stuart Range Caravan Park, on the edge of town. It was $20 for the night. The site was gravel, as one would expect, here. We were able to stay hitched up.

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Drive-through site at Coober Pedy

We had stayed in Coober Pedy on a couple of previous occasions, so felt absolutely no need to go exploring at all.

I made a quick pasta meal. Had a lovely, much appreciated shower in the very good amenity block. Fell into bed.

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2004 Travels September 10

FRIDAY 10 SEPTEMBER     YULARA

John spent the day fitting the new magnets to the caravan brakes.

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Inside the caravan wheel – lot of red dust in there…….

He had to phone Hardings a few times to check the different bits, and how they went together. They were very helpful and it all got done. The wheel spun freely with the brakes off. It slowed when the brakes were applied – we had to pull Truck up close to the van front, to get close enough to hook up the electricals to do this.

John took Truck to the servo and refuelled – $1.28cpl.

We packed up the awning and the outside stuff.

There were ten nights before we needed to be home.

At least, the Yulara stay had been a good break from days of driving. I had a feeling they were about to start again!

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2004 Travels September 9

THURSDAY 9 SEPTEMBER     YULARA

In the morning, while John was having computer time, I walked to the main part of the village.

I browsed in the Gallery at Sails in the Desert – the up market accommodation section of the resort. They had an interesting collection of art works.

I sought out information about employment at Yulara. Having spoken with a couple of the check out operators at the supermarket. I knew that there were grey nomads temporarily employed here. I found it an interesting possible option for a future year – there would be a lot worse places to spend some months.

After lunch, it was back to the PO. The brake parts had finally arrived! The parcel had not been sent Express at all – no wonder it took so long.

As we were leaving the car park, had a little collision with another 4WD. It was one of those situations where neither driver was more to blame. We were both reversing to our lefts, out of nose-in parking bays on opposite sides of the access road. Both seemed to have blind spots at the left rear. The result was a little meeting of the two vehicles. No damage to us – the back was rather protected by the spare wheel carrier and the protruding tow hitch. There was a dent in the other vehicle though!

It was too late to try to work on the van today. I extended our stay yet another day. Luckily, at this time of year they could be a bit flexible.

We had been alternately amazed and annoyed with a neighbour behind us, who came in a couple of days ago, with a camper trailer. We couldn’t work out whether he was trying to maximize his space on the rather small site, or merely miscalculated his trailer position. Either way, he pitched the canvas part of the camper over and around the big fire hose and stand that was between the two sites and at the back of our van. Had there been a fire, ready access to the hose would have been difficult.

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Site behind us at Yulara

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Too bad about access to the fire hydrant!

He really could have pitched much further forward on his site, or to the side, and avoided the fire hose box. As it was, he was certainly close enough to get the full sound from our TV at night – hope he appreciated it! We were not retiring early, either! The sites, although not all that large, were set out so that rigs did not have to be butt up against each other, but offset. Not this guy!

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Near neighbour!

Some campers do incredibly stupid things!


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2004 Travels September 8

WEDNESDAY 8 SEPTEMBER     YULARA

Today we went off to do the Valley of the Winds walk, at the Olgas.

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Sign near the turn off to Docker River and the Great Central Road

This circuit walk was 7.4kms long, and relatively easy going, apart from near the start, where there is a little climb up to the second lookout point.

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Walking track from the car park

It was still a magic walk, even though this was the third time we’d done it. The trick was to start out too late for the early tour groups and keen walkers, but before the middle of the day groups arrived.

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It is a walk of contrasts.

One starts out from the car park usually with a cluster of other people. The going is open, the path wide and smooth.

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A more narrow section of path

Past the first lookout of the domes, some of the numbers drop off. The way narrows as it rises to the second lookout, which is in a cleft between two tall domes, with a view down the valley thus created, to more domes.

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The way continues down then, to the central valley, from where the path meanders around some domes and eventually rejoins the car park path.

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We were mostly alone after the second lookout and it was lovely to stroll along, admiring the outlook, without having lots of others around. I remain really surprised at how many people do not do the full walk here. Ditto the really easy walk around the base of Ayers Rock.

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Nonetheless, neither of these are walks one should contemplate undertaking in the summer months. The heat reflected off red soil and rock would be too intense for safety.

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We found a spot in the central valley where we could sit and eat lunch and just soak in the beauty and peacefulness around us.

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As with so much of the central deserts, this year, there was plenty of vegetation and wildflowers growing.

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The contrasts of spinifex, shrubs and wild flowers

A pair of budgerigars were keeping guard over their nesting hollow.

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We took our time. I dawdled, taking photos. So the walk took us the best part of five hours. We had all day to fill in.

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Looking to the west – Great Central Road country

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Back at Yulara, checked the PO – no parcel.

Obviously, we were not going to be travelling on Friday, so I went to the office and extended our stay by a day.

Then we just relaxed for the rest of the day. Doing a lovely long walk makes me feel quite virtuous!

I was pleased we were here long enough to do the Olgas walk, but all the same it was frustrating that our remaining time was being frittered away like this.

Over the course of this year’s trip, I had gradually been learning how to use the new digital camera. More importantly, learning to trust it to record what I saw and the effects I wanted to get. Now I was definitely a convert to digital! It was wonderful to be able to walk at a place like the Olgas and be able to take as many photos  as I wanted, without having to justify and debate with myself about whether a potential image was worth committing to the limited – and expensive – film. Very liberating.

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