This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels June 2

SATURDAY 2 JUNE   DEVILS MARBLES TO OLD POLICE WATERHOLE   175kms

I was up just after dawn. It was a chilly early morning.

The previous night’s full moon was just going down over the Marbles.

I wandered around, again, taking early morning photos of the sunrise over the rocks. M appeared not long after I went out. John slept in.

Early morning Devils Marbles

We got away from there at 9.15, by which time most of the other overnight campers had departed. We were not famed for early starts – something M just had to put up with!

The turnoff we sought was not far north of the Marbles. It was the dirt road east to Kurundi and Epenarra stations. From near Epenarra, we took the Binns Tracks south for 34kms, and then the track into Old Police Waterhole campground, in the Davenport Ranges National Park.

The road quality over the 160kms (about), was variable. At the start, it was “channelled” into multiple deep ruts by wet weather drivers – tricky driving with the van in tow – but after that, improved. The section south from Epenarra was sandy in parts, and it was rocky for the last 9 kms.

Location of Davenport Ranges National Park, showing our access route via Kurundi

It was a very pretty drive, especially from the highway to the Kurundi area. After that, it was open and flat, for a while.

It was into the afternoon when we arrived at the campground. The low ranges around the Waterhole were not visible until the last few kms.

First impression was that it was worth the effort we’d made to get here.

There was a long waterhole, with lots of grass and shade trees in the camping area, which spread out along one side of the pool. There were about eight fire pits/BBQ ‘s scattered through the camp area, and a couple of the Central Australian style ventilated pit toilets too.

With no other campers present we had the choice of camping sites and  set up at a distance from where the track in entered the camp area. There were not really any attractive sites beyond where we were. There was a toilet not too far away, with a track going up a small hill to it. There was a fixed low table and a fireplace.

Camp at Old Police Waterhole

Another couple arrived a while after us, and set up a good distance away, but that was it for the day. Magic solitude!

There was a whistling kite’s nest across the waterhole, with a baby in it. We could hear the kites “talking” to each other in a way that was reminiscent of when we camped by the Cooper Creek at Innamincka.

There were corellas and white-plumed honeyeaters galore – and huge spiders in hanging webs!

M came in here last year, on her way south from Darwin, and camped a couple of nights. She said it was bare and dry then, with much less water in the waterhole.

Old Police Waterhole, by our camp

Now, the holly grevilleas were blossoming, also some wattle species, and the spinifex was blooming. On the way in, we’d seen some bloodwood trees in flower.

This area  is, biologically, the divide between Central and Northern Australia, so there is much diversity.

John and I had not been here before, though it had been on the “one day” list for ages.

Now, seeing it, we decided to stay an extra three nights – four in all. Park fees cost us $6.60 a night – $3.30 each.

After setting up camp for an extended time, we just sat around, admiring the outlook over the waterhole, and enjoying the general peacefulness of the place.

We cooked dinner on the BBQ plate provided on the fireplace.

Not his best angle!

It was great to be able to sit round a campfire again. The night was pretty cool though! It was so quiet, with just the bush noises from the occasional night bird, insects and frogs. It is getting increasingly hard to find these really peaceful, solitary,  places.


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2007 Travels June 1

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!

Marker at the highest point on the Stuart Highway

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.

Tropic of Capricorn 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!

Devils Marbles camp area – best to get here early in the day!

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?

Was this 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.

Probably one of those photos everyone takes!

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.