This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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1999 Travels August 30

MONDAY 30 AUGUST   ALICE SPRINGS TO MARLA   484kms

Our pack up and departure was all routine and without incident, and we left at 9.20am. John had hoped to be earlier, because of a long drive ahead, but we probably didn’t get up early enough.

Detoured to the COR Refinery and got fuel – 76cpl.

Today’s drive was south on the Stuart Highway, which of course, we have driven a couple of times before. The country and the landmarks were familiar.

We stopped for a coffee break at a roadside stop, and again at Erldunda where we bought cold drinks.

The only unusual happening to break the routine of the drive south, was seeing a long freight train on the track parallel to the highway, not long before we reached Marla. We travelled in tandem for a while.

I drove some of the way. This was the first time I’d towed the van on a sealed road, and thus at a greater speed than on dirt roads. It felt fine, but I do not drive as fast as John.

We reached Marla about 3pm. Our powered site at the Travellers Rest there cost $19. I guess they have rather a captive clientele, as it is a long way to the next place – either way. Our site had lawn beside it, which was pleasant, and rather unexpected, out here. We were able to stay hitched up as it was a pull through site.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and chatting with other travellers. The place became quite busy as the afternoon wore on.

Tea was soup, and macaroni cheese from a packet.

The night was noticeably warmer than we’d had in Central Australia.

08-30-1999 alice to marla


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1999 Travels May 29

SATURDAY 29 MAY   OODNADATTA TO MARLA   221kms

We got away early today. We will be pleased to leave.

Refuelled at the Pink Roadhouse – 90cpl. That is reasonable for such an isolated place. The driving conditions along the Track seem to be really eating up our fuel. We have gone from getting 8 or 9 kms per litre, to about 6kms, along here.

05-29-1999 as it says.jpg

We did not stop to look any further around the town, or go and look at the waterholes on the Neales River, near here, which may also have been a better place to stay.

About 17kms north of Oodnadatta, the road divides. The Old Ghan Track, proper, continues north, as the railway did,

This section of the track was much rougher than previous ones. There were a lot more corrugations. There was little to stop for, apart from a coffee break. I found the country interesting though, its vastness, the occasional low hills or creek lines, and the like.

We reached Marla at lunch time.

Booked into the Travellers Rest – sort of a caravan park that was part of the roadhouse. We were charged $18 for a powered site a night – but it is clean, has reasonable facilities, including drinkable water, and there is toilet paper! We paid for two nights because John has a plan for tomorrow.

Upon opening the van, I discovered that the door had come off the fridge and was lying on the floor, along with spilled capers, yoghurt and soymilk, that had been in the door shelf  – all mixed in with a thin layer of red dirt. The motor was running constantly, but the freezer had not defrosted, for which I was most thankful. The swivel attachment that the door opens and closes on, had given way – there must have been a lot of vibration from the corrugated road sections.

With some difficulty, John managed to remove some tight screws, and took the offending part off the door and to the roadhouse workshop. They welded it back together. John was most relieved that this could be done. He reassembled the door.

I had quite a lengthy cleaning up job to do. The spilt milk had seeped into cupboards, at floor level. Fortunately, soy milk will not smell as bad as ordinary milk would have, in time! The floor rugs would  have to be washed.

It is disappointing that the fridge did not hold together better; it is designed to be a marine fridge and I guess rough seas are not as severe as corrugated roads. Now that we were focussed on the fridge, it was obvious that the door was held on only three corners – the top and bottom hinge pins on one side and the top corner where the door fastener is, on the other. The lower corner on that side could flex and try to open when it was rough. John worked out how we could fasten that corner too, quite easily. There was already a little protruding bar, for use by the hinge if the opening side of the door was changed, so it had a pre-drilled hole in. John drilled a corresponding hole up into the bottom of the door, found a small bolt in his collection of oddments, and a small nut. It was a little fiddly, but the bolt screwed up through the hinge hole and the nut and into the door. The nut prevented the bolt unscrewing and the door was held firmly. We hoped this would prevent any future such accidents. Putting the bolt fastener into the door became part of the departure routine and with practice I was able to do it quickly and easily.

We walked over to the hotel part of the road house complex and bought a six pack of beer from the bar and some grocery items from the store section. The beer cost $12!

Sat outside the van and watched other campers arriving. This caravan section got really busy, later in the day. It does not have separately marked out sites – people choose where to set up – so it became rather Rafferty’s rules in the drive through sections, with people blocking others in.

Tea was the last of the curried soup, then salad, with hard boiled eggs for John and cheese for me. Our perennial staple of yoghurt for dessert.

05-29-1999 to marla