This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels June 8


Before doing anything else this morning, I sent an email to A and T, to send mail to Kununurra. Also sent emails off to son and daughter in law.

Today’s was a very routine pack up and move, straight north up the Stuart Highway – “The Track” in local parlance.

There were heaps of caravans heading north. The grey nomads well and truly on the move. Not many of them had stayed in the same caravan park as us though. It really had not been very busy at all. We seemed to spend all morning passing vans that were slower than our little rig.

I was a bit distracted by the passing scenery, but not enough to keep from feeling anxious about son.

We reached Dunmarra , which was just the Roadhouse, camping ground and associated buildings, about 3pm.  Refuelled – $1.58cpl.

Took a powered site in the rather pleasant little campground – $17.50 for the night. There was ample shade, and the amenities were adequate.

Pleasant overnight stop at Dunmarra Roadhouse

Only needed the basic, quick overnight unpack, being able to keep van hitched up.

Then sat around in the shade which made for very pleasant relaxing, watching the groups of apostle  birds that gathered around us. The antics of these very sociable birds were always entertaining – we had encountered them before.

The birds……..
Apostle birds

Went for a stroll around the establishment, which did not take long, but gave the illusion of a little exercise.

A couple of really creepy looking characters came into an area of the roadhouse surrounds, that we could see from where we were sitting in camp. They were in an old sedan, with no plates or registration sticker. We noticed that they parked the vehicle off to one side, out of sight of the highway, before going into the roadhouse. They came out after a while, and drove away. I was pleased they were not staying.

We spent some time discussing tomorrow’s move. Essentially, everywhere west of the Stuart Highway, through as far as Broome, would be new ground for M, whereas we had visited those parts three times to date. It was not a part of the country we tired of, and there were still plenty of places we still had not gotten to.

We would take the unsealed Buchanan Highway to the NW. The issue was whether to continue through on that, to the main Victoria Highway, a route that John and I had taken before. It passed through the large Victoria River Downs station and then the Jasper Gorge. I wanted to take the Buntine Highway north from Top Springs, in order to visit the eastern section of Gregory National Park, which would be new for me and which had some walks to do.  For once, I won!

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2007 Travels June 1


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.