This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


2004 Travels September 9


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 7


A rest day today.

John spent much of the day on the computer. I read, sewed, and went for a walk around the village again.

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Our Yulara site

When we checked at the PO, there was no parcel. John was quite annoyed that it still had not arrived. He phoned and checked and was reassured that it had been sent, as promised, on Friday.

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Uluru. The climb track passes just to the right of the large hole.

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2004 Travels September 5


Refuelled Truck – $1.28cpl.

We went to look at the camel ride establishment, south of the main settlement. We did not want to ride, but I just wanted to look at the camels!

We saw a group of riders being loaded onto some of the camels, and then setting out for their ride. Ships of the desert – appropriate.

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They were gorgeous, I thought. Gentle, meditative. They looked at peace with the world. I knew they could be unpleasant beasts at times, but these did not look as if they had any nasty in them. I loved them. They looked pretty well cared for, by the mostly backpacker staff.

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Could there be food in that ute? Or did his best friend go out with the riders?

Back at camp, John retreated to his computer games. I went for a walk around some of the village, looking at the staff housing area.

I was enjoying being able to wander around the shops here. Not that there were that many, but the eclectic assortments of items to tempt tourists made for fascinating browsing.

John was enjoying having TV and unlimited computer use.

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2004 Travels September 4


After a late and leisurely breakfast, I walked to the retail centre.

Yulara was set out in a sort-of circle, with the various buildings and facilities arranged around the perimeter of a large, central,  low sand dune. There were walking tracks across this, so the trip to the shops was a very pleasant one.

The crest of the low dune was a viewing place, over the settlement and to Ayers Rock in the distance.

I put my photos in for processing, then walked around the shops, browsing, until it was time to go back and collect them. Bought the Weekend Australian and the Age. They were costly, having been air freighted in, but it was worth it to have a Victorian paper again. There was lots of reading for the money.

Bought some postcards to send to family and a couple of friends.

After lunch, we drove to Ayers Rock.

At the entrance station, negotiated with the lady there, to allow our Entry Pass, which normally lasts three days, to be able to be used for a longer period, should we need it.


We walked around the base of the Rock – some 9kms. Walked in a clockwise direction.

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We had done the walk before, but it was not something we were tired of. It was lovely flat walking, with an ever changing outlook, birds flitting about and always something new to catch the attention.

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Part way around was a bush shelter with a couple of interesting and “different” seats inside, constructed from local timbers and utilizing the natural curves of the wood. They were really quite beautiful.

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The shelter was the typical bush one – roofed with dried spinifex held together by netting wire.

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Most images one sees of Ayers Rock are – necessarily – from a distance, to capture it all. They tend to give the impression of a smooth and homogenous entity. But close up, the Rock’s surface is eroded and broken in places, forming some really interesting shapes and patterns.

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There are places where large chunks of rock have slipped and fallen down.

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There are places where water has eroded channels and little potholes.

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The red hops bushes were in flower, on clumps of bushes in amongst the dry grass. Very pretty.

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It was a really wonderful way to fill in the afternoon. I really appreciated the exercise, after all the travel sitting.

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Late in the afternoon, there was all the flurry  in the campground, of visitors heading out to view the sunset on Ayers Rock, then coming back from that. We had done the sunset thing before, so were not tempted to join them.




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2004 Travels September 3


After breakfast, John pulled the van brake apart. He had been correct that the problem was in the magnet assembly. He phoned Hardings and arranged for them to send new magnets, and associated parts, up here – by Australia Post.

I thought he should have first investigated the possibility of some sort of courier delivery service – Australia Post could be so slow with parcels. But he hadn’t asked my opinion, so too late. I had a strong feeling that the two days we had booked in here for, were not going to be enough!

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One wrecked brake magnet unit…..

I went to the office to extend our stay, and was able to retrospectively negotiate a free night, if we booked and paid for a week in total. That was a slight financial respite!

John drove out and collected the repaired tyre – as we’d thought, a screw.

We just lazed around the van for the rest of the day.

Bought fish and chips for tea – what a luxury!

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2004 Travels September 2


The alarm went off at 6.45am. I got up and turned it off and went back to bed – my system was sure it was 5.15am! We then got up at 8 and were driving again by 9.20.

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John was not interested in visiting the nearby Giles Meteorological Station.

The road was rather corrugated, as far as Docker River.

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Abandoned car – this one was not incinerated, though!

This was an amazingly scenic stage. The road passes between the Schwerin Mural Crescent – a range to the north – and the Petermann Ranges to the south east.

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It was just wonderful country.

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It was a pity that there were not more open access and camping facilities out there. It would have been an awesome place to stop for a few days.

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A landmark about an hour out of Warakurna was Len Beadell’s tree. He was a multi-skilled man who led the surveying and road building party that blazed tracks through these western deserts in the 1950’s and 60’s. The original Gunbarrel road was one of his – required as part of the weapons testing that took place at Maralinga and then Woomera. He marked his routes with metal plaques on trees.

This section of the Great Central Road does follow the route of the original Gunbarrel – hence the tree with its plaque.

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A Len Beadell tree – and corrugations!

We came upon a wrecked caravan, by the road, on a slight rise. It looked like it had been a conventional van, rather than an off road one. Clearly, the road had won!

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Wrecked caravan – on rise by roadside

A short time after we’d stopped to take a photo of that van, I could hear hissing. A tyre on Truck was going down. We may have picked up a screw from the debris around the broken caravan. We were able to change it before it went fully flat, and that made the process, with the heavy wheel, easier.

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Wheel change – by another wreck

Just after the WA/NT border was the one camping area along the Great Central Road that was not attached to a roadhouse or within a community. This one was a few kms before the Docker River Community, which ran this fairly new facility. We detoured in to have a look.

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Information booth at Docker River camp ground

The camp area was really lovely – just so scenic.

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Ranges all around the camp ground area

I would have really enjoyed a stay here for a couple of days, apart from maybe a little concern about its proximity to the community. There were camping bays in amongst desert oaks – a tree I love for the sound any breeze makes rustling through them.

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How good would camping here be?

There were ranges all around.

The camp ground had water taps, and flushing toilets! There was no one staying here. I wondered how long the community would be able to maintain the campground in functioning condition.

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We did a short walk to the top of a nearby hill, to get a great view of the surrounding country and the campground.

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People who have not travelled in Central Australia have a mental picture of aridity and barren-ness. The reality is so totally different, as beautiful places like this attest.

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Given the limited time remaining for this trip, and the fact that it was still morning, staying here was not feasible, this trip, so we continued on, after spending the best part of two hours just enjoying the place.

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Before too long, we stopped again, at Lasseter’s Cave. We had lunch there and explored around it. The cave is by the Hull River, which sometimes has water in it.

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There was a lot of controversy and uncertainty about Lasseter and his supposed lost reef in this area. Lasseter claimed to have found a reef full of gold at the western end of the McDonnell Ranges, around 1900. But his navigation and mapping skills were inadequate, and no one was able to locate it again. An expedition to try again to find the lost reef, in the early 1930’s, went badly astray, the party disintegrated and Lasseter supposedly lived in this cave for a couple of months, after his camels had bolted away. His body was found some distance away – he having died whilst trying to walk to Ayers Rock.

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No one knows for sure whether the reef ever existed. It might have been covered by shifting desert sands. I had read somewhere a theory that the area concerned was actually the Harts Ranges, way to the east from here, but I couldn’t see how even the most hopeless explorer could make an error of that magnitude!

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We continued on. John felt that the brakes on the van had ceased working. Then, about 80kms from Yulara, the van “grabbed” briefly, a couple of times. John thought that the electric brake magnet arm must have fallen apart again, as it did back in 2000.

We took it very slowly and carefully after that, over the remaining 40kms or so of badly corrugated road. It was a relief to reach the sealed Olgas road, and Yulara after that.

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The Olgas, as seen from the Great Central Road

So – that was the Great Central Road. It had been much less arid than I expected, and at the eastern end, much more scenic. (As a postscript, we never did receive the expected permit to drive it!)

We reached Yulara about 3.45pm. Went into the campground there. $31 a night for a powered site!

The Olgas and Ayers Rock really are unique in this part of the country. Each time I see them afresh, I think that there are lots of great places in this nation, but nothing quite comparable to these.

We approached the Olgas from the west today – a totally different perspective of them. They were pale purple, and looked like mystical brooding creatures sitting on the land.

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I did manage to get John to stop a couple of times, for photos!

After setting up camp, John phoned Trakmaster. They could send up a new magnet, but suggested we try locally, first. So off we went, to the repair place. They were not much use. We did put the punctured tyre in for fixing.

I quickly replenished some supplies at the supermarket.

I phoned daughter, and she found the phone number for the Hardings caravan repair place. John thought he might try phoning them about the brakes, tomorrow. Too late by now, in the eastern states.

Daughter had found part time work in Bendigo and seemed very settled in there. Grandson had a couple of days each week in child care.

I was appreciative of the clean and modern amenities here!

I also rather appreciated the fact that it looked like we would have to stay put here for a few days, until the brake was fixed. Six days of constant moving on had been too much for me. I needed some days that were not just sitting in Truck!

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1999 Travels June 1


We had a quick and efficient departure from Erldunda, then joined the regular flow of vans, campers and travelling vehicles along the road to Yulara.

The country seemed far more interesting than I remember from last time – 1993. Maybe my appreciation of the outback has grown?

We had some stops along the way. First for coffee – from the thermos I carry. Then, for a photo shoot of Mt Connor, looming brilliantly to the south. I remembered how, last time, I first thought it was Ayers Rock – a common error, I believe.

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Mt Connor

We stopped at Curtin Springs Roadhouse to top up the diesel. John was getting worried about fuel consumption, even though he thought we had a tail wind. At $1 a litre, it was very expensive, so he only put in 20 litres, being certain it would be cheaper at Yulara.

Closer to Yulara, for about the last 25kms, there were small gangs of aboriginal workers out cleaning along the roadsides. The whole area looked quite spotless.

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The first sight of Ayers Rock

The Ayers Rock Resort – the only place where one can camp – charged us $26 a night, for a powered site, which is the most we have ever paid. The seventh night is free, though not that many stay that long.

We were given a good site – maybe because we are unusual and are booked in for a week! We have been here before and believe we will have no trouble filling in a week. Our site backs onto a reservation, so we have shade from the trees there and around the site in general, and only side neighbours, who will no doubt change several times during  our stay here.

This is another place where people do not allow enough time to see what is here. But I guess it looks deceptive on the maps too, and on the brochures. One sunset view of the Rock, one quick drive out to the Rock and to look at the Olgas; it will only take a day, and one can even climb the Rock in that time, if they want. There – seen it all! There is little real appreciation of the changing moods and light there is out here. And so many travellers, even in this day and age, think Ayers Rock is close to Alice Springs, rather than about 450kms by road.

We set up, then went to look at the group  of shops that is in the heart of the Resort complex, because I couldn’t remember what was there. And I wanted to go to the Visitors Centre.

I bought maps of Watarrka (Kings Canyon) and the West McDonnell Ranges – graphically presented ones, excellent.

Got today’s Australian – fresh news! Bought food at the supermarket, mostly fresh stuff. The prices were, I thought, not too bad, given the distances involved in getting produce here. Got some cash out – we were running low, having been in so many places lately that didn’t “do” cards.

There was, obviously, heaps of souvenir stocks at the shops and many costly items, as one would expect here.  An example was $279 for a hand knitted pullover that I thought was rather poorly made. There were some nice T shirts and polo shirts, but they are a bit expensive – will have to think about those.

John put in some time repairing the back door lock on Truck, which had decided not to work. He eventually fixed it and was quite pleased with himself.

We showered while the tourist hordes were out watching the sunset! There are several coach camping groups in the campground and I did not want to be competing with them, later, for bathroom space.

Tea was vegie soup, steak with onions, fries, eggs for John and tomatoes for me.

We watched some TV – the signal is good, here.

I got tired early and went to bed. John stayed up playing his computer game until 4am! He has had a break through in the game.

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Erldunda to Yulara