Monthly Archives: July 2013

Around Alice Springs

Alice Springs

Back in Alice Springs after 3 or 4 years and happy to be staying in one place for a few days. We need to be a little more creative about what sites we go to look at as most of the usual attractions we have already checked out on 2 other visits. We really need a good walk so set off for the Old Telegraph Station and trek on a loop that takes you overland and then back along the Todd River – which is dry at the moment. On the way we see some wild life but are most amazed by the hawks/kite that are hanging out in a group of about 20. They are quite large and magnificent as they fly directly over our heads.
The next day we decide that we would go to Palm Valley the road says 4 wheel drive but the start goes smoothly despite the annoying corrugation and its only 20 ks in from the sealed road. About 5ks to go things get a little more interesting, negotiating river beds, sand, rocks and water. After checking out a particularly difficult hill and with only a kilometre to go, we decide to park the car and walk. It is amazing to see these ancient trees in this small pocket of roughly a 2 kilometre creek bed. As long as there is permanent water they will be here. As we walk back and talk to people who did make it through they all commented about just how bad the road was with no warnings – just that you would need a 4 wheel drive. As we drive out I am thinking I can’t wait until I get back to that annoying corrugation.  Anyway Shane can now tick that off his list but not sure if we will be lining up for it again soon – neither of us enjoyed being tossed about, lurching from side to side, watching the road for obstacles and expecting to bottom out at any moment so maybe it’s not for us.
Despite  being shaken, not stirred, we head out to the Out Back Didgeridoo Show. From the very first moment you are taken to a different place. First you hear rain pouring down on a tin roof then the didgeridoo sounds fill the room and then all number of percussion instruments are introduced. It is a hear,see and feel show and we watch the Todd river fill on a big screen, showing the transition from drought to flood. As wild life join you can hear the bird calls, frogs all coming through the didgeridoo and then everything slowly drifts off as the river subsides and goes dry. We hear stories of Aboriginal dreaming of how the MacDonald ranges were formed. Stories of the outback, his own story. Each time he explains the music and when the music starts extra effects kick in with laser lights and fire places. He then invites audience to participate with drums, shakers, sticks and one guy even volunteered to have a go with the didgeridoo. I hop up to have a go at the drums and its a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time. We all get started and from where I was sitting it sounded pretty good and it was heaps of fun. we were all asked to come along and have a free lesson but neither Shane or I could not do the lip vibrating thing or breathe while blowing so we are just happy to enjoy the talents of others.
We are heading off to uncharted territory next as we have not travelled north of alice springs so that is very exciting. 

a Big Learning Curve

24/7/2013 – 28/7/2013
On Thursday we stay at Wilmington – formally known as Beautiful Valley which I think is a much nicer and a very appropriate name. On the way here we we lost one our caravan mirrors when a truck went passed flipping the car mirror and towing mirror into the car window, then we watched it peel off and fly off the car. Nothing we could do and happily there are no cars behind us. We are lucky enough to have a spare. Shane had brought along his dads mirror as a spare so its kind of nice that we have a little bit of him with as we travel – he loved seeing this country. We crossed the Murray river at Morgan which did mean going on a ferry, which we had tried to avoid. It turned out fine and at least the slope on the other side is not as steep to manouver as the crossing at Cadell. Went through a town called Terowie, and, I kid you not, it was like driving through a ghost town with not one car parked in the Main Street or side streets yet it was obvious that people did live there.
Visited Woomera, a rocket launch testing area, which was once a thriving community with a population of 4,000 now down to 100. At the museum we learn that it is no longer an operational site but there is still testing going on in other places in Australia – as the curator said “they are always looking for new ways to blow somebody up.”
We check out how many kilometres to the next place that we hope to stop but get there quite early in the afternoon so we make tracks for Cooper Pedy. Without a head wind or the fact we had been on a very slight incline since leaving Port Augusta we may have made it. Unfortunately our car spluttered to a halt just 30 k’s from Cooper Pedy, completely out of petrol. Fortunately we do have a couple of containers carrying spare diesel so we put 20 litres in. The car manual tells us that you should never let your tank run dry – oh dear. It doesn’t want to start but after about the forth go it thankfully turns over and we limp into town.  Tired and very happy to set up camp and have an early night.
It nice to reach the border and we meet a very enthusiastic guy, Mathew, riding his bike from Melbourne to Darwin – more about his story in a separate blog.
The Kulgera road house is a good place to stay but is only run by one big generator. There is no mobile phone or Internet for 50 k’s either side, no tv reception either – except at the pub of course. Shane also can’t use his breathing machine because the power doesn’t have enough oomph so he enjoys a night of unfettered snoring!
In the morning he notices a nail in one of the caravan tyres and makes the decision to change it over and get it checked at Alice Springs.
These last few days have been full of ups and downs. We are learning a lot, reading manuals and talking to people who are well travelled and, thankfully, who are only too happy to give us great advice. We plan to stay in Alice a few days, relax do some site seeing and get everything right to hit the road again.