We had to leave Alice Springs but we all agreed that it had been a great 4 days there. We visited the Devils Marbles and continued North to Tennant Creek on another hot central Australian Summer's day.
Tennant Creek was friendly as we met some other guests at the motel and had a few drinks and a chat about Summer in the centre.
On from Tennant Creek we had a great day moving in to the Tropics, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn and having an awesome pub lunch at Daly Waters.
There are photos etc but technology got the beer of me yesterday so the photo page has my latest updates.
We arrived in Darwin and are staying with old neighbours from Canberra. They have the best DHA house I have ever seen with a great pool and all the mod-cons. Great hosts also so our Darwin visit has been very relaxing.
tomorrow we fly to Singapore and we all agree that we have a real feeling that the trip proper will start from there.
Leaving the Olgas behind we found a redder looking rock to view on our way back through and then headed for Erldunda and the Stuart Highway again. Once heading North we detoured to the Hendbury Meteorite craters, 4,000 year old craters formed by a meteorite (as the name suggests) that broke up on entering the Earth's atmosphere. Whilst the meteorite broke into bits no larger than a 44 gallon drum, at 40,oookm / hr they made a fair impact and it was worth the 30km detour to see them.
We crossed a very swollen Finke Rv and arrived in Alice Springs early afternoon. As with Coober Pedy there is a bit of a culture shock when arriving in a central Australian town. However unlike Coober Pedy, I think I could really enjoy living in the Alice. For Julia and I it seems to contain the lifestyle and characters that we experienced in PNG over 10 years ago when living in Lae.
After being fortunate enough to see it raining on the Rock, we got up early to see the Sun rise over the desert. This was a little less spectacular as there was some cloud cover again and ultimately the viewing areas at Yulara are the wrong side of the rock to see any effects of morning light on it. However it wasn't raining so our chances of seeing a red rock later in the day were good!
We drove out towards Kata Tjuta and along the way saw a wild Dingo that was at full speed running alongside and then away from us. Molly was very excited as it is her favourite animal! We were all impressed as it was very healthy looking with a nice pale red coat and had a look of excitement and joy on it's face.
Further along Molly somehow spotted a wild camel up on a sand dune so we stopped to watch it for a while. Then Julia noticed several heads poking over the dune from the far side.
We left Coober Pedy early and joined the Stuart Highway under a blanket of high cloud. Whilst the Desert is considered flat and featureless, the number of ridges, dry creek beds and eroded water courses provide plenty of entertainment for anyone interested in geography, landscapes or scenery in general.
In addition to the cloud cover, a nice almost cool breeze was blowing so stops along the way were more pleasant today and certainly the breeze was more refreshing than the coffee (powdered caterers blend - it is truly a harsh country!).
After morning tea at Cadney Homestead and lunch at Erldunda Roadhouse, the run out to Uluru (or Ayers Rock) found water at the side of the road and approaching heavy clouds. About 20 minutes from Yulara I expected we would see the top of the Rock in the distance but as the rain started we realised that we were in for a different kind of treat today. We went past Yulara, the accommodation area outside the National Park, and arrived at the National Park entrance without seeing the Rock. As we drove through (having paid our $50.00!) we noticed the clouds particularly heavy in one place and like something from Close Encounters, dropping out of the cloud was a large dark shape. Not the usual tourist picture of a bright red rock!
For the next hour we drove around, stopping every few hundred metres and snapped away at the rivers, cascades and waterfalls coming down from the rock. The amount of water that comes of the rock gives an indication of just how big it is, as the run off was pooling across the ring road and creating small ponds everywhere.
We headed back to Yulara for a very pleasant, cool night and had not yet seen The Olgas (Kata Tjuta).
Leaving Port Augusta didn't mean leaving the heat but the scenery was spectacular. The desert comes right up to Port Augusta and stretches in all directions as you head North on the Stuart Highway. Plateaus, tabletop mountains and ridges pop up a lot to break up the scenery and create a unique view.
There are numerous dry lakes and salt lakes on each side of the highway that are easily visible and also accessible. Lake Hart and Island Lake are both huge expanses of white, salt crusted flats that contrast against the reddening soil.
We were able to walk down to one salt lake that still had some water in it. The water was crystal clear, quite literally, as the white salt gave it a brilliant clean backdrop.
Arriving at Coober Pedy is an experience and I was reminded of my last visit almost 20 years ago. The town is very much a mining town and exists in one of the dryest parts of Australia. There is minimal vegetation and dust and dirt are the main features. Piles of whiter soil and rock dug up from the mines litter the landscape and demonstrate just how much Opal mining is conducted in the immediate area of the town.
Due to the heat and lack of facilities when the town was first settled, the practice of living under ground is quite common. There are 44 different nationalities known to be living in the town of around 3,500 people and from our observations many of them are colourful characters.
Today we left the River Murray and headed through the Southern Flinders Ranges. Beautiful countryside, mostly pastures with no shortage of Vineyards throughout the areas we crossed through.
The highlight for me was to take the "Ladies" to Burra, a small town near the start of the Southern Flinders that was once Australia's largest inland town. Born mostly through a mining works that mined Copper, the population was made up of many Cornish immigrants. Particularly relevant as Julia spent her teen years growing up in Cornwall and her family remain there. I love Australia's inland towns and given that a bluestone cottage with 4 bedrooms, air con and full refurb in towns like Burra and Morgan (on the Murray)can be bought for less than $200,000, I wonder why more people don't have holiday houses out there!
Great things to know about Burra; the movie Breaker Morant was filmed there and it is the sister town to St Ives in Cornwall (8 miles from where Julia's Mum and Dad, Brother and his family live!!).
Hi all, a particularly big HI to Molly's friends who have added some great comments! Right now Molly is writing in her paper journal - her English teacher ius VERY strict about that! More importantly though, with the change of focus on the two Blogs, Where is Molly??
Today - Port Augusta. From what I can tell on the Bureau of Meteorology website, it appears to be the hottest place on the Earth today!! 44 degrees this afternoon but it is a "dry heat" so apparently that is OK!!??
Basically yesterday was an escape from Victoria. We followed the Western Highway and crossed into South Australia near Bordertown before heading North to meet the Murray River at Loxton. Loxton was a nice river town but an hour out of town in the Mallee region it was 45 degrees so our energy levels for exploring were low and we just found a pool and stayed in it on arrival at Loxton.
Clearly the highlight yesterday was finding the Giant Koala at Dadswells Bridge. Molly knew about it and had it flagged as something she wanted to see and sure enough we stumbled upon it. As a connoisseur of Australia's "Big Things", I was hugely impressed. Photos to follow shortly!! It apparently features in Paul Hogans movie Charlie and Boots so is gaining in popularity.
Little known fact is that the Koala is correctly referred to as the Giant Koala, not the Big Koala and it just turned 21!
Molly: Hi guys, it's me, hope year 5 is treating you well!! My teachers this year are a real drag!! Mum and Dad; boring! I know you won't have that problem at Batemans Bay Public School.........!!!??!!