Posts for April, 2019


Business (Adelaide, South Australia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 3rd Apr, 2019 (day 36, kms 47)

We spent the nights of April 1st, 2nd, 3rd in Adelaide primariliy for the purpose of "business" (more vehicle work and completing US tax returns) rather than sight seeing. Never the less we took the opportunity to renew our aquaintence with Adelaide city/downtown and the area around the Torrens River. The Adelaide metro area has grown dramatically since our last visit over 20 years ago and is quite a sprawl. The city and Torrens area have undergone some major upgrades but has retained the charm of the city we knew.

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Burra (Hallett, South Australia)

Journal entry for Thursday 4th Apr, 2019 (day 37, kms 209)

We spent the morning navigating our way through the northern sprawl of the Adelaide metro area, passing through the township of Elizabeth (which was once a major car manufacturing center for GM when it was still building the Australian car the Holden

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Weird Signs and Other Trivia (Hawker, South Australia)

Journal entry for Friday 5th Apr, 2019 (day 38, kms 201)

The pictures in this post start with a few of the interestng signs we encountered during the day. The first of the signs is self explanatory, it just struck us as pretty typical Australian - anything with beer in it.

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Chamber Gorge (Chambers Gorge, South Australia)

Journal entry for Sunday 7th Apr, 2019 (day 40, kms 192)

Today was intended to be a bit of nostalgia, we planned on camping the night in a place named Chambers Gorge, it is an informal camping area on private property that is somewhat off the beaten track and being "informal" has no facilities at all. The nostalgia relates to the fact that we camped in this place in 1997 when on an outback trip with our then young children and we remember this place with some fondness.

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(Arkaroola, South Australia)

Journal entry for Monday 8th Apr, 2019 (day 41, kms 112)

As you can see the flies were back this morning as soon as the sun appeared; this prompted us to get moving and keep moving. The second photograph are the signs at the junction of two gravel roads; the view was the same in every direction. It is amazing even to us how empty this place can sometimes feel; in todays driving we passed 3 other vehicles and one of those was a road grader.

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Some 4LOW (Leigh Creek, South Australia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 9th Apr, 2019 (day 42, kms 191)

This morning we retraced yesterday afternoons route to the Bolla Bollana Smelter ruins and there after a series of 4wd tracks south through part of the Gammon Ranges Nation Park. Again this was a nostalga exercise reliving past adventures. It was also the first time on this journey where there was any substantial need for 4wd low range as there were some steep rock climbs and descents. The descent to the abondoned Idninha out station building was probably the most demanding.

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First flat and Aussie Icon (Marree, South Australia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 10th Apr, 2019 (day 43, kms 133)

We got going early this morning wanting to be at the Leigh Creek gas station at 8:00 (its opening time) to get the flat tire fixed. However Leigh Creek does not fix tires, I was directed 5 km up the road to Copley where the task was completed promptly. More evidence for me that Copley will eventually win out as the tourist stop on this part of the trek.

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A Technological History (Roxby Downs, South Australia)

Journal entry for Thursday 11th Apr, 2019 (day 45, kms 275)

Yesterday while planning our current little side trip I wondered about the name of the Borefield Road but this mornings drive south towards Roxby Downs answered at least part of my question. The road was lined with capped bores (spear point wells down to the artesian water table) with periodic larger structures including filling stations for water tankers.

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Lake Eyre (Haligan Bay, South Australia)

Journal entry for Friday 12th Apr, 2019 (day 46, kms 313)

We spent the morning retracing our route of yesterday along the BoreField Road and then rejoined the Odnadatta Track. Along the track we stopped at a few points of interest, either old railway sidings (with ruins of railway buildings, broken bore machinery and in one case an old cast iron water tank) or natural springs. This part of inland Australia sits on top of the Great Artisian Basin, a large underground water deposit that coverds 22% of the Australias area and is estimated to hold 15,600 cubic miles of water. Along the Oodnadatta Track this water comes to the surface in natural springs in mound formations and provided natural staging places for early settlers and the early railways.

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Cadibarrawirracanna (Coober Pedy, South Australia)

Journal entry for Saturday 13th Apr, 2019 (day 47, kms 222)

The first stop after leaving Lake Eyre this morning was the village/roadhouse of William Creek which consists of a pub, a senic flight business in a single building, a bush campground and a gas station attached to the pub. One of our guide books described it as an iconinc outback pub, it certainly is an interesting building. Seems to be mostly built from railway sleepers. Perhaps the most interesting thing about William Creek is that it is located on Anna Creek Station the largest cattle station (ranch) in the world. At 9142 sq miles it is just a little bit bigger that the country of Israel. The station was originally established by Sidney Kidman who realized that the only way to run cattle successfully in the Australian outback was to have a very low ration of cattle to land.

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Night on a cattle station (Arckaringa, South Australia)

Journal entry for Sunday 14th Apr, 2019 (day 48, kms 159)

It took us a little while to get ourselves out of Coober Pedy this morning. What with queuing up to buy fresh drinking water, buying a new gas stove, Nina's 10,000 steps and my mandatory cafe visit for a coffee we did not even get to the underground museum and mine until 10:00am. The museum was pretty good and of course depicted the story of opal discovery and the development of mining in this region. Like a lot of pioneer stories the beginning of opal mining at the Coober Pedy location is a tale of determination bordering on crazyness. After the initial discovery two men arrived at the site with 100 gallons of water on a bullock dray and stayed mining until their water ran out. To extend their water they collected all used waste water in a drum and skimmed the "clean" water off the top. When that finally ran out they had to walk 90 miles to a nearby rail head. All this in a region that is recognized as the driest part of Australia, the driest continent on earth.

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Algebuckina Bridge (Oodnadatta, South Australia)

Journal entry for Monday 15th Apr, 2019 (day 49, kms 211)

We discovered this morning that the family that manages Arckaringa are on vacation and the young man that arrived last night works for the company that owns the station (the same company owns an adjacent property). Our route this morning, as planned yesterday, took us through what is called the painted desert. An area of small mesas with multi-colored soil and rock layers from the variation of mineral content.

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Dalhousie Springs (3O'Clock Creek, South Australia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 16th Apr, 2019 (day 50, kms 190)

I have used the word "iconic" a number of times in recent posts and I am now regreting that as I want to use it again, to describe our destination for today. The place is called Dalhousie Springs and it is well known in Australia for a number of different reasons, perhaps the most common being the complex of hot thermal pools that make it a little oasis in the desert but also because it is the western entrance to the 4wd track across the Simpson Desert to Birdsville, one of the most famous outback 4wd trails. As you can see from the photo of the sign that track was now (or recently) closed due to of all things flood waters coming down from northern Australia.

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Finke and the Ghan Heritage Trail (Chambers Pillars, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Wednesday 17th Apr, 2019 (day 51, kms 339)

Today is my (Robert's) 70th birthday, but there were no birthday celebrations this morning, but instead an early start in order to have an excuse to be in the fly proof air conditioned interior of our vehicle. About 75km from last nights camp over more rough sandy/rocky tracks we came to Mt Dare Homestead which is now a hotel and restuarant/cafe as well as a station homestead. We cooled our heals at Mt Dare for a few hours having coffee, lunch and talking to the couple from Zimbabwe who were managing the place for a few weeks.

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The Alice (Alice Springs, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Thursday 18th Apr, 2019 (day 52, kms 199)

It took us until just after lunch today to retrace the Chambers Pillar track, complete the Ghan Hertiage Trail, and arrive in Alice Springs - often called The Alice by Australians. The Chambers Pillar Track had a spectacular example of a bull dust hole. This is an area on a road or track where the soil has turned to dust about the consistency of talcum powder and the powder or dust fills one or more large holes in the roadway making the hole very difficult to see. The last three photos are of our vehicle driving through that bull dust hole.

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Our stay in The Alice (Alice Springs, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Tuesday 23rd Apr, 2019 (day 57, kms 0)

As the reader may have deduced from the date on this post we spent much longer in Alice Springs than would be usual for us. The main reason for such an extended stay is that I have a shoulder/neck problem which has limited my ability to drive for the past few weeks and I needed to rest that offending body part and find a doctor with whom to discuss the issue and get some pain killers. In addition early in our Alice stay we lost one of our wallets containing a number of credit cards, cancelling those cards and arranging replacements took up over a day; and we were thankful that we were in a country and city with good communications and with English as the language. Finally we decided to indulge in the luxury of a campground cabin to assist with the resting of my recalcitrant shoulder.

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Gorges, Gaps and Chasms (Serpentine Chalet, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Wednesday 24th Apr, 2019 (day 58, kms 217)

Today we commenced the very popular tourist route of the Western MacDonnell Ranges, a route that will eventually take us to the rock, "Uluru". The MacDonnell Range is really a small remnant of a much larger mountain range that has been weathered away to its current modest size. Many of the tourist attractions on this route are gorges, cut by creeks, through the MacDonnells or adjacent ranges, and often such a gorge has an almost permanent water hole at its heart. The water remains in the narrow chasms because of the lack of direct sunlight and the much cooler environment. In a number of cases, such as Serpentine Gorge, the water is also fed by a natural spring with water either from the mountain's own rock which acts as a sponge or the Great Artesian Basin.

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Dingo sighting (Glen Helen, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Thursday 25th Apr, 2019 (day 59, kms 47)

We start todays post with a couple of photos of last nights camp. Thereafter a few photos of an aboriginal ochre mine or pit. Aboriginal people collect minerals of various colors from this river bank (and other ochre pits like this one) and use them for body paint and making art. In other parts of Central Australia such colored minerals were traded between tribes and regular trade routes existed.

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Lutherans and Palm Trees (Palm Valley, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Friday 26th Apr, 2019 (day 60, kms 153)

Today was packed full of interesting sights, but the one that stands out was Palm Velley; but that comes a little later in this post. First off was another gorge, this one called Red Bluff Gorge and as you by now can guess there was a wide dry sandy riverbed with lots of Ghost and River Gums that led to a narrow cleft in a wall of red sandstobe and in that cleft there was a waterhole. This particular waterhole had its own supply of floatation toys to entertain the children of those families that neglected to bring their own "floaties".

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A hitch hiker (Kings Canyon, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Saturday 27th Apr, 2019 (day 61, kms 207)

Today started with a photo of last nights camp. Then today was just a travel day, retrace our route over the rough gravel track to Hermannsburg, a quick picture of the house of Albert Namatjira (famous Australian Aboriginal artist) then 200+km of more rough road to Kings Canyon Resort.

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Kings Canyon Walk (Kings Creek, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Sunday 28th Apr, 2019 (day 62, kms 67)

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk starts about 10 km east of the Resort so we had to pack up for the day in order to drive to the start of the walk. The start of the walk could be a bit intimidating, with all kinds of safety warnings. For example if the days max temperature is going to be over 36°C (approx 100°F) then it is manditory to start the walk before 9:30 am (there is a gate to enforce this). Along the walk there are periodic emergency beacon stations where walkers can signal for help (like one of those personal safety satellite devices), there are periodic helicopter landing zones and large outdoor medical chests. One can only conclude that lots of people have been injured and/or rescued on this walk; or maybe the parks management are a little overly cautious.

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Tourist central (Yalara, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Monday 29th Apr, 2019 (day 63, kms 260)

Todays post starts with some images from King Creek last night and this morning. The first image is of an acient plant called a cycad, this one is female. The birds fluffing up their wings are Spinifex Pigeons, they started this behavior when one of the King Creek workmen turned on a water sprinkler. A number of these birds landed in the area being watered and essentially started taking a shower in the spray. There is an interesting story associated with the donkey pictured in image 6. When the camel in image 5 was young it was abandoned by its mother and the donkey took over nursing the then small baby camel. Now the two are inseparable. The images of the tents are examples of the range of accomodation that was available at King Creek.

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Mixed fortunes (Curtin Springs, Northern Territory)

Journal entry for Tuesday 30th Apr, 2019 (day 64, kms 149)

As planned the three of us arrived at the Sunrise Viewing Area at 6:50 (20 minutes to spare). The place was crawling with people, at least a couple of thousand, cameras, smart phones, and selfies everywhere. To everyones disappointment there was cloud in the east at sunrise so while the sun on the cloud was spectacular the morning rays did not illuminate and color the face of Uluru.

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