Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chilly Melbourne

After my flight I arrived back in Melbourne safe and sound. I know its heading into winter in Melbourne but its amazing how in the same country the weather can be so different in one city to the other. When I left Darwin it was around 30c and fairly humid then I arrived in Melbourne to around 18c and rain, in fact it hasn't stopped raining since I got back. My past 24 hours have been spent revelling in the joy and love of being with my daughter Rachel and two of my glorious grandchildren Clare and Mikayla. This morning Clare and I spent some time at the pool, it's amazing how much she has grown in the past month, she  is so sweet and gentle with little Mikayla.  At four weeks old Mikayla is she is so good and such a little sweetie. So until tomorrow I say good night to everyone and sweet dreams.

Breakfast time for Clare


Darwin to Melbourne

Wednesday 29 May 2013
Today I awoke at 5.30am to make sure I had time for a relaxing shower before heading to the airport  for my 7.15am flight to Melbourne. I am so looking forward to seeing Rachel and Clare and finally meeting my new little granddaughter Mikayla, although it could be a bit strange not being with Shane after being with him 24/7 for the past 28 days. All was going well sitting at the airport, I even caught up with a friend Kylie whom I worked with at the Tasmanian Travel Centre. Boarding was called and it was not long before I was all tucked up in my seat. Well we sat and sat and sat, with not a sound from anyone as to why we were sitting - please Mr Jetstar pilot - tell us why we are aren't moving!!! Finally a voice came voice the intercom, apparently a man who was supposed to be travelling had some medical condition but his medical papers to travel were not in order. After along while of the appropriate people trying to fix the paperwork problem it was to no avail and the passengers luggage had to be found in the hold and removed. Finally after some more delay there was another announcement that the cabin doors were about to be closed - but I was not confident with our departure until we were actually taxiing down that runway. Finally after about a 45min wait the plane started moving away from the terminal, with a combined round of applause from the passengers. At last we were on our way to Melbourne. So now I sit here 2 hours into my 3 plus hour flight looking down on the barren Australian landscape I have just finished the past month driving along. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Darwin Part 1

Our 1st day in Darwin was nice and lazy, it is so nice to know we don't have to do or drive anywhere. So we hung around the camp for a while then drive into the CBD and wandered around. We went into a bar - Darwin Hotel - just to cool off and have a beer and when I went to the loo I saw something I have never seen before. On the wall and for $1 you could use a hair straightener. At first I wondered why? It wasn't obvious to me seeing I have dead straight hair, but I figure for when the humidity makes your hair go frizzy you can just straighten it. Still think its a bit weird. Then we had a look in the mall and had lunch. We drove down to the beach, so nice to see water and walk in lush green grass. While Shane was making sure I didn't go walk in the water due to the crocodiles that may be lurking !!!! But right now I am very excited as early tomorrow morning I am flying home to Melbourne for a few days to meet my brand new granddaughter Mikayla. So for the next couple of days I may just be uploading photos of Mikayla and Clare. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pine Creek to Darwin

Yeeeeaaaahhhh! We made it - from the bottom of mainland Australia to the top of mainland Australia. We arrived in Darwin at about 2.00pm this afternoon and set our little home up for the next two weeks. Not that I mind setting up and taking down the camper I am glad we will be based in one place for a while. It was about 31c when we arrived and the humidity has hit like a ton of bricks, we just aren't used to it. Would you believe I haven't even taken any photos here yet! But along the way we did stop off at Adelaide River for some lunch and in the pub was yet another strange sight. I must say Australia does has some strange things on display. This time it was Charlie the Buffalo - dead and stuffed of course, but very big. He is pretty famous as he was the buffalo in the movie Crocodile Dundee.
Charlie the Buffalo - Fact File
Born : 1970 Northern Territory
Died : 24 April 2000 
Given Name : Nick
Stage Name : Charlie
Horn Width : 2.25 metres
Weight : 1000 kilograms
Movies : Crocodile Dundee 1&2
Co-Star - Paul Hogan
Resides at : Adelaide River Inn, Northern Territory

Daly Waters to Mataranka

I can't believe just how high we are in Australia now. It's only 422kms to Darwin, when it was 3,752kms when we left home. But as I am trying to train myself I don't have one destination on this adventure, every night is my destination for that day.  Mataranka was our destination for today, but we don't really intend on doing much as we will be coming back this way after Darwin and probably spend a few days. Mataranka is situated on the Roper River and is well known for their Hot Mineral Springs. That's why we are coming back after Darwin. But when we arrived we were pleasantly surprised to find out this weekend they were having their Never Never Festival and tonight there was a Rodeo. Now I've never been to a Rodeo so we had to go. Well it was one of the funniest night I have had in a long time. It was only a small Rodeo and I think some of the horses weren't told they had to buck and they had a hard time getting the bulls to get out of the ring after they have had their turn in the limelight. But I did enjoy the entertainment. Up this area driving along the highway you see thousands of termite mounds, but Mataranka is known for having more than it's far share.

Termite mounds

Mataranka Hot Mineral Springs


Mataranka to Pine Creek

Another day of driving but at least it's a pretty short day. We stopped in Katherine to do some shopping and have lunch. This is another location we are coming back after Darwin so not need to check it out today. Then it was onto Pine Creek. This is another town that was born out of the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north. In 1871 workers digging holes for the telegraph line found gold in the soil, triggering another Australian gold rush. But as most gold rush towns when the gold runs out the towns gets pretty small pretty quickly. We are staying at the Lazy Lizard caravan park. It's quite nice here and starting to look a bit more tropical with palms and green grass. This town also has an interesting tavern. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing but the tree we are camped next to has bats (flying foxes) in it !!!
Lazy Lizard Tavern - Pine Creek

This old piano has seen better days!

Renner Springs to Daly Waters

Today our journey takes us to a place called Daly Waters and we are staying at the historic Daly Waters Pub campground. Daly Waters is famous for having Northern Territories oldest pub and Australia's 1st International airport, used during World War 2 as a backup to Darwin. although nowadays it is just a runway. I have read and seen on telly a lot about this pub, so I was really looking forward to staying Here. By the amount of caravans, campers, motorhomes, tents trailers etc. everyone else had Daly Waters Pub on their bucket list too. The pub was originally a supply point for drovers. These days it is a place not to be missed. Every surface is covered in things like car number plates, different currency - both coins and paper, historical items, old farm equipment, even bras and undies. There was so much to take photos of I didn't know which way to turn. They also put on great meals, with their speciality being Beef n' Barra (Steak and Barramundi). There is also entertainment every night with  the night finishing with Chilli (Dave Chilcott) singing, telly jokes and reading some of his Bush Poetry. All in all it was a wonderful night in the bush.
Bras everywhere!!

Number plates from all over the world!!

Great dinner, entertainment and company in the bush

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Karlu Karlu to Renner Springs

Today was another day of getting from "a - b". But first I had the absolute joy of getting up before dawn and watching an amazing sunrise. The sunrise itself was amazing but the spectacular colours on the Devils Marbles was nothing short of breath taking.

Just as we were about to do the final check on the packing up of Myrtle a dingo wandered over and just sat himself down. We had heard a dingo howling during the night so I am thinking it was this guy. He wasn't scared at all, I think he probably has got used to some tourist leaving scraps of food on the ground. As these are wild animals it is really unwise to feed them. 
He looked fairly old and you could see a few scars where he had been in a fights.
 His visit just topped off an absolutely wonderful 12 hours. 

Our overnight stop was at a roadhouse in Renner Springs. Let me say it wasn't the best location we have stayed in, in fact it was defiantly the worst. You could see the roadhouse had a lot to offer it just wasn't loved enough. But in true Northern Territory there was another magnificent sunset. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Alice Springs to Karlu Karlu

Yeeeeaaahh!!! I'm finally in a location that has internet reception, so I have a few days to catch up on.
Once again we were off nice and early, leaving Alice Springs around 9.30am. We had decided to head for and spend the night at Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) Conservation Reserve. But there were a few locations I had read about that I wanted to stop at along the way.
First was the location where we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn.

Next it was onto a small town called Aileron which is home to the striking giant figure of the ‘Anmatjere Man’. Erected in December 2005, at 17 metre tall and weighing 8 tonne, he strikes an impressive figure as he overlooks Aileron and the surrounding region. After 3 long years by himself, ‘Anmatjere Man’ finally has a family. Also created by the same sculptor Mark Egan, ‘Anmatjere Man’ has been joined by a wife and child, being erected in December 2008. Unlike the original piece which took Mark Egan a year to create, ‘Anmatjere Woman and Child’ took only four months.

Next stop was for petrol at a little township called Wycliffe Well, which claim to fame is supposedly being the UFO Capital of Australia. I found it a bit tacky, but each to their own!!

Then we reached our final stop for the day and that was at Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles). Well I really can't put into words how amazing this camping spot is. As it is a national park and not a caravan park the cost was only $3.30 per person per night. We camped right in the middle of the marbles, the sight out of our camper window was amazing. Once again Northern Territory (NT) put on a superb sunset.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rainy Day in Alice Springs

When we woke this morning we could see some dark clouds on the horizon and our neighbours said they saw on the Elders weather site that Yulara (Ukuru) had just had 45ml and it was heading our way. So we knew we wouldn't be getting up to to much outdoorsy stuff. But we got to lunchtime and the rain still hadn't arrived so we decided to go for a drive out to the West MacDonnell National Park. I really wanted to do a walk to Standley Chasm, but the girl in the Information Centre said it was a 2.5hr return walk and I wasn't sure how I would go. Wouldn't you know when we arrived at the cafe at Standley Chasm so did the rain, but the great thing was the info centre girl was wrong and it was only a 40min return walk. I really wanted to do it but the rain was putting me off a bit. After sitting for about 10mins I decided I didn't care if I got wet I was going to do my walk. I am so glad I did, the rain was only drips on most of the walk and the magnificence of Standley Chasm was breathtaking. While standing in the Chasm all alone I really felt the spirituality of the area. It was a pretty flat walk but there were lots of rocks that were slippery and a bit shaky - but once again I did it.
Once again I am so proud of myself.
Might I add by the time I got back to the car I was absolutely drenched but happy!!
Walking Into Standley Chasm

The small pond at the end of the Chasm

Standley Chasm - such a spiritual place to stand alone in

Monday, May 20, 2013

Erldunda to Alice Springs

Yesterday was only a shortish drive of about 200km but for some reason after arriving, setting up and doing some food shopping in Alice Springs I was so tired I couldn't even be bothered turning my computer on. The caravan park we are staying in is very nice but really crowded. It's nice staying in the out of the way sites where there aren't people surrounding you. Although I must say my neighbours are very friendly. Today was pretty laid back. We had to get a few things for the van and just had a look around town. Alice Springs is nothing I had imagined, for some reason I thought being in Central Australia it would be very flat red dirt. But it is actually situated in the Mac Donnell Ranges, with two imposing rocky hills greeting you as you enter the city. It is also situated on the Todd river, funny thing is the river is usually dry. Its pretty wide so I am thinking in the wet season it would get pretty full. It was funny yesterday when we first saw the dry river, there were a few locals sitting down by the river enjoying themselves. I thought of us sitting by the Yarra in Melbourne enjoying the water views. Not quite the same without water!!
Back at the camp the lady in the caravan beside us had some craft items she had made out for sale, so seeing I had bought along some of the jewellery I've made I thought I would put it out. I didn't expect to sell anything but at least it got me doing what I intended. But low and behold within half an hour I had sold one of my bracelets. I was pretty chuffed I must say.

The rocky hills are quite imposing at the entry to Alice Springs

Todd River

Standing in the middle of the Todd River!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yulara to Erldunda

Tonight we lay our heads in a place called Erldunda which is situated at the junction of the Stuart Highway (road between Adelaide in the south and Darwin in the north). Erldunda claims to be in the centre of the centre of Australia. Apparently it is difficult to determine 100% where the actual centre of Australia is. There have been several studies the determine it but each one has come up with a different location. But Erldunda is in the centre of the locations determined. The caravan park we are staying at is called Desert Oaks Motel and Caravan Park. It was established in 1979. It has grown from a one pump petrol station to a resort now with motel, backpackers, caravan park, tavern, take away and supplies shop, tennis court and pool all covering 20 acres. But it us in the middle if nowhere, just surrounded by Central Australia red dirt.
Desert Oaks - Erldunda

It would have been nice if it was hot enough to go for a dip

OK where is the centre of Australia???

Friday, May 17, 2013

Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Our day started very early with a drive out to Uluru to watch the sunrise.
The clouds came over a bit but it was still pretty good.

Then after breakfast and a bit of a rest we headed off on the 45min drive to Kata Tjuta (formerly known as The Olgas). Kata Tjuta means Many Heads and that is exactly what it looks like from the distance. But when you get up close the rocks are unbelievably high and very imposing. I wanted to attempt one of the walks, but wasn't sure if I would be able to. I decided to try the Walpa Gorge walk that was rated a Grade 3 - moderate walk - 2.6km return. Now I am not a fit person at all and usually start a walk and give up. But I started and even though it was very rocky and uphill, I just kept saying to myself You Can Do It. After about 35mins I reached the end of the walk that was deep in the gorge. The walk back seemed to come even easier to me. By the time I got back to the car I was bursting with pride for myself. I did it and I didn't give up before the job was completed. They say the Kata Tjuta is a very sacred spiritual place. At first I thought I didn't find it spiritual but then after finishing my walk I thank this sacred place for showing me
I can do anything if I just put my mind to it.
Kata Tjuta in the distance - Sunrise

About half way up Walpa Gorge

Reflections of Walpa Gorge

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Marla to Kulgera Roadhouse to Yulara

Tonight I will give you an update for two days as we had no mobile phone or Internet coverage for the past 24 hours. It made me realize just how much I use my iPhone, iPad and Laptop. But at least it got me started on my digital scrapbooking for this trip.
Marla to Kulgera

We left Marla at about 9.00am as we only had a short drive today of about 180kms. As we were only heading for a roadhouse I wasn't to excited about out destination, but I was excited about the journey. Today we were to cross the border from South Australia to Northern Territory. I have never been to the Northern Territory (other than sitting in Darwin airport waiting for connecting flights). For some reason I get pretty excited about crossing borders and even going to places I have never been before. I didn't have to wait for long in our journey to cross the border.

Then it was onto Kulgera Roadhouse. By the end of the evening I was so glad we stayed here. The little pub had happy hour between 6pm and 7pm and it had the best atmosphere. Then Kulgera put on this amazing sunset for me. As I didn't have any Internet or phone it turned out to be a very early night to bed - 9.30pm!!


 Kulgera Roadhouse to Yulara

Today's journey was about 319km so we headed off about 7.30am. It wasn't difficult to wake up early due to early night last night. Today we head into Central Australia where Uluru is situated. After setting up Myrtle - we are getting pretty proficient at it now - we had a little look around, bought some supplies from the supermarket and chilled for a couple of hours in preparation for heading out and watch the sunset at Uluru. This is the first time I have ever seen Uluru, for some reason it had never been on the top of my list to see. Well was I wrong, this rock is bloody amazing. The changing colours were pretty cool and I don't think any photo can capture just how amazing it is.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Coober Pedy to Marla

Today's journey was really a day just to get from A to B. There certainly wasn't much to see along the drive. But what there was to see we stopped at. The mounds of dirt from the Opal Mines went on for quite a while after leaving Coober Pedy, a lot further afield than I had imagined.
Next stop was for a driver change at Pootnouri Rest Area. Nothing just a lot of open space and a lot of rubbish either people had left behind or had blown out of the bins.
Our next stop was at Cadney Station for a bite to eat. We both had Egg and Bacon Toasted Sandwiches and I must say they were the best I have ever had. Our next stop was our destination for the night Marla. This stop was developed as a truck stop and grown from that. It is really only one building but it is actually quite a nice caravan park, clean toilets and showers, Pool, Restaurant and Pub, small supermarket and a little shop that sells Aboriginal paintings and artefacts.  But I think I got most excited about seeing nice green grass again. Didn't realise I had missed it!!
Also for my readers I took a photo of a map of Australia and highlighted in bright pink our journey so far.  I will show this map every now and then. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Day Tripping around Coober Pedy

Today was a day to check out what Coober Pedy has to offer. Everyone I have ever spoken to that has been here have told me "don't go there is nothing there". But as I have said before I have always wanted to come to Coober Pedy and see the nothing for myself. Well I have and I think there is quite a lot to see. As I mentioned in yesterdays post a lot of the houses, businesses etc. are underground to shelter from the scorching summer heat. So tonight I will share a couple of those underground attractions.
Located in a beautiful desert garden, is Faye's famous Underground Home. The original one room home housed the first mail truck driver over sixty years ago. It was converted by Faye Nayler and two other women, using only picks and shovels, into a kitchen and bedroom. Later five other rooms were added including a wine cellar and a swimming pool. Here we are standing in front of the Jasper stone fireplace and bar area. You can see the carve out hallway behind us.
Faye is still around but now in her 80's she is writing books and living in Brisbane.

While at Faye's Historic Underground House I made friends with Matilda.
Inside the Serbian Underground was absolutely amazing. Note how the roof has been carved out.

The door to ......?? This doorway was just in the side of a hill, no sign, no handle just a door to ...??