Leaving Sunday 24 September
Monday, August 22, 2016
We arrived at Glen Helen Station and were very glad that we had booked both a night in the restaurant and a camp site because the whole place was fully booked out. The Larpartinta Run was on, so runners and their support crews and trainers were all ensconsed in and around the homestead. On some campsites near us there were more that 5 people to a site, so it was confined living at its worst. Only Four showers and toilets for men and the same for women. There were several hundred people there. Each night there us an optional buffet dinner. The queue to this was very long and it took some time for everyone to get served. Thank goodness we has booked to eat in the restaurant with a la carte!
From Glen Helen Station, where we dined in luxury in the gold-plated restaurant we had to drive past Kintore. No travellers are allowed to camp on the Aboriginal lands between Papunya and Kintore.
A night in the bush beside the road after Kintore was really beautiful, beside a disused gravel pit.
The East MacDonnell Ranges are really beautiful and not so well travelled by people, so there's a real serenity and wildness to the area. These ranges are also home to Arltunga. Arltunga was to have been the central Australian city before Alice Springs. It was a gold mining town and had a large population. The houses were all made from local stone, predominantly so are well preserved. However the gold was too hard to extract in extremely harsh conditions and it fell into ruin very sonn after its inception. A very recent mining lease has its operations extracting gold from the tailings of old mining slag heaps in the area.
|Climbing up to the old mine site - Joker Gorge, Arltunga Reserve|
Ruby Gap Nature Park is 46 klms off the main road through Arltunga. This is where we headed to for a camp site for the night. The track was incredibly rough and we picked up a stone in the brake shoe of the front disk brakes. We were really quite concerned as it sound dreadful and could have damaged the disk. So we pulled the car off the track onto the side of the road into scrub and proceeded to take the wheel off to remove it. This proved fruitless as the stone was in the actual housing so meant taking the disk brake to pieces, which we felt incompetent of doing. So we put the wheel back on and hoped it would dislodge. The high bank from which we has to get down did just that and "bumped " the stone out much to our relief. So we continued into the Gap. It took 2 1/2 hours of driving to get in. We found a superb campsite on a green grassy bank beside the Hale River, whixh has water in it. It was so lovely that we stayed for two nights.
|View from our campsite - Ruby Gap Nature Park|
Ruby was named by someone who believed he had discovered rubies there. He took them back for analysis to find that they were worthless garnets! The amazing thing about Ruby Gap is that the sand in the river bed is red! And this is garnet sand!
We had a relatively late start from Alice Springs, were we did the last minute shopping for fresh fruit and vegatables.
There was no reason to rush, because the road from Alice to Glen Helen is a very comfortable sealed road. So we could meander into some of the gorges. The first was Standley Chasm. Recent rain around the Central desert areas ensured that all had lots of water in them.
Ellery Creek Bighole had so much water, that unlike the previous occasion we were unable to walk to the cliff edges!
|Ellery Creek Bighole|
Serpentine Gorge was much less crowded as quite a deal of walking is required to get into it. We decided that it was really worthwhile to go to the lookout. So with Peter scrambling and using a stick we reached the top. Magnificent view, but unfortunately forgot to take the camera.
The Ochre Pits were interesting, many different colours of ochres, and a sealed walking path for everyone to take. Not far to walk, so again lots of people.
Fortunately we had pre-booked our campsite and meal at the Glen Helen Homestead before we left Alice Springs because all the campsites and meals were fully booked.
The Larapinta Run was being held from Glen Helen, so there were queues for the smorgesbourg dinner of hundreds of runners and their support teams and officials. The runners etc had booked all the tented accommodation, caravan sites, homestead rooms and most of the unpowered sites as well.
The race started at 7.00am so the noise started from about 5.00am with talking doors slamming etc. On some campsites there were more than 5 people so it was high density living at its worst with only 4 toilets and 4 showers for women and same for men, but with all those huge numbers if people! Some runners found themselves late because of the queues to the bathrooms. Some runners had come totally unprepared, expecting the homstead to have breakfast laid on at 5.00am, having brought no food or provisions with them!
We decided to have a bit of luxury in Alice Spirings and spent 3 nights in the Alice In The Territory Hotel. This allowed us to do much needed laundry and stock up on provisions for the Gary Junction Road.
|Mina Mina by Dorothy Napanganda|
A surprise find was the magnificent Araluen Arts Precinct. Situated on Larapinta Drive, it has four galleries, a geological/ fossil/ indigenous animal section and a research centre. It also boast a working art studio, dedicated to Central Australian artists.
Two hours was definitely not long enough to really experience everything.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
No room at any of the caravan parks which didn't appeal anyway as they were dirty and very crowded. So found a motel room near the start of town. Most places were fully booked. We went to the Stockmen's Hall of Fame, which was expensive at $32 a head and felt that much of it was amateurish quality that you could find at any country museum. Its a fine looking building with resident artist.
The lanscape between Longreach and Winton looked like meadowland and the greenest we've ever seen it.
We thought we might stop at Middleton, halfway between Winton and Boulia, but the area around the pub was univiting and windswept so we kept going. This road took us across the top of the Channel Country at the top reaches of the Diamentina River. All the crossings had water in them and there was water lying all over the land - very wet.
Last night we stayed in the Caravan Park in Boulia besides the Burke River. The river was up to the top of its banks and there was water under the bridge!
We went to the pub for dinner - crumbed steak, the secial of the day. This is a Queensland specialty and available at all outback hotels. A crew of musterers were at the pub and had been there since midday drinking vodkas and orange. So they were yahooing and leaping around the place and calling out for female company. The two Swedish bar tenders were singularly unimpressed. The station on which they all worked is called Oxley and was about 50 klms nth of Boulia. Apparently they drove home in the dark after about 10pm.
Back at the camper we thought we would introduce ourselves to some people, friends of the managers who were staying in tin sheds near our campsite. This was a great idea as they had a warm fire going and lots of story telling.
A rest day today in Boulia.
We spent the night in Cunamulla in a dive of a motel.
The light above the bed didn't worknand neither did the heater. Some upgrades definitely required here! The meal in the hotel was ordinary but priced for kings. Next time we won't be staying at the Oxford Hotel/Motel.
Not such a long day of travel to Tambo. A lovely small town with beautiful centre of historic houses made into museums. And a very lovely art gallery.
It was very cold overnight in the camper, and still only 8 degrees at 10.00am so we didn't go for a swim in the artesian spa at the aquatic centre.