Friday, August 8, 2014

Tanami Road

Tilmouth Wells is an oasis, with large shady trees, bouganvillea and a swimming pool. Here you can camp on green grass that is watered by bore water, full of calcium, so leaves a white tinge to everything.

There was only one other group of three people and a long distance away from us. It was very peaceful. The amenities were spotless. We had a great camp fire on which we cooked two very small leg lamb roasts (which we had purchased in Alice Springs) and roast vegetables all in the camp oven.

We left early in the morning. The desert, was green because of the rain, no substanial trees, but plenty of quick growing vegetation, the gravilleas of which were all in flower. There was not as much variety in flowers and colours as the last time we had visited, maybe because this time we travelled some weeks after the rain, so the small shrubs, bushes and ground cover plants that we witnessed before had already flowered and now were shedding their seeds as they started to die off.

Some 180 klms east of the old Rabbit Flat Roadhouse, we found a track leading towards a bore. We took this track for about a kilometer and parked for the night. I was worried about the sand and was concerned that we might get bogged. But this worry proved to be unfounded as the sand was solid and we did not sink in even when we left the track to park at the side of it. Peter wanted a campfire, so he dug a hole in the sand. The wood we scrounged all came from burnt small bushes and shrubs and left tiny, annoying splinters in your fingers. It was very cold in the desert so the fire was a nice way to keep warm for some of the evening.

We saw only one gecko lizard and the tracks of dingo, camel and small burrowing spinifex mice but no sign of any human activity at all. We heard only one road train passing all night, otherwise there was no noise!

The Tanami Road this time is a very different road to the one we travelled on three years ago. Now, unlike then, we could see the surrounding countryside because the road has been built up. It was still sandy in places and corregated, but three years ago, we drove almost all of it, in four wheel drive, in third gear. This time we could average 80klms per hour.

The Gregory Lake system was on our list to see. This meant driving to Balgo and then to Mulan, to obtain permission from the Aboriginal land holders.




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