Thank goodness I have kept a diary of where we stayed and what we have done, as the last couple of weeks have been so busy with many km’s driven and no internet reception, so I haven’t had a chance to update the website since 10 March! So on with the journey…
On the 11th March we arrived at the sleepy little fishing community of Point Turton. The caravan park we stayed at was lovely and very busy (but did have free Wi-Fi YAY!)! We met some great people there (Hi Jo and Karen) and the kids especially loved meeting all the dogs in the park, not all parks allow dogs, but this one certainly did, so the kids spent ages playing with several dogs. Wayne was still trying very hard to catch some squid and fish and did manage to catch some King George Whiting that was enough for entrée!
Lots of school work to catch up on these few days here.
We left Point Turton to head towards Fisherman’s Bay near Port Broughton. On the way we stopped at Moonta and had some lovely Cornish pasties for lunch. It’s the only day I can remember so far on our trip where it was overcast and we had some rain. Haven’t seen much rain this year!
We arrived at our friends Matt and Sam’s place in Fisherman’s Bay where we stayed for the next four nights. It’s amazing the friends you meet while travelling, some even kind enough to let you have a stop over at their home. Thanks guys for being so hospitable and friendly. We will be happy to return the favour next time you are up our way! Whilst staying at Matt and Sam’s we did a bit of night fishing and dabbing (where you try and catch bait with a net). The kids loved being up so late and being out on the wharves. Certainly an experience we have never had before and one I’m sure we won’t forget. Wayne especially loved kayak fishing with Matt and they had loads of fun wrestling a large string ray on the fishing line!
We sadly left Fisherman’s Bay (see you again in December guys) for Port Pirie where we caught up on some grocery shopping. We stayed overnight in a free camp on Woorona Island, but the flies and mozzies were so bad there, it wasn’t a very pleasant stay unfortunately. I was quite happy to leave our little spot and head towards Port Augusta.
We were lucky enough again to stay with people Wayne knew, this time with Wayne’s cousin Rob, at his property just outside the CBD of Port Augusta. There the kids met some lovely relatives including Tanya and Jade. We had so much fun and were so grateful to be able to have electricity and a bathroom and kitchen to use for ourselves. Jakayla absolutely loved spending time with Jade and both kids were thrilled to be able to ride one of Jade’s horses called Taffy.
They also loved playing with the family dogs Rosie and Woo. It was so nice to meet another side of Wayne’s family (the not crazy side hey guys??!! lol).
We certainly found it hard to leave but knew the journey must go on (see you in December!!!)
On the 24th we had a big drive ahead of us, straight to Coober Pedy. It was our first real experience of driving/being out in the outback and desert and were so glad to be in our air conditioned truck! Very hot, dusty and nothing as far as the eye can see. It has its own beauty the outback and it’s important for us, on this trip, to experience all that this big country has to offer.
We stayed at a free camp just outside Coober Pedy and never in my life have I seen so many flies! I’m so glad we bought the fly nets for our hats! They really were horrendous. We met three families travelling together, all grey nomad husband and wife teams. They certainly didn’t seem to mind the flies and happily told us the flies that day were not as bad as earlier in the week – eeek!
One thing I did notice was at night time (when the flies go to bed), the stars are just amazing as it’s so pitch black out there, no lights, no smog, no buildings. It really was the most gorgeous night sky I have ever seen. The next morning we all went for a lovely long walk through the desert to a hill behind us, early enough before the sun beat down on us or the flies came out in force.
Amazingly enough the water was too cold for us to swim in, although Wayne and the kids did try! Water is so precious in the outback, so all water had to be paid for and 20c got you about a 5 minute shower which is still pretty good. Glad I had a few 20c coins to work with though! That afternoon we visited an old (now not working) mine and seen how miners of yesteryear used to dig for opals. Apparently Australia supplies about 95% of the world’s opals and 90% of these come from Coober Pedy.
We visited a few opal shops and I was lucky enough to have a lovely pair of opal earrings bought for me (thanks hubby), it was lovely to take away a piece of Coober Pedy with me. The kids also got some opal chips to keep which are a lovely reminder.
Over half the town live underground and some businesses also have underground premises.
On the 27th we set out again on another long journey along the Stuart Highway heading towards the NT.
We finally arrived at the turnoff to Lassiters Highway where we found our next place to stop at Ebenezer Roadhouse. This place is quite interesting, it’s basically in the middle of nowhere but has a great restaurant/diner and a place around the back to park vans and stay (where we met Phil, Laura and kids). Lucky for us it only cost $10 total for three nights to stay there, the amenities were in very poor condition and were apparently being upgraded. But all in all, we all went to bed clean each night after a shower and the toilet that did work did flush LOL.
The main reason for our stay here was somewhere to leave the van while we spent two solid days of driving big kms. On the 28th we set out early for the drive to Kings Canyon, where it was 220kms each way from our van but what an amazing walk we had along the top of Kings Canyon. At first the climb was really steep, and apparently its called ‘Heartbreak Hill’ due to a few people having heart attacks while trying to climb it!!! The kids flew up the hill (the little buggers) while I was gasping for breath at the back. But when I finally got to the top, the view was worth it. The rest of the 6.5km walk was along the top of the canyon and was just amazing, so much to see up the top with all the trees, animals and of course the views.
We spent about 2.5hrs walking the route and were happy to get back to the truck for some lovely cold water (we drank between us about 8 bottles of water on the walk) and something to eat. We then headed back to our van for some rest and relaxation (and a couple of beers) and the kids enjoyed playing with their new friends.
The next morning we were up early again for another long drive to Uluru-Ayers Rock. It was amazing to see the Rock from our truck window. I read somewhere that seeing something in real life that you have seen in photos all your life is called the ‘Eiffel Tower Effect’ and it was certainly like that for me. I have seen the Rock in magazines, movies, tv shows, books etc. all my life, but nothing quite prepares you in real life of how amazing it looks and how damn big it is!!! ( I remember the same feeling seeing Buckingham Palace for the first time in real life too).
We parked out the front of the Rock and went for a little walk around but the kids got a bit bored so Wayne and Jakayla decided they wanted to climb to the top. I was a little apprehensive to be honest, it’s very very steep and I also found out later that over 44 people have died while trying to climb the rock since 1950. But climb they did and do it well too! I think they were gone over 2 hours but took some amazing photos and I hope Jakayla keeps this memory forever. One day she might return with her family, and I think by then they will have banned climbing the rock, so she will be able to tell her kids how she climbed it as a young girl. Good stuff.
After the big climb, we headed to the Ayres Rock Resort for a look around and found an amazingly cheap IGA in the middle were we bought lunch and sat down under shade to eat our lunch and crowd watch. So many people were there!!! After looking around for a little while, we headed back to the sunset viewing car park and put a tarp up and spent the next few hours gazing at the rock while it changed colour.
Jakayla’s legs were starting to cramp a little bit, the poor thing, so we decided it was time for the long (nearly 230kms) trip back to the van where we showered the kids, rubbed our girl’s tired legs and all fell asleep.
On the Sunday we had a delicious breakfast at the Roadhouse, said goodbye to all our new friends we made and headed towards Alice Springs where I am writing from now.
Once again, the drive was long and tiring but we stopped just short of Alice to let the kids have the experience of riding a camel! Jakayla loved it but Rory totally freaked out. Wayne shot a video of him on the camel and all you hear is his whimpering, the you hear the man leading the camel around the yard saying “breathe son its okay” which made me and Wayne laugh even more. Poor Rory, he isn’t a very brave boy LOL.
I was glad to finally arrive in Alice, where it’s always nice to see infrastructure and amenities after a long drive! We first went to a van park that Wayne had lived in for a spiel when he worked in Alice back in 1995, but it was badly run down, so we headed down the road to G’day Mate Caravan Park. I highly recommend it, it’s fantastic and only $2 a night more than the run down hovel up the road! It has a lovely clean pool, lovely clean amenities and trees everywhere. Since Alice doesn’t have water restriction, (due to a supply from Mereenie Formation, an aquifer about 14kms south of the town. It provides 80% of the town’s water supply from a storage of about 5 million Olympic sized swimming pools!!! ) we haven’t had to pay for the water like Coober Pedy, but while travelling through the desert it has made us very aware of how precious water is and since we have to buy a lot of drinking water (from Coles or Woolies etc), we are learning to take good care of what we have.
Alice Springs is a nice little town, it’s quite interesting really with lots of local aborigines walking around and tourists everywhere. It’s been a bit of an eye opener to me and the kids to see Police stationed outside of all the shops that sell alcohol and apparently even petrol up here has a special additive to take away the smell of it. The landscape around us is beautiful with the MacDonald Ranges in the distance. It’s terribly hot though, everyday so far has been 38C and above and at night-time it’s very hard to sleep. We have decided to keep our noisy but lovely and cooling air conditioner on tonight. Fingers crossed we all get a better night’s sleep.
We have also decided to stay an extra night here to catch up on some school work and take advantage of the parks amenities, then it’s off to the MacDonald Ranges for a couple of nights and then north towards Tennant Creek. Til next time…..
PS – One thing we are noticing is the amount of backpackers and tourists, especially from Germany. If I got everyone of these guys to teach my kids a new word, I swear they will return home next year speaking fluent German LOL. Soooo many people from Germany come here for a holiday or working holiday it’s just amazing. Sure we have also met some French, Dutch and Pommies but the Germans love us!!! We actually met a Dutch couple here at this park who were just so lovely, and before they left (as they were due to catch a plane to Cairns) came over with excess food and even car oil to give us as they had nowhere to pack any of it. Such kindness we have found in a lot of places from people everywhere.