Who Turned the Outback Green???
Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
92Trip End Apr 22, 2011
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Where I stayed
Tennant Creek Caravan Park
Renners Springs Desert Inn
Mataranka Cabins and Camping
Big4 Katherine Low Level Caravan Park
Tuesday 7th December 2010
It rained all night, lots of lightning, there might have been thunder but the rain was hammering on the roof so loud that I couldn't hear it. We woke up before 6am with yet more rain drumming on the roof, it was lovely and cool so we decided to get up and get on the road while it was a nice temperature to drive.
We were on the road a little after 7am, the rain had stopped but the clouds looked threatening, grey skies all round and black clouds on the horizon. The roads seemed ok but Gary was a little worried that we might hit some flooding as it had rained so much in the night. We have 471km to drive today to Tennant Creek so I started the driving. The rain came down in short showers but nothing too worrying and the roads were fine, but then about two hours into the journey the skies opened and the rain came down in torrents. It was hard driving I couldn’t see the road for the rain, luckily there was no one else around so I just had to worry about my driving. I joked with Gary that his leak would be back with all this rain, out of habit he turned round to look at it.....only to find water running into the back of the van. I couldn’t pull off the road as there was no hard shoulder and visibility was terrible, so Gary went into the back and tried to mop up what he could while I continued to drive. When I finally found somewhere to stop we discovered the front of the pop up roof wasn’t down tight enough and because it had rained so hard and the water had forced itself under and along the roof and poured into the van. We mopped up and pulled the roof down tighter which seem to sort the problem out.
We had lunch at 10am as we were both hungry and had skipped breakfast, Gary took over the driving while I got the laptop out and caught up on the blog. We stopped for petrol at a really nice road side bar, the price of petrol out here is astonishing, we’re now paying 60c more a litre. We were back on the road and had driven no more than 5km when we saw a broken down car and a lady flagged us down. With no knowledge of cars Gary hoped it was something as simple as a flat tire, lucky for him it was. So he got out the van flexing his muscles and changed it for the lady. It is important to always stop if you see someone in trouble in the outback even if you don’t think you can help as the next car may not be along for another hour or two. We have a two way radio so even if we can’t help we can get in touch with someone who can. Gary came back pleased with himself....my hero!
Weather Sunny 33 degrees
Pulled into Tennant Creek and drove through town to see if there was anything exciting going on, not much to report, just lots of Aborigines just sitting around. We found our caravan park and set up camp. With the blog diary up to date I set about uploading it while Gary when off and had a shower and a shave. Dinner tonight is Thai Red Curry so we need to get the table and stove out to make it, Gary got his wonderful frying pan out and I prepared the meat and veggies. It’s good fun cooking outside as long as the flies stay away and the weather is dry.
I had good internet connection so spent the morning doing some bits and pieces on the computer, including getting a Skype call from Gary’s Mum and Dad. Our journey today will take us down to the Devil’s Marbles, which is 100km south of Tennant Creek. Devil’s Marbles are another one of Australian phenomenon, piles of round granite stones stacked up on top of each other. We have seen these marbles before, but we loved them so much last time that we wanted to go back and see them again.
As we left Tennant Creek the road seemed wrong, the view was wrong.....it was green! Where is my lovely red Outback, where is the desolated barren landscape I remember. It seems with all the rain Australia has been having this year the Northern Territory has blossomed, dormant seeds have awakened in the fresh rain water and flourished. Everywhere we looked was green and healthy, I was so disappointed. Some of my best memories of Australia are of the outback, its red earth and hostile environment.
We left the Marbles and retraced our journey back up the Stuart Highway to Tennant Creek, stopping for petrol, and then on to Three Ways. Three Ways is a main T junction, Alice Springs one way, Darwin the other and not a town full of nymphets which was what Gary was hoping for. We had planned to stop here the night but the campsite was full. Not a problem it was only 3pm and the next town was only 138km away. I took over the driving for the rest of the journey.
Weather Sunny 36 degrees
We pulled into the petrol station at Renner Springs which also doubles up as the local pub, hotel and campsite. We booked in for a night and drove over to the camp area. We had already set up the van next to a shady tree and where just warming up yesterday’s leftover’s for tea when a caravan came in and wanted our site. The manager was called over and we were asked to move as we had set up on a long rig site. Talk about a bad day. So we set up in the sun and cooked for the rest of the afternoon. As the sun went down hundreds of birds came out, it was so noisy, we went for a walk over the road and watch the sunset into the scrub.
Thursday 9th December 2010
Renner Springs had a big windmill which I wanted to take a picture of, it also had four geese which I am not so ok with. Geese are nasty aggressive birds, I’ve seen people have them in their gardens as guard dogs or guard geese. These ones were no different as I walked up to the windmill the biggest of the four, ducked his head down and started charging at me, I screamed and ran back to the van. What is it about animals always chasing me? I took the photo on a drive by from the safety of the van.
We are headed to Daly Water’s today site of a historical pub, we had an early start so pulled over for a breakfast stop outside a town called Newcastle Waters. This is Drover country and is a crossroads for three of the main cattle drive routes. Back on the road and Gary needed a bathroom break, too much muesli. We pulled over at a service station and while Gary used the facilities I watched hundreds of butterfly’s surrounding a bush, I tried desperately to get pictures of them. Gary came back with pictures of bug crawling out the plug hole in the sink...how different we are.
Daly Waters is off the main road slightly, the pub which is all that is left of the town was once a watering hole for Drovers, the town was also a major stop for the workers on the Telegraph line and had an airfield that the early Qantas flights would use to refuel for its flights to Singapore. It also served as a WWII Airforce base. The town is now just a population of nine people, most of them work in the pub.
After Gary’s second schooner, we piled back into the van and I continued the driving, but first we needed to stop at the Stuart Tree to see the famous S marked in it. We drove down a small track surrounded by bush land, it was amazing to think this area had once been the main road, with a telegraph office and other buildings surrounding it. There is an old photo showing the Stuart Tree with buildings in the back ground there is nothing but scrub land and bushes now.
Weather Sunny 38 degrees
Friday 10th December 2010
Weather Thunder storms 35 degrees