Towns of the Stuart Highway

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
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65
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Trip End Dec 18, 2011


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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Thursday, March 31, 2011

There are quite a few places to stop in between Katherine and Alice and we decided to stop at as many as possible as we don't imagine we’ll ever be back in this random part of the world again.

Mataranka Springs is located 107 km south of Katherine and is a hot spring located in an easily accessible part of the forest.  It continued to rain this day but not to be put off we donned our togs and headed down to the spring.  Just as we were getting in the rain really picked up and I think we must have looked a tad ridiculous crouched at the edge of the springs in the rain.  They were very relaxing and as its low tourist season we were the only people there.

Our next stop was a museum in Larrimah.  The museum isn’t manned, which we were a little surprised about, and they trust you to keep it tidy, not to damage anything and to turn off all the light and power when you leave.  (As we discovered, they work very much on an honour system in this part of the country, including camp fees, which they trust you to put into collection boxes when there is no one to pay.)  It was an interesting little museum about the settling of the area and why people bothered moving there in the first place, and told the story about its role in connecting Australia to the world communication-wise via both rail and telegraph.

A further 550kms down the road is Tennant Creek, one of the bigger towns between Katherine and Alice, which was an important town back in the days of the Australian gold rush.  A pretty non-descript outback town now but you can still visit some of the old mines and read about the crazy people who came here 70 or 80 years ago in search of their fortunes. No roads, no water, no phones, no air-con, no houses, and plenty of flies and dust.

Not far past Tennant Creek are the Devils Marbles.  Culturally they are very important to the Aboriginal people, specifically the women.  Geologically they are extremely strange boulders of various shapes and sizes. Very weird to walk around and do give some cool pictures!  As these were the main reason why i wanted to do the absurdly long drive through the centre of Australia i had my fingers crossed that they would be suitably impressive....luckily they were!!

Our last stop before getting to Alice Springs was Aileron, a small village 370 kms south of Tennant Creek.  There really isn't much here and wouldn't make it onto most peoples' list of where to stop, except for the 3 large statues that a local artist has erected in the village.  The first one was a male Aborigine which was placed on the top of a hill behind the village.  This started to pull in passing tourists who would otherwise have driven on and he has subsequently provided company for the male in the form of a female and a child. 

Although individually all these places aren't the most interesting places to visit (like visiting Hinckley or Mullingar!), the drive itself and the sparseness of the area makes it a really intriguing drive and exciting way to travel this part of the country.
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