To The Centre
Trip Start Aug 20, 2012
12Trip End Oct 04, 2012
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After a long drive back to the NT from WA we are relaxing at Mataranka. We have pitched our tent beside a billabong of the Little Roper River, a short walk from Bitter Springs National Park. NT parks have done a wonderful job of keeping this fragile little pool in it's natural state yet accessible for visitors. For me the Roper River and its tributaries are synonymous with crocs. During our time in the Territory it was the favoured setting for the scariest crocodile tall stories
It's a 1,000k drive from Mataranka to Alice Springs and we cover this distance very efficiently. Even with a forced break in Wycliffe Well due to a fire beside the highway we arrive before dusk. Wycliffe is the type of tiny roadhouse settlement we would otherwise have sped through and hence missed discovering its quirkiness. Newspaper cuttings lining the walls of the roadhouse proclaim it as the UFO capital of Australia. There are reports of local sightings and the abduction of a human by aliens. History boards tell of a deep well delivering precious water that once made Wycliffe an oasis in the desert. Now dusty and deserted, it's hard to believe enough vegetables were grown here to feed soldiers moving north for the defence of Darwin during WW2. Other yellowing clippings chill me. From 2001 they tell of a crime that occurred beside this part of the highway that was truly alien in it's horror.
We have taken advantage of a Wotif deal and have a cheap night in a resort in Alice. It's lovely to have a long shower and soft bed after several days of camp stretchers and communal showers.
Next day traveling west, at Simpsons Gap, birds including garish painted finches are plentiful and active in the warmth of a late spring morning. What I really want to see, is an endangered black footed rock wallaby. We are told they are hard to spot superbly camouflaged among the rocks. I look very hard, alert to the smallest movement. Just as we are about to leave I see a silhouette and there incredibly close is a somewhat ruffled marsupial warming up after a cold desert night. Wow!!