Alice Springs to Billiluna

Wednesday, Jul 22, 2009 at 08:04

Member - John and Val

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After a two night stay in Alice for washing, reprovisioning and vehicle servicing it was northwest up the Tanami Track Bitumen for the first 150 km then gravel in good condition with unexpectedly few patches of bad corrugations. Nevertheless we reduced tyre pressures down to about 2/3 normal to provide a little comfort for our Troopy and his occupants. After about 400 km for the day, we made overnight camp at a spot we had used previously on Mt Doreen Station near some abandoned mine workings. Just time for an explore before the light faded.

Day 15, and another 370 km along the Tanami Track to camp in a gravel pit near the Western Australian border. There is little of scenic splendour on this track, which tends to make one appreciate the special things, the splendid white gums, the vast areas of termite mounds, mainly small ones today, but also some monster ones. . We saw our first camel and started meeting road trains. Refueled at Rabbit Flat, where Bruce (the thoughtful and articulate proprieter) told of recently having been almost burned out by indiscriminate burning by local people. This being the only source of grog for hundreds of km it disrupted local life when he simply refused to sell grog until the last embers had been extinguished. He left it to the locals to deal with those who had set the fire.

Day 16 and up the Tanami Track as far as Wolfe Creek Crater, said to be the biggest meteorite crater on the planet. Then back down the track to Billiluna for a final fuel topup before starting down the Canning Stock Route. Refuelling was quite an experience – first estimate our fuel requirements in litres, then in dollars at $2.60 per litre, then buy “fuel cards” from the shop - $20, $50, or $100 to operate the fuel pumps, petrol in our case. (no refunds for any unused credit on the cards) Having bought two $100 cards it was disappointing (to put it politely!) to find the petrol pump was virtually non-functional and in any case couldn’t deliver more than $99 worth of fuel. Eventually departed Billiluna with approximately full tanks and 7 Jerry Cans, a total of about 300 litres of fuel, and headed south onto the Canning Stock Route, many hundreds of kilometres of probably the most iconic remote area track in Australia.

We’d been warned of horrendous corrugations and dropped our tyre pressures still further. It was a relief to stop for the night at Bloodwood Bore, the first real opportunity to leave the track, and calm the mind-numbing pounding of the corrugations. What we didn’t realise at the time was that these corrugations were insignificant compared to what lay ahead.



Forward to next chapter - The Canning Stock Route

J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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