Hay river trip part 2

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 at 20:49
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Hay river part 2. This is the continuation of our family trip and covers from Alice springs to Cooper Pedy.

We turned up at Alice springs with no idea of what was available or where it was. A quick stop at the info centre and we had a bit of an idea of where we were staying while we got sorted for the next stage of our trip. We ended up staying at "Alice in the territory" its a cheap clean hotel that's nice and quite away from the centre of town and for $120 a night for the 4 of us it was good value. We ended up putting $30 worth of coins through the washing machine and dryer to get the job done but at last we were clean.

We checked out the RFD base, the school of the air and the local cinema to watch "How to tame your dragon 2" (Great movie for both little and big kids). If you're in town on a Thursday night then hit up the pub next to the cinema for their $8 schnitzel night. It's a serious sized schnitzel with a side of chips. Can't go wrong.
Now that we were clean, fed and stocked up again it was time to continue on. The original plan was to check out the West Macdonnell ranges then hit up Kings canyon, the olgas and Uluru before making our riches at Cooper Pedy. Well that all didn't quite happen.

First stop was Flynns grave on Larrapinta drive. Without a doubt the man was a true legend, what he was able to do to bring medical care to people in the middle of nowhere with the most basic and rudimentary equipment is truly astounding. Next stop was Standley Chasm. Cant say I'm impressed with paying $25 to check it out. Was interesting to talk to an Irishman who works there about the local indigenous issues, about how the local families are blueing and all the rest of it. Basically boils down to the fact that some people should grow up and stop acting like spoilt brats. But enough of that.

We wandered into Ellery big water hole just after lunch i was cooling my feet in the water seriously contemplating a swim when I noticed a commotion on the beach behind me and a young fella making a bit of noise, curiosity got the better of me so I headed on over to see what was going on. Well a long story short I busted out the first aid kit and removed a 1 cm long barb from the bottom of his big toe, turns out the barb was mildly poisonous and the young fella (Sean) was dealing with a fair amount of pain. Hot water took the pain away but we figured that the hospital would be a good spot to go so we helped the family pack everything up and sent them on their way. Spoke to the local rangers and they had no idea what it was that got him so we did some research, a bit of Google and what do you know it was a catfish spine and the little things are pretty venomous (toxic venom glands). Severe pain, ischemia, muscle spasm and respiratory distress are all possible symptons from this small little fish.

So with the days excitement over we figured it was time to find a camp site, so off to Orminston Gorge we went. The basic rundown is that the camp sites are way below par but the rest of the place is great. It cost us $24 for a site that barely fit our small camper and vehicle (we had a big site by comparison) . The solar hot water was non existent and half the BBQs didnt work. Maybe I'm spoilt but I've camped in hundreds of better spots for free. The flip side is that the walks and views are spectacular. You must do the "Ghost gum loop walk". It heads up to an amazing view before heading down into the gorge itself. It doesn't take as long as the sign says and at the moment you don't have to get wet walking along the Gorge. I did, but I did some extra exploring up the river with my 2 boys.

We packed up and moved down to Palm valley camp ground. The dirt section of Larapinta drive was pretty corrugated to the point where a separate track had sprung up on the side of the road to cope with it, the road into the camp ground wasn't much better but I guess that keeps the crowd at bay. The camp site is really nice with a bit of grass near the river to sit on and some good facilities.

Now is probably a good time to mention that when you're camping with young kids and they're up and making a ruckus at 5.00 a.m the right thing to do is to either get them back to sleep, keep them quiet or take them for a walk away from everyone else who're trying to sleep. The wrong thing to do is play noisy games with them in your tent. Yes I sound like a grumpy old bugger but I have my own 2 boys that have been taken for many cold morning walks over the hill. It's just a respect thing.

We spoke to the lovely Clare around the campfire, turns out she works at Hermansburg and convinced me the apple strudel and coffee was worth the detour in to town. So with her words of encouragement we turned up to check it out the next day (sunday). The lady tried to charge us just to get in as its also a museum but after explaining we wanted strudel and coffee  (and dropping Clares name) we were allowed in (for 10minutes only). Well the strudel was amazing and it was the best coffee I've had outside of Victoria. Get on it!!

We were confronted with the problem of which way to go to get to Ayers rock. Option 1 was into Alice, fuel up at a decent price and take the highway or head south via Boggy hole. The palm valley campsite had a notice board stating it was pretty full on and an 8 hour journey to just get to the other side. The Ranger said 4 hours with some interesting terrain such as mudgaurd stealing boulders coming out of a river crossing hmmmm. We were by ourselves at this stage so decided to err on the side of caution (would love to know from anyone thats done it). So into Alice we went and down the highway. I have one word to decribe that route, BORING!!! We pulled into a roadside camp about 30 kms short of Yulara and this was our new home for 3 nights, the best thing about this spot was it was free, off the road and we could have a camp fire.

The worst by far was literally the human faeces and toilet paper everywhere you went as soon as you stepped out of the camping area. I can put up with plenty of things but poo and paper strewn all over the place is not one of them. My language skills are fairly reasonable but the best word to describe these people are €¥#$*. It's pure and simple laziness that creates this issue and I can see it being the reason for a lot of free camp sites being shut down or toilets put in and fees charged. If my seven yr old can grab a shovel and dig a sufficient hole then I'm sure everyone else can as well.Don't have a shovel? Then grab a stick, use your hands or your boot heel at least.Don't ruin it for everyone else. Grrrr! Rant over.

We spent a day at Ayers rock doing the usual thing and the unusual things of rescuing someone who froze up on the descent. The rangers had closed the climb whilst crew were still up there and it was pretty windy. Dad had spent an hour and managed to get his son down about 50mts so I wandered back up, put my climbing guide skills to use and bought them back down again.

The next day was a wander into the Olgas to check the sights which are really quite spectacular! By this stage we were on our home ward leg and it was blacktop from here so I headed into the mechanic at Yulara to sell the extra spare tyre case that I had been carrying around on the roof rack for the last two and a half weeks, it's always nice when you sell something for more than you paid for it!

At this point I have to say there are 2 different tribes around the rock and both have very different priorities. From what I can gather one lot don't want you climbing the rock and the other mob climb the rock themselves. If you try and tell me I can't climb the rock because I'm white but they can because they're aboriginal then you'd better check the meaning of racism because it goes both ways my friends. We were also quite impressed with the water tanks that the Anangu tribe had put up around the place to encourage people to drink enough water and stay safe. Says a lot really.

Well things get pretty boring from here, we kept heading South to Cooper Pedy and seeing as I'm writing this from home and not Tahiti it's pretty safe to say I didn't find any decent Opals. I was pretty keen to stay underground but my wallet wasn't so we stayed in the caravan park in town which is pretty good. Don't bother with doing the organised tours as most of them just take you to all the free stuff anyway.

It's becoming a bit of a family holday tradition that we always plan on doing the last 15 hrs of driving over 2 days but....... We always seem to bolt home in one big day. This year was no different... On a slightly sad note we received some very distressing news as we pulled out of Port Augusta that one of our pets had been hit by a car and had to be euthanased. This put a serious dampner on the last leg of our trip but we made it home safe and spent the time in the car distracting ourselves with starting to make plans for next year's trip though and it looks like we're going back up the coast again....... I never did get to see those dolphins in Harvey Bay.
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Reply By: cvhq - Saturday, Aug 09, 2014 at 18:46

Saturday, Aug 09, 2014 at 18:46
Done the trip through fink gorge np/boggie hole from henbry metorite crater to palm valley took aprox 8hr not very well sign posted I had gps marks which worked out very well did not lock in center diff although some good clearence need in sections with well thought out lines through these areas not to hard . Done trip in 2010 defender 4 weeks ago well worth the effort
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Follow Up By: oetkb - Sunday, Aug 10, 2014 at 14:08

Sunday, Aug 10, 2014 at 14:08
Thanks for the heads up.
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