Tobermorey to Alice Springs via the dusty Plenty (of dust) Hwy!

Thursday, Jun 02, 2005 at 00:00

Mick O

Thursday 2nd June, 2005
Alice Springs NT


Up with the chopper pilot this morning. That was with the sun still only a faint line on the eastern horizon. No wonder he looked so knackered on arriving back at the station last night . Must be a very long day for them. As everyone else was headed in the same direction, I thought that it would be better to get on the road early and put a bit of space between us and our fellow travellers. Thus it was. On the road by 7.15 a.m. and out across the bulldust as the sun rose behind us. It’s a lovely time of the day to be travelling especially with such a good distance to try and get behind us.

The early sun cast its long shadows highlighting the ruts and bull-dust bogs. A good photo opportunity. It also imbued a different, deeper hue to the soil and surrounds. We surprised lots of roos coming to the end of their nocturnal foraging. They certainly are huge up here. One chap, a big red, I mistook for a hopping Shetland pony as he bound in stately fashion down the road in front of us. Very majestic specimens and plenty of them. Blue flyers and big reds a plenty. Makes our Eastern Greys seem very much the poor relation.

The road was again a bit schizophrenic in its conditions moving from very good to very bad in the blink of an eye. Quite a strain to be for ever vigilant. The country side began to take on the deep red that you associate with the centre. We called briefly at Jervois Station and then had breakfast beside the Marshall River at 10.00 a.m. In no time Jaffles and Milo were whipped up and consumed before getting back on the road west.

A short time later the first low hills of the Atnarpa Ranges became evident. At first we mistook some of the termite mounds for mountains…refer to photo below by way of explanation!


These became more impressive as we drove west and into the Georgina and Narbib Ranges. As a precursor to the MacDonnell’s they are impressive in their own right and I think I’ll have to make it a future mission to drive through them when time is not so pressing.

A blessed relief to hit the bitumen 80 km shout of the Stuart Highway. It was only a single ribbon of the beloved black stuff but much welcomed after 2000 km of bone jarring dust and stone. Passed through Gem Tree and then pulled over for a quick lunch before continuing on to the Stuart. Alice was only 80 km distant and we arrived sometime around three. We knew we were getting close due to the “Crazy Frog” ring tone blaring continuously on Amanda’s phone letting her know of the 1500 incxoming text messages (Jeez that tome is soooo annoying!).

Presuming that this was the tourist season, I headed straight for the McDonnell Ranges Tourist park and secured a site. Very few left as the numbers are building for the Finke 500 which is to be held next week. Our little grassed ensuite site provides an unaccustomed luxury (it’s all they had left- truly!). I think our fellow campers were impressed by the rugged nature of our vehicle and trailer, especially the billowing clouds of dust that fell from under the trailer tarp (broke two lockdown clasps on the rear of same this morning).

After camp had been set-up in a rudimentary fashion, we scooted back up to town with our shopping list in hand. Also visited the local Nissan dealer with a view to obtaining a quote on the rear windscreen. Thankfully only $550. Arrived back before dusk to a very hot and welcome shower. Then it was backup to town to Anzac Hill to catch the sunset and fuel up. Dinner was a quiet affair finally getting rid of the marinated chicken bits whose garlic marinade had been pervading all other contents of the Engel! We will both sleep well tonight.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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