These are photos of our van after driving through the outback for two days. Most of this mess was caused when we hit a grasshopper plague. Grasshoppers sit on the road – presumably because of the heat it gives off – lazing the day away, until we come along and they panic and try to jump or fly away. Instead they jump and fly into us, creating a mess that stunk of, well, grass. It looks like we’ve gone through just-cut grass, but what you see there is all grasshopper, my friends.
One of the many Road Trains we encountered. They can be over fifty three meters in length, with a total of four trailors
This sign was in Mount Isa. Just a stroll home then
The first leg of our journey through the Outback is along a trail named ‘The Overlanders Way’, which starts in Townsville. Heading west from Townsville we went inland to Charters Towers, picking up any maps we could get our hands on then continuing our voyage to Mount Isa.
After Mount Isa our next landmark was Tennant Creek, the end of the Overlanders Way trail. This leg of the trip took two days. Two very long, and music-less days. After burning off twenty CD’s with the generous help of Louise’s computer, we left Cairns and only then found out the CD player was on it’s way out.
Apparently this was a ‘picture opportunity’. Nothing. Absolutely nothing to see
Notice the difference to the road ahead of us and what we’ve left behind? Only that the grasshoppers ahead of us are still alive, other than that nothing changes for hundreds of miles
Just North of Alice Springs are the Devils Marbles. Despite looking like boulders fallen from cliffs nowhere to be seen, they were actually created from weather erosion and formed from a stone feature still underground and predicted to be hundreds of miles deep and wide.
The Devils Marbles
It doesn’t exactly boost ones morale
The sunset at a stopover one evening
Laura and Rupert writes
When people show excitement at the mention of Alice Springs you start to get the impression the benefits of driving thousands of kilometers through the dry, flat and – on the grand scale of things – lifeless outback, into the middle of Australia will be worth more than the imagination can summon; the reward something very magical waiting for us. With all this in mind, I had been really excited about reaching Alice Springs, imagining ‘hot springs’, pretty flowers and a village of culture and friendly faces. And so the reality of the characterless buildings, persistent flies – that would not quit landing on our lips, ears and nose – and wondering Aboriginal people didn’t quite fit the grand image of my haven in the outback.
Apparently, when the ‘city boys’ decided everyone should be treated equally and brought in the Human Rights Act, employers refused to pay Aborigines an equal wage for an unequal commitment to work (they would often ‘go walkabout’ for days, sometimes weeks on end). This resulted in jobless Aborigines swarming the town with nothing to do, and no intention to do it. They now hang in parks, shopping precincts and car parks, lurking together, drinking Pepsi and eating McDonald’s with little children following their trails. Like they’re stuck in limbo between traditional ways and European settlement, it’s an uncomfortable site. I felt these ‘ex-Aboriginal’ people painted a bad impression for the Aborigines who are either still living by traditional law or getting involved in a more proactive way with tourism (i.e. selling their art and crafts, which are fantastic).
West Mac Donnell Ranges
The West McDonnell Ranges just outside Alice Springs were fantastic. We spent a day driving through this natural wonder, whilst waiting for Travellers Auto Barn to sort out a new CD player for our van (priorities, people).
Simpson’s Gaps is home to wild wallabies and a pretty little water hole, Stanley Chasm; a chasm gouged into sandstone from floods and a little further out again, and Orche Pitts; where Aborigines come from all over to get their paints.
These magnificent cliff faces have the most incredible array of pastels, resulting in a fine of five thousand dollars if you get caught pinching a bit! Not only do they use these natural colours to paint, but they have many medicinal purposes. Who would have thought a bit of rock could help with backache. Fantastic.
There was also a natural swimming hole, where we both took a swim, although whilst Rupert swam to the other side I retreated back to the van to escape those darn flies. No good pictures of that though, sorry.
Finally, saving the best until last, we viewed the Glen Helen Gorge. In a helicopter. It was a last minute and spare-of-the-moment decision, and the best experience either of us have ever had.
Can you spot our Van in one of the pictures?
Before Ayers Rock we took a detour to King Canyon. Not much else to say other than it’s very lovely, very big and very sacred to the local aboriginal people, and thus you can’t walk to the end of the canyon. Only initiated men may walk to the end.
Leaving Laura to run back to the van to escape the flies, I ventured up to the top of the canyon to take a few photos. A trek not to be taken lightly, I was exhausted by the end of it and stupidly hadn’t taken water with me. Still, nice view
For those of you who may wish to read the not so time-consuming version, it’s a rock, it’s large, and we went there. For everyone else, I’ll tell you a little bit about one of the great wonders of the world, Ayers Rock, otherwise known as Uluru.
We saw this on route to Ayers Rock, and mistakenly took it as the grand rock itself. Mount Conner is, however, a forgotten wonder of its own.
Ayers Rock is a large magnetic mound, more than 318 metres high and has a diameter of 9.4km. It’s situated in the Uluru-Kata National Park, land owned and run by the local aborigines. Depending on the time of day and weather conditions, the rock can appear anything from a pretty violet to glowing red colour. We were fortunate enough to have the time to hang around until sunset, the colour change was fantastic.
You’ll probably notice on the picture above that we have faces scrunched up and black dots sat on us. Unfortunately, flies in central Australia are everywhere and insist on flying up your nostrils and buzzing in your ears. It drove us crazy. They certainly weren’t camera shy.
Waiting for sunset wasn’t easy without the protection of the delightful fly hats and nets that everyone else seemed to be wearing. So, in the spirit of saving money, Rupert decided to make the most of our mosquito net, creating a rather impressive tent. However, I’m still not sure how he managed to coax me out of the van, then leave me in there by myself in-front of all the amused on-lookers, but he did, and this is me….
And here’s a couple more photos…
I’m fairly sure we should be given a large sum of money for the amount of advertising we’ve done for Travellers Auto Barn
Tags: Alice Springs, Australia, Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon, Outback, Travel