I was fairly knackered and a little dehydrated when I got there, so I filled up with burger and chips, an electrolyte drink and lots of water. Curious place – its a tiny little town …very remote and looks a little sorry for itself…and then there’s the PINK roadhouse…painted baby pink.
I got out of the roadhouse pretty quick…mainly due to the fact that there was a Huntsman spider in one of the display cabinets that got driven out by one of the staff …it put up a pretty good fight with the broom first though!
The campsite behind the roadhouse is a bit rough …all battered, bruised and rusty and with a plague f flies and ants too. I was on my own at first, then a german couple in a Cruiser camper came in, so we had a chat and a beer together
I left early next morning, watching the sun rise as I left and headed further West. The road is still an easy drive with fairly well compacted gravel, so I kept an average of about 100kmh. It didnt seem long before I arrived at Marla, which is the Sturt Highway junction.
I stopped to congratulate myself on completing the Oodnadatta track and to have coffee, an apple and some crackers. After pumping up the tyres again, I was off North heading towards Alice Springs ….I didnt expect to get there, but the camping en-route looked rough, so I continued on and arrived at Alice (passing a bush fire on the way) at about 4pm!! (cant get a grip on these time zones!!!) I booked into the YHA and settled down for the rest of the day.
The YHA is pretty nice with a nice pool (very nice after the Oodnadatta) and a big air-conned tv room. Alice is a strange place …..its bigger than I’d been led to believe and has everything you could want (pubs, restaurants, shops, garages and fuel etc.) but theres a strange feel to it: could be that theres a lot of aboriginals around, which would be fine EXCEPT they mostly appear to be drunk or drugged and shouting at, or hitting each other! I had a walk up the ANZAC memorial hill
and then drove to the aboriginal land authority building …but it was closed: I need a permit to drive the Menindee track towards Uluru. The next couple of days were chillin days while I waited for the permits (I also need a transit permit to drive the Great Central Road towards Perth) Was nice to chill and play in the pool, update Facebook and photoshop my pics in peace and cool.
Theres a couple of really nice places to visit around Alice too – gaps in the mountain range make some canny photos
The morning that I left Alice I found out that I can actually get the permits online!!!! so I didnt need to hang about!! ..never mind.
Fuelled up, groceried and with a couple of jobs on the car done (couple of bits – including the sump bash plate had rattled loose on the gravel roads) I set off heading Westish. First stop was a very narrow gorge which only gets sunlight at the bottom at midday, then on to a fabulous place called Ellery Creek – The Big Hole …its another gap in the hills, but with vertical rocks and deep water pool and sand. Lovely place so I went for a swim and a chill …and watched some young guys jump in from probably 15-20m high! …braver men than me, Gunga.
After a coffee, it was off to Glen Helen resort, which is at another gap in the rocks …again, this was alovely place …selling ice-cream, beer AND coffee …what more could a man want??
I sat for a little while at the gap in the rocks as it was so peaceful and looked fab ..watching ducks and an eagle flying about.
Back to the car to discover Ive got a puncture!!!! my first in 18000km its only slow, and after asking at the resort the guy there who fixes punctures wasnt sure what to do as he was worried he may make it worse :$ I changed to the spare and after a good nights sleep in my tent, headed West again. I stopped at Gosse’s bluff which is an ancient meteor crater forming a good circle of rock in an otherwise flat landscape. I drove into it, but you cant explore as its sacred aboriginal land. Then off again until I got to Kings Canyon. I booked into the campsite there and also got one of their staff to fix my puncture…nice fella tried to improve the spare wheel winder too …tho failed really
I enjoyed the campsite – few ants, not many flies and pretty good facilities …including dingoes roaming around fairly unconcerned that people are walking around too (some of the other campers were feeding them …crazy people!!!) However I was a bit disappointed with Kings Canyon itself: the walk into it is OK …just a quick walk along a steep sided valley, but you cant walk to the end and can only get to a viewing platform which doesnt give much of a view! …there is a walk along the top of the canyon which is supposed to be much better …but I didn’t feel like walking it, for some reason. I had a chat with an elderly Irish couple and then headed on to yet another gorge/canyon (which I thought was a bit better and much more remote feeling. The road so far had been gravel, but turned into tarmac again JUST as I met a group of 3 camels in the road! ..I stopped and took some photos and generally got in their way for 5 minutes then headed on again.
I stopped for coffee at a layby with great views of mount Connor – which I thought was Uluru at first (as many do, apparently) then continued on till I got to the Ayers Rock resort, where I had a salmon bagel and a coffee before booking into the campsite.
Canny campsite with railway sleeper furniture in the BIG kitchen (mouses live in the sleepers! And a lizard lives just outside and tries to catch the mices) and a nice patch of grass without ants, but with an army of wabbits which come out at night and surround the tent!
I pitched tent then drove the 20km or so to Uluru (Ayers Rock) …..its a bluddy big lump of red rock! …very much like the rocks of the Spitzkop area of the Namib desert in Namibia.
I wandered around a bit and drove around the rock, then waited until the obligatory sunset to take the obligatory sunset photos …which was very nice (had a chat to the Irish couple again!)
Next morning, I was up at 5 to get to Uluru to take the obligatory sunrise photos ….not as successful this time as the ‘official’ sunrise photo point was packed and I couldn’t get a good view of the rock without trees or people in the way
Then I had a bit of a rush of blood…..I ran about half the way around the rock! …then walked the rest of the way, taking photos and listening in to the guide’s spiel to other groups of people.
From there I drove the 40 or 50km to Kata Tjuta (many heads) which are similar rocks in a group. Nice walks thru the valleys and gorges ….until my sandal fell to pieces. Hey ho.
I headed back to the resort and after tea, walked over to the local bar for a beer. Funny seeing so many tourists around ….all wearing posh frocks and ironed clothes! …I didnt feel likeI fitted in, so after 2 beers, I left.
The following morning was another early start to make my way along the Great Central Road. It starts from KataTjuta and heads 2500km West into WA and down to the goldfields at Laverton.
As I hit the gravel, I stopped to deflate the tyres a bit, check the car and apss the time of day with another guy in a ute heading the same way. Then it was off on what promised to be the most arduous bit of the roadtrip for my car.