Hey guys, long time no speak! We’ve been travelling through the outback so had very little internet access hence this could be a long blog! The piles of washing are in the machine so we’ve taken some time out to search through our hundreds of pics and write this, then I’ll get on to cooking the sausages on the barbie!
So, South Australia, was a while ago now but we still vividly remember our first stop, it looked fake! We stopped at a town called Mt Gambier just inside the border, it is where the water for the whole of South Australia is sourced. Mt Gambier is at the base of a pair of shallow volcanic craters, now overgrown and holding large lakes, one of which looked normal (grey and wet) the other looked like plastic. The Blue Lake funnily enough is blue, but it is such a vivid colour and very calm water that it looks like a sheet of blue plastic/glass, sharp contrast to the subtle greenery around it, stunning. The town itself was pretty uneventful so we paid attention mostly to the lake, then on a very wet and horribly windy day we moved on. We used a small town called Robe as a stop-over, the weather was so bad, Jerry was struggling in the wind and driving was difficult. We were there long enough to drive to the waterfront and eat fresh fish and chips in Jerry overlooking the water. We were surrounded by seagulls and have added a pic of Stumpy to the blog purely because of his bravery and cheek in the strong wind, good balance! The next day the weather was still miserable but the wind had dropped slightly so we moved on to Adelaide.
The campsite just outside of Adelaide was lovely, again on the beach, and we saw beautiful sunsets over the water as we were now looking west. The city was quite small but we stayed long enough to get Jerry sorted and stocked up. We had Jerry serviced and they found no problems so we treated him to a good wash and scrub behind the ears, we were pretty shocked to discover he actually looks white under all the grub, we added another pic of him in his folder to show you! We had a good look around town and had a day trip to Port Adelaide, we had heard there was an impressive market and fresh fish sold there, but whoever gave us that information needs shooting! We went on another dolphin watching cruise just because it was only $4 each (less than £2!!) but we saw four dolphins and got nicely burnt, well we didn’t expect much! We bought our supplies in preparation for our trip up the centre and also had the not so nice experience of meeting a small Red-Back spider, the deadly little Black Widow. Our chairs were folded up and kept outside and because we hadn’t used them in a few days the spider thought it’d be a nice home for itself. As I unfolded the chair I saw it, but I didn’t know what it was (yes I knew it was a spider but not deadly), I asked Taylor to get rid of it and he came along to rescue me, then stopped and realised what it was, for some reason I still didn’t panic though! Taylor flung the chair knocking the incy off and then smacked it to death with my trainer, was very graceful, honest. We were a little apprehensive after that and were pretty glad to leave.
Our next stop was Port Augusta, north of Adelaide. Not a lot to say, there wasn’t much water, it was dry and sandy, it was hot and humid. Great long thunder storm though, think that was the highlight of our stay there! Up north again and we stayed in our last stop in South Australia, Coober Pedy. Visiting this little town was like going back in time to the wild west, with probably just as much technology! Coober Pedy is the opal capital of the world, so all the town does is mine and sell opals. Although there was a restaurant, and a petrol station too! We went on a tour of a disused mine and were shown some of the mining machinery and tools used, there was still some opal to be seen in the walls despite its value. Over 50% of the population of Coober Pedy live underground and a vacant home was displayed during the tour, it looked cleaner than Jerry! We had a snoop around the shops, looking at the opals and artwork of the local aboriginal people, it took about 20minutes as the town is so small. We went noodling, which is searching through the waste rock from the mines, looking for any opals that were missed, we didn’t find any so we’re not rich but found other shiny rocks! Coober Pedy is in the middle of nowhere though, so it was hot, dry and sandy, and its been like that everywhere we‘ve been since!
We continued our journey north into the Northern Territory and were planning on stopping in a small town along the way, but it turned out to just be a roadhouse, so a bar and café with a field, right on the highway. We weren’t impressed so I continued driving (about 8hours in total) and arrived in Alice Springs. The journey wasn’t like driving around the coast, there was actually enough to look at to keep me awake. Of course it was just mainly flat land stretching for miles, but we were accompanied most of the way by wedge-tailed eagles, kestrels, emus, snakes and lizards, mainly the eagles though and they are beautiful, both soaring overhead and eating the road-kill before us (cant take their pic for b*****y though!) Dotted along the way are lookout points too, we stopped at a few, the salt lakes being the most impressive. Where there was once water there is now a layer of salt remaining, making the lake look frozen over with ice or snow, set amongst the red earth is was unexpected and impressive. We were contemplating driving to Uluru on the way up as it is about 4-5hours away from Alice Springs but we knew the accommodation would be expensive and I didn’t fancy driving the additional 9hours as well as walking around. Instead we arrived at Alice Springs and booked ourselves a tour of Uluru for the following day with a coach from Alice. It was expensive, more than we’d have spent if we were driving, but it was an air-conditioned coach, three great tour guides, with food and drink supplied, so we didn’t hesitate. It was a long day, the coach picked us up at 6am and we didn’t return til 12.30am, we were shattered but it was worth it. We got a tour of the local village of accommodation, all expensive but looked very nice and then headed first for the Olgas. The Olgas is another formation about 30km from Ayres Rock, and it has 36 steep-sided domes which gives it its name, Kata Tjuta meaning ‘many heads‘. We walked a short way down one of the gorges called Walpa Gorge, which had a sheer wall of rich red conglomerate (rock that looks like sandstone but Taylor tells me otherwise). I also gained my first and hopefully only experience of going to the loo on a long drop, as thrilling as it was I’d prefer to flush, and it was a bit breezy!
Then we headed to Ayres Rock, we had the chance to climb it and some people did, but as soon as I saw it I knew there was no chance I’d be able to. You’ll see from the pictures the steepness of it, with just a low chain hand-rail to cling to, I decided to stay on level ground, and Taylor decided not to climb too, to be fair it must have been 32ish degrees! The majority of us didn’t climb so instead the guides took us on a couple of walks and told us the history and stories surrounding the rock. We went to the cultural centre to discover more for ourselves and look at more of the artwork and artefacts made by the locals. After the tours we were treated to a glass of bubbly (cheap sparkling wine but never mind) and a couple of snags on the barbie, followed by the most fantastic view of Ayres Rock as the sun went down. The rock turned many colours, vivid orange and glowing red, and as the sun set, a gorgeous chocolate colour with the surrounding sky pink and blue, breathtaking!
Alice Springs itself was bigger than I’d expected, but without spending more money on tours and trips there wasn’t enough to keep us there. When we left there at 9.30am it was already 31degrees, so as you can imagine the driving has been really uncomfortable for us, especially with no air-con. We stopped for one night at a place called Wycliffe Well, it is known for its UFO sightings (that’s not why we stayed there) but they had large figures of famous people placed around the campsite, and we were parked up with Elvis! The place wasn’t great but it was bearable, until it went dark. There was a single light shining on the head of the Elvis figure, and sat happily on the top was a huge spider, along with a locust, stick insect, more spiders. The whole of the figure was covered in creepy crawlies, but the spider was too big for our liking, his body alone was about 3” long, so we shut all the doors and didn’t leave Jerry until the morning, when we drove away quickly! Our plan was to stop off again somewhere about 500km up the road, but I decided to keep driving the 900km up to Katherine in the hope of getting to civilization quicker. One night in Katherine was enough, it was so muggy and roasting hot, Jerry was like an oven and we were sweating constantly all night, the only time we stopped was about 6am when it finally cooled off a bit outside, but by 8am the sun was up and it was roasting again. So we figured Darwin would be better being on the coast it should have a nice breeze and be less humid, we were wrong, Darwin was worse! The drive there only took about 3hours but we were both pretty drenched in sweat when we arrived, and it only got worse. The first night we were awake the majority of it because it was just too hot, our little fan wasn’t doing enough to cool us, it was horrible. So the next day we went out and bought a bigger fan, and it has helped, still not been cool in Jerry but at least we’re not sweating all night, now its just all day! So we find respite in the shopping centres, and even the cinema but unfortunately Jerry is still struggling. There was a big storm last night, heavy downpour of rain, not much thunder but pretty much constant lightening for hours, it was amazing to watch, but it didn’t really clear the air unfortunately, and this morning bang on time, 8am, Jerry was an oven again!
Not much planned for Darwin, it’s a pretty small city selling mainly souvenirs but we’ll get restocked again before we head back down south again. Unfortunately to get back to the east coast we have to back-track about 1000km to take the road going across, big pain but never mind. We’re both looking forward to Queensland, with a hope that it will be cooler, and of course the arrival of the two girlies for some company and a big catch-up!
Will update again when we can but will be at least another week before we’re back on the coast, hope everyone is well, take care xx