Palm Valley, Hail and Floods in Alice Springs
Namatjira, Northern Territory
17th June 2016
Today we decided to stay in Alice Springs one more night, biding time for the Oodnadatta track to open. During the day today it opened to vehicles under 3 tonne, this still excludes us with the van, we see this as a positive sign and hopefully it will be open for us soon.
We drove out to Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park. (This is where we planned to go almost a week ago, but the we felt the town close by was not suitable to leave our van to drive in).
The warning sign as we enter the road is that it is extreme 4wd and it will take 3 hours to travel the 22 kms. We lowered our tyre pressures and drove on. We did the first 18 kms in 40 minutes, the road condition was better than last time; the sandy sections were well compacted and last night's rain would have aided it. The last 4 kms is the extreme 4wd section, climbing rocks, traversing rocky outcrops, some sandy sections and many river crossings. These river crossings were a bit more challenging as unlike the standard river bed crossing on a bed of river pebbles/sand, the ground levels were all over the place with rock ledges, ruts and steep embankments. We made safely into Palm Valley, almost running over a snake in the last section.
We did the spectacular walk into the valley and headed back out.
As we drove back into Alice we could the storm clouds ahead. When we got closer and had internet access we saw the storm warnings and reports that Alice Springs had experienced large sized hail, we hoped the Caravan and the solar panels didn't get damaged.
Trying to drive through Alice was challenging with many people on the roads, many of the roads starting to flood, fallen trees and the police trying to put in road blocks. We drove out to the Todd River, out near the Gap area of Alice, just off the Stuart Hwy. As we arrive we see the torrents of water running in from both sides of the river, meeting and covering a large percentage of the river sandy bed. Rising with the river is steam it was very eyrie to watch. Unfortunately a lot of rubbish was flowing too.
As we drove back to our camp, we see the road to the Caravan Parks on the Gap side (G'day Mate, Big 4, etc) are closed, with many people banked up unable to return to their camp. Our caravan park is further out of town, the storm appears to not have been so significant and thankfully we have no damage to our van. 38 mills of rain fell on Alice Springs.
Tomorrow we will head on south to Kulgera, from there drive out to Lamberts Centre of Australia (the measured centre point of Australia). Then hopefully the following day we can start the Oodnadatta track.