10.00 checked out of the campsite before driving on to Longreach, where we stopped off at Jericho for lunch, which was another small cowboy style town. We stopped in Jericho for quite a while lapping up the sun on patch of grass opposite the small town hall which was a mere shack made from wood. The day seemed to pass quite quickly and we didn't quite make it to Longreach so set up camp on the outskirts. We stopped in a truckers lay by which was pretty close to the road but ideal because it had toilets and a seating area where we built a huge fire. At first we thought we'd struggle to gather enough wood for a fire however we spotted a few dead trees in the distance so walked across the sparse field and ripped the tree apart. I also found a pallet which was ideal for burning; the fire so was so hot we could barely cook on it. After the sunset we had a bit of a party and drunk the remaining boxes of goon, truckers beeped at us as they drove past and everyone was in high spirit after another delicious meal.
The night was pretty sketchy but must have been a good one, all the lads woke up with make up on and one of our camping chairs had caught fire - at least no one was sat in it.
Woke up pretty cold at around 7.00 and couldn't really get back to sleep so I decided to wash up the pots from the night before. Whilst washing the pans in the tiny sink next to the public toilet I met a cowboy looking bloke called Bruce Bell who reminded me of Johnny Cash in his older days, the old chap seemed really interesting but I had to explain to him that my girl friend had put eye liner on me the night before - I think he believed me. Bruce introduced to me his wife Crystal and invited me into their home on wheels; the converted children's bus had everything they needed and was even towing their four wheel drive car behind.
Bruce went on to tell me that as a couple they tour round Australia playing country music around pubs, he played me one of his tracks which was pretty good and it turned out that Bruce is a bit of a legend around the area and has a few hits that are frequently played around the country. After I introduced the couple to the rest of the camp we had a quick photo session and drove along the Landsborough and across the Tropic of Capricorn through Longreach. Longreach is home of the Quantas air museum however we could see the majority of the planes from the car park as the fence was extremely low, so we decided to take a few photos from the car park before moving on.
We stopped for lunch on the highway and made omelette which was delicious but spoilt by the huge amount of flies present.
We were hoping that we might stumble on some kind of English pub which would be showing England's first world cup game against the USA, throughout the night. Our dream of watching the game soon diminished and we ended up pulling into a truckers lay by for the night. The girls started to prepare the food whilst the lads played football with the sun setting behind us.
We had a pretty big wood pile for the fire but seemed to go through it pretty quickly, none of us fancied walking into the dense bush to collect more wood so we had an early night.
In the early hours of the morning Mels Dan messaged us the football results England 1, USA 1, I'm glad that we didn't watch the dreary match. During the night the temperature dropped and Mel and I were both pretty cold, everyone told us that it would be hot during the day and cold at night but it's hard to imagine when you're walking around topless during the day.
Back on the road again the landscape kept changing, for one hour we'd be driving through flat plains, the next hour through dense bush land where termite mounds jutted out from the ground like stalagmites. Once through the dense bush we'd be back on flat plains again where we could easily spot emus and large cranes which resembled prehistoric pterodactyl, in flight.
We stopped off for petrol in Winton; Winton is famous for "Banjo" Paterson's ballad Waltzing Matilda, at the petrol station we met up with about ten Harley Davidson riders who were all members of the HOG club and from the Rockhamton chapter. I got on with the rowdy bunch pretty well and told them about some of my biking experiences whilst travelling, I also told them that my boss and buddy Ross was a member of the HOG club back in England, they told me to tell Ross to get his arse out here for a ride.
Later in the day we drove through Kyuna and past the riders again, we carried on driving before stopping in Mckinlay for a bottle of XXXX. The pub was in the middle of nowhere and famous for the rowdy scene acted out in the Crocodile Dundee film. Apparently the crocodile Dundee film was inspired by the survival story of Rod Ansell; Ansel then 27 years of age, claimed he became marooned when his boat was overturned while fishing at the mouth of the Victoria River, northwest of Timber Creek. With just one oar he paddled a dinghy up the Fitzmaurice River to fresh water and survived for seven weeks using the bush skills he'd been brought up with. Ansell and his two bull terriers were found, emaciated but coherent, as time went on the story was exaggerated and made into a blockbuster movie putting the Australia's outback on the map. What the film doesn't portray is the last few years of Ansells life where he left his family and lived as a recluse after he was charged with assault and the theft of cattle. In August 1999, weighing less than 45kg and in the grip of drug induced paranoia, he shot at strangers. To cut a long story short he ended up shooting a police man before reinforcements were called in putting an end to both the rampage and Ansells life.
The bikers took Mel, Tracy and James out on the Harleys, they all loved it and 'sorry dad' but Mel wants to ride pillion on my hog - when I eventually get one. Two of the riders drove up the road before blasting past the pub half naked with streamers flowing behind them like the scene from Pricilla the Queen of the Desert.
After a brief stop in Cloncurry to pick up food from IGA and goon from the drive through bottle shop, we set up camp on the outskirts. The free basic campsite was surprisingly very busy; we parked the vehicles near the road to prevent the rest of the camp from hearing us. The girls started the food preparation whilst the lads hopped a barbed wire fence and went on a wood hunt. We had to collect before the sun went down; even though we had head torches it wasn't enough light to spot the huge spiders and webs lurking in some of the dead trees we were hacking down.
We collected enough wood to keep the fire burning all night, we started to write a song about our travels but this got more difficult as we drank more goon. We ended up having a late night and woke up in an almost empty car park as most of the other travellers had already hit the road.
After an egg on toast breakfast which we cooked on the fire we drove back onto the highway towards Mt Isa where we stopped to use the free internet service at McDonalds, however the connection was so slow I failed to load up my emails and my facebook page; I'm pretty sure the connection is limited so you end up spending more time in there. After a Mc piss we strolled around the drab, industrial town and purchased a new chair, batteries and visited a sex shop (random) before driving along the Barkly highway towards Comooweal where we topped up our petrol for a ridiculous price (only one petrol station in town they can charge what they want).
The land became very flat and there was nothing around except the odd bit of tumble weed, vehicles coming in the opposite direction (would all wave at us) and eagles soaring above our van.
After 450 kilometres of driving we eventually crossed from Queensland to the Northern Territory were we had already clocked up 3400 kilometres in our Toyota Hiace. After putting our watches back half an hour because ofthe time difference we pulled into a free campsite just off the highway and jumped out of the vehicle onto what was now red sand and began our wood hunt again. There were a lot of dead trees to choose from, we swung from the trees like monkeys eventually snapping the branches which would often land on top of us. We advised the girls to stop by the vans because of the huge spiders amongst the trees - they were happy to prepare the food again whilst drinking goon.
We played a few more games which included writing down what we thought of each person, the game went down well and the night finished with everyone in highs spirits.
The only problem with the site was that it didn't have a toilet or sink so I washed the pans using the solar shower which I thought we'd be using everyday however we shower every couple of days at the service stations for $2.The Barkly highway terminated at the three way road house it was here were explorer Stuart was repelled by aborigines on one of his 'expeditions." After a spot of lunch next to a typical bush pub we headed south along the Stewart Highway towards Alice Springs.
We stopped off in Tennant Creek to buy goon but refused to pay $20 for two litres, normally it cost $10 for 4 litres, and you only purchase alcohol between 4 and 6pm. The reason behind the strange alcohol laws are a result of alcohol abuse amongst aborigines; a few aborigine towns have been plagued by alcohol fuelled social problems and in 2008 a fight broke out in Tennant Creek, a local doctor described the nightshift at the hospital as a blood bath.
Over a quarter of the Northern territory's population are aborigines, a far higher proportion than anywhere else in Australia. Most aborigines live in remote communities or outstations, smaller satellite communities supporting a clan or several families. Many communities are plagued with social problems, including domestic violence, child abuse, and alcoholism and substance addiction whist living in conditions worst than many developing countries. Aboriginal society appears to be divided, some of them are proud of their culture and have built some impressive museums demonstrating their indigenous art, poetry, music and writing. However some communities have a high incidence of violence in communities, led by men whose role as family providers and custodians of the law and land have been eliminated, eroding their self esteem.
On route we stopped at an old telegraph station, James and I managed to get into some of the buildings for a look around before heading a few kilometres down the road to Mary Anne Dam, the water was ridiculously cold but we all decided to take the plunge and have a wash in the lake saving us $2 each, as we no longer needed a shower. Mel and I got changed in the public toilets and realised that they had free hot showers there, we couldn't believe our luck, from being freezing everyone was warm again and back on the road.
5.00 We pulled into a free traveller lay by which was situated next to a huge windmill water pump which is common site in the outback. We collected a huge amount of dry wood and lit the wood bbq and began cooking our food on it, the only thing we didn't have was alcohol. The night was pretty pleasant and civilised, we all had a cup of tea and biscuits before the sound of a noisy engine approached us. An aborigine man jumped out of the car and staggered towards us, he was either high as a kite or had learning difficulties or possible both. I didn't like the look of the dude especially as I caught him staring at Tracey's laptop, I had already secretly flicked my knife out in my pocket as the guy made me pretty nervous and I sensed that everyone was slightly on edge.The guy kept wittering on about his granddad, but when we asked him a question back he didn't really acknowledge us, the next thing he shouted back to the car, his extremely young drug induced girl friend emerged from the wreck but didn't say anything. The whole experience was pretty weird and very awkward, the couple left us but left the girls slightly worried that he might return. The night got even scarier as we decided to tell each other ghost stories, the girls even had the nerves to try and sneak up on us however we caught them in the act so decided to get them back; a car pulled into the car park but out of the view of the girls, we told the girls that it was the abo with a 6 other men, all the lads played along and started to grab weapons including a bottle and the machete, the girls looked terrified so I put them at ease telling them to "never sneak up on us again", they found it amusing but I think everyone slept with one eye open that night.
After a poor night's sleep we drove further south toward devils marble which was pretty spectacular. The rock formation is a genuine geological oddity, the local warumunga people believe the huge round boulders are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. I'm pretty sure that the rocks are the same type as the one that make up Ayers Rock, the rest of the land had been corroded over millions of years leaving the hard rock on the surface of the earth; some of the rocks balanced on top of one another almost defying physics.
Further down the Stuart Highway we spotted a large monument on the side of the road, we pulled over to discover that we were crossing the Tropic of Capricorn. I think we'd already crossed it once or twice however this time we had a nice sign to take pictures of.
Eventually we arrived at Alice Springs, we stopped off to take a picture of the 'Welcome to Alice Springs' sign before driving into the town. The town seemed to be full of scary looking people predominately aborigines. Within the first hour of being there we saw three arrests, I felt like I was in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had taken place, aborigines walked the streets like zombies, shouting at each other, pestering the locals and basically being nuisances. I'm pretty sure half the aborigine people are proud of their culture and could probably teach us westerners a thing or two however the other half seemed to live in Alice Springs.
We did a spot of shopping in Coles and stocked up our alcohol reserve, however on the way in to AS we saw a sign which stated the alcohol limit as well as a 'no porn' ban. "No porn and no alcohol" I wanted to go home, what was I suppose to do with my time in this Outback town. I soon realised that you could buy liquor from a bottle shop next to Coles but before they handed me the bottles of white wine they scanned my driving license, to probably stop me from selling it on to the Abo's.
None of us wanted to spend money on a campsite, but we felt like it was the safest option so checked into a cheap site on the outskirts of the town. It was $12 per person so we hid the girls and paid for four, we all made use of the showers and laundry before cooking a curry for tea.