Travels with the Winnie: Day 41

Alice Springs to Ti Tree after overnight at Tropic of Capricorn Rest Area

We spent about five hours at the Araluen Centre. It has been built on the site of the Connellen Airways, and we were able to revisit the hangers where Dad (Ralph) used to work and we used to play. Or at least I could see one of the hangers, at the time I went the second one wasn’t open.

Apart from the Galleries, and I was especially impressed with the photographic exhibition by Aboriginal photographers, there was the Strehlow Centre with exhibits showing central Australia from the beginning – very interesting and well done. There was also more information on the anthropological work done with local aborigines by Strehlow and his son, who weren’t a trained anthropologists, and made the sort of mistakes typical of the times, such as selling objects to a museum in Germany. There is a huge archive of film taken by the son which has never been edited, I hope they realise it will need to be digitised soon. The reason for the lack of editing, just too much to do in one lifetime and being unsure of the audience, given that much of it was of secret/sacred business.

It was after 3.00 p.m. when we set off, stopping to fill up with fuel on the way. We went about 30kms to our first rest area at the Tropic of Capricorn Rest Area. It continued to be slightly wet, but became very windy. We decided to sleep with the slide in as the little cover was flapping about in the wind and we thought it might break off. I also had to raise our TV arial a little to keep it from banging on the roof. It was still quite cold and windy this morning and as we drove to Ti Tree. Interestingly, the landscape became greener on the drive here.

I checked the Alice Springs climate information. It does indeed get most of its rain in summer, but that doesn’t mean it can’t rain in winter as well, just that it won’t be as much.

We are parked at the Ti Tree Roadhouse because we have (slow) access to the internet.

Tropic of Capricorn
Tropic of Capricorn marker
Winnie at Tropic of Capricorn
our overnight at the Tropic of Capricorn Rest Area. We ended up with a motorhome behind us and a car with rooftop tent in front of us. Altogether, there were about 8 vehicles camped there overnight, and we were the last to leave in the morning at 10.00 a.m.

We are having fairly short travel days today and tomorrow as I would like to overnight at the Devils Marbles Rest Area tomorrow night.

We are staying at Ti Tree for a while as our next overnight is only about 20 kms down the road.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 40

Leaving Alice Springs

We woke up to uniformly grey sky this morning, together with a very light misty rain. I thought of the desert plants drinking this up. I thought Central Australia only

I just downloaded a movie for us to watch in the coming days when we won’t have TV. It took about 3 minutes for a 1.4gig movie in standard definition. I am definitely going to be harrassing iinet when we get home about their download cap of 100mbts.

We have filled up with water and plan to free camp for a least the first night on the road. Before leaving we are going to the Araluen Centre across the road from our caravan park to visit the galleries. We have possible overnight places at 30kms from town and 89kms, so depending on how long we spend at the Centre, we have an easy drive from here.

There is so much more we could be doing in this local area. It’s a little frustrating to have learned so much about the local birdlife yesterday and not be able to explore more around Alice. However, there is also the urge to move on.

Going home via Queensland is still something we are seriously considering. We will either go up to Katherine and turn west towards Kununurra, or turn east at Tennant Creek. It is very tempting to go with the cooler weather and more towns and villages on the way.

We have packing up for travel down to a fine art, with occasional glitches, like leaving a window slightly open. I like it that we have to tidy up every day, we can get very messy if we don’t have to move the Winnie. We have better systems for putting things away and that is certainly making life easier.

There may be gaps now in posting to this blog as we don’t know when we will next have a Telstra signal.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 39

Alice Springs Desert Park

Alice Springs Desert Park (1 of 1)

This morning we picked up the camera, went to the pharmacy and did some shopping in Coles in preparation for leaving. Stephen had a good session with the podiatrist and feels it has been helpful. He had some pressure socks to wear and exercises to help with loss of flesh on the bottom of his foot which has lead to the pain.

Then we went to the Alice springs Desert Park. There were animals in fenced enclosures and a variety of plants and environments to see. Two of the staff were indigenous and they were very likable and knowledgeable.

There were wildflowers, including the Sturt Pea.

Alice Springs Desert Park - sturt pea2 (1 of 1)
Sturt Pea

A highlight of our visit was the presentation on local birds. The birds appeared as if by magic, interacting with the presenters, mainly the man in the featured image, but also a woman working with a raptor. I was rapt, but Stephen asked how he managed to bring each bird in on cue. They are in cages, and though flying free for the presentation, they return to cages and the presenter works with them to ensure that they feel comfortable being with him, and also with the crowds who come to the presentation. He was able to take the birds close to different sections of the ampitheatre, so that we were actually quite close to them. We had lots of young people, including older school children, in the audience.

Alice Springs Desert Park - desert sands (1 of 1)
Desert Sands environment
Alice Springs Desert Park - boobook2 (1 of 1)
Alice Springs Desert Park - barn owl in flight closer (1 of 1)
Barn Owl, showing her heart-shaped face
Alice Springs Desert Park - the relationship2 (1 of 1)
Alice Springs Desert Park - another bird better (1 of 1)
We saw this bird yesterday at the distance – nice to see it closer
Alice Springs Desert Park - Mt Gillen (1 of 1)
The Park was close to the MacDonnel Ranges, looking towards Mt Gillen

We came home and put a meal into the electric pressure cooker. There will be enough for tonight and for several days to come. It smells great, so I will stop writing to have our meal.

It’s been a cloudy day with light sprinkles of rain here and there, and quite cold again this evening.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 38

Hermannsburg to Alice Springs via Simpson’s Gap

We had quite a good night feeling a bit spooked by our strange location in a locked compound. We woke at 5.30 a.m. to the sound of very light rain drops and the smell of ozone. I quickly closed the hatches, but we didn’t need to close the windows as it stopped quite soon. A little later there was a slightly heavier shower which lasted for about 20 minutes. Just the sort of thing that settles the dust on a vehicle!

At dawn the clouds lit up in a display that lasted for about 15 minutes. I was enjoying my cup of tea, but still jumped outside for a couple of photos.

Hermannsburg Dawn

The day continued to be partly cloudy as we drove back towards Alice Springs. The scenery was still quite spectacular. Stephen had been doing his research and suggested we call in at Simpson’s Gap for lunch. There was a short path through to the Gap. On the way we met up with Cathy who is travelling in a campervan and admires our Winnie. She is planning to travel full time for a couple of years and wants to have a bit more space. We first connected with her at Uluru during the sunset ritual.

We saw some rock wallabies, but only in the distance and my camera could not pick them up. I’m missing my good camera.

the Gap
Simpsons Gap 2 (1 of 1)
the Gap 2
Simpsons Gap 3 (1 of 1)
the river bed
Simpsons Gap 4 (1 of 1)
some rock formations
Stephen at the Gap
me at the Gap

Stephen has managed to get an earlier appointment at the podiatrist, tomorrow at 11.40 a.m. I rang up about my camera, but it was not due at the shop until later today, so I said I will pick it up in the morning, which suited them.

Stephen rang Tourist Information at Alice Springs last night to see if we could get a night at a caravan park. He was successful, and when we arrived we were able to book two nights. We are located about 2 kms from the centre of town and opposite the Araluen Arts Centre. Stephen has already been there, but the galleries were closed and we plan to go together tomorrow afternoon. We plan to get our shopping done, pick up my camera, and go to his appointment in the morning.

This is decision time about the next few weeks of travel. I mentioned to Stephen that on another trip I would be interested in travelling more of the eastern states, and even up into Queensland. He is now contemplating turning East rather than West at Katherine, so that we would travel across into Queensland, visit a cousin in law, and then visit small towns, travelling across to Port Augusta and across the Nullabour. This is partly because as the days have been warmer here he has realised that maybe it is more comfortable to travel in cooler weather, even if we encounter rain. Of course, we would still experience some warmer weather going up to Katherine.



Travels with the Winnie: Days 36 & 37

Day 36 – Alice Springs to Standley Chasm 24/6/17

We dropped in at Standley Chasm on our way to Hermansburg, and decided to stay. The car park acts as a campground, with toilets, showers, drinking water and even a washing machine that guests can use for free. We had morning tea, then went on the 1.2km walk to the Chasm itself. We arrived around midday, said to be the best time because of sunlight on both walls. I took lots of photos and we stood around waiting for about half an hour. It was impressive for the whole time.

We enjoyed the drive along Larapinta Drive, with mountains on both sides of the road. The drive into Standley Chasm was winding and scenic.

After the walk we had lunch and a rest. We set up our chairs outside and did some reading. Around 4.30 we had showers, not wanting to wait for the evening cold. We have a fairly easy meal tonight of stirfry meat with onions, capsicum and tomatoes. We don’t have any potatoes or carrots, but do have greens. Anyway, we have potato chips with our diet cola as nibbles, so that could count (not).

We’ve been invited to sit around a campfire tonight by one of our neighbours. There are about 6 motorhomes/campervans/campertent and one tent camped here tonight.

Light streaming on Chasm walk
sunlight in the Chasm
the light in the Chasm is because we arrived in the middle of the day
Winnie at Standley Chasm (1 of 1)
our campsite in the carpark at Standley Chasm


Day 37 – Standley Chasm to Hermannsburg 25/6/17

We woke quite early and had cups of tea. It was cloudy and the overnight was a bit warmer than we have been used to, though we were still comfortable under our warm doona. I went for another walk to the chasm before breakfast, Stephen had a walk up the road after breakfast.

Standley Chasm on a cloudy morning
Rock Wallabies kissing on a ledge

We had a nice time around the campfire with two other couples, but did not discover much commonality, beyond all being part time travellers. It was very peaceful after the day tourists had gone.

branches out of a branch (1 of 1)
an unusual gum tree at Hermannsburg
The Cafe at the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct

We set off for Hermannsburg at about 10.40 a.m. We had the mountain range on one side and a lower, but still interesting range on the other. The bushland is beautiful and is probably the result of really good rainfall.

The camping here is very odd, we are in a locked compound. We feel a bit like refugees, except that we have our own key. The woman who gave us the key said something about the compound being necessary because of wandering stock, but that doesn’t actually explain why the gate is locked!

The day became more cloudy and rather humid, there is apparently a 20% chance of rain and it looks more like a storm possibility. However, it is still relatively cool – in the low 20’s now, and doesn’t feel too oppresssive. Mind you, we had the airconditioner on for a short while.

The historic precinct was interesting, if a bit rundown. It would be interesting to get an Indidgenous take on it as the literature we read was written by the Lutherans and painted their time here in a good light. Still, it’s impressive that they focussed on learning the local language, rather than just imposing their own or English.

There was some information about Albert Namatjira, but not many of his paintings. His story was tragic, despite his success as a painter. Still, he appears to have had a good marriage and built his own house for himself, his wife and their seven children.

Oddly, the 4G service here is much faster than in Alice Springs. Well done the local community to make it happen. Although the historical precinct is a tourist attraction it is far less busy than Uluru. We are the only people staying in the campground.


Travels with the Winnie: Day 35

A Day at Alice Springs

We had a relaxing morning, finally getting away at about 11.00 a.m. I sat outside to have breakfast and coffee.

I had noticed a large dust spot on the camera sensor, and rang up the only camera store in town. They are able to arrange to have cleaned, but we won’t be able to pick it up until about lunchtime on Monday. I dropped it off whilst we were doing grocery shopping.

Stephen has noticed that one of his heels is painful. He rang up regarding a podiatry appointment, the earliest one is on Wednesday.

Therefore, we will definitely have to be here until Monday lunchtime, and if his heel continues to be painful it may be Wednesday. The only slight problem is that our present campsite will close after Sunday due to preparations for an agricultural show to be held here the following week. We are not sure if we will be able to get accommodation in town and may have to make small trips away. Not that we will be bored, there are lots of places to go.

Yesterday our next door neighbour offered to share their water connection with us. They have a tap on the frame of their caravan and we have connected up our hose. Very, very nice having drinking water coming out of our taps.

After shopping we went out to the Telegraph Station Museum. It is beautifully kept and has interesting history, though later was used to house Aboriginal children who were taken from their mothers. That rather spoils it for me.

We came back to enjoy another mild evening sitting outside enjoying the mild temperatures. After sunset it was chilly again, so we have moved inside.

One of the buildings at the old Telegraph Station. The featured image is of a bird at the cafe, obviously a frequent visitor with no fear of people.

Yet another sunset

Looking towards Heavytree Gap that we drive through when going into town
I had forgotten how picturesque Alice Springs is. Obviously not the buildings, but the hills around the town. Essentially, it is a narrow place between steeply sided hills.


Travels with the Winnie: Days 33 & 34

Urulu to Desert Oak Rest Area (on the Stuart Highway)


We had filled the Winnie tank yesterday, so this morning we just had our water containers to fill. Stephen put some more coolant in and I put some water in the windscreen wiper container.

We had our last showers, then our usual breakfast of wheatbix, tea/coffee, yogurt, a shared piece of fruit, and muesli/wheat germ.

We stopped at the first roadhouse, but made our own cups of tea and fruit cake after filling up. We had lunch at the lovely rest area where we stayed on the way in.

We stopped again at the roadhouse at the junction of the highways, then on about 33 kms to a place called the Desert Oak Rest Area. We were late getting in, about 5.00 p.m. and there were lots of caravans and motorhomes already there. Still, we managed to find a spot. We put the awning out, with help from our neighbour, and I put my handwashed clothing out on the little line that I rig up from the awning strut to the hand grab near the door. It was still mostly quite wet.

It has been a beautiful, mild evening, with lots of people sitting about socialising and enjoying the beautiful colours.

We had drinks and nibbles and I finished the last of the Jack Daniels. More needed!

Despite the many neighbours this place is very peaceful. The drop toilets are clean, with soap and paper. There is also a water tank, we are not sure whether the water would be potable, but fortunately we don’t need it.

Desert Oaks Rest Area to Alice Springs

On our way here we stopped at the Finke River Bridge rest area for morning tea. We walked down to the riverbed on the fine sand which had a sparkle to it.

Finke River - some water
water in the Finke River
Finke River Rest Area
fine river sand
River bed
The Finke River

We have been driving through ranges of hills, but as we got closer to Alice the The MacDonnell Ranges are very much higher. There was no room for us at the caravan park we went to, and they recommended going to the recreation park where there were powered sites, with water taps, showers and toilets. Although people are linking up their caravans, the taps are meant to be shared and we will be able to fill up in the morning before we go.

We had showers, me a cold one in our bathroom and Stephen a warm one in the shower block.

I did some handwashing and we’ve been sitting outside for our drinks and nibbles for the first time on our trip.

a clean Stephen returning
a clean Stephen returns from the shower
Alice Springs - our campsite
our campsite at Alice Springs
a tree at our campsite
A tree and the ‘neighbourhood’


Travels with the Winnie: Day 32

The Olgas and another Urulu sunset

Another day in this beautiful landscape. The Olgas, which are quite beautiful at a distance, seemed to become more ordinary as we got really close to them. We stopped at a lookout.

The Olgas lookout (1 of 1)
Stephen reads about the local environment
The Olgas lookout2 (1 of 1)
Somehow this doesn’t capture the view as well as I thought it would.
Olgas residents (1 of 1)
A local couple
The Olgas lookout3 (1 of 1)
Using the zoom
the gap (1 of 1)
We didn’t go very far into the gorge here. I remembered this place from our last visit
Uluru before sunset (1 of 1)
After a visit to the Cultural Centre, a bit late in the day for me to take much interest, we went to the usual place to view the sunset on Urulu. This is just before sunset with only the rock in the light
Uluru after sunset (1 of 1)
And this is after sunset when the rock is bronze and the sky changes colour

The landscape as a whole is very beautiful, with very interesting and beautiful trees and plants. I realise that the experience is very different in the heat of summer, but I couldn’t help feeling that the people who live here must feel extremely blessed by all of this beauty. Urulu is truly awsome and the setting does much to enhance the overall effect.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 31

Exploring around Uluru

This morning we had a lot of washing to do and I decided to do it using my little twin tub washing machine. At the end of it, the washing machine had to go! I left it in the laundry with a note saying that if someone wanted to give it a new home they were welcome to it. Not one hour later it was gone!

Now we have room in that locker for our picnic table and folding chairs, much more convenient that having them in the overhead bunk. I’ve been wondering for some time if it was worthwhile to keep the washing machine, it feels good to have made that decision. It wasn’t expensive and I’m not sure how long it will last the new owner. Or if that person will hand it on in a few weeks to the next person.

We are heading north, and I’ve decided that handwashing small amounts of washing, supplemented by an occasional big wash in the a campground machine, is the way to go. For at least the next month the climate will get warmer and warmer. Already we are in a very dry area where washing dries quickly.

We went to a film and talk about the night sky. This area was once an inland sea and is too low for astrononmers, but they keep the lights deliberately low in the Resort area and offer night time walks, with telescopes, for people who are interested.

We had a light lunch in one of the Resort hotels, not very expensive and it was delicious. However, this evening I was feeling a bit under the weather and wondering if it was what we had for lunch that caused it. Probably not related.

We had a walk in the sun, that might have caused the problem. Stephen had a slight headache as well.

Nevertheless, we packed up the Winnie and went out for a sunset viewing, this time driving to the base of Uluru. There were far less people in this location, probably due to the time of day, as it offers a short and a long walk around the base, most people would have done that during the day.

Today has been absolutely cloudless and we had quite a different experience in this location being close up and walking along the Marla Walk for a short distance.

Marla Walk14 (1 of 1)
The setting sun lighting up the rock face
Marla Walk5 (1 of 1)
These colours are what the camera, and I, actually saw
Marla Walk8 (1 of 1)
the contrast with the surrounding bush
the climb (1 of 1)
The climbing rope, fortunately they seem to have closed the climb for good. I saw people taking children up it last time we were here and was pretty horrified
gumnut (1 of 1)
Stephen wanted a photo of this gumnt
flowers (1 of 1)
flowers on the Marla Walk. We also went to a lookout within the caravan park earlier today. There were bushes that looked a lot like Geraldton Wax with a wonderful scent. From the lookout, which wasn’t very high, we could see both the Rock and the Olgas in the distance.
Winnie and I - long shadows (1 of 1)
Winnie and I casting long shadows

We just had a look at the Road Atlas lent to us by David and Lesley. I use Geowiki for finding campsites and navigation, but we also need to get an overview, so the Atlas is proving very useful. We have come a long way – I think over 4,000 kms altogether, and there is a very long way to go, especially if we head north after Alice Springs.

Perhaps better to not look at it, just concentrate on enjoying where we are and anticipating just the next destination.

We have extended our stay for one more night, partly based on our Park Permit, which is for 72 hours, but also because there is so much to do and see here.