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 defininately 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.


Travels with the Winnie: Day 30

Sunday 18th June, 2017

Kernot Ranges Rest Area to Uluru

What a difference arriving here was to last night. It was difficult to work out exactly where to go to find our camping area, the signage just not clear enough. Then it was difficult to work out where our site was from the map, especially as we paid for a powered site and were given the map to the unpowered area. When we found the site it was sloping down, correctable if you have a caravan, but rather tricky for us. So, we found a flat site and rang the reception to request it. Oddly enough, we are next door to a Starcraft van which is almost exactly the same as we had.

On the way, we stopped off to photograph Mt Connor, famous for being mistaken for Uluru by tourists, including me the first time we came here.

Mt Connor (1 of 1)
Mt Connor


The Olgas (1 of 1)
The Olgas – a view from the road

We had lunch and a rest, but still found it difficult to work out what to do. Still, we got to the main shopping centre, went to the Visitor Centre, had a coffee/chai latte and did a little bit of shopping in the rather good IGA.

Then it was time to set off for the Rock to enjoy the sunset. We found the car parking/viewing area quite easily and settled in for the show.

Sunset at Uluru - better (1 of 1)
We were all waiting for this to happen, and it did, not long after sunset, the clouds lit up

I tested the internet (Telstra 4GX) during our rest time. According to Speedtest, we have download speeds of 150mbps, 50 more than at home on our fibre to the home NBN broadband. The technicians did say our home service is capable of much higher speeds than we’ve been able to access, but that is the speed that home NBN is allowed. Anyway, it will work for a Facetime session with Matt.





Travels with the Winnie: Day 29

Saturday 17th June, 2017

A Travel Day

SA/NT Border Rest Area to Kernot Range Rest Area

Earlier in the trip we thought that we wouldn’t go to Uluru. Too touristy, and off our route. But, as the turnoff came closer, we started to think again. At Erlunda Roadhouse we took a break, checked our emails, had coffee, and decided to go after all.

It’s 250 kms off the Stuart Highway, so adds 500 kms to our trip and 2 – 3 days, which will all seem worth it when we get home and wonder why on earth we wouldn’t go.

We stopped near a roadhouse on the way to have lunch and planned to go to a rest area with a view of Mt Connor, the famous flat topped hill that regularly gets mistaken for Uluru. But, at about 3.00 p.m. when we pulled into a rest area to change drivers we were very taken with this location. It has water (probably not safe to drink, but handy for washing) and clear sites in a grove of desert oaks. The sound of them is enticing.

There were two motorhomes already there, and after we arrived three caravans came quite quickly and settled in as well.

I put up a line and used the provided water to rinse out some shirts and bras. I rigged up a line between a couple of trees to hand out the shirts to drip dry and put the bras discretely in the shower cubicle.

washing (1 of 1)

There is a sea of dry grasses waving in the breeze and views of the Mt Ebenezer range and what I think is Mt Connor in the distance from a nearby small hill.

It’s very peaceful, and the presence of other vans means we feel quite safe here.

a view to the Ranges (1 of 1)
A view to the Ranges




Travels with the Winnie: Day 28

Friday 16th June, 2017

A Travel Day

Marla South Rest Area to SA/NT Border Rest Area

This has been our first warm day. We don’t know what the official temperature is because we are internet free at the moment, but possibly 26 or 27 degrees. The sun has set and it is still very pleasant, just cooling down a bit.

With warmth come flies. I find myself making the acquaintance of people as we wave, apparently at each other, but actually at the flies.

We had a very peaceful night last night. In the end there were about six different sets of campers, three caravans, one bus, one couple with a car and tent, and us. Three of the people had campfires.

We were only about 30 kms from the Marla Roadhouse, so after our very relaxing (no internet) cup of tea, we had our washes and set off for the Roadhouse. We filled up the Winnie and had our first gas bottle refill of the trip. We started with two full bottles, and considering all the free camping we have done, this seemed a very good outcome.

The fridge was smelly on the gas, which was a sign that we were getting low.

Then, we drove to a quiet spot and had breakfast. We had 3g internet, but it was very slow. I managed to connect with Della on WeChat, but could not upload my blog. I tried for some time, but then gave up. We caught up on a bit of the news and read our emails.

I had two lots of postcards to send to Mum and Matt, so sent both at once. I’ve got some extra stamps to make it easy for sending the next ones.

After a rather frustrating time with the slow internet we went to the dump point.

And then, on our way. We tend to stop at most rest areas, just to check them out. The nicest was at the Agnes Creek Rest Area, which reminded us of the Pilbara.

Agnes Creek Rest Area (1 of 1)

We had choices of what to do, but opted for another free camp site, and have ended up at the border rest area. It is sealed, so no red dust tonight, but we have close neighbours, including someone with a bad cough, so not sure if this is the right place for us. There is camping across the road, but the drive is deeply rutted and we didn’t think we had enough clearance.

on the way to the border (1 of 1)
a view from the road

We are next door to another Winnebago Free Spirit, rather newer and shinier than ours. I took a photo of them together, covering up their number plate for privacy.

A tale of two Winnies (1 of 1)