We have at last made it to Yuendumu – the ultimate target of our road trip. However in all honesty we have to admit that the last 300kms was done in Mich’s Toyota Hilux. The VW campervan would have made the first 150km but the last 150km may well have shaken the old girl to death. The road although straight and flat was highly corrugated and would have presented some difficulties to the VWs suspension or for that matter almost any 2WD vehicle. We saw the wrecks of many that had rolled and been left where this happened along the way out here.
The trip from Cooper Pedy to Uluru was long and flat but surprisingly interesting. After the last years good rainfall there was much green vegetation to be seen which looked magnificent contrasting with the bright red of the soil. It reminded us of some of Albert Namatjira’s paintings of the vegetation poking through the red earth contrasting with the ghost gums in the background. The camp ground at Yalara was large and reasonably well set up – but camp kitchens in the powered site area did not have toasters or microwaves – it was assumed that if you had power you would use your own gear – not what we do at all. We missed the social interaction that often happens between travellers in the camp kitchens we’ve enjoyed elsewhere. Uluru itself was an outstanding sight tosee. We managed a ranger led discovery tour with explanations of the cultural significance of the rock and area initially and then the following day we left at dawn to see the sunrise over the rock and did a private 10.6km circumnavigation of the rock on the base walk where we saw outstanding bird life including numerous wedge tailed eagles, Princess parrots, wrens and thorn bills – the What Bird is that book has been well thumbed through since to locate the birds we spotted. We took a trip out to the Olgas as well on our last day – they are also in the national park.
Yesterday we drove into Alice Springs and found it a pretty sight after the desert environment we’d been in for quite a while. Again it is quite green and lush and totally out of character to what we’d heard about. We enjoyed a Thai meal there which was a welcome change after having about 5 BBQ’s in a row of steak, salad and potatoes done on the BBQ plate!!! However this was not to say that the place is not without its alcohol related problems and we found it quite difficult to buy take away alcohol both in Cooper Pedy, Yulura and Alice Springs. There are a variety of impediments to the purchase including limited opening hours (typically when we were not there) and the need to have a camp ground or hotel key identification. In some places along the way, there is an impediment to getting inside a roadhouse for a coffee or a loo stop, its necessary to wear shoes and a shirt or there is no service offered.We did not see drinking along the Todd River but that may have been because we did not look late at night.
Tomorrow we are spending the day at the Art Centre where we believe we will be helping the artists and staff mix up paints and will explore the art environment here in the community. Between now and before we go Mish has lined up three dinners with friends, one of which are two keen cyclists out here, despite the road conditions!!! We plan on leaving here on Monday for Alice Springs for a few days and then leaving there on Wednesday sometime for the trip south (including Cadney Park) and east and eventually home for Easter.
As usual when away at home or abroad the best times are spent meeting locals or other travellers and hearing their stories. We spent time with some mature aged German photographers at our Mildura VIC camping ground- this was their 3rd trip to Australia where they say they enjoy the outback and open spaces much more than the cities, a Dutch family growing thousands of trees from seed to green up Port Germein SA environs and a lone cyclist riding out to Uluru from the south complete with his front and rear panniers and who was always seen riding with his fly net on to beat the never ending swarms of bush flies – his would have to be what is described as a ‘big ride’.
While at Uluru we met two French off road motor cyclists who had flown out from France to Perth and set off on a journey across Australia through the middle using the Great Central Road. They plan to be away from France 7 months and will take a ship from Brisbane QLD across to Sth Korea and onto Vladivostok, Russia and then will ride across Siberia eventually getting back to Western Europe in 7months later. Their website is here and they update their journey on their site regularly if you care to check it out. They ride with their T shirts on that promote the trip that raises money for a childrens charity back in France and got a lot of attention at the camp ground and the Outback Bar.
So far the only snakes seen have been dead ones.
Sandy and Peter
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