From the Centre to the Top End

Welcome to the Tropics. The heat is suffocating but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes the fleeting breezes worth the wait.

We had a busy day in Alice and didn’t head off to the East Macs until 2pm. We went to the mechanics – warranty issue too big to deal with at the moment so Shaun reefed the bloody things off and sent them to Griffith TNT – we will sort it out later. After organising a new rig to filter water, stopping at hardware store, Clark Rubber, camping store, butcher, groceries, TNT and a quick shop at K-Mart we were all city-ed out. It was time to head bush.

We didn’t have far to travel that day which was good. We drove amongst the East Macs stopping at Emily Gap, Jessie Gap and Corroboree Rock. There was a nice little camping spot in the National Park at Trephina Gorge so we decided to spend the night. As nice as it was to sleep in 4 1/2 star luxury the night before I have to say it was nice to be back in the bush with the silence and the freedom. Although it was flamin’ HOT, our first night where when we laid down to bed the heat surrounded you and swallowed you whole.

One of the lookouts at Trephina Gorge
Our new water filter system
Filling up the water tanks - fun fun

The next day we headed to the old gold rush, now ghost town of Arltunga via Ross River. Arltunga was AMAZING – so much history in Central Australia. It was the first significant find of gold in the Centre. There is so much to explore from old mine shafts to ruins. We are going to come back and spend some more time in this area.

Arltunga Hotel
Another Territory Sunset

We had no plans of where we were going to sleep that night all we knew was that we needed to be heading North. Once back on the Stuart Highway it was getting late in the  day. We passed roadhouse after roadhouse for different reasons. A high hippy behind the bar, the mess around the placec and rundown facilities etc. It was a weird adventure. We eventually stopped at Wycliffe Well, which happens to be the UFO Capital of Australia. Goody more crazies. What town doesn’t have it weirdos right????? Anyway to say the least it was an interesting evening and we were out there early the next morning before we got beamed up.

Wycliffe Well - Crazy Town - UFO Capital of Australia

The next morning we travelled to Tennant Creek via The Devil’s Marbles –   massive boulders of granite scattered through a valley. We headed through to Tennant Creek and were amazed to find it too was steeped with a rich history. It was a gold rush tent-town and now has a population of over 3000. The gold rush of Tennant Creek was the last big rush of Australia occurring during the 1930’s it brought hope to many affected by the Depression. We found out so much at Battery Hill. The gold in these parts was not being extracted from Quartz but from Ironstone – the process being much more painstaking and meant the Ironstone had to be crushed into sand like particles for the gold to be released. We did the other touristy things around the town like the Old Telegraph Station, the town lookout, the Pebbles (a mini version of the Devil’s Marbles).

Devil's Marbles

We stopped at Attack Creek north of the Threeways for lunch. It’s amazing who you run into on the road. Craig and his girlfriend were heading South to Uluru. We all knew our paths were going to cross however, we had no phone service. Shaun spotted Craig’s van and even though he was standing behind bushes he started waving his hat like a mad-man and by some fluke Craig saw him and pulled over. It was nice to catch up there on the side of the road in the rancid heat.

After chatting for an hour or so it was time to hit the road again. We put the foot down and kept pushing on to reach the Historic Daly Waters Pub. We stopped once at Newcastle Waters – a ghost town at the end of Muranji Track. It is well worth stopping.

Once at Daly Waters, it was the quickest set up I have ever seen and straight in for a swim at the pool. Devine. We couldn’t go past a big Black Angus rump at the pub for tea. Great meals – gives the Meringandan Pub a run for its money.

Daly Waters Pub - Gotta love outback Australian humour
Inside the bar at Daly Waters
The Colorado out the front of the pub

We packed up early this morning after buying a famous Daly Waters Pub singlet (I lost my old one from 6 yrs ago) and kept heading North. This morning it really felt like we had reached the Top End, the muggy heat for starters and the CRAZIES were starting to come out of the woodwork. We stopped at Larrimah famous for the Pink Panther Pub. Shaun was going to grab a pie but it seemed very dicey so we decided to keep going. On the way out of town was a sign up saying Fran’s Homemade Pies and Pastries. We did a U-turn. Oh how we wish we hadn’t. Not only did we get ripped blind by being force fed, the lady (god bless) who I am sure is very lovely scared the BAJESUS out of us. It felt like the scene in a movie when your about to be killed. Needless to say we ate quickly and left even quicker. Please stop here and you to can enjoy the hospitality of Larrimah & Fran (maybe she has just had a busy tourist season????)

NT Road Train

From Larrimah it was straight to Mataranka. For those of you don’t know the Mataranka area was home to Jeannie Gunn, the author of “We of the Never Never” ( if you haven’t read it – READ IT! It is a great piece of Australian Literature) As we came into town we turned off to visit the Elsey Cemetery – where most of the characters from her book are buried including her beloved husband. We also took a quick look at where the original homestead stood. There is a replica here at the Caravan Park where we are staying.

This sign fills you with confidence

Once in our campsite we threw caution to the wind and headed straight to the Thermal Pools for a swim. IT WAS BLISS and because we aren’t during peak season there were only a few others about. We spent most of this afternoon lazing around in the crystal clear water. We cooked corned beef for dinner and enjoyed relaxing around camp. Touch wood there is a nice breeze at the moment which takes the edge off the heat. It was 37 degress at 6pm.

Thermal Pools at Mataranka - BLISS
Thermal Pools at Mataranka - BLISS
The Roper River
The Thermal Pools

So for us travellers it is pretty much bed-time – (early to bed early to rise.)

Bye for Now

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