Horses in the dry Ross River bed
(Click on the image above to see images of Ross River Homestead)

Today’s run wouldn’t be that long, a pleasant 206 kilometres. In fact it’s nice to get somewhere early and just have a quiet afternoon.

On the way through Alice Springs we stopped at Repco and I purchased a new fuel filter for the diesel heater. I still haven’t given up getting it going again and it is annoying me that I haven’t solved the problem as yet. Given that I had emptied all the diesel from the heater and the reserves into the vehicle fuel tank, the next possible solution might be clean, new fuel and a clean, new filter. We will see how it goes.

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Stanley Chasm
(Click on the image above to see images of our trip to Hermannsburg through the West McDonnell Ranges)

We bid farewell to Jonas and Ellen. That was a bit of a sad affair in a way as we may not ever see them again. We headed off to Stanley Chasm as the first port of call. It was quite an amazing walk through the canyon area and into the depths of the chasm.

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The Ghan coming into Alice Springs
(Click on the image above to see images of the magnificent Ghan train)

The Ghan is an iconic train that travels between Adelaide and Darwin with a major stop in Alice Springs. It was arriving today at 1.45pm and we were determined to get some photos of the train.

At one stage we had planned on travelling on the train between Alice Springs and Darwin. When I went to book tickets it was going to cost us $1420 each and that was for only 24 hours! Personally, I found it hard to justify the cost so the plan was scrapped.  Jude told me that the cost of the ticket included drinks. Well I might have had a crack at that a few years ago, but not these days.

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Rock formations and cliffs outside of Alice.
(Click on the image above to see images from Alice Springs)

This entry covers the period from 31st May to the 3rd June.

Only about a 170 kilometre run into Alice Springs on the 31st May. We had no mobile phone reception so we weren’t able to ring the Temple Bar Caravan Park where we had intended to stay. They didn’t take bookings and you had to phone around 7am in the morning to see if there were spots available. So we went to Wanngardi Caravan Park which was next door out on Ilarpa Road. Both parks are about 9 kilometres off the main road but this provides for a much more camp like atmosphere. It is also much cheaper than the caravan parks in town.

We rang Temple Bar the next morning intending to shift camp but there was a problem; they didn’t allow fires in the park at all. With temperatures dropping to -2 at night and a heater not working, this was not an option. We decided to stay right where we were for another 4 nights and this proved to be a very good decision as we met some absolutely lovely people at the next camp as a result of deciding to share our wood on the fire.

Jonas and Ellen were from Germany and around 30 years of age. They had been travelling around the world in their Land Rover for 8 years and had some amazing stories to tell of their travels. They were currently stuck in Alice awaiting some front end parts to continue their journey. With only 2 months left in Australia, they were heading up the Tanami Track to do the Gibb River Road before heading down to Perth to ship their vehicle back to Germany.

On the 1st and 2nd June we cruised around town and visited various shops.  I got myself a new pair of Blundstone boots that were more suitable for hiking and climbing over rocks.  The ones I had brought with me were old elastic sided ones and very loose.  Certainly not suitable for the work they had been doing in some of the areas we had stopped and walked.

The 3rd June saw us visit Emily and Jessie Gaps in the East McDonnell Ranges.  Surprisingly enough these are east of Alice Springs.  We also ventured further out to Corroboree Rock.  These gorges are truly spectacular and every one is different.  There are some really great walking trails that are very well laid out so you can do some very enjoyable walks or strolls whichever takes your fancy.

I've been to Alice Springs on many occasions and it is certainly one place in the world I never tire of visiting.  It has many great attractions both in the town and around the area.

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 Desert Oaks free camping area outside Erldunda NT

We left Marla at around 10am as there was no hurry today. Alice Springs would be a fair reach so we had decided to camp at Desert Oaks camping area which was about 30km the other side of Erldunda.

The drive today was 272km and we now only have another 140km to go before our Alice Springs camp which will be at least 4 nights.

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John and Vicki Coulls at dinner with us in Marla
(Click on the image above to see images from Marla. Only people at dinner this time.)

I wanted to get an early start from Coober Pedy and Jude was up early enough and packed up well before 9am. This was a great start. I really wanted to get out of that caravan park.

Coober Pedy to Marla was only 239km, so I had hoped to be there around lunchtime and then spend 2 nights. I was looking forward to a bit of a rest in a good sized area and Marla’s Traveller’s Rest is a great spot. They have plenty of water and keep the sprinklers on their grassed areas all day. The park is quite roomy and no-one is squeezed in which makes for a pleasant experience. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos while I was there.

Once arrived and set up I rang my mate Coullsy who lives with his wife out on the aboriginal community of Indulkana. Vicki is one of the nurses at the clinic and Coullsy drives the ambulance on a rotating basis.  We were to stay the night with them out in the community.

We went for a walk around the community around dinner time and there were many people about outside. Everyone was quite friendly and said hello and waved. We stopped and talked with one man named Peter who was washing his car. He was quite a gentleman.

After breakfast the next morning and a bit more of a chat, we left Indulkana and headed back into Marla. It was just a pleasant day doing little. We did go for a drive down the Oodnadatta Track to see if there were any eagles around to photograph.

These wedge tailed eagles are quite monstrous and you will often see them with crows feeding on road kill. Despite travelling about 20km down the track, we didn’t see anything of value so we returned to camp.

Coullsy and Vicki came into Marla for dinner that night with us. Pretty ordinary feed, but great company. Peter, the gentleman I had met at Indulkana, had been down to Coober Pedy and was having a beer in the tavern at Marla with his friend David. Coullsy and I sat and had a good yarn with both of them over a drink or two. David was from another community further out than Indulkana and another absolute gentleman.

I also met another bloke who goes by the name of “Rhino”. Quite possibly because of his size and stature. He had been around Marla for quite a long time and did a lot of stock work in the area. He was very interesting to talk to about the mustering methods they used with helicopters and horses to flush the cattle out of the scrub.

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Stuart Range Coober Pedy Caravan Park packed to the gunnels. Overcrowded.

Photo is of the caravan park with vans top and tailed. The place was crammed completely full.

Off to the hardware store immediately after breakfast to gather some supplies for the repairs.

The caravan structure was somewhat disappointing when you looked at what had gone wrong really. The table was attached to the wall with some screws all right, but the wall was only 3 ply. Surely this would weaken over time irrespective of use. The stove the same in a way in that it just sat in the area cut out for it with a screw in each side at the top.

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Breakaways from the Lookout
(Click on the image above to see images Coober Pedy and Breakaways)

With all the repairs done it was time for some exploring around Coober Pedy. I had been here several times before, but Jude had only been here once.

Our first trip was out to the Breakaways, a sort of escarpment out to the east of Coober Pedy. There are some magnificent colours in the landscapes and rock hills out this way and we spent a couple of hours wandering around and taking photos of the place. The Breakaways was the location for some of the Mad Max 3 - Beyond Thunderdome film.

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Water tower to service the old Ghan railway
(Click on the image above to see images of the Oodnadatta Track)
Setting out from Marree our first real stop for lunch was to be William Creek. As we drove past the General Store and Service Station, we noted the sign saying that the road was closed. We headed back to the Service Station to check what was going on as people had come down that way the day before. Lisle, who virtually owns Marree is seems and has been there for 70 years, assured us the sign was wrong and the road was open.
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