After four days of one night stopovers, we arrived hale and hearty in Alice Springs this afternoon. The locals here call it ‘The Alice’. The locals also call Cloncurry:‘The Curry and Mt. Isa: ‘The Isa!’ When we arrived in Camooweal, Geoff asked an old man “Do you call this ‘The Weal” but the poor man had no idea what Geoff was on about … but we did laugh!
As usual I have been writing up my Travel Journal along the way. I’ve also been sending postcards to both sets of grandchildren who have been delighted to be following Grandpa and Bampy as we travel the outback of Australia. I’ve sent them a lovely map now so they find each town we visit.
It has been a grand adventure coming down the middle of Australia and we ‘aint finished yet’ … as the saying goes! So join me dear friends, as we travel the outback of Australia via my journal.
Wed 13th August 2014
We took off from The Barkly Homestead this morning heading south to a place called The Devil’s Marbles but when we got to Tennant Creek, out of the blue Geoff said, “let’s stop the night here!” I was quite surprised but the little town with pop 3,500 seemed to appeal to him. He felt he had driven far enough and the Marbles were another 60 ks further on.
After getting settled we went off to ‘walk the town,’ which is becoming a great habit with us. As we were leaving the park we met a woman called Cathy who advised us not to go saying it wasn’t a very nice town to walk around. This had the opposite effect on us and only increased our enthusiasm to go!
She was half right … what an event this turned out to be!
The town was shabby and dirty; it was full of indigenous people speaking their own language and just hanging around the streets. Every shop had their windows covered in mesh or boarded up, some had metal sheeting on them. This was not a good omen.
The police presence was all over town. We spoke to a fresh-faced young policeman standing outside a run-down hotel … possibly as a deterrent to those hanging about looking for trouble. He told us his two-year tenure was just about up and he couldn’t wait to get out of Tennant Creek. Oh dear, we did feel for him.
However, on the flip side of it all, the town held such promise! There was beautiful aboriginal art on a lot of the buildings, walls and even the rubbish bins … just a shame that the rest was grubby and unkempt.
We chatted to a man called Wayne – with four front teeth missing – who served us in a computer shop where I was getting my Australia maps photocopied. He was scathing about everything in town: the aborigines, the network provider and the petrol companies! Not happy at all. He was the second person who served us in a shop who had no front teeth. What’s happening here? No dentists perhaps?
Thursday 14th August 2014
We arrived at Taylor’s Creek this afternoon for a free stopover by a creek with not one drop of water in it. Cathy and Lyle who we met in Tennant Creek told us about this place and they are parked next to us which makes us feel good as this place is quite isolated.
Picture this: we have been driving down the centre of Australia – desert country – heading south to Ayres Rock (Uluru) and all we have seen is red dirt and Mitchell grass tufts as far as the eye can see with occasional low multi-coloured mountain ranges in the distance. It is freezing cold!
No houses can be seen as the cattle properties out here are vast and their homesteads are not visible from the road. However, there are plenty of ‘grey nomads’ (old people travelling) with caravans and motorhomes going up and down the highways of the outback.
There are plenty of rest stops every 30-50 ks and there are always other nomads like us there, sustaining themselves for the journey with cups of tea and other goodies.
This is a dry vast land and travelling down its centre is an experience not to be missed. As I sit writing in the van, I am watching the sunset over an expansive horizon. It is eerie really … isolated. I am grateful for Cathy and Lyle next door however, there are cattle nearby which is quite unusual, so there must be a homestead somewhere!
I think we’ll be locking our van door tonight in Taylor’s Creek without any water, dear friends!”
I am writing this as my Chilli Con Carne cooks on the stove for dinner tonight. I bought some nice minced beef at Tennant Creek before I left yesterday. In fact, I also bought some lovely fresh bread there to have on sandwiches with the ham off the bone I bought the day before.
When he confessed that he, the butcher gets up early to bake the bread, I was gob-smacked. Only frozen bread gets trucked to Tennant Creek he tells me, so he learned to bake bread. He laughed when I said “Oh, so you’re the butcher, the baker … are you a candle stick maker also?”
It can only happen out here in the country dear friends. As we travel I send you my good wishes and after hearing of the death of Robin Williams, my admonition today is: Seize the Day! This is what Robin told the young boys in that wonderful movie “ The Dead Poet’s Society.” Just do it …