Saturday, 4 June 2016

Half-lap Day 28: Alice Springs -> Devils Marbles

Packing up after 4 nights can always seem like a big job, but we are getting better all the time at knowing what order to do things in and how to fit everything in to the car and trailer. The couple parked next to us were in a big motor home, and as he washed the outside of it very carefully, the guy seemed amazed and a bit dubious about our efforts to pack it all up and be on our way this morning. We had everything done by 10.30.

We stopped for petrol and then headed north for a long day of driving.  Listening to Harry Potter really helps the time pass quickly. We stopped once to check something and I got out and looked at the ruins of an old well – there are many of these stone wells from the 19th Century which were built as the country was explored, allowing more people to come out and travel the area, and be able to find water more easily. We saw some telegraph stations as we drove past, and were impressed with some of the hills and escarpments we saw – the land was much hillier here than the Stuart Highway to the south of Alice Springs. We ate lunch in the car (tuna on saladas) as we drove. There still weren’t many animals to be seen, although we did see several dead cows by the side of the road.

We pulled in to Wycliffe Well for very cheap petrol – about 30c per litre cheaper than in Alice Springs! This is apparently the UFO Centre of Australia, there have been UFO sightings here and the service station and caravan park are done up like alien spaceships and there are alien references and souvenirs everywhere. I used a very dodgy toilet near the servo then discovered there were better ones inside. The kids explored a little then we got back in the car for a bit longer until we reached Devil’s Marbles (a drive of 413km from Alice, our longest driving day so far).

We had made good time and were at the Devils Marbles by around 3. The campground behind the rocks was filling up but we found a great spot in the corner, which would soon be in the shade of some of the rocks. It was very hot and it was hard work setting up the tent/waiting for it to be set up, but once it was up there was great shade along the back of it so we put the chairs there and everyone had a cold drink. We made good use of our new neck coolers too and they did help cool down the whole body.

We had a quick wander through the marbles – amazing rock formations, then Tony drove back 10km to Wauchope to see if he could watch the Collingwood game at the pub. The game was on and he enjoyed watching it and seeing some of the local station owners come in for a drink – Collingwood lost though which was disappointing.

The kids and I wandered a bit more through the rocks and found a good sunset watching position, then hung out at the tent for a while. Tony arrived as we were going back to watch the sunset, so he was able to come with us. Millie rode her scooter. The light on the rocks was beautiful, so red and bright, and the view was incredible whichever way we looked.

We saw a truck pull into the day use rest area – it had a tractor and other vehicles stacked on it, Tony was very impressed with the stacking job. I wandered closer to see if I could get a photo of it for my nephew, and had a good chat to one of the drivers. They were moving the equipment for someone moving from Horsham to Darwin. We talked about driving the Stuart Highway, living in different places, and horses. Caitlin rode her bike over to find me and she and the driver had a good chat about horses and The Man From Snowy River. We walked/rode back to our camp in the dark, and had to pause to let a herd of cows cross our path and then run through the Devils Marbles.

We had burgers for tea and sat outside for a while marveling at the stars – the moon has been too bright most nights for us to see all the stars, but this night was dark and clear and incredible. I took a few photos using the tripod but had trouble getting it quite right. It was warm enough to sleep with the windows open, cool to be able to lie in bed and see the stars up above us.

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