Sunday, 5 June 2016

Half-lap Day 29: Devils Marbles -> Elliott

It got a bit windy overnight, and with the windows open it felt different, and none of us slept very well. It meant that we were easily all up before sunrise which was great because we really wanted to see the sun come up over the rocks. There was a rainbow to the west, and some nasty looking storm clouds (heading south) – the rainbow was there for hours and added to the magnificence of the changing colours on the rocks as the sun rose.

We packed up but didn’t rush – it’s quicker after a 1 night stop because we don’t get so much stuff out. I had trouble with the zip on the main door of the tent – Tony managed to get it to a point where it can be closed all the way, but we can only use one of the zips, not two. As we were packing Caitlin’s iPad mini slid out of the car and the screen cracked. When Tony went to put his bike on the trailer he discovered he had a flat tyre. When Millie sat down to have her breakfast I noticed a spider on her seat – a redback! I was feeling a bit jangly after all of that but the rest of the pack up went ok, the kids played with their stuffed animals in the tent and had a great morning. It was pretty cool packing up with these huge boulders looming right above us. Oh and it only cost $7.70 for the night – a great place to camp. We had a long chat to our neighbours as we finished getting ready, a very friendly couple with a gorgeous little maltese terrier who the kids adored.

We drove to Tennant Creek and got petrol, decided not to do anything else there. We had hoped to go out to see The Pebbles, but it was 6km of dirt road each way and we chose not to risk taking the trailer out there. The drive north was quite similar to the day before, and we were hoping to do another 450km and make it to Daly Waters. Tony noticed the engine temperature rising alarmingly – we stopped, checked the engine and the coolant and everything else seemed ok. We kept going – the temp went up again. We turned the air conditioner off and the temperature went back to normal. We tried it a few time – air con on, the engine temperature rose, when we turned it off, it dropped back down. So we continued driving, with windows down and Harry Potter as loud as we could make it. It wasn’t too bad for a while but as the outside temperature reached 35 degrees it became more uncomfortable in the car.

The next town we reached was Elliott. We thought perhaps we should stay here for the night and continue on in the cooler part of the day the next day. I jumped out of the car to go and check out the caravan park, and could only find one of my Teva sandals. I looked everywhere and the other one didn’t turn up – I must have left it on the ground when I went to get out of the car to help Tony check the engine. I was inconsolable – those shoes were my birthday present for this trip and they were starting to get really comfortable. Caitlin lent me her sandals and she wore her thongs.

Tony went to see about the caravan park but they weren’t there. We had seen that there was a mechanic in town so we drove to see him and the kids and I walked back up to the BP to get ice blocks. The kids got a slushie each and I got a zooper dooper – they did help us cool down a little. The mechanic said he thought that maybe the compressor on the air con wasn’t working, and gave Tony the number of an auto electrician in Katherine. I asked at the BP about camping (wiki camps had listed it as an option) and he said only at the caravan park. We headed back down there as we figured we couldn’t drive any further in this heat without air con. A local indigenous man offered us a painting for $30 – I wasn’t prepared to pay that much at this stage.

The caravan park cost $30 for the night and it was very very basic. There was one other lady camped there in a campervan and no one else. The grass was long and unkempt in places, the fittings were all old and broken in places. We’d been given a key for the ladies toilets but the men’s weren’t locked – that makes it seem like it was a safety issue which made me a little nervous. It didn’t feel like a nice place to stay but we were all too tired and hot and a little stressed to keep going in the car. The girls were feeling so hot they went and had a cold shower in their clothes, which cooled them off a little.

There were a lot of peacocks and peahens around the park which was pretty cool. We got set up and sat around for a while, the kids played their ipads, I hung the washing out, Tony fixed his bike tyre, then another family arrived in their caravan and set up next to us – things felt a bit safer then. They had a 5 year old girl and a 3 year old boy and had driven all the way from Mt Isa that day – 880km!! The kids all played together – Millie and the other girl got all their stuffed toys out and played a Frozen game, LiAM and the boy wandered around and looked at peacocks and sticks. One peacock kept attacking its reflection in our neighbour’s car, it was pretty funny. More people arrived as the afternoon progressed and we relaxed a bit.

Tony and Caitlin went for a bike ride around the park, and found the swimming pool – wiki camps had said there was a pool and we hadn’t seen it so thought it was old information. The pool looked very inviting and not old and run down like the rest of the place. We went for a twilight swim which was beautiful. There were bats flying overhead and birds in the trees and a swim made all of us feel much better. Tony left first to go and heat up left overs for dinner – when I went to leave I couldn’t reach around to open the latch to get out of pool enclosure. The manager came out to feed his dogs and I asked him to help us – the dogs came with him and started fighting with each other right in front of the gate where we were standing  - it was quite scary. The guy called them off and we made it out of the pool yard and back to the tent with no further problems.

The town’s little supermarket was the store at the front of the caravan park, so I was able to buy myself some thongs so that I had shoes to wear. I haven’t worn thongs in probably 20 years or more so it’s going to take me a while to get used to them – they are pretty comfortable though.

In our visits to the toilets and showers through the afternoon and evening we saw several frogs (on the soap dish, on the window, on the floor) and geckos on the ceiling. After we ate leftovers and potatoes for tea we headed for bed as we were all exhausted, but it was still in the mid 20s so it took us a while to settle down enough to fall asleep.

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