Tennant Creek to Longreach
I had two reasons for doing it in such a large chunk, mainly that the water from the recent rains had receeded and I didn't want to get trapped by more, and the other was that its particularly empty along that stretch - nothing of interest (to me at least).
I did drive through McInley, home of the 'Walkabout Creek Hotel' made infamous by the Crododile Dundee movie - but its not much to look at.
Driving accross the channel country after the rain meant that the grasslands were rich and green, and accompanied by swams... no, swams is to small a word... CLOUDS of locusts and grasshoppers. It was like driving through a meteor shower! The front of my car looks like the space shuttle after re-entry. I've removed handfuls of dead 'hopper carcasses from the intercooler, the engine bay. There were huge piles of them in the front grill, in all the crevices of the engine. I'll need a vacuum cleaner!
The rolly pollies were out in force too. Fragile tumbleweed style plants that have broken off and now are free to float and roll. If you hit them with the car (its unavoidable when they're moving) the explode silenty ina shower of twigs. I saw in the distance what appears to be a tornado, but as I got closer I found that it was a dust devil several hundred metres high that had trapped thousands of rolly pollies in it, sprialing them up to the heavens.
I stayed at the commercial hotel/motel in Longreach. Suprisingly good rooms, friendly staff.
Alice Springs to Tennant Creek.
The one interesting diversion today was the Devils Marbles. Definately worth stopping, the huge red granite boulders stacked Roadrunner cartoon style have an ageless calm to them. Walking among them, you realise that they're still being shapped, the small creaking and crackling sounds they make, the patient movement of ancient stone.
Yulara to Alice Springs
About 140 km's from the turn back onto the Sturt Highway I stopped for a broken down 4WD beside the road. The Nissan Patrol belonged to a family of local aboriginal people, an Les's initial request was that I phone someone for him when I got to town. He gave me the number, and when he started to say that the problem was electrical, I said I would have a look.
I wish I could write that I found the problem, fixed it McGyver style and had them on their merry way, but alas I cannot. I did find the problem, a broken relay - but having no tools or parts, i could do nothing.
Luckily a local friend of Les's arrived just then and had tow gear and was able to start towing them to Erunda (The turnoff - little more than a gas station).
I continued my way into Alice Springs, found a hotel. I despared to note that another tyre had an ominous side-wall buldge, so I spent the afternoon getting a tyre replaced - another $250 up in smoke. Shithouse Yokohama crap. Oh well.
I had dinner at the Overlanders Steakhouse. Well, I've never eaten better. Come here, eat there, I beg you! The food was great, the themed walls and other kitch were a plesant addition, not a distracting eyesore like most themed restaurants. This is the first place in the many I've eaten in the desert where the beer was servered with, gasp shock horror, a stubby cooler!. Cold beer for the entire bottle! Definately a trip highlight.
Off to tenant creek tomorrow, and a quick stop at the Devils Marbles. Hope he's washed them.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Visited Kata Tjuta after a short drive.
Coober Pedy to Uluru / Kata Tjuta NP (Ayres Rock)
I started the long drive to the NT and Ayres Rock. Even the SA to NT border crossing was a small affair marked by a small sign. The landscape remained endless red sand dunes, salt bush and desert oak, for hours.
One interesting change as I crossed into NT was that the landscape was dotted hear and there with outcrops of rock. You can see how boring my drive was, clearly, if a few rocks was a highlight!.
I got in to Yulara at around 4pm NT time (5pm SA time). On the road into the resort, I caught climpses of what I slowly realised to be 'it'. Its HUGE.
I set up my tent in a hurry, and dashed off to the NP to have a quick poke around. I drove the circuit loop, and watched the sunset at the sunset viewing area, Delightful.