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Day 24 – Murray Bridge to home

Last day today, we packed up camp (which we are now getting pretty good at) and started the final leg of the drive to home.  The weather was overcast and cool and the last 700 km slowly ticked away as we slowly got used to having traffic around us again.

Not much to report for today – Lunch at MacDonald’s at Horsham and after a total of 8549km we pulled up at home about 6:30.

Everyone was pretty tired but had a great time.

Day 23 - Woomera to Murray Bridge

Today we woke up and it was raining so we had to pack up everything in the rain. It was really cold and not much fun.

On the way to Port Augusta we passed a solar powered car – it was still raining – Katherine said “it’s not going to go very fast in this weather!”.

We arrived at Port Augusta and walked around the shops for a while then we had some morning tea and continued driving.

We stopped at Port Wakefield to get some fuel and kept on going.

About 3pm we arrived in Handorf and got a hotdog and a milkshake for lunch we wandered the shops for a while a bought some lollies and some Beerenberg sauces.

We arrived in Murray Bridge at about 6:30pm and set up camp

:prop:

Day 22 - Kings Canyon to Woomera

Today we start heading towards home, the delays earlier in Alice mean we will not get to Dalhousie this trip and from all reports the only way now to get a decent view of the water in Lake Eyre is to fly, so I guess we will just have to come back again some time.

The plan was to head south and stay the night at Coober Pedy, but as we got close to the SA border the weather was starting to turn and for quite some time we drove just outside of what looked like a pretty nasty dust storm.

We stopped at Coober Pedy and within 15 Minutes the storm had arrived, the whole area was choked in dust and we quickly decided it was best to push on.


View Larger Map

We ended up traveling all the way down to Woomera where the weather was far more pleasant and set up camp for the night.

Over night the weather caught up – and while we had no dust storm, we had very strong winds, rain, thunder and lightning and for the first time in several weeks we were all pretty cold.  :rain: :rain: :rain: :rain:

Looks like the holiday was nearly over.

Day 21 - Kings Canyon

The warning signs in the camp ground about Dingoes were certainly true!  We had been there less than an hour before we saw our first dingo sneaking around people’s campsites looking for an easy feed. It didn’t take long before it stole a container of ham from one camper and we saw this repeated several times in the short time we were there.  They seemed to have no fear of people and come into the camp ground any time of day.

We drove out toward the Canyon but stopped at the medical centre where I got my stitches out. When we arrived at the canyon we decided to do the 6km rim walk. This started with a very hard climb, going up over 100 metres.  The younger fitter generation managed this a bit faster than Mum and Dad.

Kings Canyon Climb 1Kings Canyon Climb 2

Again like the walk through Kata Tjuta it was very scenic and well worth the climb at the start. There were several spectacular lookouts.

We had lunch at Kathleen springs and did another shorter walk to the waterhole at the head of the Kathleen gorge.

After all the walking we were all very tired and went back to the campsite to rest

:prop:

Day 20 - The Olgas to Kings Canyon

Today we visited Kata Tjuta (The Olgas ) before driving up to Kings Canyon. At Kata Tjuta did the “Valley Of The Winds” walk – it wasn’t that windy   :ppp: but it was very scenic . It was a 7.4 km loop though the domes to 2 separate lookouts which were amazing, the walk took us about 2 ½ hrs. Some of the parts were quite difficult   – as the sign said. We took loads of photos.

After that we drove to Kings Canyon. But I can’t say much about that because I was asleep   <(-_-)>!

:prop:

Day 19 - Uluru

Today we visited Uluru (Ayres Rock ), first we went to the cultural centre where we learned about some about the local aboriginals and the wildlife of the area. We also found out about a ranger guided walk called the Mala walk – which we decided to do. The walk was very informative and we learnt about the dreamtime stories of Uluru – the Pitjanjatjara people call these Tjukurpa (chook-a-pa).

The local aboriginals ask people not to climb Uluru because the climb can be dangerous and over 35 people have died  attempting the climb and the local aboriginals say they feel great sadness when someone is hurt or dies on their home land. They much prefer people to walk around the rock and learn more about their Tjukurpa stories – they say that there is no tjukurpa on top of Uluru, otherwise we would encourage climbing.

We continued to walk  :walk: around the rest of the rock, seeing many amazing rock formations. On the way around we also visited the Mutitjulu water hole which is very important because it is the only permanent water in the Uluru area.

:prop:

Day 18 - Palm Valley to Uluru

Today we had a long drive, because of the delays in Alice Springs we have to go all the way down to Uluru in one day. The roads out of palm valley are pretty bumpy – and somewhere along it we lost our UHF antenna tip. :(

Once we got back to the main road it wasn’t much flatter, as the first 250km or so was pretty corrugated dirt.

We had a pretty good wildlife day today; we saw a herd of wild camels :camel: , some wild donkeys and lots of wild horses as well as finally seeing our first dingo.

Once we got past Kings Canyon the road turned back to tarmac and the last 300km didn’t take too long to pass.  As we got closer to Uluru we saw Mt Connor – lots of people get fooled that this is Uluru, but we all knew it was there.

We finally saw Uluru – it was huge.  We set up our campsite at the Ayes Rock resort and went out to watch the sunset over Uluru. We could also see Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) in the distance.  We all took heaps of photos as the rock changed color as the sun went down.

Uluru

Day 17 - Alice Springs to Palm Valley

Today we finally packed up our camp and headed out of Alice Springs. First we visited Simpson’s Gap on the way to the aboriginal community of Hermannsburg , This is the site of the first mission set up in Central Australia (1877) and home town of the famous aboriginal painter, Albert Namajira.  We took a look around seeing how people lived back then, before we headed out to Palm Valley where we camped the night.

At Palm Valley we went for a walk  :walk: along the valley ridge then down into the gorge where we saw hundreds of the rare Red Cabbage Palms that are only found in this area. Only 1500 of these palms exist in the world and they are all in this valley.

That night we heard one of the rangers give a talk about the park and what rangers do in NT national parks. During her talk I found a blind snake while digging in the dirt.  She told me afterwards that these blind snakes are pretty rare and we were very lucky to see one.

Days 15 & 16 - Stuck In Alice Springs a Little Longer

Wednesday morning during my regular check under the bonnet and under the car I found the rear end covered in diesel.  After some investigation it appeared that the high pressure fuel line from the tank to the filter was leaking.  Reason no. 2 for staying in Alice a little longer. :ThD:

I took the car to the local Land Rover dealer – Sutton Motors, who diagnosed a cracked hose and also found the fuel pressure regular leaking. This meant getting parts in – so we were stuck for at least another day.

Being well prepared we have RACV totalcare – who I contacted as soon as I realised we would be without a car until we got a repair. I am pretty disappointed to say the help was not anywhere near as good as I had hoped.  On initial contact they agreed to cover additional accommodation here – and to provide a hire car until our car was repaired, all looked pretty promising. Unfortunately a bit more than two hours later I was contacted by another RACV person – that appeared to have no idea what had been arranged or what we needed. After some explanation she understood what we needed – but when she called back I was told there were no hire cars available at all in Alice Springs… so the family where on foot!  We used a Taxi to get back to the trailer – which the RACV will be reimbursing us for – but to my total astonishment rather than offering to help the following day it was suggested I call them back to get them to try again!

We didn’t bother – as after contacting Sutton’s and explaining the situation – they did all they could to get my car back on the road ASAP. I had it back by 3pm Thursday after flying in the part we needed and to my astonishment the cost was no more than I would have paid in Melbourne.

Suttons – thank you for great service and assistance.  :lr:

RACV – I think there will be further correspondence over the gap between the promises and the delivery.

We spent Wednesday and Thursday pretty much killing time, got some washing and blogging done, and organised ourselves ready to head out to Palm Valley on friday.

We will be heading straight to Uluru from there and then come back to Kings Canyon early next week.

We’ll post some more and get some more photos up when we get a chance and have signal.

There are heaps more photos to come once I get them organised – so far between the 4 cameras we have amassed nearly 3000 photos!

Stay tuned for more updates!….

Day 14 - Alice Springs - West MacDonnell Ranges

After some discussion we decided to change our plans a little and rather than camping out at Redbank Gorge – we decided to stay here and day trip to that area. Just as well we did as the trailer would not have fitted in the marked campsites at Redbank! We headed west along the well trodden tourist route – lots more rocks and gorges! We stopped at Ellery Creek Big Hole which had very little water in it, Serpentine Gorge, the Ochre Pits where the local tribes used to mine Ochre for their paint and to trade but our favorite along this stretch was Ormiston Gorge. It had quite a lot of water and was very spectacular. Then we continued around to Gosse Bluff which is a meteor crater from 130million years ago, today it’s nearly 5 km wide, but they estimate it was as big as 20 after impact – what we see is what is left after millions of years of erosion! We were able to drive right inside it (4wd only) and climbed a steep path to a lookout which a spectacular view. This was a highlight of the day.  On the way back to Alice we were able to give the girls a short demonstration of outback corrugations as the road from Gosse Bluff to Palm valley was pretty ordinary.

We stopped in at Palm Valley just to check the trailer will fit in the campsite – as we have noticed many a very small sites making it impossible with the style of camper we tow.  This is a spectacular place after a 21 km 4wd route in following the creek bed in many sections.  We will be returning here to camp in the next day or so.

We then went up Anzac hill to watch the sunset over the town – very pretty.

Sunset Over Alice

After dinner tonight, we came across our first reason for spending a little longer in Alice…After another evening bouncing on the jumping pillow in the park and messing around with the dozens of kids here, Josh had a bit of a crash….a couple of hours in Alice Springs hospital and 3 stitches later – good as new! :prop: .. but we decided to stay an extra day just to be sure all was ok before moving on.