Monthly Archives: July 2017

Wolfe Creek Crater

We turn off the Tanami Road to visit the Wolfe Creek crater.   A meteorite hit the earth here millions of years ago, shattering our planet’s crust like a stone hitting the surface of a pool of water.  The impact site is apparently the second largest in the world.  It’s not famous for that now of course, but for a horror movie located here.

The road to the crater is lined with yellow flowering acacias as if it were an avenue of trees leading to a grand European house.   The colours are delicious, the red road strewn with the fallen yellow flowers.

The walls of the crater tower above the car park.  They too could come from a Grand Designs TV programme.   Perfectly round clumps of silvery green spinifex grow up the crater, interspersed with yellow acacia bushes and lilac wild flowers.  The vegetation glows against the smooth red and pink rocks.  I decide to get my garden landscaped just like Wolfe creek…

We climb to the top while Richard readies his drone for aerial photography.  The scent of the acacias is like a dusty sandalwood.   The crater’s walls form a complete circle.  Down below we see rings of different greens, as the native plants choose to grow on their preferred mineral earth.  The ripples sent out so many years ago are frozen in time, circle within circle into the centre of impact.   The garden below is lush.  Water flows down the walls in the wet season forming rivers that meet and pool at the centre of impact.   Even now we see an oasis of trees there and hear the distant call of birds.

We are brought back to the 21st century as Richard’s drone buzzes into life and flies at eagles’ height, far above us, capturing aerial photos of the site.   The site is on too large a scale to be photographed any other way.  Beryl has a brave attempt and masters the art of the panorama with her camera, helped by a kind traveller we name Neville the nomad.   The brave man is travelling on to the Canning Stock Route alone.  This is a rugged four wheel drive trail that is usually attempted in packs.   Good luck Nev, we hope you make it.

Flying north

I fly in to Alice.  A short drive from the airport and we’re on the Tanami Road,  heading into the remote desert north of Alice Springs.  Suddenly I’m in another world.  Am I ready?  My mind is still in Pennyroyal with our farm, the cows, dogs, chooks, geese.  Even the wellbeing of the bees in our hives gets a fleeting thought.

We camp the night at Tilmouth Well.  It’s winter in the red centre and oh, so cold.   Mint and rosemary lamb chops sizzle on the campfire grill.  The hot meal and layer upon layer of clothing are our attempt to ward off the cold.   

It’s Territory Day.  The only day of the year it’s legal to set off fireworks without a permit.  What a shame we don’t have any.  After dinner we leave the warmth of the fire to explore a dry sandy creek bed running alongside the campsite.   A secretive Howard runs ahead, on a mission.  What is he up to?   The dark night explodes with a spinning sputtering wheel of light and we cheer!  Fireworks!  Vive le Territory!

Our cosy camper feels more like an icebox when we retire to bed.  I’m under the doona fully clothed, wearing the hood up on my fleecy hoodie against the chill.  But sleep comes quickly and soon the icy cold night breaks into a clear bright day.  Lying in bed I pull out Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, my choice of reading for this trip.  In the first chapter I read how aboriginal myths describe the creation of the world.  They believe their dreamtime ancestors walked through the country singing the land and all that lived in it into being.  I love this idea.   Life from song.

Humming Nessun Dorma I quietly sing this day into life.  I climb out of the camper and line up my wash bag contents on the rickety little camp table.   The sun shines through the gum trees.   Its weak rays carry the promise of warmer weather.  I splash icy water onto my face and shock my system awake to start the day.  Time to head north.

Cattle station dreaming

Guest author Richard McSephney

We’re heading for the Northern Territory boarder. This part of the journey becomes a little tedious. We’re slow to start but full of wild plans to buy a cattle station after our wonderful experience. We plan, without their knowledge to involve all our friends despite not even considering their views.  Everyone must have a role though. Each role is carefully discussed and the relative merits of each character matched to a key role. There’s a great debate for some and an easy choice for others. I’m sure the entire population on the Stuart Highway are listening and voting regardless of their knowledge of the individuals so powerful are the arguments put forward for each candidate. By the time we reach Coober Pedy we’ve settled on a few things. Our new cattle station must be within about 100 km of a supply town, I want it to named something Downs and we know there will be many further discussions as we’ve roped in all our friends to take roles and most importantly provide the $6 m funding we require and the $200,000 working capital we will need to finance the venture. When we return home we will be talking with everyone about their roles!

The time passes quickly and we arrive at CP, fuel is expensive but don’t let that put you off because we’ve found an award winning bakery. 

Its chunky meat pie has been awarded best in world and the apple turnover is declared in the top 3 in Australia. Well that’s Howard’s view. I wonder if James Halliday utilises this scoring style?

There is little doubt that CP isn’t for everyone with its biting wind in winter to its 50C temps in the summer. It looks like a harsh life mining for opals but as we found in Lightening ridge a few years ago the miners are truly passionate about the ventures.
We press on and are surprised about how light the traffic is.

We see eagles devouring the roadkill but these are nowhere near the size of our Wedgetails at home. They are truly giants.

It’s surprising, we take for granted the road we travel has been in place for ever but we are reminded that’s not the case when we realise our night stop is situated between the road that was historically used and the one we’ve just left. For miles the two run side by side less than 150 m apart. Presumably moved because the location was less prone to flood.

To our benefit we find a lovely camp spot. Surprisingly the Stuart Highway is extremely quiet through the night but I’m sure the road train drivers would be able to see the glow of our magnificent fire.

The Mulga tree branches we use have clearly been dead for some time but the timber is dense with a dark heart and burns beautifully. So complete is the burn that when we extinguish it for the night there is only powder ash.

The night Is so cold icicles form on the camper roof but soon end up melting as the morning sun hits the canvas.

A beautiful clear South Australia Day…..40 km further we cross the Northern Territory border and not surprisingly it’s still beautiful and clear. 

Today is the eve of Territory day, pageants ,parties and fireworks are the order for Tomorrow but today we have the Truck Hall Of Fame at Alice Springs in sight.

I love trucks so for me this is excellent and we wander round marvelling at all the equipment old and new.

The Kenworth Pavillon has new kenworth and immaculately restored examples on display.

Why a new one? Well the reason is As Mr Hurley points out( patron of the pavilion) that in 20 years these will be the history of the day and at the present rate of restoration costs it’s cheaper than restoring an old one! Now that’s forward thinking.

The overnight temperature is forecast to be -2C so we, like all sensible adventures plan for a good fire, warming food and heavy blankets.
We totally ignore all that and head for a hotel…this is an holiday not purgatory.
Tomorrow we head for the Airport to collect Deb and continue our journey by turning left just outside AS and heading out over the Tanamai Desert. How exciting!