Lap of Australia - Summary: Alice Springs
Elly and I spent a few weeks in central Australia. There were many thousands of kilometres of corrugated dirt roads, some fantastic scenery, and billions of stars! We went down Urandangie Road, which was in good enough condition to be a pleasant offroad drive, and it took us toward our next state - the Northern Territory!
We saw a few interesting sights along the way, including this “bike tree”.
Before long we exited Queensland, and arrived in the Northern Territory.
Throughout our whole trip there has been plenty to see. We’ve seen all sorts of animals, lots of amazing scenery, some fantastic tarmac roads, and some wicked corrugations. Our entry into the NT greeted us with a new sight. No longer was roadkill picked apart by “little” crows… nope, we quickly found out they like to do things big here in the NT, and roadkill is now the domain of Eagles!
These 4 were part of a much larger group of what Elly and I estimated was about 10-12 Eagles. Some were picking at a dead Kangaroo while these 4 sat in the trees.
A few got spooked as we slowly approached and then stopped in the 4WD. It was a magnificent sight to see them open up their full wing span and fly off.
If there was any doubt about whether we were looking at large birds, that doubt was quashed when we saw this one. Yes, that is a full size tree (not a small shrub) that it’s sitting in…
This was as close as we could get before they all got spooked and flew off.
When we got to the intersection with the Plenty Highway we pulled over at a free campground and stayed the night.
In the morning we travelled down the Plenty Highway toward Alice Springs. People had told us their stories about the Plenty being severely corrugated when they did it, or flooded in the case of some other people! We were lucky in that we had nothing but blue skies, and recently graded roads! It was a fantastic welcome to the Northern Territory!
We took a bit of a detour toward Mt Guide. We were glad we did, because the scenery was spectacular, and the wildlife even more so - we saw our first proper Kangaroo, and he was BIG!
We did a bit of exploring, driving around the back of Mt Guide, and we were met with more spectacular scenery.
It’s great having a tough truck like our 80 series to get us out into these places.
While it’s great to admire the big Eagles, big Kangaroos, and big mountains, it’s also important to look down and look closer at the little things. How beautiful are these little wildflowers growing beside the rock?
A bit further down the road we were introduced to a new animal sighting! We thought this was a Jabiru at first, but on second glance it looks like a Stork of some kind.
As we found earlier with the Eagles, were were quickly realising that NT does things bigger than most other states… the Kangaroo was big, but check out the size of this termite mound!
We stopped at a makeshift camping area about 200km from Alice Springs near the fossicking areas. Elly had a great time finding red garnet pieces all over the ground around our camp site! Simple activities like scratching around in the dirt can give such enjoyment - it’s a shame that many people have been so overwhelmed by the material and consumer world that they feel they need to keep spending and upgrading to find happiness, when it’s laying there in the dirt and in the wind and in the sounds of the desert.
We spent a few days at our camp ground just chilling out. By any other name it was just a patch of level dirt in the desert, with no water and no facilities in sight, but it was heavenly. Where else could you look at the moon like this?!
After a few days though we were ready to head into Alice Springs, where we caught up on family emails and SMS.
However, on the way toward Alice Springs we were given one last reminder that things are bigger in the NT - including the speed limits! Our 80 series has the aerodynamics of a high rise building soaked in mud, and while it had plenty of power to cruise at 120km/h, we didn’t feel like running out of fuel before we arrived in town, so we cruised at an easy 100km/h. Thankfully traffic was light and the overtaking areas aplenty.
Alice Springs was quite a pleasant town, but we were more interested in heading out to Uluru. We booked 2 nights at the Ayres Rock Resort on an unpowered camp site. $36 per night was pretty steep, but their facilities were good. After the last 6 days without sight of water, it was nice to have a good hot shower.
We were a little bit late arriving, and had a short time driving at night into the camp ground. The sun was putting on a light show outside, and our custom 80 series instrument panel, Autometer gauges, and Narva switches were putting on a light show inside!
We got to Uluru in the early afternoon. While the temperature was hotter than in the morning, it was still relatively cool (for the desert!) and we wanted to still be around when the sun was going down.
Keep an eye out for our next article, which will feature all of our photography from Uluru.