Tuesday, November 14, 2006

- Trip Home -

From the Rock we drove west... stopping the night on the border to Western Australia at Docker River. Setting off a little earlier than expected the next day due to the time change. We drove all day and managed to get our FIRST blow out tyre 600km from Laverton. We kicked on past Laverton and camped just north of Kalgoorlie, amongst rain and very close lightening storm... i ended up sleeping in the car!! The next day we drove through to Home... though they didnt know we were comming!

The suprise worked out as planned, Dale phoned his folks and was discussing his "flight" home from Ayres Rock... "just as his mum asked what time he needed pick up at the airport.. we drove up to the front door and started beeping the horn.... A few seconds to register and Dales folks came rushing out to greet us... they had no idea!

Its good to be home... still trying to get used to the weather, still feels a little cold though it wont be lfor long as summer is just around the corner.

A huge thankyou to Dale for joining me on this trip.. i hope you enjoyed it buddy!!

- Happy Birthday Dale -

A while back I asked dale what he wanted to for his birthday. “I dunno, you can plan it if you like” was the reply. So I set to thinking... “Can I plan anything I want?” I asked “Sure go ahead” said dale not thinking much of it…

“You’re going to climb Ayres Rock for your birthday, but there’s a catch”…. “you have to climb it wearing a dress!” after much thought and persuasion I convinced Dale that this would not only be an entertaining way to celebrate, but a way not to forget his 22nd birthday in a hurry!

So while we were in Darwin I visited the local op shop a picked out a lovely purple number… I think it was quite a tame selection… considering I was basing it on the Australian Film “Pricilla Queen of the Desert”, however I couldn’t find a wig!

Not to worry, on the morning of Dale’s B’day (the day we left Curtin Springs) I convinced him to do a dress rehearsal, just in case the rock climb was closed. “I can’t put on a dress without a drop of Alcohol in my system” Dale claimed … so I cracked a beer for the birthday boy at 8:30am and made him walk around the station with me saying our goodbyes! It was quite entertaining!

(The mighty Ayres Rock.... doesnt really look that big till yoiur right up beside it.)

We finally headed off to the rock, grabbed a few supplies and drove round to the Massive rock… the climb was open and after a few moments thought we began the hike to the summit. Dale in his dress of course!

(A Quick photo to show we are still friends... haha arent i evil?)

(Dale stretches before the climb...)

The beginning of the climb is quite steep; luckily there is a chain to help you because you feel the pressure in you ankles! Once the chain stops you’re about half way to the top.

(Only the beginning of the climb.. steep already!)

The views are amazing and once at the top you can see all the way back to Mount Conner on the horizon! After a few pics and phone calls we made our decent… which can be a bit tricky… hurts your knees after a while… but it was worth it. Dale in the dress was a great conversation starter on the rock when passing other tourists… he often said “Its ok, your not hallucinating, I am a bloke in a dress”

(Finally at the top...!!! Well done!)

A cock in a frock on a Rock – what a day to remember!

- 50yrs @ Curtin Springs -

(The historic entrance to Curtin Springs station...)

Curtin Springs is a special place to me, as I worked there on my last trip for 7 months and fell in love with the place. It’s home to the Severin Family, with 4 generations now living and working there.

(Pete Severin and I catching up with a big hug...)

The week we visited was their 50th Anniversary of running the station and what an awesome celebration it was! We arrived early and helped prepare food etc for the big weekend. People travelled from around the globe to visit and help celebrate such a wonderful place.

(Dale and I were invited to ride the quad bikes out to the saltlakes on the Station.)

(Mount Conner! Truely amazing... its 3 times bigger than Ayres Rock aroun the base... and just 4ft shorter...)

Mount Conner is also on the station which often gets mistaken for Ayres Rock. Uncle, the resident tour guide has a bush camp at its base. So on the Sunday we all drove out to have a hearty breakfast on the bbq.

(This is Uncles mean looking BBQ which cooked up our dinner and Breaky over the celebration.)

- The West Macs -

(Ellery Creek, so deep we couldnt touch the bottom!)

Once we topped up on supplies we moved on from Alice heading west out into the West Macdonald Ranges. They’re magnificent in colour and full of gorges and places to explore. We spent the night at Ellery Creek which is the biggest waterhole along the ranges. The young dingo cubs were friendly and we got a spot of rain.. and went for a swim, it was so cold! Not what you’d expect in central Australia!

The next day we visited the ochre pits with colours in red, yellow, white and brown… its amazing how vibrant the ochre is.

(Dale gets creative with yellow ochre...)

Further west we swam at Orminston Gorge and then had a Beer at Glen Helen Gorge before heading up to camp the night near Red Bank Gorge.

(Check out the view from our camp at Redbank Gorge!...)

The following day we drove into Hermansberg to reach Palm Valley. Its home to over 1200 rare red cabbage palms that tower against the red cliffs. It was beautiful, though quite a lot of visitors…

The next day was a 155km drive around the Mereenie Loop to check out Kings Canyon. We tackled the 6km walk in just over 2 hours and the views were truly amazing! The rock has fallen away in places to leave a very flat face to the canyon walls… and the colours are unreal.
(On the Edge at Kings Canyon!)
We checked into Kings Creek Station for the night, which was lucky as it poured down! Though the lightening show was amazing and Dale managed to capture some awesome shots…

(Dale was so excited at capturing this awesome shot!...)

- Darwin to Alice Springs -

(Mataranka Thermal Pool, crystal clear and 34C!)

We left Darwin heading south and passed through Mataranka which is famous for its thermal springs. The area is also the setting for the Aussie classic story, “We of the Never Never”. Took a dip in the thermal pools although the water is 34C, it was nice to take a break.

We pushed on to reach the famous NT pub, Daly Waters for the night. Its claim to fame is that it’s the oldest pub in the Territory. It’s filled with Australian humour and memorabilia from wild nights and should be a stop for any passing traveller!

(The unusual decoration of the Daly Waters Pub, you find yourself constantly expoloring the walls! Driver licences, underwear,stickers, hats etc)

The next morning we continued south, stopping off in Tennant Creek for lunch. We then explored the Devils Marbles which are a strange sight! Giant boulders scatter the landscape and look as though a slight nudge will send them rolling down the slopes! I tried, but there was no moving the massive pebbles! Stopping the night at Wauchope had us mixing with the locals for a “few” beers before driving into Alice the following day.

(The Devils Marbles are unbelieveable!...and not to mention huge!)

(Here's me trying to make these balancing beauties budge.... not a chance!)

Alice Springs was quite busy and we decided to stay 4 nights, giving us time to explore the town and chill out before the next stage of the trip. We visited the reptile centre which was awesome, stopped into the famous pub Bo Jangles and also went to Lasseter’s Casio for a free concert.

(Dale getting up close and personal with the locals!)