Thursday, 27 June 2013


We stopped at the most amazing place for lunch on Tuesday at Mataranka Thermal pools. These pools occur naturally in the bush and are surrounded by large shade trees of gums and pineapple palms and cycads.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

These photos of the full moon on Sunday night. We were camped in the bush just beyond the Marbles.

And this little guy had lunch with us at Barrow Creek .

Three days out of Alice Springs and we are in Katherine.  Living it up in 30 degree heat with shorts on in a Big Four caravan park, the Ritz if you are on the road.  We left the Alice on Sunday and drove out into blue stretched skies.  Beautiful country of Mulga,Spinifex, Wattle, Desert Oak. Central Australian Mallee and Ghost gums marking the creeks and waterways from a long way away. The road was hedged by this vegetation all the way to the Devils Marbles and until Dunmarra.  We saw eagles feasting on roadkill and after the Marbles, we saw only Kites circling in the skies.  For the first time, we are seeing roadkill, mostly cattle, until today from Dunmarra, we saw lots of wallabies killed.  The vegetation after Dunmarra, became taller and the forest more dense with the termite mounds increasing in number and size since the Marbles, they look like headstones in the bush from a long forgotten graveyard in the bush.  The marbles were right beside the road and were piled up like a giant playground. Left. Scattered.

Today we drove through Dalys Waters, best forgotten actually.  The service station had a helicopter on the roof, which had collapsed under the weight.  Says it all really!  We made a quick trip into the Mataranka Thermal Springs and wished we could have stayed there.  These springs occur naturally in the bush and run underground all the way to Mt Isa. There was a strong smell of sulphur in the air and the water temperature was 30 degrees.  It was not a commercialised site which made it all the more appealing.  There were pineapple palms and cycads in amongst the gumtrees. It was a heavily shaded site.
 We stopped briefly at Barrow creek. Another forget it site.  This is the old telegraph station, which had a jail out the back and stables from the old days.  This building was in better nick than the roadhouse.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Today, Saturday the 22nd of June we attended the Beanie Festival at the local Aboriginal community centre in Larapinta Drive.  Beanies made from people all over Australia were for sale and entered in the competition. There were also workshops and an art exhibition by a truly gifted artist, Deborah Clarke, titled Up In The Air.


You cannot come to Alice Springs without exploring he MacDonnell ranges, a truly amazing arrangement of hills to the west of the town.  We began with Simpsons Gap.

Stanley Chasm

Ellery Creek Big pool.

The Ochre Chalk Pits, source of ceremonial paints for the aborigines.

Finally Glen Helen Gorge

And Flynn's grave sits under Mt Gillen about 5 Kilometres out of town.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

We visited the botanical gardens in Alice Springs today.  These gardens were established by an aboriginal activist of the 1930, Olive Pinks. When she was 72 she established the reserve for central australian plants. The garden today has over 400 different species of Central Australian plants.  It is a very peaceful and beautiful park. I saw several varieties of wattle including the wattle, which occurs around Pooncarie.  All were in flower.  We also saw the Australian Ringnet parrot feeding in the trees planted there. This woman was way ahead of her times and my hat goes off to her with gratitude as she saw the beauty of the flora of the area.

We left Erlunda for Uluru Tuesday morning. It is 260 kilometres.  We drive through the most beautiful country, open woodland full of Mulga bushes, Spinifex grasses and with the Desert Oak (Black Casurinas) dominating the skyline and the white trunked gum reaching above all in the creek beds and floodways.  An eagle drifts around in the sky above.  The undulating sandhills give way to an unexpected view of Mt Connor at about 160 kilometres in.  This mountain reaches 300 metres above the desert floor.  My first sighting of Uluru is breathtaking. Just like a postcard it sits solid on the plains. Such a strong symbol of what it is to be Australian. Very humbling.  The cultural centre had lots of the aboriginal stories around the various sites of the rock.  We drove around Uluru and visited several places.  The most peaceful and serene is the pool.  I noticed a strange thing about the desert oak. It has all of its growth contained in the vertical as it starts life.  The horizontals don't develop until the tree is mature.  They look like sentinels guarding the rock. The flower that adorns these trees is an exquisite grevillea type yellow toothbrush. This is the place to visit, despite the cloud cover which affected the colour changes that others have experienced, we were impressed with the might of nature that threw this up in the desert for all time. We left late and had no time to visit the Olgas. On the way home, we had to stop and give way to a train of camels, making their way regally across the Lassiter Highway.  We left Curtain Springs today, where we had left our van and tent.  An emu tried to get into my tent this morning when the rain began.  Too wet to visit Kings Canyon and on to Alice Springs.

We rejoined the Stuart Highway to continue on to the Alice.  More amazing landscape of open woodland and the most spectacular Desert Oak forest. We are still seeing tent hills all the way up to Alice Springs.  We had a short drive into the Henburn Craters made by meteors that hit the earth nearly 40,000 years ago.  These craters were studied by Astronauts prior to the moon landing.  There were some beautiful wildflowers here.  We crossed two ranges of hills running west east before we entered the Heavitree Gap in the McDonnell Ranges to enter Alice Springs.  We are camped on the Todd River tonight.

Monday, 17 June 2013

We left Coober Pedy Sunday.  The landscape quickly reverted to open woodland consisting mainly of Mulga bush and black Casurina.  How we labour under the delusion that the desert is empty is beyond me.  The centre is full of the most interesting and beautiful vegetation.  Sunday night we camped at Agnes Creek, a free campsite.  For those of you trying to contact me, my phone has no reception but my 4G wifi works a beauty. So we are perched at Erldunda ready to leave for Uluru tomorrow. There wont be any reception out there either and as we are there for two days don't worry.  I found some beautiful wildflowers at Agnes Creek and of course the wonderful white trunked gum.  The landscape at Agnes Creek was amazing with thousands of galahs calling and squabbling as they settled in the trees for the night. I had to get up during the coldest of nights, I was wearing pyjamas, singlet, thermals, tracksuit, beanie, socks and still felt icy cold, but the stars were coming down on me as I walked out in the night.  They were big and bright, I could almost see by them without the torch.
 These emus hang around the Erldunda campsite.  The owners have a trough of water for them to come and drink from.  I saw them wandering down the sandhill to the trough where they hung around for awhile.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Sleeping underground was peaceful and quiet.until 5 am when the four wheel drivers roared off into the sunrise.  Last night we had a tour of an opal mine and learnt to divine for veins of opal.  The jewel in the crown, was a tour of Faye's.  Faye arrived here with her friend Sue in the fifties and dug out her own house, complete with three bedrooms, pool, games room and a bar.  The caretakers of Faye's house are the most generous of people and gave us a lot of their time.  They answered all our questions about the fur kangaroo rug which was made by hand from fox, roo, rabbit and dingo fur.  Faye opened her home to all the tourists who first came to Coober Pedy along a dirt track.  Her opal mine is below the house and still has opal veins in  it today for mine tourists to see. The energy in the house was beautiful. Peaceful and great respect for the earth.  Unlike the surrounding environment, where miners have gouged holes and heaped mullock all over the town.  The earth looks raped and dishevelled from years of opal fever driven intent.  We also met Matilda at Faye's. She is a rainbow lorikeet and she was our welcoming party. The friendliest of birds, she talked to us and muttered to herself as she crawled all over us. There has been so much rain here we were unable to go out to the Breakaways, but we did cross a beautiful creek bed which was dry, but had the most gorgeous of trees growing in its bed.

 Friday, we are on our way to Coober Pedy.  As we leave Woomera, the horizen is so big, you think you can see the curvature of the earth.  It is an insecure feeling, like you might fall off.  Then we are quickly among the Mulga Bush and black Casurina trees.  The soil is red and the white limestone rocks shine in the landscape.  We pass an unexpected lake, and its shallow expanse draws me to stop. Its shores are a coral red.  The lake glows in the bright light.  On our route today, we interrupt eagles feasting on roo roadkill.  The crows fly off, but the eagles merely lift their heads and watch us fly by.  Part of this road is dedicated to the Flying Doctor Service.  The runway is set out on the road and all roadside posts are removed from this area.  We make Coober Pedy at 2.30.  We just have time to check out the Serbian Church, underground as well as the Catholic church .  Talking underground, my tent site is underground.  Its a bit spooky, but quiet as a grave, which is a change from roadtrains rattling by my head.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Thursday, and we decided to spend another day in Woomera.  Found this town totally deserted on my walk to the shop today. It is the modern day ghost town. Tthere are 20 children attending the school in years prep to 12. There are block upon block of two story accommodation in motel style buildings all over the town which was built in main by the US to house defence force personnel and scientists who were testing rockets and bombs here. There is a theatre, bowling alley, hospital, youth centre, two schools all empty.  Less than 75 k s away the BHP Biliton group have injected huge funds to build the exact same resources for workers in the Olympic Dam mine.  It is a vital town with a huge Woolworths and a population of 3000.  Please note the accommodation of the rich and the poor in this caravan park.

Thats me !

We drove out to Roxby Downs in my car and the landscape was bare and the curve of the earth filled the landscape.  Then quite suddenly we are among the mallee with undulating hills and the rich red soil.  this little red flower is the only sign of colour in the gardens of Woomera. I dont know what it is , but it shone like a jewel in all that silent waste.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Left Orroroo and drove across flat plains again but my vision is hedged in on all sides by hills. We spent time in Wilmington, a very old town with a toy museum.  The RSL hall is typical of the buildings in Wilmington.  We made lunch at Port Augusta on the Spencer gulf and the Stirling ranges were purple and blue in the gathering gloom of more threatening storms. Outside the town, we saw the  mesa shaped hills of the Tent hills.  These wer eformed by hard silica minerals fusing with the sediments of the sea bed and the hard silica flat tops have survived erosion over thousands of years. Arrived at Woomera for the night.

June the 11th and we are off to Remark and on.  We are travelling through the mallee and the roadside paddocks are bright green with budding wheat coming through red dirt. The mallee trees hug the sides of the road and they softly curve into the sky and the flat horizon. At Renmark we suddenly, reunite with the Murray River and at the entrance to the town, there are meandering anabranches surrounded by the floodplain black soil. Orange, pear and apricot groves relieve the endless grapevines.  We travel through black gathering storms roaring across the plains to Morgan. Thunder follows

the lightning flashes by minutes. The car vibrates with the thunder claps.  We make Orroroo for the night and the tent goes up in the rain.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Saturday, the 8th of June, we went to the Mildura market for breakfast. Rodney was part of the Datsun Fair Lady car club National meeting and their cars were on display at the market. If you are a car enthusiast, you will know all about it.  They just looked like sports cars to me.
Wednesday the 7th of June, I went to Pooncarie, the little township where I was raised as a child.  Visited the sheep station which my father worked for all of his adult life, until his death, Eulo.  We are where we grew up, I realise, as I look at the landscape that was my childhood. Part of me will always be here. I found a native pine near the road side that has been there for more than 67 years because I remember it as a child. A signpost that we were nearly home, coming back from Mildura , and later Ballarat for school holidays. How I love this land and the birds

in Black swamp singing and singing. And the quiet. There were wild goats everywhere by the roadside. A scourge in this country already unbalanced by the presence of sheep.
Travelling from Harrietville to Merbein last Sunday the 2nd of June , I ran out of daylight as I didn't leave until after 1pm.  Tavelled through the dark to Swan Hill where I stayed at a motel . Sammie had told me there were lots of roos along the roadside from Swan Hill to Robinvale.  Leaving Swan Hill the next morning, I realised I was in the mallee.  What a relief to the eyes to be resting my eyes on the enormous and flat horizon broken only by the mallee hugging the sides of the road, pushed there by the paddocks stretching far out in the distance waiting for seed and then wheat crops.  Suddenly erupting from around a bend the magic of the Murrat river, orange groves, grape vines and vegetable crops push the large paddocks aside.

Saturday, 8 June 2013


Spent five days at Harrietville, quilting.  I managed to sandwich my quilt inspired by the tiles and wallpapers of Willaim Morris.  I am very happy with the result.  The weather was cold and wet but we were snuggled up in the Feathertop Chalet at Harrietville.  I also did quite a bit of reflexology on the other participants which made a good start to the trip.  The photo from my quilt is not good quality but below is Janni's wallhanging which we all learnt to do earlier this year at Millicent.  Never again! It was very difficult doing leadlighting with material, but Janni has inspired me. I will retrieve mine from the bin when I get home!