We initially visited the Olgas on Thurs 24th, with Nikki and family, during their weeks holiday to central Aus (see A Week with Friends). We returned for a second visit this Wed (30/7), so I’ll write this blog post first (of the Uluru related posts) given they are fresh in my memory! The Olgas are a pretty awesome looking group of rocks about 45 km’s drive from Uluru. In many ways they are more interesting than Uluru, but perhaps a little less imposing.
There are heaps of photos so I’ll break it up into a few sections: First up, some general and sunset shots of The Olgas. Followed by photos from the 7.4km Valley of the Winds walk we did Wed arvo, which has some pretty awesome views (pity you missed this one Nikki). It must get real hot out here in summer – this walk is full of warnings about heat and water, and closure on hot days, and there are a couple of water drinking stations to which they must truck/4wd in water! Even in mid winter it was warm and we drank plenty.
Finally we’ll go back to last Thurs (24th) when we did the Walpa Gorge walk with Nikki, Ava and Scarlett. A less exciting walk, but still great and good for some fun photography.
The Olgas, viewed from the south east (roughly!)
and from the west, at sunset!
We have had a wonderful time over the last 7 days with friends Nikki, Ava and Scarlett. Nikki entered the Australian Outback Marathon, and a very big congratulations to her for completing the full distance in the rather tough sandy running conditions. But we have also had a great time doing various activities and sightseeing with Nikki and her daughters.
In addition to the marathon itself, there’s been various sunrise and sunsets at Uluru/Ayers Rock, walks, a visit to the Olgas, Camel ride at sunset. Then we did the drive out to Kings Canyon, and spent a couple of nights there – did the rim walk plus detours, had great fun on a quad bike tour, experienced fine dining in the desert as well as the various camp dinners, spotlighting games and general time spent together.
We all had an awesome time, so thanks Nikki, Ava and Scarlett for sharing your holiday with us. Jonathan and Daniel really enjoyed having active adventurous friends to play with. Nicole and I the same! 🙂 It is going to seem very quiet and boring without you all for a little while (Jonathan has already stated as such!).
This is my first blog post in a while – I haven’t even downloaded all my photos from the last week, let alone written blog posts! Time with friends (in person!) is far more valuable to us (and lack of internet/mobile coverage at Kings Canyon didn’t help), but I plan to put up some pics/posts over time. Apologies to those who have been trying to contact us but we’ve been unable or too busy to respond! We are spending another night or two at Uluru, but we’ll sleep in and miss the sunrise this time!
First, to follow up on the motorhome, the good news is that it was fixed relatively easily Monday morning. It was just a hose leaking under boost pressure, between the turbo and the intercooler. Phew!
Alice Springs is actually quite a beautiful place. Sure it is a rough, rugged, and somewhat dry but that brings out a certain beauty that isn’t seen in many places. I can see why it is a relatively large town, even though it is so far from everything else. It is literally nestled right in the MacDonnell ranges, which as you’ll see shortly are quite stunning.
Warning: another huge post full of pics!!!!
Range to south of Alice Springs (looking south-west)
Saturday we left the Devils Marbles to head to Alice Springs. It’s a long drive, with not a lot along the way, but we did stop at the centre of Australia!! Below, the boys are standing next to the Stuart Memorial at the centre of Australia – as Stuart calculated it using a sextant. More recent calculations, using different techniques have yielded other locations, but we’ll stick with this one for now!!!
Jonathan and Daniel at the Stuart Memorial at the centre of Australia!
If Jonathan is looking a little uncomfortable, it is because he was…. It has gone cold again! The weather has been all over the place – when we first headed out from Brissy, the weather was fine. Then at Longreach, about a week ago, it got really cold for a short period. One night I actually got out of bed to change out of my summer PJ’s and into something warmer, despite a blanket and quilt. ABC news the following morning talked of record low temperatures in Brisbane, and a quick look at the BOM site indicated it had got down to -4.8C in Longreach! No wonder it felt cold!
Heading south along the Stuart Hwy from Tennant Creek you eventually come upon a range extending east-west across the countryside. It is atop this range (Davenport Range?) that the Devils Marbles are located. Taking the service road that goes into the Marbles area (Thurs 17/7), I was surprised by what I saw. I had expected a pile of nice rocks balancing on each other, but instead what we came across was an extended area, a huge paddock if you like, strewn with granite boulders off all shapes and sizes. There are some areas where they are concentrated or stacked higher, and it is close to these that the tourist info, day use, and campground are located.
The boys had a great time climbing all over the place. There are plenty of rocks, nooks and cranny’s to investigate. Not to mention finding a way to the top of the tallest piles of boulders!
As is best with these types of natural features, I’ll let the photos do most of the talking. I spent a lot of time taking photos – sunset, sunrise, during the day….. and the photos reveal different colours/textures of the rocks at different times. A warning: this post has LOTS of PICS!
took a large diamond saw to get such a clean cut 😉
Yes, on Wed 16/7 we made it well into the Northern Territory! We started the day with a visit to the Bureau of Meteorology site at Mt Isa. It is only a small single person facility, but it was an interesting tour. Gavin started it off by taking us on the morning observations for the daily 9am manual readings. Evaporation rate, various dry and wet bulb temperatures, ground temperatures and wind (no rain gauge checks required!). These are all located on a standard 14x14m site, but are more for backup than anything as there is also an automatic weather system measuring all of this.
Then at 9:15am it was time for the weather balloon release.
Just like the one we saw. I didn’t take any photos, so this is taken from http://www.ozbc.net/weather_aws.htm
Surprisingly this is all automated! Continue reading
Now that is how a mine tour should be run! A ‘hands on’ type experience, by an old fella with character who has worked in the mines for years! We’ve only just finished, as we did the Wed evening 5:30pm pizza and beer tour, which goes for a few hours.
It isn’t in the actual working Mt Isa mine, which literally overshadows the town of Mt Isa, but rather in a nearby mine set-up just for tourism purposes. However they have done it well, setting it up as per a real mine, and installed some of the usual equipment (past and current). They make us get dressed up in safety overalls, gum boots, and hard hats with head lights. The bloke was good and got the three kids on the tour active and involved – having to do stuff for him like have a go at the air operated drilling rams etc. Tough life being a miner in the old days – hot, hard, dirty and dangerous. Give me the old underground gem mines over these underground lead/copper mines anyday!
Boys in front of entry cage. With tour guide and other boy on the tour. Photo of a photo they gave to us.
Well two weeks are over, and we are still going OK. Around 2,700km’s under the belt. It seems pretty normal now, living in a motorhome. What do we need a house for again?? 🙂 Don’t worry, we haven’t got to that level… yet…
It has been a busy trip so far – starting to feel like we need a holiday! (Lol, I’m starting to sound like Mum and Dad…). I think the number and frequency of ‘tourist’ activities will decrease as we head west of Mt Isa, which will make it feel a little more relaxed.
Not surprisingly, the further west we head, the more people wave as they pass on the road. Out here even a good proportion of caravaners wave, as well as the occasional car! There are a lot of people travelling in caravans, far more than I had realised. They’re still all old though….
Monday we visited the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum just out of Winton. It was a fairly small but interesting place – a museum with a difference. It is located on top of a rugged but beautiful Jump-Up, giving a nice view out over the plains of Winton.
Looking out over the plains to the east of Winton
from a different location on the Jump-Up
You don’t just walk around and look at displays at this museum. We started with the Lab tour, which is where they actually do the lab work to expose and preserve the dinosaur bones. Continue reading
Well we’ve completed our visit to Longreach, and I type this sitting beside a campfire, having eaten BBQ’d steak egg and sausage sandwiches for dinner, followed by fire roasted marshmellows, with a full moon rising over the horizon, at a nice free area just out of Winton 🙂
We spent quite a long time at three major tourist attractions at Longreach (spread over 3 days) – the Longreach School of Distance Education, the Stockmans Hall of Fame, and the Qantas Founders Museum. I wrote about the the first, and part of the second in my last post ‘A Day in Longreach‘.
We spent the majority of Saturday at the Stockmans Hall of Fame, Continue reading