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Sunday, May 31, 2009


Leaving Alice Springs

OK, back on the Internet at last and with enough time and energy to catch up on the last week since we left Alice Springs! As it was an overcast day on the morning we were leaving, we decided to give the visit to Standley Chasm a miss. Spent a couple of hours at the auto electrician so he could replace the 12V plug he put in on the Friday with the RIGHT size this time! All good now so we headed off to camp at the nearby Arltunga Historical Site and Campground, just over an hours drive away. Unfortunately, it was ALL closed and the house for sale! However, the toilets were open!!!
So rather than go back to Alice Springs, we decided to head on to Gemtree down the road, taking a 'short cut' along a 60km stretch of road called the Cattlewater Pass, which wound through The Harts Ranges...
This is how it started out - narrow, flat and reasonably easy to negotiate along with about 3-4 farm gates to open and close. Then things got interesting and daylight was running out... this photo is a bit blurry due to the car being thrown around!!
It was a very interesting and challenging adventure! Annie could rarely get above 10kmh for most of it, especially as it became darker and the track more difficult to see! We finally arrived at The Plenty Highway in the pitch dark a bit after 7.00pm... nearly 3 hours later!! Laughing in a slightly hysterical manner at having made it through this 60km 'short cut', we headed for The Gemtree Caravan Park just 30kms down the highway. By the time we arrived, the campground had closed for the night, but we drove in to look for somewhere to set up the tent. We were met by the friendly owner who showed us a nice spot and told us to just get settled and pop up to the office in the morning! Here are a few pics -
Annie enjoying the camp-fire

The magic sunsets at Gemtree
Our sheltered campsite at Gemtree

We had 3 great nights here at Gemtree and even went fossicking for garnets one morning! Lots of fun and we DID find several pretty red gemstones to take home. I even found one large 7mm beauty, so it was a very successful excursion! Met many lovely and interesting people in Gemtree and I would love to return here one day.

This stretch of highway is said to be the most challenging part of The Outback Way... and it was! But nothing Annie and Gert the Landcruiser couldn't handle! We were in very safe hands. :) Lots of corrugations and bulldust and here's the proof!
Had lunch on the NSW/Qld. border and from there on the road was a dream! The roadside scenery was mostly very flat but changed constantly. And many HUGE termite ant hills, including this monster!!
Arrived in the small town of Boulia just before dark and set up our tent on a nice green lawn in the local caravan park set on The Burke River. Headed off to the roadhouse for a bite to eat before retiring to our cosy tent! Next day I took a long walk down the dry river bed to photograph the many bird varieties that live on and around the water.

Amazing countryside!

Left for Longreach Saturday morning on good roads most of the way. Saw lots of birds - emus, wedgetail eagles, little hawks, brolgas, budgies, weiros etc! Oh, and lots of big healthy cattle - Droughmaster, Brahman, Santa Gertrudis and everything else in between! Stopped for lunch in Winton, which was a lovely friendly little country town, famous for the Waltzing Matilda Museum! I drove us to Longreach where we arrived just after dark so we booked into a nice little cabin for a couple of nights, across the road from The Qantas Longreach Museum where the beautifully restored 1959 Boeing 707 is on display along with the Boeing 747 used to transfer the victims, rescuers and investigators following the Bali bombings. We are also just down the road from The Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame and Outback Museum - both museums were very interesting and full of fascinating information. Definitely well worth seeing - excellent displays. Am going back to the Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame to buy a great hat I saw today!!

Tomorrow we head to Emerald overnight and then on to Dysart to stay a few days with Annie's son Matt and his girlfriend, Syrita. More in a few days! :)

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