Day 92: Uluru to Erldunda
Departing Uluru it’s 26 degrees and we are heading back to the roadhouse at Erldunda for the night. There are not many options for caravans between Uluru and Erldunda which is why we have decided to travel the 246km again.
We have a leak in our water pipe, it’s only a pin hole however it needs to be repaired as soon as possible. We spend the afternoon googling caravan repairers in Alice Springs and find a mobile service. We’ve organised for Jason to come out to the park when we arrive tomorrow.
I’ve come down with a head cold so the remainder of the day is a rest day. Later in the afternoon we are relaxing outside and another caravanner pops by for a chat. What a small world, he is from Kelso and lives just around the corner from my sister.
Wildlife: Dead kangaroos, crows, emus, camels, rooster, No 28 parrots.
Day 93: Erldunda to Alice Springs
We are up early today and leaving Erldunda by 8.00am so that we arrive at Alice Springs in plenty of time to meet Jason the mobile caravan repair man by 1.00pm. The journey is 202km. We travel between 80-90km an hour as Andrew feels comfortable towing at that speed and we are not in any hurry to get to any destination. We are often passed by other caravans, many vehicles and the massive road trains.
Today we are shocked by two incidences that we encounter on the highway. The first is a single axle caravan that overtakes us and it’s managed to get a real sway up. They are obviously travelling too fast and single axles tend to sway a lot more than a double axle. The second is a truck that overtakes us and watching him in the distance he slowly moves to the right hand side of the road and travels there for quite some time before moving back to the left hand side. He was too far away to zoom my camera in to get his number plate. He was obviously fatigued and needed to take a rest break. It’s a startling reality of how easy an accident can happen.
As usual, we have found the Temple Bar Caravan Park through Wikicamps. The reviews are really amazing and we are looking forward to arriving and meeting Trish and Molly (the caboodle). The park and the service does not disappoint. When you arrive at the entrance you are instructed to call a mobile number. Trish arrives on her golf cart aptly named; “My Office” and Molly is by her side on the seat. We booked for 4 nights but decided on the journey that we would like to stay for 7 nights so that I can recouperate and catch up on some work. No problem at all and Trish escorts us around the park to our site.
The sites are large, beautiful green grass and drive through. Perfect. The bonus is that when you stay 7 nights you only pay for 6. This park is a hidden gem about 15km south of Alice Springs and it’s only $24 per night. Power is an extra charge and averages out about $2-$3 a day. The amenities are spotlessly clean and there are many shady trees at each site.
We are all set up and a quick text to Jason to advise we have arrived. Jason is here in no time and fixes our pipe within a few minutes for $20. What a bargain. Andrew now knows what spare part to pick up and how to fix it himself.
Wildlife: Emus, dead kangaroos, horses, eagles, crows, No 28 parrots, galahs, kangaroos
Day 94 – 99 Alice Springs
We are both looking forward to having a week here at the park and this morning we head into town to restock the pantry. We have been advised where to park and to be alert of our own personal safety whilst in town. We notice that most of the buildings have high fences topped with barbed wire and there are a lot of cctv cameras. We felt so safe at the park and yet feel uneasy in the township. We are both glad that we chose to stay out of town rather than at one of the parks in town.
We’ve met some of the other caravanners at the park and are enjoying ‘happy hour’ exchanging stories of our travels. There are quite a few residents at the park and they are all extremely friendly too, it’s a great atmosphere out here and very relaxing.
Some of the locals advise us to take a drive up to Anzac Hill to get your bearings and to take in the 360 degree view of Alice Springs. It really is amazing.
There are some creative art works around the town of Alice including a recent wall mural by Jimmy DVate depiciting the life cycle of the Yeperenye caterpillar. It was painted on the wall of the Yeperenye Shopping Centre during the Festival of Street Art in October 2018.
It’s time to have a look around the gorges outside of Alice and the first one that we visit is Ormiston Gorge, 135km to the west, travelling along the West MacDonnell Ranges. It’s a very scenic drive, however, there has been a recent bush fire through the whole area and it’s devastating to see the loss of flora in the area.
Arriving at Ormiston Gorge we decide to have morning tea in the kiosk hoping to escape the onslaught of flies. The kiosk is air-conditioned and after waiting at the counter for some time we are finally attended to by an elderly gentleman. His wife is busy making coffee for another couple and he apologises for the wait. He is a real character and finally our order is taken (red or blue jam?) and no payment required at this point. It takes some time to get our coffee and scones and she explains that they are flat whites as she doesn’t do froth! They are clearly out of their depth in the kiosk as several others arrive and the service is a bit like waiting for a bus…we queue up again to pay and wait…
A short walk of about 500 metres along a paved pathway and the gorge is in sight. We are told that there is water all year round and at the southern end it is up to 14 meters deep. The colours in the rock formations are absolutely amazing, the water is freezing cold and the flies are in full force.
Heading further west another 4kms is Glen Helen Gorge which protects a significant waterhole along the Finke River which is home to nine species of native desert fish. The walk in is sandy, rocky, hot and fly nets are the new fashion accessory of our trip. The gorge is breathtaking, spectacular walls of jagged ochre coloured rock with the occasional tree jutting out from the most obscure places.
The gorge offers powered van sites, camping and backpacker accommodation. We couldn’t imagine staying here as you would have to spend most of your day indoors away from the flies.
Heading back towards Alice is Ellery Creek Big Hole, the largest permanent waterhole in Central Australia. Thousands of years of massive floods have carved out this waterhole, which is recognised as an internationally significant geological site. A short walk in along a lovely paved path way and another spectacular gorge appears right before your eyes.
Standley Chasm is next on our “to do” list. Aboriginal owned and operated a fee of $12 is payable, $10 for seniors. The chasm has been gouged into tough quartzite by the floods that, over millions of years have surged down a narrow tributary of the Finke River system. The craggy slopes rise 80 metres above the floor, it’s a spectacular sight.
Standley Chasm operates a cafe as a training facility for local indigenous families. Camping is available and there are picnic tables and bbq areas. We chose to have coffee and it was somewhat disappointing when our coffee was delivered with overflow all down the sides of the mugs, an apology was given but still placed on our table with no saucer or serviette to wipe up the mess.
In January of this year (2019) fires burned across a 100km length of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs right out to Ormiston Gorge. Whilst it is devasting to see it is equally pleasing to note the new growth that is sprouting up already.
A short distance from town is Simpsons Gap, with a visitors centre, picnic areas and several short walks. It is one of the most prominent gaps in the West MacDonnell Ranges. We were fortunate to spot a black footed rock wallaby sitting high on the rock face. Swimming is not permitted in the waterhole here.
We have been unfortunate this week to have a stone chip in our windscreen which has travelled over the Easter break to a large crack. Our stay in Alice has been extended by a further two days so that we can have it repaired before heading further north. The caravan has been washed and Andrew is pictured below showing off the new tow vehicle – I don’t think it’s going to make the grade somehow!
We’ve made some great friends here at the park and it was sad yesterday to bid them farewell as they head off on the rest of their journey. I’m sure we will meet up again sometime to reminisce about our travels. We all celebrated with a combined lamb roast buffet dinner where we all contributed to the meal. Andrew was in charge of the lamb roast and it was cooked to perfection! We had an awesome night, great company, delicious food and a few cold beverages too.
Back on the road again tomorrow to another unknown destination.
Wildlife: Kangaroos, No 28 Parrots, galahs, black footed rock wallaby, black cockatoos, warblers.
Week 14 total expenses: $693.02, under budget!
That’s a wrap for Week 14 of the Lap of the Map.
PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!