29.09.2016 - 01.10.2016 33 °C
Having watched the AFL preliminary final where the Doggies beat GWS we had decided that we had to be in Alice Springs in time to watch the Grand Final. That meant no time to linger on the Tanami. After the chopper flight in Warnum we drove down to Halls Creek for lunch, to top up some water and fuel. As we got out of the car there the first thing to hit us was the heat - well the lack of it compared to earlier that day. Funny how 34 degrees can feel so cool!!
We headed onto the Tanami, just 17 kilometres west of Halls Creek. We'd heard it was in pretty good condition and that was what we found. A slight detour into the Wolfe Creek Crater - "We're not staying anywhere around Wolf Creek dad" says Rory "I've watched the movie!" 😬 Needless to say we pressed on after trekking up the side of the crater. Boy there was a Big Bang when this rock hit the ground. Glad I wasn't around 😏 We stopped about 140 ks along the road at Sturt Creek. What a beautiful spot. A series of sandy channels with shade trees everywhere. Oops, hopped out of the car and there was that hissing sound again! I thought we'd had our quota of punctures with our double whammy up on the Gibb. A good pit crew saw it changed quickly and we were relaxing to enjoy the site and yet another beautiful Sunset. Probably our last in Western Australia.
When we do a quick overnighter we don't set up the annex or walls etc. Just swing the kitchen out to cook dinner. Nowhere to hide! Sturt Creek had a mosquito hatching the night we were there. Crikey, this night will win 'Most insects night' for the trip so far! Not even the yellow lights helped. A quick cook up for tea and we retreated into the tent to eat and go to bed. The tent, even with some small openings does a good job at keeping them out. I retired to the camp stretcher with its surround midge proof screen to enjoy our first cool night in weeks. It must have got down to the mid teens!! 👍
The next day we backtracked to Bililuna, a small aboriginal community only 3-4 k's away. We wanted to visit their art display anyway, but now we needed a tyre repair. We drove back through the community and eventually found the one shop at the back. Too early for the 8:00 opening so we waited around with the gathering cars and people all looking to the store. At about 8:15 the doors slid open - well more of a scrape and clang as the two metal roller doors were rolled up by the chain. Reminded me of the supermarket I worked at as a kid. In rolled the people. Rush hour we found that was brought on by the sports carnival due to start that day. "No tyre repair here mate" said the very stressed looking couple in training to take over the store. Art centre wasn't to open either. The shop did have a repair kit, and as it appeared a smaller hole this time I thought we'd give it a go. I'd never used one of these 'plug' kits before so wasn't confident but with my offsider helping nut it out we plugged the hole and reinflated the tyre. No more hissing - for now. We also decided to top up the fuel. 38 litres for $100! Ouch!!! 😧 The indigenous response to our presence is interesting. Some people look at us suspiciously, even rolling up the car windows as we approach or getting up to go inside to avoid our approach. Then others are happy to chat and Rory and I had a lovely man and his daughter come over to us as we finished our repair work. This conversation had Rory and I wishing we had the time to stop a while with him and see the carnival. Alas we had a long way left to go so we bade our goodbyes and hit the road again.
People will tell you, they told us, that the Tanami is boring, nothing to see. Even taking into account that it is very green (for a desert), after unseasonal rain, we found it a beautiful drive. Keeping your attention with the changing landscape, flora and colours. We crossed into the Northern Territory at an insignificant marker - A 44 gallon drum with a hand drawn sign. It was sad to leave WA after almost six months. So much to love about it and many places we want to go back to. We were excited to be returning to Alice Springs after a four a year absence. We pressed on to Mt Doreen Station ruins. It is interesting what we will call a mountain in Australia. Another lovely cool night for sleeping and at one stage when awake through the night I strained to hear any noise. I mean 'any' noise. It was that quiet. Heading towards Alice I knew that wasn't going to be the case there.
Next day we called into Yuendumu just before the dirt turns to bitumen. The art centre was all locked up and we couldn't find the store so we kept on going. Next stop Tilmouth roadhouse about 100 k from Alice. The country side just kept getting greener after recent rain. More winter rain in the area then many can remember. There was even water across the road just north of Tilmouth. We called in for the obligatory iced coffee and found a wonderful array of indigenous art for sale. Alas we couldn't find a piece we all agreed on so back on the road. The first bounce of the AFL grand final was fast approaching. We drove into Alice Springs with only minutes to spare. Pulled into a campground at the rear of the Gap View Hotel, reversed into a spot and Rory sent us all off to watch the game while he set up camp. We watched the Bulldogs fairytale win and returned to find Rory had set up a full camp. Spare bedroom, annex with all walls and an awning out over the kitchen door. The Taj Mahal!! Just as well we intend to stay for a while.