Day 10. A lovely morning and as we sat out and had breakfast we watched all the fossickers heading back to the fields and their holes. we were on the road at 8.30 with a toilet stop at Gem Trees Caravan Park, and a talk with the lady who runs the place. Since we were here last the place is looking really good, green and new building put up, I think we'll be back for a stay one day. It was then on to Alice Springs. Right in the centre of Australia, Alice Springs sits at the junction of the East and West MacDonell Ranges, it is a lovely setting. The town is modern, with good shopping and good facilities. We filled with fuel, did a bit of shopping and got a bit stroppy, because it is a while since I have driven in traffic. We had lunch up on Anzac Hill, over looking the town and then headed south down the Stuart Highway for 80klms to Rainbow Valley Conservation Park where we have camped for the night. This is a beautiful place with eroded hills and craggy peaks, great place to bring aTrephina Gorge, NT camera.
Filled with fuel 107.17ltrs, $157.43, 874.3klms. Today we travelled 102.5klms.

Day 11. Woke before sunrise so I could try and get some photos of sunrise on the rock face, it was cool. I went outside and everything was covered in ice, it was below freezing. When the sun rose it was not shining on the rock face anyway. Set up breakfast and sat out watching the ice melt as the sun rose. I still had some solid ice on the bonnet as we hit the road at 8.15. We headed back to Alice Springs, had morning tea and bought a new light as ours had broken a couple of nights ago. About 11.30 we headed for the East MacDonell Ranges, first stop Emily Gap. This is a major traditional site, it is part of the story line for the three caterpillars which are ancestral beings for the Alice Springs area. Arrernte people conceived in Alice Springs consider themselves direct descendants of the caterpillars. Next, Jessie's Gap which has the same caterpillar story line for the local people. We drove on to Corroborree Rock and on to Traphina Gorge where we have camped for the night. The East MacDonnells are very impressive and it is a very scenic drive out to this area. The creek in Traphina Gorge is flowing flooding has closed the lower part of the campground. Today we have travelled 190.7klms.

Day 12. Rest day. Took a walk up and around the rim of the gorge this morning and have had a restful day reading since. It is now very cold.

Day 13. Got up at 7 and was on the road by 8.15, it was another cool morning and we were a bit early for a sunny spot to sit N'dalia Gorge, NTand have breakfast. We headed further into the East MacDonell Ranges and turned in for N'Dhala Gorge, a four wheel drive road only. Before we left the highway we saw a large concrete culvert had been washed away in the recent floods so we didn't know if the road would be open, it was but was a bit rough in spots. Creek crossings and running up sandy creek beds all added to the mornings excitement. This is a high walled narrow gorge, very picturesque with caves, a creek and wonderful rock formations. It is noted for it's thousands of petroglyph, which are recordings of stories in art form carved into the rock. There is a small camp ground here, which would be very quiet owing to the difficulty in getting in. The drive back to the main road was as exciting as the drive in. WE then headed back to Alice Springs for a few supplies and then out to the West MacDonells. WE intended to drive out to Gosse Bluff for a look but time caught up with us and we have pulled into Ellery Creek Big Hole Conservation Park for the night, so have half of the grey nomads touring the Northern Territory, the place is full. We have managed to find a spot to tuck into next to the gas tanks. Today we have travelled 214.5klms

Day 14. Took a drive further west into the West MacDonell Ranges and what fantastic scenery it is. First stop was the lookout for Mt Roland. In an already spectacular landscape Mt Roland stands out, all purples and shades of mauve, on theGosse Bluffe Crater, NT horizon. We had morning tea at the lookout but it was cool and windy. WE then headed for Tyler Lookout, this overlooks Gosse Bluff which rises up out of the plains about 10klms away. Grosse Bluff was created 142 million years ago when a huge meteor, comprising ice and frozen carbon dioxide, crashed into earth here. It had the power of 1 million atomic bombs and blew a crater 25klms wide here. The crater has eroded away over the years and all that is now left is the centre core, 5 kilometres wide. We drove down and along a six klm four wheel drive track entered into the centre of the crater. We were able to climb the walls for a look and it is just incredible. Unimaginable what it must have been like. Then we headed back for a look at Redbank Gorge. Well worth the drive in and the 20 minute hike up the rocky creek bed for a look, it's a shame I didn't have my Lilo so I could have floated up the narrow gorge. We have now returned to Ellery Creek and set up camp for the night. The bloke next to us had his generator on, against the rules of camping in these national Parks. After a couple of hours of his noise I went over to tell him to turn it off but he came out to do that as I was about to ask, his travelling mate had his generator on too and was told to turn it off by another unhappy camper. It has started to cloud up, I hope there is no rain. Today we travelled 235.6klms.

Day 15. Today we have just drove into Alice Springs and booked into the Stuart caravan park, it is time for a shower and to get some washing done. I have filled the van with water, emptied the loo,done a bit of shopping and a whole lot of walking around the industrial area of AS looking for a camp shop. I wouldn't have had as much walking if the guy at the Mitre 10 had told me to turn right instead of left. We are now nearly ready to hit the Tanimi Track tomorrow, I just have to fill with fuel. Today we travelled 92.6klms

Day 16. Up early for a luxury shower and shave, one good thing about caravan parks, and then off for a gas refill and a fuel refill and tyre check. I had a message last night from a Facebook friend I had never met, she saw I was in Alice Springs and notified me she was here too, we arranged to meet to say hello. Sandra Stephenson was born on Samarai and it was lovely meeting her, she is in Alice Springs doing some remote area work. Then it was on our way. The first 192klms of the Tanami is sealed so it was a nice easy drive, the West MacDonnell Ranges are visible for a lot of the way. We reached Tillmouth Well about three & had a look at the art gallery. This area is famous for it's artists and dot painting art with some of the best examples in the world coming from around here. We booked in for the night but thought it expensive at $20.00 unpowered and told them so. Filled with fuel 101.94, $148.94, 838.7klms. Today we travelled 165.8klms.

Day 17. Up for a shower, breakfast, fuelled up and back on the road. A couple of kilometres up the road the bitumen ran out and we were at the beginning of the run through the desert. In places there is bitumen for 13 -14 kilometres and the road is The Tanami Track.being upgraded with work crews out working. The gravel stretches, which became longer as the day wore on, were in the main very good. The further from Alice Springs we got the larger the corrugations but I have driven on worse. The road is dead straight for miles and you can see traffic approaching, first from the rising dust, and then as a speck on the horizon. it takes forever until you meet and pass. Mainly the land is dead flat, in places quite a bit of vegetation and then miles of just spinnifex. We saw camels, wild horses and a bustard but very little else in the way of wildlife, except lots and lots of birds. We lunched in a repeater tower yard just off the road. After lunch we stopped by a broken down car. An aboriginal man was asleep on a mattress at the side of the road, an older woman, young woman and a young child by the car. They reckon they needed a jump start so I tried that, didn't work. They said they had been there all day and that no-one had stopped. I ended up towing them down the road for a while until a ute came towards us from Granite Gold Mine. The ute was out looking for them so I unhooked them from my tow rope and left. We arrived at Rabbit Flat about 4.15 and was told that about ten vehicles had tried to jump start them, and one driver had actually driven the bloke up to Granite Mine and picked up a new battery. At Rabbit Flat I spoke to Bruce, he has been here since 1969. A friend of mine, Charles Barton, asked to be remembered to Bruce as in the early seventies he had been a grader driver on the track here at Rabbit Flat. Charles didn't know if Bruce would remember him but he did, and told a few stories about that time here. We are camped at Rabbit Flat tonight, they are closing down, for good, on the 31st Dec this year. Filled with fuel 21.42, $40.06, 193.7klms today we travelled 314.3klms.

Western Australian/Northern Territory Border.Day 18. It was a very windy night and when we woke this morning the skies were grey. We looked for Bruce as we left but the place was all locked up. it was 125klms to the Western Australian border and the road was very good. At the WA border the roads deteriorated quickly. We had 150klms of dusty, corrugated and ripped up gravel road that hasn't seen a grader in quite a while, it is probably the worst bit of road I have driven on. After driving for four hours we saw our first car of the day and only passed another four all day. We passed a community settlement and the road improved out of sight and a little while later we turned into Wolf Crater meteor site. 300,000 years ago a meteor crashed to earth here leaving a 500mtr wide crater. We walked around it and up to the rim, it is quite impressive and worth the drive in for a look. It is also a great camping spot, so we have set ourselves up here for the night. The Tanami drive is now just about over and the last part is the worst. Today we travelled 349.0klms

Day 19. We are in WA now and have put our watches back one and a half hours, yesterday the sun came up at 7.05am, this morning 5.35am. We were on the road early for the two hour run into Halls Creek and the end of our trip through the Tanai Desert. About 10 klms up the road we came across a car overturn. The young bloke who was driving said he had served to miss a kangaroo, run off the road, up the embankment and overturned. His trailer had broken away from his four wheel drive and also overturned, his belongings were all up the ditch at the side of the road, he was happy to not have a scratch on him, although he thought his car and trailer were total write-offs. Someone had driven back to the nearby community and called for a truck to come and pick him up so we continued on our way. Filled with fuel in Halls Creek, went to the bakery and bought some gooey stuff, made a cupa and enjoyed it. Halls Creek seems to have changed since we were last here, the town looks cleaner, there appear to be more businesses and it looks a lot better. We now headed East for a hundred kilometres to the Ord River Rest Area where we have pulled in for the night. Met Jim, who was parked next to us, and he joined us for a few hours telling us of his life in Libya, Algeria and a few other Arab countries, he was born in Lancashire so he could talk a lot. Filled with fuel 109.75ltrs, $166.71, 911.9klms. Today we travelled 250.1klms.



Rainbow Valley, NT
Alice Springs, NT
Redbank Gorge, NT
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