Tuesday, August 8, 2017


On Thursday, we just hung around the park in the morning.   Ian put the car in this morning to have the air conditioning fixed, and we spent the morning washing, cleaning the van and pretty much finishing off the crocheting for our Termite mound.  It is still very cold in Alice Springs.  The wind is roaring again today, so it isn’t too nice being outdoors…  It was a good chance for me also to get some editing done on Brendan and Rachel’s wedding photos and post them home to Tom and Ann, so that was my mission for today, and then I would be completely up to date with everything.    Steve spent some time checking emails, and doing a little proof reading for the girls…

After lunch, Ian & Kathy and Steve & I all went grocery shopping.  It would be a good week before we got to Katherine which is where we would have the next opportunity to visit a supermarket, so we wanted to stock up on some meat and fresh fruit and vegetables.  Kathy and I also decided that we could do with a haircut.  Kathy wanted all of her hair cut,  I really only wanted my fringe done and for it to be thinned out a little.  We found a hairdresser in the Woolies centre and walked in and asked about a haircut.  They wanted to charge us both $42 each and we both decided then and there that our haircuts could wait….

After getting our shopping done, we headed back to KC Auto to check on Ian’s car as it was going on for 5pm and we still hadn’t heard from them.    By the time we got there they were just finishing fixing it, so obviously they didn’t start this morning like we had hoped.  Good thing   we decided to spend an extra day in Alice rather than try and leave as soon as Ian and Kathy’s car was fixed. When they rang Ian on the Tuesday, they quoted him $345 dollars to fix it ( well so he thought) but apparently that was the cost for the part only, so it was quite a shock when we went to pay and found out that the price they quoted was for the part only and the labour was almost double that on top of the part…..  Something they were not expecting, but then you can’t really head to Darwin without air con….

John and Bard decided to cook dinner for us tonight and John made an amazing stew, which helped to warm us to the bone.  It really did go down well on such a cold nigh It was another very cold night again tonight.   This is something we will not miss when we head north.   Ian made us his poor man’s cheesecake for desert which we added ice cream too.  In hindsight we should have had desert first and then our hot stew.  None of us sat outside for long tonight… We had lots of packing to do as we wanted to get away early in the morning as we were heading back to the Devil’s Marbles for the night.  Experience has taught us, that you need to get to these places by lunch time or a little after, as from about 2pm in the afternoon, the caravans just start pouring in, and by sunset you may be camping with 50+ other van owners….

We spent most of the day on the road on Friday.  We got away just before 8.30am, and didn’t have as many stopped this time, as we had traveled this part of the highway before so had already stopped to take the photos we wanted to take.  We did stop at Ti Tree as John and Barb needed to fill up with fuel.  This is about 200kms north of Alice Springs and probably around the half way mark of our travels today.  Our Navman tells us every two hours that we have been on the road for two hours now, time to stop and take a break…  therefore we decided to have morning tea here.  There was a covered picnic table across from the road house, so out came the table cloth, and we probably spent about half an hour having a cuppa and a good laugh.  No singing this time though.

The next cheapest fuel was at Wycliffe Well, which was probably about 180 kms further down the road, so we decided then and there to refill there before heading north.  Fuel at Wycliffe Well was 127.5c per litre as against 171c per litre at the Three Ways, so we wanted most of the fuel in our tank to be cheaper.  We knew we would still have to top up at the Three Ways,  just didn’t want empty tanks when we got there..

We did want to stop for some firewood as we were keen to have a fire at our campsite tonight, so we had 20kms between Whycliffe Well and the turn off to the Devil’s Marbles to locate some.  Well we found some, but most of the time we were unable to stop there as we couldn’t get off the road.  In places where we could get off the road, there wasn’t much available (probably because everyone else had the same idea also)
Some of the pretty wild flowers where we stopped to find some wood for our fire.
more wildflowers growing by the side of the road..
Chopping us some firewood for a camp fire tonight.
Thank goodness for that reciprocating saw
We managed to find some about 3 kms before the turn off to Devil’s Marbles, so here we all are out on the side of the road collecting it.  Steve got our his reciprocating    saw and sawed off a couple of good size logs off a dead tree.  Obviously someone else had been there before us.  Another caravan pulled off the road behind us and we noticed they were in the bush collecting fire wood also. 
Pretty much a photo free day…  Just enjoyed the scenery as we traveled and I had the nanna naps….  We arrived at the Devil’s Marbles around 2.30pm, and were fortunate to get a couple of good spots where we did not have to unhitch the van.  This has been one of my most favourite places to camp,  there is something about being here,  it is so serene and peaceful, and we easily could have just spent a few days here if we were not so time poor.  We have already lost over a week of our travel time, with our delay in Emerald with the fridge and then Ian and Kathy’s delay in Alice Springs with the air conditioning. None of us are complaining though, as we have enjoyed the down time….  Just means we might have to miss a few things.   
We thought this one was pretty cool

 On the road to The Devil’s Marbles today, we did notice a few dresses  termite mounds but one in particular had a cap with hair on it, so Barb and I almost simultaneously called each other on the UHF, to let each other know that we think our termite mound might need some hair also. Once we got to the Devil’s Marbles and set up camp, whilst the rest of us had some shut eye time ( we were all feeling pretty tired from the long haul this morning) Barb, who is the youngest of us, got out the yellow wool and crochet hook, and added some nice golden hair to our Myrtle…

Barb modelling the finished outift...
How scary is this face.
Hair now added.

Then when we had all awoken from our sleep, she decided to parade it for us so that we could get the full effect of what Myrtle would look like.  Poor termite mound,  I am afraid that our face is rather scary, so hope that it doesn’t scarce too many children as they drive past. 
Ian and Kathy up on the Devil's Marbles at sunset
staning in front of the Boot...
Looking back over our vans -sunset at the Devil's Marbles
Sunset at the Marbles

Beautiful sunsets

 Just before sunset we climbed up the Marbles for one last time to watch the sun set,  a rather magical experience,  this time there were no rock pools, the water had all dried up.  I am pleased that we got to see it with the water our first trip around… Steve climbed to the very highest rock… Almost like he is reliving his childhood again….  

Wild flowers around the Devil's Marble
We did notice that there were a lot more wild flowers out this visit, and I tried to take some photos of them.   The little yellow star flowers didn’t photograph too well on Steve’s phone, so we decided to take the good camera back out early in the morning and get a few shots before we left…

I think we all had a hand in cooking dinner tonight….  We cooked chicken kebabs, and I made a salad with lots of salad and fruit in it,  Kathy roasted some sweet potatoes, and John cooked up some Turmeric rice and heated the left over stew from the night before..  Another magnificent feast… It wasn’t as cold tonight, so we sat outside a lot longer,  in fact we sat around the fire where we toasted marshmallows for our desert.  It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it… 

It was a pretty early night for all of us, as we had another drive again in the morning… 

 I was feeling a little sad as we left the Devil's Marbles this morning. This has been perhaps one of my most favourite spots to camp... so we did an extra slow drive out this morning, just so that we could savour each moment and all the scenery around us.  I would love to come back here....
These rocks just looked like an old boot. We hadn't noticed it the first visit here...
They just balance here... Not sure how...
Almost like someone got a knife and cut it straight through.
Look at this for a straight break through
Hate one of these to fall on me as I was walking past..
Another one just balancing there..
 Not as long  a drive this time,  only about 200kms to Banka Banka Station…  We felt that 530 kms to Daly Waters would be a little too long, and we would not be able to arrive in time to get a good site, so Banka Banka Station it was.  Great place to stay I might add…

We refueled at the Three Ways,  there were some pretty long road trains there, so I photographed one.  It is not a very comfortable feeling when one of these things towing 4 large trailers passes you…

A very long road train...
Awesome painting on the  wall of the roadhouse
The Three Ways Roadhouse NT.

From here we only had another 76 kms to go before we got to Banka Banka…
Barb thought that this stretch of the highway as as good as anywhere to find a termite mound to dress, so we were all on the lookout for a suitable termite mound that would allow us to dress it, have photos taken with it, and be in full view of the highway.  Ian and Kathy were leading today, so about 24kms north of the Three Ways Roadhouse, they came across a termite mound that met all our criteria, and so we all stopped.  Kathy and I cleared away some of the dead trees and branches that were laying near our termite and we set about dressing Ms Myrtle Mound in all her colour and finery.  We were a tad pleased with the end result,  but I really think that Myrtle Mound really needs a lost all of her own…
Termite mound discovered - Ms Myrtle Mound in the making
Dressing the termite
Capturing the moment..
Da Da.... Ms Myrtle is dressed
Even the guys got involved...
Introducing Ms Myrtle Mound
Doing a last bit of mending...
Even John put his skills to use..

We arrived at Banka Banka Station around lunch time.  I think there were about 5-6 vans there before us, so we got great sites around the edge of the camping ground.  It seemed to be that we were no sooner in there, than the vans started arrived and it was a constant flow until dark.  This is a great place to stay,  $10 per person per night.  No electricity, but plenty of water, hot showers and toilets, and you could even wash your car and van for a small fee…  
Our destination for the night..
This guy was part of our welcoming committee
Our vans set up at  Banka Banka
John and Barb, us in the middle and then Ian and Kathy
Entrance to the toilets
The old mud hut
We were parked under the bottle tree.
There was not phone or internet reception there which was great because as the place started to fill up, everyone was walking around chatting to each other.  We met some lovely folk, and exchanged some stories about good places to visit, cheap fuel, and new places for us to explore… 

Heading back from our van from taking some photos, one lady called out to me and asked me if I was from Rockhampton…. She was too and remembered me from shopping at Mather’s which is where she worked.  We had quite a chat.  

After it cooled down somewhat., Barb, Kathy and I went for a walk to explore the mud hut behind our van, the campfire area, and we walked over to visit the donkeys and the camels. 
Big red back spider
The park is starting to fill up...
Caravans bumper to bumper
Trees are full of cockatoos
These strange fruits growing in this tree.  no sure what they are...
 Some of the things we found on our wander around the stations...

Open firepit at Banka Banka
Love the duck your head sign...
Love this log and their interpretation
Love their take on an electric toothbrush and electric shaver.
 Visiting the donkey's and the camels...
Kathy catches up with the camels
Barb befriends the donkeys
When we got back, Ian and Steve decided they were going to go for a walk up the hill behind the station and take some photos. 
Views from the hill
Looking down on our vans

Ian up at the top
Panoramic views
Fires in the background...
  Whilst they did that Kathy and I went for our showers.  Great showers,  plenty of hot water, and great nozzles on the shower.. 

Steve, Ian and Kathy went for a walk to the Banka Banka waterhole.  They thought it was a 2 km return walk, but it ended up being over 5kms there and back.  So glad that they took off before I realized it and that I didn’t end up going with them.  Apparently it was beautiful, and definitely worth the walk as far as they were concerned, and the photos they took would also suggest that…
On the walk to Banka Banka Waterhold
Great reflections

I am so pleased that Steve took some photos of the wild flowers along the way too.

It is getting much warmer, and it was nice to sit outside and chat whilst having dinner tonight… Cool, but not cold, so none of us were in a rush to go indoors.  Had a BBQ, with roast potatoes and sweet potatoes, and John made an amazing cauliflower and capsicum stir-fry to go with it.  All quite delicious…  We are living well in the bush.

It was about 9.30pm before we all called it a night…. Another early start in the morning, as we head off to Daly Water’s Historical Pub for the night…


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