It was freezing cold this morning so the diesel heater went on for a while before we got up for breakfast. The sun soon got high enough to start warming up the day.
We soon headed off down Luritja Road towards the Lasseter Highway and turned approximately east towards the Stuart Highway. Not long past the turnoff we stopped at Kernot Range Rest Area for thermos coffee in the sun. Another glorious day to be enjoyed. We were a little surprised when a Wicked Camper pulled up with 3 girls to fill up water bottles.
We made another quick stop at the Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse and lo and behold, there was another Wicked Camper driven by a young girl. The photo shows the “G” rated side – I wouldn’t include the other side in this family friendly blog! I understand that these “rude” Wicked Campers have been banned in Queensland so I’m a bit surprised to still see them here in NT.
Continuing 100 kms down the Lasseter Highway we stopped at Erldunda Roadhouse at the junction with the Stuart Highway where I refuelled Bertha (diesel was a surprising $1.759 per litre) while Ann went in to purchase two skinny caps to go – we have nice coffee in Bertha but sometimes a bought coffee hits the spot even better. The roadhouse was very busy catering for 2 tour buses so we decided not to stop there for lunch.
A further 30 kms or so up the highway we stopped at the Desert Oaks Rest Area (63 Camps 9). This is a large and tidy rest area with new amenities and would be a good choice for an overnight free-camp.
Observation: While we have stopped at some great rest areas – a warning to fellow travellers that many have large pot holes at entry and exit, mainly where the bitumen meets the dirt. Desert Oaks was no exception. So just take care when venturing off the road into any rest area/free-camp.
Back on the highway we drove through the Seymour Range hills and then the landscape turned flat again through the Palmer River Valley. All streams and rivers we crossed were bone dry.
We drove on past the Ernest Giles turnoff and noted the Finke River Rest Area (61 Camps 9). This seems to be a very popular free-camp with good facilities – it was pretty full and it was still early in the day.
We drove on through the Finke River flood plain and through a constantly changing landscape.
We stopped briefly at a historic marker which was a memorial for the 2 drivers and 2 officials killed on that spot in the inaugural Northern Territory Cannonball Run on 24 May 1994.
Back on the road our next stop was at the pay phone at Stuarts Well Roadhouse where Ann rang family to assure them that we were OK after several days “off-grid”. This is an interesting place with a camel farm and an emu enclosure as well as a roadhouse and a bar. There are powered camping sites for a fee and unpowered sites free of charge if you buy a drink or meal at the bar. We had considered staying here overnight but then realised that it was Saturday night and things might get a bit interesting later on, so we decided to continue another 90 kms to Alice Springs.
Ann had previously made a booking at Wintersun Caravan Park but we were a couple of days ahead of schedule. No matter, they found us a temporary site until our booked site became vacant. This is a very busy park and we are fortunate to have a site here. As we pulled onto our site we were greeted by long-time friends Downunda and Faye. We knew that they were planning to be in Alice Springs about now but without phone and internet neither of us knew where the other was.
We joined them for a very pleasant happy hour catching up with our respective travels and tales from the road, before heading back to Bertha for a light meal and settling in the for the night.
It has been a great day and we are happy to be back in civilization.
We are settling here at Wintersun for a couple of weeks – there is a lot to see and do. As is our usual practice, we won’t be doing daily blog updates while we are here but will post summaries of all major and exciting events and activities.
Still living the dream!!!!