The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 12

Early rise and on the road within 45mins. Sorry to the neighbouring tents, I hope you too wanted an early start to your day. Driving East as the sun rises is not a pleasurable experience. Especially when the kangaroos are out grazing on breakfast grasses. At one point when the sun had just broken the horizon, and was lying directly in line of sight with the road, we had to pull over and wait for it to rise a little higher in the sky. I wasn’t in the mood to drive blind. We took some time to appreciate the sunrise which was, yet again, beautiful and also get some silly shadow photos.

 

Shadows
Silly Shadow Photos
 
The road to Longreach was long, boring, bitumen with white lines. Not much else to report for our drive. I’m sure I could spin some creative story about the great outback arid lands and wide open sweeping plains, but to be honest I’m not all that inspired from it today. It’s dry, bare, hot, and a whole lot of not much to see at all.

In other news! Today we ate our very last Easter egg of 2015. It has done quite the journey this Easter egg. Originally being bought from a shop in Brisbane QLD, then being transported to Bali where it was laid out in an Easter egg hunt for us by my sister-in-law, then collected by myself and bought back to Melbourne before being packed up and transported up through SA, NT and finally back into QLD. That’s quite the round trip for a little egg!

After setting up camp in Longreach, we sat out the back of our tent, enjoyed a cool drink and relaxed in the warm sunlight to do a little blog writing. Then, as if out of nowhere, I popped my head up and only a few meters away stood a giant brolga. I was stunned, both with shock of there being such a large bird so close to me, but also with shear awe of such a majestic creature. We were able to sit and watch them for a little while. At times they just wandered curiously, and other times they jumped and danced across the ground playing with each other.

 

Brolgas
Majestic Brolgas
 
After sunning ourselves we wandered over to the spas for a lovely cool off. We dipped our toes and got quite the shock. The water was freezing! There’s no wonder why only the kids were swimming. Well that was great in theory, but not a chance we were getting in. We trundled back to out tent and made a few phone calls. The most important being the one to my folks who are headed up to meet us tomorrow. We needed to add a few more things to the ‘please bring with you’ list. Looking forward to seeing them and to share some of our trip with them. Tomorrow we are headed to Sapphire to begin the gem hunting!

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The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 11

What a great night sleep! What a difference it makes to your morning when you wake up refreshed. 8am was the magic time when we could head down to reception and buy a bucket of rock. Let the treasure hunt begin! We were hunting for Garnet which is commonly found in this area. There was a fossicking full day tour group that left at 8:30am and headed out to the gem fields, or alternatively if you didn’t have much time you could just buy a bucket of rock that was pre-dug and bought back to the caravan park for your convenience.

We got stuck into our bucket and were sieving and washing the rock in no time. We held the sieve up to the sunlight and looked for little red rocks. The sunlight shining right though them. Little red flecks of treasure. In an instant the addiction had returned. The hunt for gemstones had begun earlier than we expected, and it was the best opportunity to ‘get our eye in’ ready for the ultimate gemstone search. In only a few days we were going to be in Sapphire, and this was the best practice.

Scoop three tins of rock into the sieve, shake out the small dust and rocks. Put the sieve in the water bucket and give it a quick rinse. Quickly lift the sieve up and down while it’s just below the water’s surface, to make all the rock come to the centre. Slightly spread the rocks out and hold the sieve up to the light. Smile a huge smile and get excited cause there’s about 12 garnet sitting in your sieve. Carefully pull them out of the sieve and place in your collection tin. Give your sieve to your treasure hunt buddy for double checking. Start again. 

After one bucket and about two hours, we had quite a large collection of garnet ready to take into the shop and have checked. As it turns out, three are worth faceting. Knowing that you possibly might not have any worth faceting, we were super impressed with the mornings effort. Alright! Back to the road.

 

Garnets
All the Garnets we found!
 
Today was going to be a tough drive as the map showed we would be driving on dirt track all day. We had also checked out some online sites before we left home, to see what other people thought of the road, and they mentioned plenty of bull dust. The drive was about 700kms and the destination was Boulia.

There weren’t really any stops on our travels today, only the occasional photograph, pee stop, driver swap or to refill our water bottles. We cooked lunch in the car oven, so no time was wasted for a lunch break. Delicious Rolf’s pies and mini quiches slowly cooked and snacked on throughout the drive. The car oven has its pros and cons. Delicious warm crispy lunch, but at the same time it was warming our food, it created a fair amount of heat in the car, and with no sunroof open today, we felt like we were in a little hot box.

The bull dust was hard driving. It just jumps out at you like a jack-in-the-box and catches you by surprise when you least expect it. You have to be alert and prepared every second of driving. It was as though someone had just put a kids sandpit in the middle of the road. As long as you’re ready and not going too fast, you can just pass through carefully, knowing that it will probably grab at your tyres at any moment. It really gets your heart racing.

Every know and then, something will pop up on the horizon to add a little bit of excitement and difference to the same, constant scenery. One of which were windmills. Today we probably saw the most amount of windmills on our trip and although we didn’t count them, they always make a good ‘Aussie Outback’ photo. 

 

Windmill
Typical ‘Aussie Outback’ Windmill
 
Today was our last day in the Northern Territory. I feel like I have truely explored a large chunk of this area now and have a greater appreciation for what life is like in this area. We crossed the border into Queensland and began to notice small difference between the two. NT will always have a warning sign to let you know what’s coming ahead, wether it be a floodway or a grid, whereas in QLD they really don’t bother with signs at all. At least not in this part of the state. You clearly note the small differences when you are driving such distances.

 

The Border
NT / QLD Border
 
Today’s mini car-tastrophe was related to the floodlight on the back of the car. Very useful when setting up camp in the dark. As I was driving I looked through the rear view mirror and noticed that it had flopped down. We promptly pulled over and checked it. The nut and bolt had simply become loose and needed tightening. Considering my ridiculously muscly arms, I just tightened it and we headed back along the bumpy, dusty, rough road. From there on I forgot about it, not really giving it much thought, until later when I was back in the drivers seat and looked again through the rear view mirror and couldn’t see the light at all. Oh crap! Again, promptly pulling over we got out and saw that it was hanging down and the nut had not only come loose from the bolt, but the entire bolt had worked its way out of the light fitting and was gone completely. I guess I’m really not that muscly after all. Lesson learnt, use a spanner!

Some sections of the road were clearly better than others, and even some sections in QLD had just recently had bitumen laid, making for a more interesting afternoon. Along the side of the road we could often see kangaroo road kill, but driving in the late afternoon meant that not only did we see the dead roos, but we also saw a lot of wedge tailed Eagles, feasting on the carcasses. We stopped and watched one in amazement for a little while. You don’t see that kind of thing back home!

Wedge-tailed Eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle in Flight

 

Wedge-tailed Eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle eating a Kangaroo carcass
 
We pulled into the campground at about 6pm and were fortunate enough to grab the last campsite. A delicious dinner was had while we sat by the river and enjoyed the spectacular celestial view, seeing both Venus and Jupiter so close together in the sky at the same time. Not a common site. Tomorrow we leave this little sleepy town of Boulia and head to Longreach.

The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 10

Last night was the worst night sleep I have had this entire trip. I was awake every hour, all for different reasons. At 11pm it was the school kids. At midnight it was a couple of blokes who had obviously just finished a six pack of beer each. At 1am it was a crying baby. At 2am it was a pack of howling dingoes. At 3am the dingoes had gotten into the bag of tinnies left over from the blokes, and it sounded like they were being spread everywhere. At 4am some crazy strong winds were making the tent creak and blow about. At 5am the neighbouring tent had an alarm that went off (even though they didn’t rise till 2hrs later). At 6am the school group were waking and starting to pack up. At 7am the baby was crying again and it was about time I got up. Sure enough, not far from the tent, was a plastic bag with some beer cans in it and the rest were strewn across the ground.

After packing our things and preparing breakfast, we headed to the shop to pick up a permit. Today we were driving on the Mereenie Loop, and because it’s on Aboriginal land, we required a permit. The road was in pretty bad shape and it was a fairly rough 150km stretch of morning driving. Glad we only paid $5 cause I’m not sure where the money goes. We then had the choice to go to either Hermannsburg or along the scenic route on Namatjira Drive. We obviously chose the scenic route which allowed us to stop and look at lots of different gorges throughout the West MacDonnell National Park.

The first stop was Redbank gorge. Not a lot to see unless you wanted to do the 2hr round trip walk and unfortunately we didn’t have time for that kind of adventure. The second stop was Glen Helen gorge. With just a short walk down to the waterhole I can see why this would be a popular camping destination. If we were in the area again we would camp somewhere here along the Finke River. We had a quick walk around the rocks but it was too cold for swimming.

 

Glen Helen Gorge
Glen Helen Gorge
 
Ormiston gorge was third on our list. This stop had a kiosk, guided nature walks, well maintained toilets and supposedly a fantastic iced coffee for sale. Not being a coffee drinker I just bought a soft-drink to enjoy with a lunch of tacos.

Lunch
Cool drink and Tacos

After lunch we explored Ormiston gorge, which again would be a lovely swimming hole, but far too cold for my liking. There were a lot more people at this gorge, either just out for a short walk, stopped on the bank having a picnic, or passing through as part of a much longer bush walk.
 

Ormiston Gorge
Ormiston Gorge
 
The gorges were obviously getting better as we travelled onward. So in hindsight we are glad we didn’t bother going in to see the first one. Realistically you could walk the 2hrs to ‘possibly’ see a lovely Redbank Gorge, but then after travelling a further 20mins down the road are you going to kick yourself and say, ‘gee whiz this was is heaps better and I can also get a coffee to drink while I walk’. My thoughts exactly!

Our final stop within the MacDonnell Ranges was to see Standley Chasm. Upon arrival we learn that it costs $10 per person to get anywhere near it. We didn’t want to pay to see a crack in a rock, no matter how wonderful it was suppose to be. I seriously don’t understand why we should be paying to see natural rock formations within a National Park! 20mins driving time was wasted, and we were disappointed that it wasn’t stated in any of the pamphlets, advertising paraphernalia or general travel info that we had read.

We pushed onto Alice to get some errands done. A petrol stop to fill both fuel tanks, a quick food shop for fresh fruit and veggies, the uploading of blogs, Internet banking, and a couple of phone calls. The most important of which was a call home about the sunroof. We had a slight issue with the sunroof not closing. Well actually it’s more of a serious issue! If it doesn’t close Murphy (Murphy’s Law) surely says it will pour with rain in the middle of the night and the car will get soaked. We had been fiddling with it for a while trying to get it closed, and each time we pushed one of the buttons it made about 2cms and then stopped again. We have no idea what the problem is, but we eventually managed to close it about an hour later and have decided to no longer use it until we arrive back home and have it serviced. The permanent closing of the sunroof will be really tough, as the front of the 4WD heats up a fair bit and the ability to have the heat rise out the top of the car is simply one of the best inventions ever!

We hit the road again, headed north up the Stuart highway, then headed due east along the Plenty Highway. A difficult dusk/night drive to arrive at Gem Tree Caravan Park with wildlife and cattle on the side of the road frequently. We fortunately arrived safely, but were quite exhausted from the drive. Upon arrival we noticed a sign saying that you can fossick here, and that it’s the heart of the Central Australian Gem fields. Why was this not advertised anywhere before now? What are we fossicking for? When can we get started? It’s just by chance that we decided to camp here tonight and thank goodness for that!

Camp was set up quickly as we’re well practiced now. We had a delicious meal, played some more board games and went to bed. Today the ‘Rocky Horizon Trip’ truely lived up to its name with plenty of rocky gorges, camping in the heart of the gem fields and continually chasing that horizon today. We are excited and looking forward to a quick fossick for gemstones in the morning before the long, and difficult drive to Boulia tomorrow. 

The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 9

We awoke and packed quickly so we could get out to Kata Tjuta to see the sunrise. There was a great viewing spot up on the dunes, where you could not only see Kata Tjuta, but also Uluru. It was a beautiful sight to see the sky change from wattle yellow, through peach and bright orange, to a bright blue colour.

 

Uluru Sunrise
Sunrise over Uluru
 
Although the sky was spectacular, I can’t really say the same for the view of Kata Tjuta. The light hit the rocks and looked lovely, but given the position of the sun it didn’t reach its potential. Before leaving Yalara we did a couple of last minute errands in town and then head out to Kings Canyon.

 

Kata Tjuta Sunrise
Sunrise over Kata Tjuta
 
The drive to Kings Canyon was about 300kms, and was long, fairly straight and boring, as my passenger was super tired and decided to sleep the whole way. The most exciting thing was pulling into a rest stop and being visited by a dingo. He was a cute little pup, and was obviously looking for food. 

 

Dingo
Young Dingo
 
The ‘sleepy-head’ passenger appropriately woke just before arrival, and was able to assist with the cooking of a delicious tikka masala complete with papadums. We sat in the dappled sunlight under a beautiful tree, ate our lunch and played some boards games.

 

Dappled sunlight
The dappled sunlight of the lunch tree
 
We didn’t really want to get up from such a relaxing location, however we were looking forward to the walk and had heard that it was beautiful and had great views. So we peeled ourselves away from the sunshine and drove out to Kings Canyon to do the ‘Rim Walk’. We were told that the start was going to be a gut busting climb and it sure did live up to its expectations. The views were spectacular, the rock formations were fascinating and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

 

King's Canyon
Views from the King’s Canyon Rim
 
The highlight of the walk was the water hole within the garden of Eden which lied at the base of the gorge. We were often distracted from the walk while taking plenty of photos so we ended up walking fairly slowly, however, the last 3-4 kms were quite fast paced as we were racing the sun. We wanted to get back to camp to watch the sun set on the canyon. Again another wonderful sunset in Central Australia

 

King's Canyon
Sunset over King’s Canyon
 
Honouring the true Northern Territory experience, we ate at ‘The Outback BBQ’. I ate some kangaroo skewers and listened to a live performance by Rod Dowsett who was playing country music. Upon arrival back at the camp we have found it to be very noisy with a school group close by and another family setting up camp almost on top of us. Lets just hope we get some sleep tonight.

The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 8

We woke early and met Matt, our helicopter pilot for out sunrise flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. It was a great way to see the true size and shape of the rocks. On the way to the rock we flew over the resort, camp ground and also Longitude 131.

 

Uluru
Sunrise Helicopter over Uluru
 
Longitude 131 is a 6 star accommodation. It’s a true ‘Glamping’ experience with loads of extra unique activities included. The menu is based around native Australian foods and the drinks are continually flowing. It’s a dream to stay here one day.

 

Kata Tjuta
Sunrise Helicopter over Kata Tjuta
 
Whilst flying toward Uluru we were able to see the scarcity of the vegetation and also the light hitting the sand dunes in the area, a view you don’t get to appreciate on the ground. Flying in a helicopter was very nostalgic, reminding us of our wedding.

 

Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Sunrise Helicopter over Uluru and Kata Tjuta
 
We were dropped back at the camp ground where we had our favourite breakfast of egg sangas! The morning as very restorative for us, with time do things like washing, general cleaning, sorting of food items, hot showers, board games and also time for relaxing.

We drove out to Kata Tjuta (meaning many heads) and walked the ‘Valley of the Winds’ walk, which was true to is name and quite windy. It was about a 10km walk on very rocky terrain. The walk was very quiet and peaceful with not too many people around, as often people will only walk in to the lookout rather than doing the full loop track. We climbed and descended through the valley, between two heads, and then back out to some open plains where you could view more of the heads off in the distance.

 

Kata Tjuta
‘Valley of the Winds’ walk at Kata Tjuta
 
We spent some time deciding on where we would spend the afternoon viewing the sunset, but finally decided to head back to Uluru to watch it again as the sunset viewing point for Kata Tjuta was filled with rowdy tourists and wasn’t really going to be the best spot.

 

Uluru
Sunset over Uluru
 
Again we had some nibbles, wine and ginger beer and watched the sunset. This time we stayed a little longer and waited until the stars came out. Upon arrival back to camp we packed away most of our things into the 4WD jumped in our sleeping bags and headed off to the land of nod.

Uluru and the moon
Uluru and the moon

The Rocky Horizons Trip – Day 7

This morning we got up and headed out to the rock. I can’t believe I’m finally here! Not only have we been planning this trip for quite a while, but I have wanted to see Uluru ever since I knew such thing existed (when I was just a little kid). As we drove closer and closer to the base, the rock continued to get bigger and bigger. I understand that it’s a HUGE rock, but truly comprehending its size is not something you can do till you actually arrive.

We joined in the free 10am ‘Mala’ walk and learnt about the culture and indigenous folk who are connected to the area. It was very informative and I would recommend joining the walk if you are ever here. The walk took 2hrs and we were captivated, learning about Uluru and the life, that was once lived, in years gone by.

Guided walk
Guided ‘Mala’ Walk

We then headed back to the cultural centre and had a quick look around after having some lunch. Our next adventure had us hiring a couple of bikes and riding around the base of Uluru. It’s a solid 10km ride with an extra 4kms to and from the cultural centre. It was such a great way to travel around and see the marvellous rock in its entirety.

 

Bike ride
Riding bikes around the base
 
We went back into the town centre and grabbed some tasty nibbles from the supermarket and then headed out to watch the sunset over Uluru. It was amazing to see the colour of the rock change. It was glowing a bright red just before the sun set and looked absolutely stunning. While watching the sun go down we ended up eating to many snacks with the delicious wine we picked up at Banrock Station that we didn’t need to eat dinner.

 

Sunset
Uluru at sunset
 
We headed back to camp made a cup of tea and headed out to the amphitheatre where there was a free concert. Gang Gajang were the headline act and of course they played their hit song ‘Sounds of Then’. It was a rather cold evening but we managed to position ourselves next to a gas heater and settled in for a great night.

 

Gang Gajang
Gang Ganjang
 
Sleeping tonight will be hard, not only because we are expecting very low temperatures (there’s was not a single cloud in the sky all day), but more importantly it will be hard to sleep as tomorrow morning we are taking a helicopter flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta at sunrise. Obviously we are super excited!!

The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 6

Today we didn’t wake at the crack of dawn, we woke before it. Actually we had packed up camp and driven out to ‘The Painted Desert’ well before the crack of dawn. We were here to watch the sunrise, hoping to see the beautiful colours of the rock in spectacular fashion. It was freezing cold, and upon arrive we set up the camera ready for the amazing shots that we had read so much about.

As the dawn broke and the sunlight began to rise into the sky, we quickly realised that the shots we were expecting, were never going to eventuate. The position of the sun was never going to shine on the rock to create anything more than plain old sunshine. No stunning site, no breathtaking views, and no spectacular scenery. If you are planning on coming to check it out, come at any time of the day. It is a worthy stop but there is no need to view at sunrise or sunset.

We took photos of the sunrise over the horizon and then had breakfast before driving the 98kms back along the 4WD track to reach the Stuart Highway. Most of our day was spent driving this highway and now that we were back on bitumen we consequently were continually passing caravans being driven by the ‘Grey Nomads’. We crossed the border in Northern Territory and occasionally stopped at a roadhouse for a toilet break. 

Sunrise
Sunrise over the Painted Desert

We stopped at Kulgera roadhouse, picked up a couple of drinks and asked for them to fill my cup with hot water. After filling my cup she added $3 to the total of my bill.

“Sorry… how much is that water?”
“Three dollars”

“For Water!?”

“Yes”

“You’ve got to be kidding me! You can tip it back if you want, but there is no way I’m paying $3 for hot water!”

and without another word she promptly took my cup, tipped out the water and readjusted the total of my bill. I was shocked.

Another 75kms down the road we turned left and were now headed on the road to Uluru. The dirt is a true red colour, hence the name ‘The Red Centre’, the unusual shaped trees are black and scrawny, and the grass tuffets growing along the side of the road were strangely being mowed. That has got to be someone’s full time job! We passed a convocation of 5 wedge-tailed eagles, on the side of the road, clawing away at some road kill, and then all of a sudden we looked up and saw the great big Fooluru (not quite Uluru) which is actually called Mt Connor and we also got our first glimpses of both Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (formerly known as The Olga’s). We set up camp at Yulara and enjoyed a delicious dinner as the sunset on our camp. Tomorrow we will be exploring Uluru.

Fooluru
Fooluru – Mt Connor

The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 5

Underground camping was an incredible experience. We were super toasty all night long which made it so comfortable. Fortunately for us we weren’t awoken in the middle of the night with a tent pole in our face, but instead the tent stayed up perfectly. We had a relaxed, slow start to the morning as the drive today was only 240 kms, although a fair chunk was on a 4WD track.

 

Camping underground
Underground camping in Coober Pedy
 

After taking advantage of the free wifi, we decided to poke our noses around town. We checked out the ‘Big Winch’, another of the 50 BIG things listed in my book. The Big Winch was ‘as expected’ and appropriately located on top of a hill in the centre of town, giving way to spectacular views of the township and surrounding landscape. We filled up the car, for the second time, at the miners co-op fuel stop. The cheapest fuel in town!

 

Big Winch
The Big Winch
 

On the way to our final destination at Arckaringa Station, we stopped to view ‘The Dog Fence’ and admire ‘The Breakaways’. The reportedly two metre high (not where we were) dog fence is designed to keep the dingoes away from the sheep. It all started with individual farmers building fences around their properties, until the fences were later joined and became the longest fence in the world. ‘The Breakaways’ are a landscape of colourful flat topped mesas (tabletop mountains) that have broken away from the Stuart Ranges, hence their name.

Breakaways
The Breakaways

We stopped for lunch on the side of the road in a beautiful dried up river bed, listening to the sounds of the wildlife with no one in earshot. We really felt like we were in the outback. We arrive at Arckaringa Station in the early afternoon and were able to take advantage of the hot showers. We had enough time to wash our hair and allow it to dry before the sunset and the temperature dropped. We used our washing machine (scrubba bag) and took a little self-care time for ourselves.

The campsite at Arckaringa Station was beautiful and had everything you could possibly want when you are in the middle of nowhere. Everything was clean and well maintained and the owners were very friendly. If you are ever in the area, this is definitely a place I recommend.

At the end of our day we drove out to ‘The Painted Desert’ to watch the sunset. It’s described as a multi-hued terrain, which is the result of erosion on the remnants of an inland sea. As we watched the sunset we cooked dinner and enjoyed the stunning surroundings. Unfortunately we weren’t in the best spot for photos, so early to bed and early to rise, because we can always try again at sunrise.

The Painted Desert
The Painted Desert

The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 4

This morning we as the sunrise in Marree, successfully made porridge on the stove (yesterday it burnt) and ate frozen yoghurt because we left in the freezer overnight. Today’s destination was Coober Pedy. We drove along the Oodnadatta track to Williams Creek and then headed west to the land of the opals. Along the way we stopped to look at the Mutonia Sculpture Park, where there are some weird and wonderful sculptures made out of anything you could find. It lies in the middle of nowhere and there is everything to see, like giant planes, people sculptures, wind chimes and a xylophone. We had a lot of fun playing here for a while.

 

Sculpture Park
Mutonia Sculpture Park
 

The next stop was the Blanche Cup and The Bubbler, which are mound springs that pushed up out of the great artesian basin. These are quite unusual formations but really peaceful to just sit in the middle of such barren plains and look this little oasis. A little further along the Oodnadatta track is coward springs, where you can actually swim in a natural springs. We didn’t get in, although would have loved to, as it was quite small and already quite crowded from the couple constantly making out. They did stop for half a sec to say hi.

 

Blanche Cup
Blanche Cup
 
All of a sudden we looked up to our left, and out of nowhere, appeared Lake Eyre. It was beautiful and such an amazing site to see after seeing such barren horizons for so long. We walked out to toward the water, and although it was wet and muddy underfoot we didn’t quite reach the water’s edge. Truth be told, I probably went a little to far, nearly lost my shoe and had accumulated quite a lot of mud.

 

Muddy Shoes
‘Lake Eyre’ muddy shoes
 
Arriving back at the car, we cleaned off out shoes and ate another quandong pie, that we had saved from yesterday. We warmed it up and were able to have it with ice-cream. Pretty cool snack for central Australia. The awesome food didn’t stop there, we also had sausage rolls cooked in a car powered mini oven. They were so delicious and crunchy. I seriously can’t believe we had crispy pastry and ice-cream while on a camping trip!

We can’t wait to have a night underground. It’s going to be a much warmer night with temperatures expected to be about 22 degrees Celsius. The only problem is that our tent requires pegs for it to stand up properly and there is not chance of getting them into the solid rock. Bags and water drums will have to do the job.
We went on the evening mine tour here at at Riba’s which was excellent and very informative. We learnt about how opals were formed, how to find them and how to load the dynamite in the rock with enough time to get out before the blast. We used some divining rods to find a fault line and got to ‘feel the magic’ of the rods.  Tomorrow we might try our hand at noodling.

The Rocky Horizon Trip – Day 3

I awoke this morning, rather comfortably, after a newly configured sleeping arrangement. It was more like a cocoon and as a result, we both had a warm nights sleep. Our body’s are starting to settle into a more natural routine, waking up with the sun rather than to an alarm clock.

This morning’s bush walk to Wangarra lookout was relaxing although the temperature continued to vary along the walk. I started with shorts, leggings, track-pants, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, hoodie beanie and gloves. The clothes slowly shed as we walked the 4km to the lookout, were I arrived in shorts and a t-shirt. Something I was rather proud about. From the lookout you could see panoramic views from within the pound, unfortunately the photos don’t do it justice. We will just have to come and see it for yourself.

 

Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Poud
 
After our bushwalk we drove to see a few other lookouts to get a differ the perspective of the pound and also saw the ‘Great Wall of China’. Our next destination was the Brachina gorge self guided drive tour were we saw some fantastic countryside. We learnt about the geology of the area and aw formation dating back over 600 million years. We finally were able to drive on some 4WD worthy tracks through the gorge.

  

Quandong pie was on the menu for morning tea in a cute little town called Blinman. Quandong is a native peach that presumably grows in the area. After Blinman we headed along a dirt track towards Parachilna and found two older aged cyclist stopped on the side of the road. One of the racks on the bike was broken and they were preparing to camp for the night. We refilled their water bottles but weren’t able to offer any other assistance. Best of luck for their journey ahead, two days down and forty days to go. As we drove off we were glad to be in a 4WD.  

Quandong Pie
Quandong Pie

In Parachilna we were going to try some outback pies, potentially kangaroo or emu. We arrived at the Prairie hotel and asked but they looked at us as though we were speaking another language. The sign post on the drive into town said ‘taste of the outback’, but there was nothing worthy of eating in this town. Feeling disappointed we headed for our campsite.

The drive to Marree was along a dirt highway, the first on our trip. There was nothing but flat, bare horizons for most of the journey. It’s certainly an unusual site to see. After a quick read of the caravan park reviews in Marree we decided to stay at the back of the Marree Hotel. There is free camping on offer if you buy a meal and it offers hot showers and a clean toilet block, which is more than what’s offered at the caravan park. We set up camp in daylight, showered and filled our bellies with delicious food. This is a place I would recommend. Tomorrow we head to Coober Pedy.