Published: July 23rd 2011July 23rd 2011
We want to start by saying....please excuse our spelling errors as we are experiencing technical difficulties where we are and as such we are posting these blogs whether they are grammatically correct or not. We have lost four attempts this week at posting this blog and can't be bothered doing it again.....
That said, sit tight and we will fill you in on our latest news.
We left Coober Pedy on Sunday at approx 9.30am and the scenery was of miles of mounds of rubble showing where prospectors had tried to find their fortunes, although we are not quite sure how many actually succeeded. Then we came across a burnt out bus on the highway, which was quite a thrill as the scenery had not changed for quite some time. Whether that was from an upset traveller or a disillusioned prospector we can’t be sure.
We travelled through a few townships that were blink or miss, stopped for gas at Cadney Park roadhouse, had a makeshift picnic at the Marla roadhouse where Grahams legs were let out for the first time (noice shade of hairy white) and finally at approx 3pm we hit the NT border where the sunshine was there to greet us. Not a cloud in the sky which is a huge milestone for the travelling Van Royce caravan family.
After a short stop at the Kulgera Roadhouse (& pub..........funny how every roadhouse has a pub), where we bumped into Julie Johnston's doppelganger (a close friend of ours), the girls found many mice to look at under a tree. After further investigation I found out they were in fact DEAD. We further discovered that NT is having a mouse plague at the moment , fantastic..... when your kids (Scarlett) just want to play with them.
We arrived at our destination for the evening, The Desert Oak Resort at Erldunda, where we splashed out on a basic motel room ($130) for the night due to us all being sick with various degrees of the flu. One double bed (wot's that), two singles and as many mice as you can eat. Dinner at the resort was basic and eaten accompanied by English backpackers freaking out at the mice, several mice frolicking around and a jukebox as entertainment.
Up at 8.30am on Monday and on the road to Yulara (Ayers Rock Resort). Kids are excited and we hope for great weather while we are there. After several games of spot Uluru (with one false alarm, it was actually Mt Conner), we arrived at Ayers Rock campground. The place is Fantastic and we didn't want to leave!!!!!! It's clean, the sites are spacious and the bathrooms while still in a campsite are actually nice. And, the closest thing to a dingo that we have seen was a golden retriever lazin’about the resort.
Tuesday we visited Uluru. It's been said before but we have to say again that it's spectacular. The Rock rock's!!!!!! Any picture that you have ever seen can’t compare to the size and beauty of this amazing landscape. The sky is an amazing blue shade that we have never seen in Melbourne and against the red of the rock it looks beautiful. Best $25 per adult (for 3 day pass) we have spent in years (kids are free).
We arrived at the gate to find a sign stating the walk was closed due to high winds on the rock. A sad and forlorn little girl followed us to the visitors centre where an Aboriginal woman did a small talk and demonstration about how they use the flora to survive and then we were off to explore for the rest of the day. A quick loo stop, some morning tea and then the girls and I decided to walk the 2kms to the base of the rock while Graham moved the car to the car park closest to the rock.
We walked to the nearest gorge (approx 45min) which has water falling into it from the rain last week and took some fantastic shots. There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore and ancient paintings on the wall to admire. Somehow writing “Smitty was here” just didn’t seem appropriate.
We heard a whisper that the rangers would be reassessing whether to open the rock at approx 2pm so we hung around and thankfully we did. About 2.30 the gates were opened and the spot where my darling daughter was standing was just a puff of dust. She was GONE......followed by daddy of course. They were probably the fourth and fifth person on the rock and climbing steadily. After a few moments and quite a way up already, a gust of wind came along and took with it the new hat Charlize was wearing and blew it clear off the rock never to be seen again. Soon they were out of view and for many nervous minutes Scarlett and I stood at the base wondering where they were. After a short period, we decided to do our own climb....out of the sun and into the back of the station wagon of course, to do some puzzles while we waited. After a while and a few text messages later ( who would have thought there would be mobile service at the top of the rock), we found them heading back down safely. They reached us and were red faced & puffed out but thoroughly thrilled with their efforts. I was so proud of them both & they had a fantastic experience together that they will remember & cherish forever.
Wednesday was uneventful but included a lot of R&R. We decided to stay at the park to clean and rearrange the caravan and car. It is amazing how much junk you can collect after just a few days on the road. After our chores were completed, we took the girls to Sails on the Desert Resort for a swim in the warm water pool (the caravan park pool is freezing) and then to see some camels who were making all sorts of funny noises, followed by dinner in our van ( did we mention that we had a problem with the freezer and had to cook all of our meat the night we arrived coz we couldn’t refreeze it. Bloody electrical appliances still bugger up your holidays!!!). Then the girls and I went stargazing up on the Uluru viewing platform in the caravan park, where we did see a falling star or two although Scarlett kept missing them.
On Thursday we went to Kata Tjuta (formerly known as The Olgas) where we had a leisurely one hour stroll to the Walpa Gorge, a spot of lunch with the Kata Tjuta as a backdrop then in the afternoon heading off on a walk around the other side. This time is was daddy’s turn to sit with Scarlett while Charlize and mummy headed off for an hour or so uphill to the first lookout. The view was spectacular but apparently not the best one there, so we heard afterwards.
After seeing the camels the previous day and plenty of nagging from Scarlett, obviously we had to go back and have a ride. After handing over $50 we all jumped on to then jump off about 5 minutes later (including a one minute stop for photos). It was a blatant rip off but the kids seemed happy so that was ok.
On Friday morning it was time to hit the road again, this time for Alice Springs (Alice, Alice, who the f@#% is Alice???). After what seemed to be a reasonably quick six hours in the car we arrived at the MacDonnell Ranges Caravan Park, where again the park is first rate. A great shady site, clean amenities and free pancake breakfast on Sundays!!! Friday afternoon we each had a well needed shower then headed out for the night to catch up with Graham’s future CEO, Damien who was also here on holidays with his family. Graham thought about wearing a suit and tie and taking his Resume but decided against it. Damien and his family had been in NT for a week and crammed a lot in, it made us seem a little lazy by comparison; then again, we don’t have to go back to work on Monday!!!!
Which brings us to today (Saturday). After a slow start accompanied by a bacon and egg breakfast we headed out to visit the School of the Air. This was a great experience, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Hearing about the distance between each student and the different stories was fantastic and we would recommend the visit to everyone.
We then moved on to the Old Telegraph Station. Initially this was to just walk around the buildings and see how messages were sent 100 odd years ago. However we then met the guide, Alec Ross. To say the stories Alec told us were interesting would be to completely understate it. Alec was part Aborigine and had to live at the station after it was turned into mission for Aboriginal boys in the 1930’s. He showed us where he grew up and told us about his life from when he first went to the mission (when he was one year old) to when he finally left a Methodist mission at 18. He was fantastic with the girls who ended up walking hand in hand with him around different parts of the station. He was actually meant to be taking a group on a guided tour but spent most of the time with us walking around and talking. A truly great afternoon was had by all.
To top off the day we went to the Royal Flying Doctor Service where we scoffed down a late afternoon tea in their cafe, then joined the tour of this service. The numbers they spoke of were phenomenal. 33,000 emergency visits per year and of 23million kms travelled to assist those needing care. The highlight for Scarlett was seeing a cut-out model of a plane with a mannequin mummy & a baby doll in an incubator on the plane.
This has been a great day, rounded off with a trip to Kmart for more clothing, Coles for supplies and being harassed by drunken beggars asking for 2 dolla.
Sorry, if the photo’s and text are out of sync. We’ll get back on track shortly.
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Hope you are all well and look forward to hearing from you shortly. Love to all xxxx