Dance of a 1000 Flies

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August 17th 2013
Published: August 25th 2013
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Friday 16 August

Today is meant to be a warm day, the predicted temperature is 34 degrees C, so we are up early, grab breakfast and head to the post office to pick up some more mail that has been sent to us and then we drive out to the Ross Highway with the full intention of making it to Arltunga ruins.

We have plenty of water on board and have packed some lunch, the day is not so warm yet, it is cloudy and the wind has a fair chill to it, so much so at the first stop of the day, Emily Gap, we are happy to be putting long sleeves on to keep the cold wind off.

The gap is quite busy with visitors, a few people would appear to be having an abseiling or rock climbing lesson (maybe both), I am happy to leave them with that and walk into the gorge.

The sand makes it a tough walk, there is absolutely no water here, but the cherry on the cake in this gorge is the aboriginal rock art which is behind a barrier so that you cannot get close enough to touch it. I am sure over time this may well get weathered away. I am not sure what the symbols depict, but it is interesting.

We decide to skip Jessie Gap, thinking that we may do it on the way back, we see a sign for the Binns Track, this would be the continuation of the track that we came up from Mount Dare and would take you north of Alice Springs, we skip that as we have heard that part of the track is closed and besides we want to get to the ruins for lunch.

Stopping at Corroboree Rock, on the way in we both look and say "is that it?", we get out and take a walk, it is really windy and warm by now, the walk is lovely and the rock reveals more than the first look so perhaps worth the stop after all. A couple of people stop to chat to us, one of them seems familiar with the flora and tells us about one of the edible berries that we are walking past. We squash one and try the juice, it is very sweet, but I would not make a habit out of eating from some of these plants as I am no expert and pretty sure that some of them may make you quite poorly.

We chatted to this couple for quite a while, the day in the meantime was getting hotter, by now the late 20's and it was nearing lunchtime, already I was feeling quite tired, we got to Trephina Gorge, we sat in the shade and ate our lunch, with our hats on we advanced to the gorge and suddenly we were protected from the wind and the temperature in the gorge was really quite hot, we walked as far as we could, but the heat was too much so we walked back out again.

Back at the truck we do a little dance (The Dance of a Million Fly's) before we get in (to get rid of the pesky flies!) we check the temperature, it is 34 degrees, both of us feeling the heat of the day and quite tired the air conditioning a welcome relief we bail on the journey to Arltunga Ruins and head back to Alice. I know they are probably the best ruins in the world and we have missed them, but they will be there for another time!

By the time we get back to camp we both flake out in the welcome shade.

That evening we had a light tea because we went off to get pancakes from the stall on the caravan park, they do some great pancakes with fresh strawberries and berry sauce, it was nearing our last night here and we wanted to treat ourselves, tomorrow night we thought we would be busy because we would be preparing to leave on Sunday.

We will have been here for two weeks exactly on Sunday and it really was time to leave, it felt strange being in the same place for so long.

Saturday 17 August

Because our towbar drama had kept us in Alice Springs, for longer than anticipated, we had decided to stay a couple of extra nights just to clear our heads and prepare for the next part of our adventure and allow us to head off into the sunset.

I am so glad that when we went into reception to book in for a couple of extra nights, the lady persuaded us to stay an additional extra night because it was the "regatta" on Saturday. Well what difference does a day make? So we stayed an extra night and I think it was worth it. (also because it is free pancake breakfast on Sundays, so we don't have to worry about cooking our breakfast tomorrow).

Andy seems to be getting into the swing of these warm mornings and is getting out of bed early, this morning was no exception but I also needed to get out reasonably early because we want to give the bed linen another wash before we leave.

At 7.30 I managed to rally myself enough, after being bribed at 7am with a chai latte, to get the bedlinen off and pass it over to Andy so that he can do the washing machine run, there is only one front loader in the laundry and I want it to go in there. He soon returns, job done so we wait for half hour and then get it on the line so that it can dry whilst we are out today.

It is feeling very cool today, I check the temperature and it shows that it will only peak at 24 degrees C, it really does feel cold in comparison with yesterdays 34 degrees, I even put a jumper on!

We have breakfast and are out by 9am to get into town, popping into the car wash on the way to vacuum Jack, then we grab a decent coffee and head off to Todd Mall in the hope of getting a parking space for todays big event, which actually turns out to be really easy as the car park is almost empty.

There is an excitement in the air, some people have already gathered, a lot of them I recognise from our caravan park so wonder if it is only tourists that have come to see the big annual event of the Henley on Todd Regatta.

Yes, you heard me correctly not the Henley on Thames Regatta! This one promises to be different and is probably the only boat race in the world that gets cancelled when the river has water in it.

Everyone starts to line up along the mall for the parade, we can see the police have blocked the roads off and we wait for 10.40 when the procession starts.

We see a police car, followed closely by a band and then the boats arrive, people walk up the streets with their boats, most in costume of some description, girls with a pink boat dressed up as "pigs can fly", Vikings, Army, Navy, Airforce (probably from the large American defence base nearby).

The Postie Bike Challenge forms part of the procession, there about 53 110cc bikes who have ridden from Hobart to Alice Springs, around 4000k's, all in the aid of charity, the bikes get donated to the Rotary club who will then have them auctioned off. Actually when I say 53 bikes, the long journey from Hobart claimed 4 of them. The riders are from all over Australia and all walks of life,

A procession of vintage Riley motorcar's came through, most of them from all over Australia, there should have been one from England, the owner had it shipped to Melbourne so that they could drive across Australia, alas we could not see it in the procession and wondered what had happened to it.

Some of the floats were built fairly high, you could not even see the vehicles driving them as they were well disguised, but it was apparent there was a problem with the height as they were fighting with the trees overhanging the road, so there were some significant breaks in the procession.

Eventually they all passed and with the crowd we headed to the river bank where the race course was all set up.

We pay our entrance fee ($15 each) and find ourselves sitting in the bleachers, very thoughtfully they have some shade cloth erected over the top, that is very handy except that being quite cool today, we could do without the shade.

The racing starts, and with great effort we see the competitors pick up their "boats" and they run like the wind down the creek bed where a course has already been laid, the commentary is excellent as he runs through imaginary obstacles and problems like seaweed getting caught in the propellers, there were plenty of men overboard, some even run over by their own boats.

Three boats at a time would run, one boat was nearly disqualified as they had too many crew, but the judges then decided that perhaps having too many people in a longer boat was a disadvantage because they would struggle to round the buoy further up the course before having to return to the finish line. They were right, the long boat came in last.

It was the turn for the maxi's, they were bigger boats and crewed by more people, but definitely harder to turn at the buoys. The competition was pretty fierce and made for some good watching.

Just after lunch, I really started to feel the cold it was a cracking 24 degrees, but we were sat in the shade so it was time to move and very slowly we left the excitement behind and headed back to camp.

After a bit of a rest, we started to make sure everything was put away in it's rightful home, Andy did the truck and I concentrated on the trailer.

It was at this late stage that we had a re think and slightly altered our plans. We had intended on leaving Alice, doing the Gorges, Mereenie Loop taking in Kings Canyon on the way and then coming back into Alice via Rainbow Valley and perhaps doing Chambers Pillars. This way we would restock our supplies, do a few more things in Alice, from a fresh perspective and then flip the coin.

Flipping the coin became a debate, should we flip it? We had both pretty much decided that the best place for us to head at the moment would be Perth and if we flipped the coin and it said Darwin, that may leave us with a dilemma, especially as we would need to decide if it was on one flip or best of three, maybe best of five, we could go on.

So after some discussion we made the decision that we are going to head straight across to Perth via the Great Central Road, which ultimately means that once we have done Kings Canyon, we drive round to Uluru and take the 3 or 4 day journey across the Great Central Road into Western Australia (WA). We still have a lot of exploring to do in WA as the last time we travelled we missed out on the South West corner that takes in Esperance, Albany, Margaret River etc.

Really by the time we make it over the border we should also be heading towards springtime and hopefully as we start to travel South again perhaps warmer weather, but being Spring I hope it does not bring too much rain.

Equally this meant a quick dash out to Woolworths for some extra supplies making sure we have more than enough staple's which we can supplement by picking up fresh supplies when we are at Uluru.

The rest of the evening past in a blur, funny how suddenly the pressure was on to get everything done in the space of a few hours.

We fall into bed in anticipation of the morning.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


End of the ProcessionEnd of the Procession
End of the Procession

Great number plate
Henley on Todd 2013Henley on Todd 2013
Henley on Todd 2013

Even the kids got to go in the parade
Emily GapEmily Gap
Emily Gap

Aboriginal Rock Art

26th August 2013

After meeting up with Shirley & John in Kerala I have been following your travels with interest. However, my email address has now changed to as from now. Hope this is the way to let you know! Keep up the good work!
26th August 2013

Change of address
Hi Shirley, Thank you for the e-mail, we have modified your e-mail address to My regards Kangaroojack

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