While in Alice Springs we were told that we would remember the next 500km of our journey north as a tedium of red dirt, scrub and kilometres of nothingness. To a point we believed that may be true but novelty of the Australian outback still amazes us so we knew that we would still enjoy the ride.
We departed Alice Springs on Monday morning and made our way north along Stuart Highway. Our goal was to catch up with Steve and Jane who had spent Sunday night at Gemtree and then make Barrow Creek our next overnight stop.We lost cellphone coverage about 50km out of Alice so had no way of knowing how far they were ahead of us.
We meandered through Aileron, and Ti Tree arriving at Barrow Creek early Monday afternoon. It was not what we were expecting! There was a population of 11, a very run down hotel and some not so friendly people loitering around. We were convinced that Steve and Jane would not have hung around so we made an instant decision to carry on some 80km to the next roadhouse at Wycliffe Well.
Wycliffe Wells is known as the UFO Capital of Australia and provides a great stopover opportunity for travellers. For those with a ‘flying saucer’ bent, there are plenty of UFO statues and extra terrestrial memorabilia for collectors. Steve and Jane were there when we arrived so we made Wycliffe Wells our stop for the night. There were no UFO’s spotted that night.
Tuesday morning we made our way through more outback towards the township of Tennant Creek. On the way we made a stop at ‘Devils Marbles’. About 1700 million years ago molten magma squeezed through ancient sandstone of the earth’s crust and cooled into hard granite rock, the Devil’s Marbles granite. As the granite surfaced and was ‘weathered’, the present marble form resulted. The area is a popular tourist attraction.
We were advised to ‘pass through’ Tennant Creek as the town was known to be a bit unruly. However, we found the locals friendly enough and there was a low cost camping facility available so we decided to stay the night. It was a nice quiet night with no problems. We have to admit to being a little relieved when everything was intact when we awoke.
This morning (Wednesday) we continued north with the goal of making Daly Waters our next nights stop, a journey of about 400km. It was again one of those travel days where there was not too much to see except more of the outback and a broad variety of road kill. Because there is very little fencing along the inland roads, cattle and other animals unfortunately become victims of the very large and fast road trains.
We arrived in Daly Waters around mid afternoon. Daly Waters was named in 1862 in honour of the governor (at the time) of South Australia, Sir Domonic Daly. The area has a colourful history in that it was the last watering hole before the long and perilous Murranji Stock route – the stock route from Queensland to Australia’s west coast. Daly Waters was also a major Air Force Base during WW2 for Australian and American Air Force personnel. The airfield was the first international airport in Australia.
Our stop for the night was beside the iconic 1930 Daly Waters Hotel. Not only does the hotel provide nightly entertainment, meals, an excellent bar and plenty of history, it also has a brilliant caravan park. We had no hesitation in spending the night here and enjoyed the village’s hospitality ‘til the late hour.
Tomorrow morning (Thursday) we are making our way to Katherine. Our current plan is to play in the area three for four days.