Home again

We made it home safe and sound. My plan was to have the blog up to date and finished by the time we did. Sorry, obviously that did not happen! Amazingly that is one of the few things that did not go to plan on this trip.

A friend I spoke to on the day after we returned said it was like missing the last chapter in a book that she has been reading. I promise to finish the book hopefully in the next week. (Just waiting on some photos)

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Day 120. Gawler to Home

It is 750km from Gawler to home according to our rediscovered friend Google Maps. We want to be home today, so we have a day to settle before the boys go back to school. Also, Ben was dying to get back to play football tomorrow. We all knew because of the delay yesterday it would be along day if we were to make it. We left and noticed a bit of a wobble that seemed to be from the front left wheel of the Toyota. After a rudimentary check, we pushed on figuring we had probably done something minor to the wheel alignment when the car flew in Copley a few days earlier. Our diagnosis was not quite correct when we returned to Melbourne and got the car service we found out we had broken the rim of the tyre and what was supposed to be round was now a little squarish. The mechanic had never seen anything like it and could not believe we had done it. Never mind, really a cheap fix, a new tyre, this was fine as after 20,000km all tyres were being replaced. Continue reading

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Day 119. Jamestown to Gawler

After an indulgent cooked breakfast in our kitchenette, we continued along the RM Williams Way. It was 75km to Clare and we decided that when you are in Clare you must go to a winery. So we did and this was very lucky. We stopped at Mr Micks a beautiful old building, with a nice guy serving us some tasty and reasonably priced wine. After a few purchases, we went back to the car. When we started driving Ben and I both felt something was wrong so got out of the car for further investigation and boy was something wrong.

Two of the five studs holding the wheel on the right side of the van had sheared off. By the time we had pulled over to the side of the road another was gone. What a near miss! If we had not stopped at the winery we would have gone straight through town and would have been going at 100 kph. Who knows what damage that would have done to the car, camper, not to mention if someone was coming the other way only to be confronted by a rogue runaway tyre? Continue reading

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Day 118. Farina to Jamestown

118 Horizon smallWe packed up at our beautiful bush camp and headed off stopping for breakfast at the Bush Bakery in a little town called Copley. Driving through the town at a very low speed we went over a gutter drain and the car and van literally got airborne, with stuff flying through the car. We sorted everything out inside the car and continued on our way. Seemingly with no problems.

118 Flinders Ranges small

From here to home via the most direct route is all sealed roads but we couldn’t help ourselves and were drawn to the dirt roads and a few detours through the Flinders Ranges.


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Day 117. William Creek to Farina

After a slow start we had a look at the ‘outdoor museum ‘ at William Creek, an odd collection including parts of a rocket used to launch a satellite in the 1970. The boys thought it was amazing to see something that had actually been into space. 117 William Creek 1 small

117 William Creek 2 small We then headed off to drive the southern half of the Oodnadatta Track. We discovered this track has a long and very important role in Australian outback history.  The track follows a traditional Aboriginal trading route, this is because there are numerous springs fed by water from the Great Artesian Basin along it. John McDouall Stuart explored the area on his way to cross the continent from south to north (he actually did it and lived to tell the tale – not like Burke and Wills), and the path he took was adopted as part of the Overland Telegraph Line route. By the 1880s camel trains, led by Afghan cameleers were using the track to transport supplies to central Australia. In the 1890s the Great Northern Railway was extended to the town of Oodnadatta and by 1929 to Alice Springs. The train service on the line is known as the Ghan in honour of the Afghan cameleers. There’s some trivia for you!

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Day 116. Coober Pedy to William Creek

First up today we went to the Old Timers Mine. The original mine dates back to 1916, it was concealed by back filling the shafts. No one knows why it was hidden but some think the original miners went off to World War I and never returned to continue with their find.  In 1968, Ron Gough discovered the mine when digging extensions to his underground home accidently breaking through exposing seams of good quality opals. You can now tour through the original mine as well as the underground home of the Gough family. It was their home from the 1920s to the 1990s. The mine and museum was opened up to the public in 1987.

116 Old Timers Mine small Continue reading

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Day 115. Yulara to Coober Pedy

Today we started the trip home, with a number of stops along the way. We were up early for a long driving day, a touch over 730km. It was literally freezing when we packed up; the temperature was 0.5 degrees, with an apparent temperature of minus 4 degrees. An early start and breakfast of croissants in the car meant we made it to the Stuart Hwy by a bit after 10am. That was a third of the drive done before morning tea and our first stop. About an hour later we crossed the border into South Australia. Further on we had lunch in Marla, which is the northern end of the Oodnadatta Track. We did not turn off here as we were continuing on to Coober Pedy so missed the top part of the track…next time.

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Day 114. Yulara – Kata Tjuta

21 KT mid 2 smallOff to Kata Tjuta today and the last big walk on our trip. Including this one, we will have clocked over 25km in three days, and two out of the three are considered difficult walks. Our kids do find the ones that involve climbing easier than the flat walks.

21 KT pano smallKata Tjuta means ‘many heads’ and consists of 36 domed rocks, which form valleys and gorges. The tallest one, Mt Olga, is 1066 metres high, that is 200metres higher than Uluru. It is of great significance to the Anangu and is associated with a number of creation stories relating to secret men’s initiation business. Continue reading

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Day 113. Yulara – Uluru

Tom and I got up early to drive to the sunrise viewing spot. We shared this with a cast of hundreds. It was freezing but I had Ben’s sleeping bag to keep me warm. We left the boys snuggled up in bed. Unfortunately there was some cloud so the colours on the rock were not as spectacular as we had hoped. Still none the less, it was beautiful. With a memory card full of photos we returned to camp to rouse the boys from bed and have breakfast.

113 Sunrise Uluru small

113 Sunrise Kata Tjuta small

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Day 112. Kings Canyon to Yulara

Tom was feeling a fair bit better this morning and so joined us to do the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. This is rated as one of the best short walks in Australia and we have heard it can be quite gruelling due to the heat and exposure. The walk is 6km but add 2 more when you do the detours.

112 Up Kings Canyon smallIt started with a steep climb straight up the canyon wall. On the way up we overtook quite a few people all of whom were huffing and puffing, while our boys scampered up and did not stop talking. They have become excellent walkers and it seems the steeper it is the better they go. The walk then goes along the northern rim, very close to the edge of the rim where there are spectacular views into and across the canyon.

112 Kings north small Continue reading

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