Part 1 Days 1 – 6
Dear reader, I am writing to you from my family home in the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne Australia where I am fortunate to have arrived less than two hours before mandatory lock down was enacted. After an amazing journey from north to south I am enjoying the peace and quiet afforded us by the unfortunate spread of Covid19 Delta variant.
This post is an update and reflection of the enormous privilege I have experienced over the past few weeks, to be able to travel across Terra Australis through the many lands of tribes and clans I do not know. To be able to spend time with dear friends and relatives and to experience the earth beneath my feet and wind in my hair.
Having traveled from Adelaide to Darwin by road in February and seen vast segments of Central Australian desert soaked in a heat sating deluge. It was beautiful and I was determined to get back there again asap. As things turned out my flatmate who joined me for a section of the drive suggested we do it again with a group of friends and a plan was hatched.
There was much planning and preparation, I skipped most of it. For me the trip would be easy. I have no major food requirements (get it, eat it is my basic policy on food), I had no time constraints (Needed to take a chunk of time of leave and desperately needed to be away from the office for a while). I had enough money to pay my share, everything moved into place quite smoothly.
Mataranka (Day 1) The first day was a breeze. ‘M’ (my flat mate) and I took of relatively early for Mataranka 400km from home. We got there well before dark and set up camp on the disused airstrip. Firewood and camp sites were plentiful despite the crowds. We set up the tents and waited in the light of a full moon for the wage slaves to arrive.
Mataranka has a thermal pool that flows into the Little Roper river and provides an awesome swimming experience. In the morning we packed up our camp, had a delightful swim at Bitter Springs then headed south.
Wycliffe Well. We had intended to spend our second night at a roadside freecamp outside Davenport Ranges, after our swim at Mataranka and visit to Daly Waters Pub, we didn’t make it so far and ended up at Wycliffe Well! You’ve got to see this place to believe it. It can be a bit spooky. Wycliffe had been known for UFO sightings… I wonder if it just might be the place where fatigued drivers begin to hallucinate on a long journey at night. Anyway, whatever the origins of the reputation the Caravan park owners capitalized on it and in the mid 80s built the weirdest desert holiday park I’ve ever seen. I have to say I’m even more fascinated by it now because it has become derelict and really creepy!
For more reading on Wycliffe Well I recommend this article by Sami Emory on Vice.
Erldunda (Ghan) From Wycliffe we made our way through Alice Springs stopping for supplies and to catch up with some old friends. Coincidentally while deciding if I’d continue directly to Erldunda or stick around for a while I spied a FB post by Rev. Basil announcing an impromptu performance by Super Raelene Brothers. (Basil and Derek Schild). Check them out!
The convoy was staggered heading into Erldunda roadhouse. It was cold and dark when I finally arrived. As I rolled into camp my lights shone on a pair of camels who were keen for some company.
Yulara – Uluru – Kata Tjuta A short 300km from Erldunda brought us to the Yulara resort. Not my favorite place to be, but it’s pretty much the only option close to Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta are spectacular. There can be no doubt that these are sites of great significance. It is a great shame that it took so long to close rock to climbing, but it is now closed and hopefully balance will soon return. Most of our group decided to walk around Uluru, it’s about a 10 km walk. Worth doing to get a sense of the scale of the rock and to experience some of the landscapes and spiritual stories relating to the area (those that can be told).
Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) One night at Yulara is more than enough! We couldn’t wait to get outa there! After a sunrise viewing of Uluru and a morning hike through Kataj Tjuta we headed off to Watarka National Park (another 3 hours drive)
I was last here in 1996! It was a pivotal time in my life and my experience of Watarrka was heavily seasoned by the time I spent at Lilla Community. It is a bit of a story how my mate and I found our way to Lilla, I’ll just say it was fate that brought me there. It is a place where the land made itself known to me very intimately an experience I can never forget and which I will always be grateful for.
This time around we stayed at the Kings Canyon Resort. A bit of a dust bowl but comfortable and extremely well maintained! We had two nights in Watarrka. The best place for hiking. Beautiful country.
It was such a delight to have two nights in the same place. After slothing about on the first day I managed to walk in the morning and the afternoon on the second day. I that cool weather in a place with so much energy I could have kept going all day!
I’m gonna have to leave it there for now. There’s dinner on the table and a rhubarb pie in the oven!
P.S. White editing some typos I reallised that I’d forgotten to mention the Dingos. Kings Canyon Resort has a lot of dingos around the place. They are silent, clever and will creep right into your camp without you noticing them. We only caught sight of them just within our peripheral range of sight. They craftily removed food from our van without a sound! As I was growing up in Australia, there was a very well known case of a baby being ‘taken’ (Killed and eaten) by a Dingo. At the time the parents were not believed and all kinds of people came out of the woodwork to defend dingoes against what in human terms would be called slander. The family were judged vilified, attacked and accused, the mother of the child was jailed for murder of her child. Many disgusting jokes were made about dingoes and babies under the premise that their story was a lie… Forensic evidence has since proven that the baby was ‘taken’ by a Dingo (or wild dog). There have since been similar examples of children and vulnerable people being attacked by dingoes particularly on Fraser Island QLD. I particularly like dingoes, they are quite a beautiful creature but they are wild and hunt for their food. In the right circumstances they will attack a human. Do not feed dingoes… no matter how tempted you might be… (author’s note…. I really wanted to feed one and had to be reminded by a travel companion that it would be a stupid idea)