Land Cruising Australia


 Once again we started off in our Toyota Camry from Brisbane Queensland this time heading north as far as Daintree, near Cape Tribulation, on the north east coast. We took off inland from Townsville until we reached Tennet Creek with one detour up to Adel's Grove an Outback Oasis. Now on the Stuart Hwy., the one and only road running north and south, we headed for Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and the Red Center of Australia. When the World Solar Challenge cars and bicycles came racing down from Darwin we ended up following them clear to Adelaide. Then just touching on the state of Victoria, we turned and headed north back through New South Wales to Brisbane. It took us 2 months making a total of ... 4 months living in a tent....adding another 13,000km (8,125miles) to our already 6000km (3,750miles) from our first trip.
We have just arrived back aboard Ariel one day after the big hail storm that hit nearby, busting out car windows with softball size hail. We were happy to be dodging kangaroos and 'road trains' in the Outback where it was HOT and dry. Australia does everything on a grand scale........ . that includes Outback where there are 40,000 kangaroos, 700,000 wild camels, 600,000 aborigines and MILLIONS OF BUSH FLIES!!
Many of the vehicles had 'roo bars' mounted on the front of their vehicles. We chose to drive only in the daytime and did not have a problem but we did see lots of dead kangaroos and wallabies along the road. On the way back to Palm Valley outside of Alice Springs we saw a red kangaroo in a green field at sunrise. It was a rare site as we did not see more than a couple dozen wild kangaroos in all. We saw 2 wild camels along the road and half a dozen emus, and one dingo. It was pretty exciting to spot the wildlife but no picnic with the BUSH FLIES! We started off with little fly nets over out head and ended up with a huge mosquito net over our entire body to keep the flies from constantly sticking to your face and crawling in and around our eyes and mouth.
There are dozens of National Parks and gorgeous gorges. So many in fact we had to be selective and hiked some of the ones more accessible around Alice Springs, Kings Canyon, Palm Valley, Ularu and the Olgas. We did not climb the mile to the top of Ularu as this is a sacred site for the Aborigines but we did hike the 10km around it's base. 31 years ago I did climb to the top when there were only 5 of us visiting and were not advised otherwise. Today there are half a million tourists visiting Ularu a year.
We found huge buses at every interesting site and many types of bus /camping vehicles taking school kids on their school holidays. There were hundreds of dusty 4 wheel drive vehicles with snorkels for crossing rivers and a few die hard motorcycles and even a few bicyclists. We did make it to our destination on time, the Henley on Todd, boat races on the dry Todd river along with 1800 Harley Davidson motorcyclists. The main roads were all paved except for the one back to Palm Valley where we hitchhiked in a 4 wheel drive. We enjoyed listening to the 'Bush Telegraph' on our car radio and enjoyed the topics from politics to upcoming events like tugboat ballets. This gave us a real insight into the Aussie way of life. We drove hundreds of miles, hour after hour without seeing anything but flat barren empty land.
One place that had not changed much was Coober Pedy. We camped in a underground campground away from the heat and flies and met some very strange people all living on hope that one day they would strike it rich. Many still live underground in caves, some very beautiful, others very bizarre. We did not find opal this time as I had done years ago but we did learn that the old miner I worked with eventually had struck it rich!! There is still hope!!
Returning, we meandered through the Barossa and Clare wine valleys, took a ride up the Murray river on a steam driven paddle boat, went to a drive in movie and got hit with a major wind storm in the Flinders Ranges. We visited several cruising friends and met up with old Australian friends and even made some Aboriginal friends. We did make it back to Lamington National Park on the NSW/Qld. border where we found the best hiking, got to use our little heater and enjoyed our first gourmet dinner at the famous O'Rielly guest Lodge after all the 'bush tucker' feral cuisine and kangaroo meat pies. The 'Tree Top' walk and hiking were superb! It was an exciting, fun and eventful trip!! The Outback is one place we highly recommend to get a real feel for this great country Down Under.


BACK                           NEXT