Kununurra and beyond!

Kununurra to dear Alice- the Red Centre
11th- 13th October


We’re doing something slightly crazy. We’re going to drive to Alice Springs in two days.

It’s a long, hot drive, to be precise…….1400 kilometres, but we’re starting to run out of time. That horrible “end of a trip clock” is fervently ticking. No more Boab Trees. No more scorching heat. No more mosquitoes. We’re heading to the Red Centre. The big desert, the big rock, big buzzing blow flies, big kangaroos, land of the BIG everything.

Before starting the 10-hour drive that lay ahead, we decided to check out Ivanhoe Crossing on the Ord River…..as with everything in the vicinity of Kununurra it was yet another truly beautiful spot. When they added a healthy dash of water to this area they managed to create something that can only be described as an oasis. A very Australian oasis, but still an oasis. This is one place that we will be returning to!

Sadly, we turned the nose of our car towards the East. Time to head home.

Our first exciting event was crossing back into the Northern Territory and leaving behind the glorious WA. Oddly enough, even though we were travelling the same road it looked completely different coming from the other direction. We felt especially lucky since it was such a gorgeous drive in both directions.

Finally, the country flattened out, and we turned right onto a 400km dirt road short cut! Half of this was taken up by Victoria River Downs Australia’s largest cattle station!

It occupied our attention and eyesight for hours of the drive. It really is a tremendously extensive property. It’s not every station that has a mere 9 helicopters sitting in their front yard for cattle mustering!
This is a dry and unforgiving land, yet in its harsh way, it still remains very beautiful. You really come to fall in love with it Wanda Inn was the next matter worth mentioning, although we’re undecided as to how mentionable a place is whose beer can holders read “WANDER INN……….. & STAGGER OUT PISSED”. A large number of people had taken this advice to heart and were doggedly carrying it out needless to say we didn’t stay long!

Making quite good time on the Buchanan Highway (our dirt road short cut) we were feeling quite happy with the journey’s progress.

The road trains are an awesome sight barrelling down on you from a distance at 120km/h. They’re a lot less scary when they’re like this one. We had even pulled over and gleefully given our only tube of tyre glue to an Aboriginal family, who had had a flat, thinking that we’d pick one up at the next roadhouse. Oh oh…Should have guessed the situation that was shortly to eventuate.

“Oh no…I think we have a flat”.
We pulled up and anxiously jumped out to scrutinise the damage. With sad confirmation that the tyre was indeed flatter than the last cane toad we ran over in Queensland, we couldn’t believe we were going to have our first flat for the whole trip with the bitumen of the Stuart Highway only kilometres away. Good Grief! With swift expertise, Eric had it off, and the new one on in a flash, and we continued on as though it had never happened.

At last Tenant Creek, our home for the night waited patiently for us in the dark of the night. So too did the ladies at the reception of the El Dorado Tenant Creek Motel. What a night, what a day, what a town………….

Morning has broken and we are in dire need of a cup of coffee and there is nowhere open in this odd little town. Admittedly it is Sunday morning but really…just a coffee and a muffin.
We pushed on with our drive to Alice Springs. Next stop was at the Devils Marbles. These unusual spherical boulders are scattered randomly in the midst of the desert, surrounded by not much more than a vast trail of red earth as far as the eye can see. Aboriginal mythology favours the theory that the rocks were laid by the Rainbow Serpent. Whatever their origin may be, there is no doubt that it takes your breath away to behold these bizarre formations alone (a la Stonehenge) How did they get there??????

Some things are best left unanswered.

After too many hours in the car, we all heaved an enormous sigh of relief as we drove past the “WELCOME TO ALICE SPRINGS” sign. We were just in time to capture a magnificent sunset from the top of Anzac Hill. It was quite magical to behold the sun sinking behind the encircling MacDonnell Ranges….dusty pinks, yellows, fiery reds, oranges, deep purples….the colours distorted the town into a haze of magnificence. This land with its great loneliness and vastness has a voice all of its own.

Craving humour and good spirits after days in the car, we decided to head off and seek solace in Eddie Murphy’s remake of the famous Jerry Lewis film ” The Nutty Professor”. Kinda cute and some light relief from the days’ torture in the car.

Alice Springs is quite a town- without a doubt the largest settlement of the Australian interior. This modern, well-kept, attractive town is a surprising treat in the centre of the continent. The surrounding countryside (MacDonnell ranges), the rock, the town itself, the natural spectacle of the desert- all prove to be alluring and fascinating for any traveller. It’s rare to find a region so crammed with accessible and worthwhile places to check out.

Believe the hype- the desert is something unique. It has to be seen to be believed.

Tomorrow we follow in the footsteps of millions of others, as we trek down to Yulara to visit one of Australia’s most famous and most visited natural spectacles- Ayers Rock (Uluru).

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