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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mango Ice cream and Pythons

Sat Sept 21

You know you are way out there when your GPS says “turn left in 539 KM.” You know it is a lonely road when you look forward to the next traffic sign so you have something to read.  We saw nothing but brush, some dry trees, red earth, a few emus- all day.  We are now camped in Tennant Creek, a small oasis town with trees and even a pool at the campground.  One day north of Alice Springs. Still no internet.
Today we left Queensland and entered the Northern Territories. The outside temperature hoovered between 37 and 38.5.  What a great thing airco in the cab is !!!! This morning we fueled up in Mtn Isa and it was $1.64 a liter, by the time we got to the border it had gone up to $2.00 and now here in Tennant Creek it is $2.20 a liter. I wonder if it is going to cost us our first born by the time we get to Uluru the day after tomorrow.

Sun Sept 22
Left the dusty little town at 8 AM after filling up with diesel. We had over 600 KM to drive today. But our first stop was shortly after town to see Karlu Karlu, or ‘the devil’s marbles’. The aboriginal people say that these huge round boulders, precariously balancing, are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. Geologists say they are hard layers of granite that have been eroded and left behind when softer layers washed away. Whatever they are, they are beautiful and impressive. But the heat and the flies were increasing so we continued on our way south along the lonely Stuart Highway. We stopped again at a rare mango orchard where we had delicious mango ice cream and splurged on a bottle of mango wine.  One minute I was savouring the ice cream, the next moment the car started shaking and swirling. Kees managed to pull over to discover a blown tire! The smoking shreds still clung to the rim and we wobbled to safer, flat ground away from the road. This meant into the red dust. Hordes of flies had lain in wait for us and descended in jubilant droves. We had planned on buying fly nets to wear over our heads in Alice Springs...
Breathing flies, I tried to recite the manual while Kees fiddled with the spare wheel, removed it from under the van (by lying down in the bright red sand of course), manoevered the hydraulic pump in place and expertly changed the wheel. I tried to swap flies away from his head with the manual and encouraged him best as I could. Meanwhile, at least six cars, including a police car, zoomed by us without bothering to ask if we needed help. This was hundreds of kilometers away from anywhere. I was surprised that no one stopped to help. Kees in the ditch, and me waving a book must have look confident enough not to offer help. The termite hills looked on as we wobbled away on the spare wheel.
We did make it into Alice Springs where the very first building happened to be the Britz dealer. Not only did they change the wheel and install a new spare, they put on new tires in the rear, made us coffee, and offered all sorts of help. We are much impressed with the company.
After showers at the campground, we went for a nice Aussie roast beef dinner with all the fixings, complete with a country singer and a reptile show. Met a phython up close and personal. 

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