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Travelling Oz - Cairns to Alice Springs, Macdonnell Ranges, Ayers Rock & Kings Canyon - Part 1

Travelling Oz - Cairns to Alice Springs, Macdonnell  Ranges, Ayers Rock & Kings Canyon  - Part 1

After saying our farewells to our grandchildren and family in Cairns, we ventured off on our next planned trip to the southern part of Northern Territory including the East and West Macdonnell Ranges, Alice Springs, Ayres Rock and Kings Canyon.

We travelled out west via Mount Garnet and Georgetown where we had our first fuel stop at Georgetown and surprised that the fuel prices were approximately 13 cents cheaper than on the coast.  After fueling we made our first overnight stop at Cumberland Mine Historic Site which is a free camp approximately 20klm west of Georgetown beside the chimney and billabong. Only facilities are bins and toilets. It is a nice stop beside the billabong with plenty of birdlife.

The next day we headed further west through the historic township of Croydon where we were able to fill our bus with water from the park facilities within the township. We also enjoyed a well deserved coldy and lunch at the local pub. The roads out here are reduced to a narrow lane in places so be aware of the large transport vehicles that constantly travel these roads. You need to get off the road to give these large vehicles as much room as possible and to ensure you don’t end up with at best a smashed windscreen or worse become a statistic. It is easier for us to get off the road than it is for them and much safer.

Even though it was May, the temperature was well into the 30’s during the day so it was much more comfortable driving in the AC than stopping early. The nights however were pleasantly cool. We continued onto the Burke and Wills Roadhouse where we fueled up and stayed for the night in the roadhouse caravan park. This gave us the opportunity to top up power and water. Fuel was more expensive here at $1.399 cents per litre compared with $1.099 at Georgetown.

We continued on through to Cloncurry, which is a lovely outback town, then onto the Clem Walton Park and the Corella Dam where we stopped for a break and lunch. This is a great campsite and was evidenced by the number of vans that were setup. It is beside the dam where you could launch a boat and participate in all sorts of water sports. After lunch we continued on through Mount Isa with its huge chimney and onto our next overnight stop at Camooweal beside the Georgina River. At this time of the year you can easily find a spot, but generally this area is very popular and you would need to get in early for a good spot beside the river. However there are an abundance of flies during the day and mosquitos at night so be prepared. The birds were tweeting and there was an abundance of colours, purple, pink yellow and white on the river with the water lilies out in bloom. Fuel here was $1.319 cents and there is a dump point at the caravan park within the township. This is the last free camp and fuel before you cross over into the Northern Territory.

The next morning, we ventured on and crossed the border into Northern Territory. Fuel stops from hereon are in short supply so you need to ensure you have full tanks by the time you leave Camooweal as there is one section over 400 hundred kilometres where you cannot get fuel. The terrain from hereon is very flat with only a few trees here and there, however a nice pleasant drive with AC on all the same. Gives you a different perspective to that of the coastal areas. As the outside temperature was still quite warm we decided to keep driving for most of the day with only stops being morning tea and lunch.

We finally arrived at the Three Ways and made a left turn down to Tennant Creek where we arrived late in the afternoon. We booked into a caravan park for the night so we could top up facilities such as water etc. There is also the lovely Mary Ann Dam on the way heading south into Tennant Creek where you are allowed to go swimming, something that you will appreciate in the warm weather. We then headed off south to our next overnight stop at the Devil’s Marbles. Devil’s Marbles is only a short drive from Tennant Creek but it is a lovely campsite so well worth the stopover to view the interesting rock formations in the area. There was a fee of $3.30 per night per person to be paid onsite. This is also a spot that at times has plenty of flies during the day then the mosquitos take over at dusk. The only facilities here are drop toilets. This site also gets very busy in the peak season. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our story in next months newsletter, where we continue on south for Alice Springs.

David and Noreen


Tags: Travel Stories, The Journey

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