aatkings day tours, aboriginal art, aboriginal people, adelaide river, adventures, alice springs, australian outback, barkly homestead, britz, cairns, caravan, caravan park, crocosaurus cove, darwin, devil's marbles, dream time, emu run tours, geology, imoova, macdonnell ranges, mbantua, northern territory, outback, queensland, tennant creek, travel, trip, uluru, wauchope, Wauchope Hotel, wycliff well
And here’s the continuation of the great Australian outback adventure…
Shortly after we crossed the border, we umm…ran out of fuel. Yup, that happened. You gotta admit, it does make for a good story. Epic!
It wouldn’t have mattered that much where we were if we had enough fuel to get us to the next petrol station.
Trin was at the wheel and she just had enough time to steer the caravan towards the side of the road before we completely ran out of fuel. There were no street lights and we were in the middle of nowhere.
Just as the last of the light faded, we flagged down a car going in the opposite direction. Father and son stopped but unfortunately, they couldn’t help us. They assured us that there would be trucks or other cars going up and down the highway who’d be willing to either give us a lift to the nearest petrol station or, if they had any, sell us some fuel just enough for us to reach the Barkly Homestead. To pass the time, we laid down in the middle of the road, looked at the stars, ate some food, and talked.
After nearly two hours, finally, a car! We waved frantically in the middle of the road and moved to the side when it got closer. The vehicle stopped and there was an Aboriginal family crammed into a small white sedan. Obviously, they couldn’t give any of us a lift as there was no more space so we asked if they had any fuel they could spare. Unfortunately, they didn’t but the driver said that his friend, Neville, was in a ute and would be passing our way some time soon. Apparently, he had a drum or two of fuel which he would likely be able to spare. Before they drove off, the man advised us not to stand in the middle of the road. We asked him why? He said, “Neville’s brakes don’t work.” Okaaaay…
And so we waited and waited and waited some more. Then we heard it – Neville’s ute! Hurray! We were saved! He gave us fuel enough to take us to Barkly Homestead (we hoped!) and in exchange, we gave him and his family our spare 5-gallon drinking water and $50 for the fuel and some of Trin’s cigars. Before they drove off, he said that if we passed them on the highway, we should overtake them. That way, if we run out of fuel again, they’d be able to stop and help us out again. This time, I drove. And wouldn’t you know it, I did overtake Neville and his family and I managed to drive up to the service station fuel pump at Barkly Homestead just as the caravan drank up the very last drop of our fuel. Whew.
A word of advise to anyone wanting to do this leg of the trip: Fuel up as often as you can!
At the Homestead, we hooked up our caravan to power and were able to have a nice shower at the caravan park. I took charge of breakfast and the first driving shift. We were up by 6am ready for another day of driving.
Our first interesting stop that day was Devil’s Marbles. The Aboriginal people say this is a sacred female place.
We would have stayed there longer but we had to be on our way. We stopped at the Wauchope Hotel to stretch our legs and fuel up. Beck and I found some interesting rusty cars to photograph. Little did we know that inside the hotel, Kelly and Trin had been asked by a backpacker if he could hitch a ride with us to Alice Springs. The bar keep told Kelly and Trin that he seemed harmless enough and so we let him ride with us.
(As an X-Files fan, I think I ought to stop at the town of Wycliffe Well next time! Ma, are you coming with me?)
We arrived in Alice Springs (February 13) late in the afternoon. We went to the town center to check out the Information Centre and this is also where we said farewell to our hitch-hiker and made our way to the nearest caravan park.
From Alice Springs it’s still a good 6.5-hour drive to Uluru. Could we have driven there ourselves? We wouldn’t have had enough time unless we stayed over night in Uluru but Beck had to fly back to Newcastle on the 15th. It would have been a shame for her to have come all this way and miss out on seeing Uluru. She had given up hope, actually, but I wasn’t having any of that. No way. We were going to get her to Uluru one way or the other! So over dinner, I was madly calling tour companies that would accommodate at least two persons the following day. It would have been nice if all four of us had gone together but since we had to return our little Britz caravan on the 14th, Kelly and I stayed behind and I booked Beck and Trin on the day trip to Uluru. The best thing about that last-minute organisation was that I stumbled on the best little tour company in Alice Springs. If you ever find yourself in Alice Springs, book your tours with Emu Run Tours. They are simply the best!
While Beck and Trin were enjoying Uluru on Valentine’s Day, Kelly and I were in Alice Springs cleaning out our little caravan before we dropped it off at the Britz garage. We had enough time in the afternoon to explore the town and have a little V-Day celebration…with a bowl of chips and two sodas.
We visited the Mbantua Art Gallery and Cultural Museum and had a lengthy conversation with the General Manager, Tim. He was so nice and accommodating.
Just before the sun started to set, Kelly and I went up to the Anzac Hill Lookout.
Next installment: West Macdonnell Ranges