We left Erldunda at 9:05am and the temperature sat on a chilly 8 degrees, but the sun was shining, and it promised to be a lovely day.
We travelled through country which is now undulating landscape rather than flat plains. In many areas we could see Mallee scrub, and there is a wide diversity of plants, in particular a wonderful quantity of desert oaks.
As we approached Palmer Valley Station, we began to see a lot of mesas on the horizon – a bit Close Encounterish.
There was no water in Finke Creek when we crossed the bridge but it has a very wide footprint so the water must race through after heavy rain. There was also no water in Maloney Creek, but the footprint was not quite so large.
The Finke Desert Race begins on 9 June this year and there are any number of festivities planned in Alice Spring this weekend. People come from everywhere, and it is why we couldn’t get into a caravan park for love nor money.
By 10:40am we were passing the Owen Springs Reserve which is a large conservation area and only open to 4WD vehicles.
We almost had heart attacks shortly before this area when a car following us decided to try and pass. Unfortunately, he didn’t look for oncoming traffic before he pulled out and caused a 4WD vehicle to swerve off the road onto the verge
He must have also nearly had a heart attack and he quickly ducked back in behind us and then dropped wayyyyyy back.
There was a car towing a van after the 4WD vehicle, but luckily it was able to stay on the road surface or there might have been a very different outcome with a horrible ending.
Russ said we probably would have been fine, but it would have depended on the caravan if the driver had had to hit the brakes heavily. I like to think the two dads were watching and looked after us.
Around 11:00am we pulled into a layby to stretch our leg and take a loo break. While I was in the van Russ visited the thunderbox and he said it was so large that he had to make sure his phone was safely zipped in his pocket, his sunglasses were firmly anchored on his head, and he kept his mouth closed so there was no danger of losing his false teeth.
As we approached the outskirts of Alice Springs we followed our directions to the Happy Farmer Bush Camp and found it without any bother, but it was a bit of a tight squeeze to get through the front gate.
We followed the rest of the directions to our camp site but we had to manoeuvre through a glutinous mud patch (in 4WD) to get there. We had booked the only site that had access to power, the other two sites are for free camping.
We passed a couple of other caravan parks along our way here and the vans were packed in like sardines. Rodney – the happy farmer (a hippy about our age, and heavy into conservation and recycling) – told us there is little room to move in any of the caravan parks this weekend as the Finke Festival takes over everything.
The internet out here is very slow, and in the evening when everyone is trying to use it there is hardly any service worth talking about.
Once we had set the van up with power and opened the windows – it really was a glorious day – we had lunch then head into town to do our jobs.
Russ had brought up Google Maps through WikiCamps for the Dump Point. I am not sure what actually happened with the app, but it took us way out to the Casino and Golf Course with Convention Centre and then led us down a road to a dead end. (Thank goodness we weren’t towing).
After we recalibrated the map, we retraced our path and finally found the dump point not too far from the Happy Farmer.
I bought some jeggings at Kmart – woohoo! I had to get a couple of different sizes as they were scares on the shelf. Thank goodness they are elastic. My other pairs (two) of pants will almost be able to walk into the washing machine themselves.
We also grabbed some groceries to top supplies and bought some rolls and a roast chicken for tea.
I wandered over the Camp Site 1 and spoke with Leanne and Will. They and their two children (probably about 7 and 9?) have been on the road for seven weeks. They are from Sydney and won’t be back home until September. The kids were playing with the farm kelpie whose name is Pet, and Leanne’s daughter advised me in a whisper that Pet wasn’t really good at fetching sticks!
Leanne has not been able to get the washing machine going here so it looks like we will hop into town tomorrow and find the laundromat. We can bring the clothes back here and put them on the clothesline.
We may have to take the computer into town with us so that Russ can update the blog and photos at a Telstra HotSpot.