we are in Alice Springs!
Man what a drive it was and I am completely exhausted!
It started with a 6am wake-up call on Sunday and we where on the road by 6:50. After a quick stop at a cafe for breakfast, we where on our way to Alice Springs. We split the driving pretty evenly, about 300km's each, and then we would stop for a quick break, fill up the car, toilet breaks, and maybe a red bull, then we where back on the road. Our pit stop for the night was Renner Springs, but we stopped at Mataranka to visit a couple tourist spots. We went to some springs first, but it wasn't all that exciting, and there was no way I was going swimming there - with most of the springs covered in a white film. The water itself was so amazingly clear, but I still wasn't convinced! Then we went to a thermal pool that where recommended by 2 different people. As we entered the forest to get to the pool it didn't take long to notice an interesting smell, and then lots of noise, and when we looked up - OMG all you could see was bats!!!!!!! The flying fox bats where spread out on every tree, branch, or anything they could hang upside down from. I swear for the 300 or 400 meters that we walked, there where hundreds of thousands of bats. Once we got to the pools, we got in, kind of reluctantly, had a brief swim, then got out!!!! I had my SLR camera with me, so I snapped some photos, Rob scared the bats so I could get pictures of them flying, and after seeing hundreds of bats flying above me, that was enough, we packed up our things and got the hell out of there!! I think I would have enjoyed the thermal pools a lot more if there where no bats!!! haha
We arrived at Renner Springs at about 4pm, and started setting everything up. The tent went up first, then the canopy, which we then had to move the tent, oops, won't be doing that again, set up our table and chairs, and cracked a beer. My first beer since Bali, and it tasted, well, OK!! We chilled out for bit and watched a thunderstorm from a distance. As we watched the amazing lightening, we realized that it might actually be coming our way. We got out everything for dinner and just as the water started to boil, the winds started to pick up, blowing over our canopy. I looked at Rob and thought, OK, lets take this down, and as we started taking it apart, the winds started picking up even more and the storm was getting that much closer, stuff was blowing away and without even saying anything to each other we started packing up everything - very quickly. There was another older couple staying in a trailer, (bastards!!) and he was kind enough to come over and help put rocks on our tent pegs so our tent didn't blow away!
So you could guess that we didn't cook supper on our new gas stove, but instead went into the roadhouse and ate. Wasn't really impressed as we are spending money like crazy (petrol prices aren't helping), but it was either that, or starve :(
We met another "tenting" couple that had arrived just as the storm was coming in, and they spent $98 on a motel room. Thanks, but I think I'll sleep in a tent, and if worse come to worse, I'll sleep in the car. (this is the cheap side of me!) BUT, after about an hour or so the winds and rain died down, and the rocks weighing down our tent stayed, as did our tent! I somehow got a bit of rain on my sleeping bag, and apart from feeling a bit damp in the tent, it was ok. We where right next to the highway so you could hear the road-trains going by, so you can imagine we didn't have the best of sleeps. Oh well, that is the life of a camper/tenter I imagine. We where up the next morning at 7am, and once we got out of the tent, the flies where horrendous!!! We packed up and where on the road again by 8am. This time, to stop at Tennant Creek. I drove first thing in the morning and we stopped at a mining place in TC, not much to see really and after a brief walk around, the flies where driving me insane again so we got back in the car! We drove to the iconic Devils Marbles, and again, we walked around and the flies where making me grumpy (as where the massive grasshoppers that kept jumping at me). We got back in the car and proceeded to take pictures out the window. I know, kind of ridiculous, but we where both tired and cranky, so this just made sense. The rest of the way was driving, and I drove the last 200km into Alice Springs arriving just after 4pm. Of course there was no one in reception at our hostel and had to wait till 4:30, oh well, what can you do?!?!!
Alice Springs is hot, but not humid and I love it! Once the sun started going down it cooled off a bit, just what I like, and my favorite part of the day! This is also when I noticed that I got a bit burnt today, gotta remember the sunscreen tomorrow. I have lost so much of my tan over the last couple of months as I couldn't have been bothered to sit outside and get all hot and sweaty within minutes. I think I will be getting some of my tan back now though :)
The highway speed limit in the Northern Territory is 130km/hour, which is great! And we didn't see one police officer on the way down, and of course we sped most of the way down. Its surprising how 140km/hr feels like nothing after going that fast for an hour! Rob went faster then me, but once I hit 150 I didn't feel that comfortable. I think once I nearly got to 160 passing a road train and didn't like it, so I mainly stayed at 140-145km. Lets hope there was no photo radar :) In total we drove 1555km's, the first 866km's on the first day.
We have a day here in Alice Springs to check it out and get ready for Uluru. We are hoping for no more storms, fingers crossed, as there aren't many places to hide or eat out in the middle of nowhere!!!