Friday, May 29, 2009

On The Road - In The Bush

The next morning we started breaking camp as soon as daylight broke, and it took us about 1 ½ hour to be ready to leave – not too bad!
Soon we were back on Hwy 1 heading due south, and we made good progress down the road – there was very little traffic, so even though it is only a 2-lane road it didn't slow us down at all.
I saw a couple of the famous "Road Trains" big, no huge trucks with 4 containers trailing!
The landscape stayed pretty much the same – lots of termite towers, red as the soil, lots of gum trees and desert oaks as far as the eye could see. Now I understand why they call it the bush – I always thought it was pretty much desert, but it really is bush country with trees and bushes that have adapted to the heat and dry conditions, no cactus, so even though the landscape reminded me of Baja the vegetation is very different.
The distances are enormous; it can easily be more that 100 miles from one little roadhouse to the next – so not too many choices for lunch or pit stops! Jann and Ian had already made the track up, so they knew where to stop and where not! Consequently I didn't have any bad meals, only good, if standard, traditional Australian road grub. I can understand that after weeks of traveling it can certainly get old, but since I had just started my Australian journey it was all new and interesting to me. So I enjoyed a cold meat salad, a burger with "the lot", (see photo they pile everything on - including pineapple and red beets!) and other staples of the Australian outback over the next few days at the various roadhouses we stopped at along the way.
We spent the night in Tennant Creek, and the hotel we stayed at was surprisingly nice - a nice swimming pool and internet connection in the reception area - free! The hotel restaurant was not exciting as far as decor goes, but the menu was very innovative for the Outback, and the food and the wine was excellent!!
Ian and Jann were surprised, as they had also spent the night in Tennant Creek on the way up, but stayed in the other end of town at a different hotel (there's 2 to choose from!) and their first experience had not been something they wanted to repeat - so it was a very pleasant surprise!
It seemed like every roadhouse had tried to come up with something to set itself apart - we stopped at one in Wycliffe, you can see from the photos that they are "famous" for all the UFO's observed there over the years - it was a funny combination of Chinese decor and articles and artifacts about the UFO's.
A bit further down the road we stopped at Aileron which had a nice collection of aboriginal art - including the beautiful and impressive big black metal sculptures of an aboriginal woman with a child and the aboriginal man with his spear perched on the top of the hill behind the roadhouse. Inside I took a photo of a painting in progress - the local aboriginal painters come in to paint here whenever the mood strikes them, and the owner of the gallery supplies the materials - and sells their art for them, he told me.
Of course, we also had to pull off the road and take pictures of the statue and plaques that indicated that we had just crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and entered Central Australia!
The second night we spend in Alice Springs, where I was contemplating spending a few days after waving goodbye to Jann and Ian at Uluru Rock.
However, when Jann and I walked around to check out the various lodging possibilities for my return trip I was not convinced I would really enjoy several days there. First of all lodging was expensive, and Alice Springs is just a small town, and most importantly I was told from both Jann and Ian, as well as locals that it was not safe walking there at night - for a lone traveler with no car it would be a bit of a problem! So I decided to wait until we reached Uluru to decide what I wanted to do after Jann and Ian moved on.

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