10-4 Rubber Duck!

Trip Start Jul 07, 2011
Trip End Oct 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ayre Rock Camp ground
What I did
Travel a darn long way to get here

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Sunday, July 10, 2011

We were up before the first sparrow even had a chance to work out that it was time to start chirping because today was a long road trip day – some 740km on the Stuart Highway out of South Australia and into the Northern Territory.

Dismantling and packing the van has now become more of a routine affair: We pack up as much as we can the night before, get sandwiches and drinks ready, shower/wash the kids and generally tidy up.

Nevertheless, 5:30 is still early!  Bonus - nobody in the showers and toilets at that time of the morning, so lots of hot water and steam to wake up to…

Neil politely banged on the door just before 6am to check that we were up and moving since we'd decided that we were all traveling in a convoy on this long leg; mainly to ensure that if there were any issues, that we all had some form of safety net.

And then, just as that sparrow opened its eyes and had its first morning f@#t, we were off - 7:30 on the dot.  The mounds of Coober Pedy went on for quite some time and they got lit up by the morning sun which was still rising as we high tailed it outa there – in a cloud of dust: Literally…

There is no easy way to travel long distances, other than to simply put in the time.  We’d agreed that Neil would take the lead, Elaine – with her "Little Nova"- would be in the middle, and we’d be tail-end Charlie.  We tried to connect all the CB radio’s up, but for some reason our American hand-held walkie-talkies didn’t want to listen to Neil’s set up – and the batteries in one of the  hand-sets were flat, so we opted for Plan B – flash headlights if in trouble.

We’d all filled up at CP the night before – with our take-away coffees from John’s we’re- the-slowest-servers-in-the-world pizza-bar getting cold – at the staggering price of $1.599/litre.  The 2c/litre that we got off the price with the Riba’s fuel coupon hardly seemed to make a difference, but with a captive market, that’s the price you’ve gotta pay.

I drove all the way to Marla before we needed to stop for fuel.  Elaine’s caravan is a pop-top, so it has relatively high front and rear walls.  The landscape north is about as featureless as the back of Elaine’s van (Sorry Elaine – but 500km looking at the back of your van is enough for anyone!) and when we got to Marla I complained that she needed to show a better movie on her van’s rear wall – even a test pattern would have been interesting.

Fuel at Marla was an impressive $1.76/litre – nearly as impressive as the mountain of fruit cake that Leesa brought out for morning tea.  She said that she’d been cooking it for the past month so I dutifully helped lighten the load.

Marla marks the start of (one of) the Oodnadatta tracks and I’d seen that there was an old wooden road sign listing distances that I though we should photograph ourselves against.  At least that’s what street-view on Google maps shows.

Wrong!  That data is well out of date.  The SA transport department has put up a highly informative (and bland) sign listing the status and condition of the tracks.  So we now have a picture of a featureless sign.

And, if you care, the Woomera Prohibited Area is still stretching north and to the west of the highway at Marla.  Gee those rockets go a long way – either that or the early test’s weren’t very accurate and a 300km safety buffer was warranted…

Megan’s First Drive

Megan felt that we were now far enough from civilization to risk suing herself onto the rest of driving population so she took over and I took the opportunity to look at the featureless landscape from the passenger side rather then straight ahead all the time.  While I had no problem sitting, Megan had no problems with the car and caravan –so much so that we started to have a fuel economy race.  By the time we got to the SA/NT border she’d driven the economy down to 16 litres/100km.

We all had our photos taken on the state line along with about a hundred other people who had the same idea – so much so that parking was a premium and folk were backed up onto the main highway.

I managed to get the “economy” down to 15.5 by the time we needed to refill again – this time at an even more exorbitant $1.85/l at Kulgera.

You think that you’re on the home run when you turn off the Stuart Highway on to the Lasseter’s, but there’s still a 250km to go.  And we got there to a queue of other vans waiting to check in at abut 5:30pm – a darn long day!

You've got to get a pet - a pet rock!

So we're a lot of km's from anywhere on the way to Ayers Rock when Caitlyn starts talking about her rock.  What are you talking about girl?

We're going to see a rock, so I'm talking to mine.

What does it say?  It tells me things.

Just watch the video...

For the record

Today's Menu:

  • Breakfast: Cereal
  • Lunch: Sandwiches - plus John's leftovers
  • Dinner: Rissoles/patties + Couscous
From the mouths of babes:
  • Rock talk - see the video...
  • Are we there yet - 7hrs into the trip, which is kind of understandable!
From the Gross file:
  • More spew!  Like mother like son.  The wrist bands that Megan got for Matthew only worked so much - until a rest stop 150km out of Yulara.  After that he felt so much better - and we told Matthew how they should be worn...
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Grandma on

Hurray -- - --The lost have been found .

Lisa Maaz on

i was starting to think what happened to you all.. was waiting for my email to see your blog. happy to hear you are all well and safe and having a great time :)

Saskia on

Am glad to see chucky is still with you in some shape or form.. Go Matt!!

Lesley on

Gorgeous - listening! to a rock. She might have something there!!!

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