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

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Where I stayed
Gemtree Caravan Park
What I did
Prospect for Garnets

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

With 'civilisation' behind us we headed 140km north (70 up the Stuart Highway – followed by a right - and another 70km down the Plenty Highway to Gemtree, a truly ‘in-the-middle-of-nowhere’ campsite who’s sole purpose is to accommodate amateur prospectors wanting to try their luck at digging precious gems from the hard red dirt.

On the way, we passed north through the tropic of Capricorn – the latitude at which the sun is directly overhead in the middle of the southern summer - on     the December solstice.  It so happened that Megan’s prior food planning had a yummy stack of scones ready for morning tea, which were duly woofed down with a helping of cream and strawberry jam.  Very civilised – outside civilisation!

Size IS Important

The Plenty Highway is not named for its width.  It’s a single lane hard surface with graded run off either side so that oncoming traffic can pass.  We got the hang (more like hang-on) of slowing and running off the side to let the few vehicles coming the other way pass safely, but Chris just about needed to change his underwear when in the distance a huge road train came hurtling towards us, we pulled over – and then pulled FULLY over as it simply went straight through – without even slowing down or moving one inch off the centre of the road.

Apparently, the unwritten rule is that trucks have right of way – and the rest of us have to get out of the way, and quickly.  Whatever, the rule, written or not, we now fully understand the (lack of) etiquette.  Remember: Big IS best!

The personal welcome and quadbike escort to our ‘deluxe’ (sic) powered site was kooky to say the least.  I think the only reason they escort new arrivals is because site are a hap-hazard mess of power points and trees.  Megan recons that they have nothing else to do.

So small, so sharp

Caitlyn quickly discovered that 3-corner jacks hurt – especially when they’re peppered all across her bum!  She sat down to change her shoes into thongs (in a patch of the buggers) and then proceeded to scream in agony and run in circles – which got them into her socks – which caused more screams of agony.

Another change of clothes for madam…  No way we’re washing them with our smalls.  Bin!

Toasty starshow

Fires are allowed and the campsite has plenty of them purposely dotted around the place.  Chris and the kids whipped out onto the highway to get some firewood – and discovered that Land Cruisers travelling at 130km/h flick stones forward when one narrowly missed the rear windscreen and dented the read number plate recess, as we were parked on the side of the road.  Ba$*&ds.

Cold beer, a roaring fire and toasting marshmallows was an excellent way to finish the day as well as a stargazing session under the cloudless sky and milky way painting a white ribbon across the heavens.  Score: 4 satellites and 1 shooting star.

Of course clear nights at this time of the year here means very cold nights, so time to use the last of our 24 hr power on the electric blanket.  See quote of the day…

For the Record

  • Breakfast: The norm – this time burnt because Caitlyn left the toast in twice
  • Lunch: Hot dogs – fed up with sandwiches already
  • Dinner: Chilli Con Carne – double dose cooking in prep for tomorrow night
From the Gemtree (printed) brochure handed to us:
  • Gemtree has 24hr power available from 0630 to 2230.  Good to know that there are only 16 hours in every 24 hour day!
From the Gross file
  • 3-corner jacks – ouch.  Double ouch when covering one’s posterior!
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