Through The Centre

Trip Start Jan 27, 2008
Trip End May 12, 2008

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Flag of Australia  ,
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Woke early to catch the sunrise and to drink in the isolation of the place. We are camped about 500m into the Northern Territory (I can see the SA border sign if I cross the low hill opposite and squint). I am loving life but feeling slightly sad as it occurs to me that we will not be camping at such a remote location again on this trip. Today is also the halfway point of the tour and the group is really gelling. Itīs a cliche but we are starting to behave like a big, slightly disfunctional, family. And thats grand. 

Soon it's time to roll up the swags and head off. Or as Macka would put it "OK lets get the f*** out of here".

The roads are noticably worse in the Territory and we are all slowly shaken to bits as we head NW from the Simpson Desert towards the centre of the universe (well the centre of Australia). Gravel slowly turns to red sand and soon we are navigating through a maze of narrow tracks and I am in awe of Macka's navigation skills as out of nowhere we are at Lambert's Centre - the very centre of the Oz.  The tripod structure marking the geographic centre of the country is a small relation of it's big brother in Canberra. The flag on the mast is in tatters - Macka declares it be f***** and is perceptively really quite embarrased by this display of national pride. So if anyone in authority is reading this. GET A NEW FLAG for Lambert's Centre.

We slip and slide our way back to the main road - that is to say a wider, straighter track. We follow this for two hours, with a halfway stop for a brew where the road drops into a floodway, a dry creek with red river gums for shade - "How Australian is this!" says Macka as he puts the billy can onto the hastily improvised fire - his sense of national pride restored. Even though its remote I find a PET bottle dumped in the creek when taking a pee. I dutifully litter pick and bring it back to show Macka. "That's f*****".     

There is a short stop as we cross the new Ghan railway.  We get a few minutes of facts and figures, number of sleepers etc, as the car straddles the track before pushing on.

We finally hit the black top at Kulgara roadhouse. After a mandatory picture of a Stuart Highway destination road sign bearing a big number I head to the roadhouse. Unable to find a Big Dobber or other similarly amusingly named ice cream I make do with a Mango and Cream bar - "it's nice" (in a Borak voice). 

We are soon speeding up the Stuart Highway. Its monotonous. Driving the whole 3000km would require several boxes of matches to be deployed in eye sockets.  After 80km we turn left and head west down the Lassetter Highway towards Yulara resort - just another 244km away. 

The resort is tastefully located 15km form Uluru (Ayers Rock) - but ALWAYS Uluru to Macka. We have a covered area with a kitchen - imagine a large bus shelter with hot and cold running water and you've got the picture. There is a pool - bliss. At sunset we climde a small dune to watch the sun set over the Olgas. And guess what... The silhouette looks just like Homer Simpson laying down!

Everyone except me sleeps on the tarpaulin - I choose a spot on the sand about 30 feet away. There is another tour group at the next bus shelter and they make such a racket I put my headphones on to help me sleep.  We have a 5am wake up too - lovverly.

I walk barefoot to the toilet block in the middle of the night where, in the harsh light, I'm alarmed to encounter my first deadly spider of the trip. Its a red back.  It scurries under the urinal and suddenly I wish I had my boots with me for the walk back to my swag.


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