Plenty to the Tanami

18/6/14 – Another cool night, it’s the wind that is the killer, without that it wouldn’t be so bad. The only sound we heard last night was a few dingoes.
Tower-Reserve Morning-LightWe were up well before the sun, early breaky waiting for the sun to light up the rocks. On the road by 8.30am Qld time, since we will only be in NT for a few days no point changing clocks, it’s still dark at 7am. We turned left when we came out of the reserve, which would see us doing a loop and joining back up onto the Binns Track and up round to Old Mac Donald Downs (farm).
Binns-Track
Mac-Donalds-Truck
The last 96kms of the Plenty Hwy is bitumen.
End-of-the-Dirt-Plenty
Once off the Plenty we headed into Alice Springs to have lunch, fill up fuel and drinking water and go on the net and send off some posts. Can’t say we like Alice, filling up with water was not an easy task. We found out that you either need to fill up at a van park or at a servo as there are no taps. We happen to pick the Shell servo on the way out of town that only had one diesel pump and the only tap to fill up water was at that same pump. Rather ridiculous but we got there in the end.

Make sure everything is locked up at your vehicles and don’t leave them too long if it can be avoided. I had to pop into Coles and Chris stayed at the Ute. 2 local kids came and checked the ute and trailer out looking like they were up to no good. They didn’t know Chris was watching them in the rear vision camera. Once they saw him they took off like a bat out of hell. It was so nice to be back out of town and starting down the Tanami Track

Tanami-RoadWest-MacDonnell-RangesWe stopped for the night approx 123km from Alice at Charlie Creek Rest Area. It’s a big flat area, some trees, nice vista, has bins, shelter and tables, some gravel which was a nice change from red dust. One other traveler was there. An very interesting man traveling alone in his home made off road caravan. Lots of amazing stories and tales to tell. He could talk the hind leg off a donkey. It was nice to sit and chat, admire the million of stars and not have that chilly wind for a change.
Night-Spot The-View

Plenty Hwy Day 2

17/6/14 – Gee the nights keep getting cooler. We were on the road by 9am. The road on the west side of Arthur Creek is better than the East side. Wide gravel road that is still corrugated but the corrugations aren’t as deep. On some areas of the road it is wide smooth and compacted red dirt. There are ant hills and jumpups. We even came across some road works which explains why the road had improved, for a while at least.

We passed a guy loaded up on a push bike peddling along. That’s a hard way to go.

We took the Binns Track heading for Tower Rock. We did a detour first planning on having a look at Boxhole Meteorite Crater but the gates into the crater were padlocked, obviously it’s on private property.

It’s 90km into Mac and Rose Chalmers Conservation Reserve, (Tower Rock). As you enter the reserve you are greeted with the massive mountains of red granite boulders. Very similar to the Devils Marbles only a lot less people. We are the only ones here for the arvo and camped for the night.

Rocks-everywhere Conservation-Reserve Camp-groundOue-Campsite Tower Rock was one of Rose Chalmers favourite spots. And you can see why, the view from there is amazing. Overlooking all the red granite boulders, down into the valley and a view across to the East MacDonnell Ranges. The climb is classified as difficult as you have to scramble over boulders as you work your way to the top following red paint markers on rocks. We reached a flat area near the top and the red markers disappeared. I guess whoever did the red markers decided most people wouldn’t want to go any further. We saw some rock cairns someone had made leading a path right up to the top, which we followed. The walk and climb was worth it, we were gobsmacked with the view and the red of boulders with a deep blue sky behind them. We had fun exploring the different boulders as we worked our way back down.

View-of-our-camp Tower-Rock The-Tower-Rock Heart-Rock Granite-Rocks Enjoying-the-view Boulders Amazing-Views

Push

Mac and Rose are buried here. They have amazing views for their final resting place.

Mac-and-Rose-resting-place

There are umm toilets at the camping area, they have great views, lots of fresh air but not a lot of privacy.

Windy-Loo Chris-on-loo

Plenty Hwy Day 1

16/6/14 – We were thankful for the heater again last night with it being the coldest night so far.

We were on the road by 9am. The road for the next hundred Kms or so was more rutted and boggy. There were areas were the landscape was flat with no trees, others area were quite treey.

We came across a Wedge-tailed Eagle and it’s nest. But by the time we stopped to take photos it had flown off.

Eagle-NestIt’s a beautiful sunny day but the wind feels like it’s coming off Antarctica, brrr.

Reality hits how big Qld is when you have been traveling for over 3 days to finally hit the state border. As soon as we crossed the border into NT onto the Plenty Hwy the road changed to single lane and corrugated.

NT-borderPlenty-Hwy-1The road does get wider and is rough and churned up in places due to the wet. It’s is corrugated, some areas worst than others. There are patches of bull dust and some decent size holes. It is pretty rough in places.

Plenty-Hwy-2 Plenty-Hwy-bull-dust Plenty-Hwy-bull-dust-1We have camped for the night at Arthur Creek, 159km W of the Qld/NT border. Camping is along the banks of the river on either side. The river is dry and sandy. The area is very dusty, lots of trees. If it wasn’t for the hoards of flies and the chilly wind it would be a pleasant spot.

Arthur-Creek Arthur-Creek-bed Arthur-Creek-campspotIt doesn’t matter how well something is tucked up under a vehicle or trailer a well placed rock can still hit its mark. The main pump on the camper is well protected or so we thought, up high and behind the spare wheel. A rock has hit the pump and cracked the pump housing causing it to suck in air, so the pump isn’t working. Chris is very surprised it got hit where it is. Goes to show a rock can hit anywhere. He has never been happy with it outside the trailer, after this trip I think he will move it or protect it better. There are 2 pumps on the trailer, one for the shower to pump water from an external water source. We also have one of the ute for the water tank there. We have deliberately kept all the pumps the same so they can be swapped around if necessary. Not a quick or simple task though. Chris is using some silicone sealant to try and fix the crack first before going to the extra hassle and work of changing over pumps. Fingers crossed.

Boulia

15/6/14 – So glad we had the heater on, it was rather a chilly night but we were nice and toasty in the camper.

We fueled up and had morning tea at Winton before heading down the Min Min byway aka the Kennedy Developmental Road to Boulia.

The road to Boulia is a lot more interesting than we expected. The road is mostly single lane, flat and treeless. Other areas have colourful jumpups that reminded us of the Painted Desert. There was more traffic on this road than we expected too, travelers like ourselves. We have seen heaps of Brogals, Wedge-tailed Eagles and Emus.

Winton-to-Boulia-roadMiddleton was in the middle of nowhere. It was one of the nine changing stations on the Cobb & Co route between Winton and Boulia. An old Cobb & Co wagon sits proudly out the front of the Middleton Hotel.

Middleton-Carriage Across the road from the hotel is Hilton Hotel, where there is no aircon, no TV, no pool and no charge. Someone has a great sense of humour.

Hotel-HiltonAnyone traveling this road must stop at Cawnpore Lookout, 360 degree view of ochre red jumpups, amazing.

Jumpups Jumpups-Cawnpore Jumpups-Cawnpore-lookout

The road from the lookout to Bouila is flat, dry and mostly treeless. Through Min Min country.

Welcome-to-BouliaWe topped off the fuel before heading down the Donohue Hwy diesel was 179.9. We found out at the servo that the Plenty Hwy has been closed for a few days due the road having 20mm of rain. Apparently 3 trucks are bogged out there. We tried the police station but it was closed, so called into the info centre who rang the person who controls the opening and closing of roads in the shire. Lucky for us the road was open to 4wd only. That’s the thing on these roads a small amount of rain can close a road so it’s always worth checking before heading down one.

Donohou-HwyIt was actually the Donohue that was closed not the Plenty.

It’s bitumen for approx 35kms out of Boulia, then dirt road which was rutted and churned up in places where vehicles had travelled along the road in the wet. It was muddy and soft in a few places, otherwise it was a good road. There are several other areas of bitumen.

Donohou-Hwy-rutsDonohou-Hwy-ruts-1We stopped for the night at Herbert Yards approx 83kms from Boulia, with another camper.

Herbert-Yards