Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Monday 13th June 2005 to Wednesday 15th June 2005

Monday 13th June 2005

After a damp night with rain falling at intervals until about 4:30am, we woke to an overcast sky with some threat of more rain. We packed up the caravan and made ready to leave Alice Springs after ten days that we both enjoyed.

At about 9:am we pulled out of the caravan park and headed through Alice Springs for the last time, making our way north on the Stuart Highway through rocky hills and rather unique country.

Our first stop was at Aileron Road House/Restaurant/Pub about 133 kilometres north of Alice Springs. This was a rather neat little place where we had a cup of coffee whilst admiring the water colour paintings by Albert Namatjira and other aboriginal artists, along with a great selection of wines and beers in a bar that could only be described as 'different' in a very good way.

From here we continued north without stopping, traveling through some very flat red country until we reached Wycliffe Well (known for having the most UFO sightings in Australia) which is about 130 kilometres south of Tennant Creek. We booked into the caravan park at Wycliffe Well for the night and found it to be a fascinating place. Most of the building were covered in murals of anything from the red centre landscapes to aliens and UFO's. Around the area were statues of aliens, the 'Hulk' 'Phantom' and many others. There were emus, a donkey, a camel and a wide range of other animals about the place and we even took a free train ride around the man made lakes beside the park, however one of the lakes they had dug too deep and gone through the layer of clay into the sand and it didn't hold water any more.

This was a very interesting place to stay and to top it off, we visited the restaurant in the evening where we enjoyed drinks and a great meal with Barry and Helen from Broken Hill (who we met on the train ride) and then they returned to our caravan to view some of the digital images we have of the wildflowers of Western Australia. Of course, to be social the men had to have another glass of red wine whilst we went through the slide show.

A watercolour landscape - Albert Namatjira
On display in the Aileron Road House bar

After a few beers - we see little green men

Tuesday 14th June 2005

As we only had about 130 kilometres to travel to Tennant Creek, we had an easy morning and didn't leave the caravan park until about 9:15am. We headed north on the Stuart Highway (well it had to be either north or south, there was no other way to go) for about 17 kilometres until we reached Wauchope, then it was about a further ten kilometres to the Devils Marbles.

There was a slip road to pull in to the site of the Devils Marbles so we stopped right next to one of the 'piles' of shaped rock, then walked through the main area of 'marbles' for about the next hour. These stones come in all shapes and sizes, with many of them being reasonably round, although a great number are different shapes and many appear to be balancing on top of other stones.

'One of Us' was feeling like a bit of a devil so she started to play a game of marbles, however the 'Other One' kept well out of her way because he felt she was aiming at him with some of her 'rolls'.

From a high point on top of a stone hill near the car park, it was possible to see these stone shapes stretch across the valley for kilometres and visitors could spend days wandering around them. There is an un powered caravan and camping site at the 'marbles' and there were a few vehicles set up in that park with the occupants obviously enjoying a longer stay. Whilst walking through them, we even came across a Catholic Priest giving Mass to about three people in the shade of a large round stone 'marble'.

It wa about 11:am before we were under way again, still heading north on Stuart Highway for the next 100 kilometres. On arrival in Tennant Creek at about midday we found the 'Outback Caravan Park on Peko Road and booked in for the next two nights. After setting up the caravan 'One of Us' read a book whilst the 'Other One' tested out the springs on the bed for about an hour. We then drove into the town centre where we found a hardware store that had two doe wedges (to chock up a table leg) before visiting the local Foodland store (Tennant Creek Food Barn) so that 'One of Us' could gain her daily dose of 'shopping therapy.

We then returned to the caravan park for the rest of the afternoon, with the view of doing the 'tourist' bit tomorrow.

A small part of the Devils Marbles

'One of Us' playing marbles

Wednesday 15th June 2005

Today started out with some un seasonal rain in Tennant Creek and the red dirt became pretty sticky on the bottom of our shoes, however there wasn't enough rain to really wet things down or turn the dirt into mud. The raid ceased quite early but the sky remained overcast for the remainder of the day. It wasn't enough to stop us from refueling our stomachs with a good feed of bacon, egg and cheese in a toasted sandwich before we eventually took a drive around the town.

Our first stop was the Information Centre on Battery Hill. This centre had a section inside laid out with paintings, cut outs and corrugated iron to reflect the old times in the area and in the shed wall is a large TV relating the local tourist points of interest from Alice Springs to Katherine. We watched this for a while before wandering around Battery Hill for a short while before leaving for the next tourist spot mentioned by the staff in the centre. Although there is a mine tour and a couple of museums to visit at Battery Hill, we both felt we were almost 'Museumed' out for the time being and at $30 per person we didn't think we would get the best out of it at this time.

Our next call was to the top of the 'Bill Allen' lookout where we had a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside, including roof tops in Tennant Creek.

From here we traveled to the north side of town where we visited the Mary Ann Recreational Dam, however there was not a huge amount of water in the dam, although 'One of Us' was pleased to see a pelican sitting on a small island in the middle of the water that remained.

Next we continued out of town the headed west for about 6 kilometres to an area they call 'The Pebbles' and after seeing the Devils Marbles about 100 kilometres south of here, we can understand why these are only pebbles. They do stretch over a couple of hills, however they didn't have the round shapes or the size of the marbles and could not really be compared in any way.

Then it was back into town where we paid a short visit to the Nyinkka Nyunyu Cultural Centre where there is an aboriginal art display (entry of $10 each person) and a fair range of aboriginal artifacts such as boomerangs and didgeridoos with starting prices at about $300 and up, needless to say we didn't walk out with any.

By this time we were ready to return to the caravan were we settled in for the afternoon until about 4:pm when we drove into town again to post another letter to daughter Jay and to refill the Patrol with diesel, ready for our drive to Mataranka Springs in the morning.

Interior of Battery Hill Information Centre

Mary Ann Recreational Dam