Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Well it turns out that this couple we met at Devil's Marbles were right on the money with their campsite out of Elliot.

After a minor discussion about the exact turn off (yes, I was right) we travelled 10k's down a dirt track which opened out onto a beautiful lake with brand new facilities and only 3 other groups
all spread out over a 500 metre area.

The lake was full of magnificent bird life and the boys had a ball with the binoculars looking at who knows what while Neil and I set up the van.

There was some seriously nasty looking clouds looming so we got the tent cover out of the stove and I tried to get some dinner ready. We had opted for a BBQ so off Neil and the boys went to the brand new BBQ's while I fed Milla and made some salads.

Not long after as the rain was just starting, the boys returned with raw meat. The BBQ's were out of gas...... damn it...... We ended up getting out the gridle and cooking on the stove top. It was hot and sticky and mighty uncomfortable under the tent with all the bugs.

Dinner was a quick affair and the kids were bundled off to bed. The rain continued into the night but thankful had passed by morning.

We packed up in good time and headed out. The dirt track in had become a slushy mushy track out and the kids thought the puddles were hilarious.

We found a car that we thought you might be interested in Drew. Not sure what year it is but there may be some useful parts!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Devil's Marbles

We weren’t exactly sure where our next spot would be so we were just going to drive and see where we could get to. We drove through Whitecliff Wells which claims to be the UFO capital of Australia. The caravan park was attached to the only bottle shop and needless to say, we decided to keep driving.

We got the “Camps” book from our awesome mates and saw that Devil’s Marbles camp site had the authors tick of approval which seems to be pretty hard to get so we decided to press on the extra 50 odd km’s and boy are we glad we did.

We followed the local coppers in, she had a car full of tourists so we thought we must be onto a good thing. When we pulled off the main road, the view of the marbles was spectactular. It had been raining and their was the biggest rainbow ending down behind the camp site. We drove in and the place was packed, it was magical. The boys ran off and made mates with some other friends as they do and Neil and I set up in record time.

It wasn’t long before another storm hit. The boys had just enough time to climb the rocks while I tried to get Milla fed and settled. Ever since she had been sick in Yalara she had been sleeping in our bed and really playing up whenever I put her in her own cot. I am trying to break the habit but it is not proving to be easy.

It was raining so much that I couldn’t even pull the kitchen out to make anything decent for dinner. It ended up being frankfurts for the kids and cheese and biscuits for Neil and I.

We got talking to a couple around our age (no children though!!) who had been travelling Oz for the last 18 months. They gave us some awesome idea on things to see and do. They also have a mate who is a mechanic in Darwin so we got his details so we can get the car serviced. They also have an awesome awning which attaches to the side of their car with 3 zip on sides to keep flys and mozzies out. We are considering getting one sent to Darwin because the flys are proving to be mighty annoying, especially for the baby. They gave us details of a great camp spot to stay at only a couple of hundred k’s from where we were.

It was early to bed because the rain was well and truly set in.

The next morning saw the most amazing sun rise. Neil took some awesome photos and even they probably don’t do it justice. We also had a visit from a very maingey looking Dingo who was defiantely hungry. I ended up putting the kids into the van because this thing was sniffing around like it was on a mission. Nathy just kept saying, “Put Millzy away, I like her, I don’t want the Bingo to get her.”

Alice Springs

We said goodbye to the Adams’ family again, this time we were doing the Merrindi Loop to Alice Springs and they had to go back to the main road as they don’t had a 4wd. We knew where they were staying so were going to meet them again….

We took the Merrindi Loop which was a pretty boring drive. We came to Hermansberg and were scared!! John, Alyssa’s step father is living there now and we popped in and had lunch with him. I can’t believe he lives there, it was really really scary!!

We sat by the river and had lunch and a chat for about an hour before hitting the road again. Neil wanted to have a look at Palm Valley, but he has seen it before and I was just keen to keep moving and be in Alice before night fall.

We found the caravan park and set up in a great little spot that backed onto a huge communal grassed area. It was beautiful for the kids. It had a great playground and the kids were in their element.

It was nice to be in civilization again with shops that were familiar. We spent a day walking through the city and did a bit of shopping. We got Milla the most adorable pair of bathers, pink and frilly of course.

The next day, Neil took Nath off to the reptile park. Case was exhausted and I hate snakes and lizards so it was just some bonding time for the boys. Nath wasn’t overly excited by the snakes and lizards but Neil thinks he would have learnt a lot. The dude running it showed how snakes react when they get startled and he taught Nath that if he sees a snake he has to stand still and it will just glide on past. I am hoping that we don’t come across one but if we do I am sure Nath will be able to put it into practice.

The days are flying by and Bali is only a few sleeps off. We stayed in Alice a day longer than we intended so it was time to make tracks and keep heading north. It was goodbye to the Adams’ family for the last time and they were only going north as far as Tennant Creek.

Kings Canyon

We stalked the Adams’ family again and headed off to Kings Canyon. The resort at Kings Canyon was amazing. The reception area had the most imposing canvas of the canyon as it’s backdrop. It took your breath away. The resort had lovely grassed areas in between the sites and we were lucky enough to find 2 together, separated by an awesome patch of grass.

We set up camp and the kids went nuts with the grass between their toes.

Richard and Jan turned up and were kind enough to invite us to join them for dinner. We had Spag Bog which was delicious and not just because I didn’t have to cook or do the dishes.

The toilets in the resort had gates on them which you had to lock to keep the Dingo’s out. We didn’t think too much of it until we were putting the kids to bed and a dingo came walking around the dinner table and up to Richard and Jan’s caravan. We shooed it away and quickly cleaned up the scraps so as to not entice it back.

It was a freezing cold night even though the days were magnificent, we briefly sat out side and then decided it was just stupid so headed off to bed.

The next day Jan decided to have a quiet one with Jemima their 1 year old so Neil, Richard and I took the other 6 kids off for the base walk of the canyon. There is a magnificent rim walk that you can do but it is very strenuous and didn’t seem to appealing with 6 little ones.

We took the kids bathers and at the end of the base walk they went for a swim in the stream. It was bloody cold and they didn’t last long but they found great enjoyment in climbing the rocks. I had forgotten how much fun it was to explore the rocks. I used to love going to Kalbarri as a kid and finding crabs etc, it is so lovely to see my children enjoying the same small pleasures.

Richard and Jan’s second oldest, Lydia and I decided to dessert for everyone that night so we cranked up the Cobb Cooker and came up with “Surprise Squares”. Basically we cut a piece of puff pastry into 4 squares and put a dollop of Nutell and 2 marshmellows inside before folding them up and cooking them in the oven. We served them with thickened cream because I refused to pay $15 for 2 ltrs of black and gold icecream!! And they were delicious.

Our time at Kings Canyon was awesome, it was very layed back with the kids spending most of their time riding bikes and scooters. It was very relaxing and good to see Milla Moo on the mend too.

Ayers Rock - Day 4

I was exhausted. I had Milla in my bed that night and she was feeding ever 2 hours!! Neil wanted to go and do the Olga’s so he headed off on his own and the kids and I just bummed around. We caught the shuttle bus into the shopping precinct and had some lunch. We found a magnificent grassed area which the kids just loved, so we sat down and ate an icecream, the kids ran around and we made paper airplanes and flew them. Milla was still miserable, I had taken her back to the hospital that morning for a check up and the nurse assured me she was “proper sick” (very technical nurse language!!)

She layed on the grass and it was the first time she had forced a grin in days.

Neil came back from the Olga’s at about 5.30pm and after a quick shower, we headed off to dinner with Richard and Jan. We went to an awesome place which did a buffet, kids eat free!!. With this in mind, we thought it would be a family friendly place but it turned out not to be the case. There were a lot of couples sitting there all romantic like and trying to control 7 children just seemed like an impossible task. The kids weren’t naughty, just noisy.

Richard and Neil took the kids outside after dinner so Jan and I could have a coffee and while out there a man walked up to Richard and said “Thanks for ruining my evening”. What the……… If you wanted a nice romantic evening maybe you should go out later than 6pm and not to a place that openly advertises that kids eat free…. Oh well, I hope he didn’t have a flat tyre when he got back to his car, his life might have been over.

The next day was our last in Yalara, and we were heading off to Kings Canyon.

Ayers Rock - Day 3

I decided to pull the pin on the 10km walk and take Milla to the Medical Centre / Hospital within the resort. I am so glad I did, turns out the little mite had a UTI, ear infection and was moderately dehydrated. We were there for 4 hours while I tried to syringe 100ml of gastrolyte fluid into her. They gave me the option of the syringe or they were going to put a gastro instinal tube in. That didn’t sound like fun to me so 4 hours later we were allowed to leave with strict instructions to make sure she drank an extra 200ml of fluid for the next 3 days, plus antibiotics.

While we were at the hospital, Neil took the boys and met up with Richard, Jan and the kids to do the walk. Pram in tow they set off. The kids were amazing. Neil said that Casey walked about 8 of the 10km’s. Not bad for a set of little legs. The pram came in handy as they met up with another couple, Andy and Ness and their 4 kids. Turns out that it became a communal pram and it got a fair work out.

It was a HUGE day and they got back to camp at around 4pm. Unfortunately a lot of the track was on sacred sites so they were not allowed to take photos. I can only imagine how amazing it would have been.

We both agreed that it was an awesome place and something that everyone should go and see at least once in their life time.

Ayers Rock - Day 2

We awoke to the sound of more rain and were serious questioning our timing of this trip. I think we were up to about 90% of our day spent with some sort of rain.

We decided to lay low, get some washing out of the way and head to the rock in the afternoon.

Unfortunately we didn't realise but seeing the rock in the rain is a very very rare site and we should have probably gone in the morning.

As we were heading off to the rock we saw Jan, Richard and kids that we had befriended in Wilpena Pound. Everyone was so excited, the kids were thrilled to see each other.

We knew that it was going to be a pretty spectacular site but the feeling of driving down the road and seeing it for the first time cannot be described. I had goose bumps and heart palpitations. It was magnificent.

We went and had a look at the Cultural Centre which was spectacular and fascinating. Nath declared in the middle of it that he didn't like Bingo's (aka Dingo's) because he didn't want them to take his baby. What a pisser, the way kids interpret things just blow my mind.

The boys both fell in love with the wooden art work and as such we are now the proud owners of a wooden snake and a wooden lizard!!

There are a number of different walks around the rock but we decided that today we would have a look at the waterhole. We were thrilled that we did because there was still some water trickling down the rock into the waterhole and it was a beautiful sight to see.

We decided to do the 10km walk the next day so headed back for an early night.

Milla Moo was not 100% and had a temperature. I gave her some Panadol which she spewed all over me so tried her on some Nurofen which thankfully worked enough to allow us all some sleep.

Ayers Rock - The Arrival

Our goal from the Painted Desert was to make it to Ularu. Thankfully we were out on the highway pretty early as it was going to be a huge day in the car.

We were carrying an extra couple of hundred kilo's thanks to all the mud that was stuck to us. We must have looked hillarious.

We arrived in Ayers Rock around 5pm with the rain bucketing down. Tensions were high, we had 3 very tired and very hungry children.

It took us about 15 minutes to get it into place because of all the puddles. The kids were all screaming in the back of the car and I wanted to pick up a big sticky handful of mud and throw it at Neil... I refrained!!

We unhooked the trailer and decided that Neil would start the set up while I tried to find the supermarket with the kids!! Oh, this was going to be fun.

In the pouring rain I eventually found it, I got the kids out of the car and then the boy informed me that they needed to do a wee. Before I could find a toilet, Nathan already had his pants down and was weeing on the monster truck. Casey of course couldn't be out done so with help from Nathan, also pulled his pants down and wee'd on the monster truck.....

I got into the supermarket and could smell something pretty rank. I looked down to see my arm was covered in baby poo from none other than the Princess.... WHAT THE!!!

I managed to get what I needed and get back to the caravan park to find Neil in a grumpy mood trying to put up the family room. (I can't imagine why he would be grumpy!!)

A very long story short, we got it done, got everyone into bed and looked forward to seeing the rock the next day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stuck on the Oodnadatta Track

We headed along the Oodnadatta Track to Oodnadatte (der!!). We visited the Pink Roadhouse which is a bit of an icon along the track. We sat down at a table and a lady came and started chatting to us. Turns out she was a kiwi nurse who was doing a 6 month stint in the sticks. She was lovely and asked if there was anything we needed. I told her jokingly that I was dying for a shower and she invited us back to her place and said we could make ourselves at home. She was just lovely. We got her address and said we would be back the following day as we were heading into the desert for the night and would be even more desperate the next day....

We headed off towards the Painted Desert. It was truly magnificent. Just like someone had taken a million different colours and painted it onto a canvas that we were then looking at.
On the way we decided to camp at a homestead right next to the desert. The homestead was run by a young couple who were
only 22 years old. The husband Patrick was away in William Creek for the Bronco Branding and Steph was managing the farm with her Dad and his mate who were visiting from Adelaide. When we arrived there was a tiny puddle of water which the boys spent the afternoon playing in with their bikes and gumboots. They had a ball.

We went to bed early after a big day and awoke at about 3am to the sound of rain. I didn't think much of it at the time but when we woke in the morning the first thing Neil says to me is, "Thank god we decided to stay here and not in the desert because we are rained in and won't be going anywhere." I thought he was taking the piss but it wasn't long before I realised he was right.

We went over and spoke to some blokes who were also camped on the homestead. They had set up camp in the huge shed, they looked like they were there for the long haul. Little did I know at the time that this shed was to be our home for the next 3 days!!

There were 4 groups of people stuck, the blokes, the couple, the family and us....
The blokes turned out to be in the job out of Maryborough. Small world hey. The family had 2 gorgeous girls aged 14 and 13. They were awesome and came into their own playing
with the boys. The couple were also awesome and are planning on coming to Perth to visit at some stage.

We were sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves when Steph came out with the most superb muffins, sure helped to lift spirits. Steph and her Dad ended up putting on a massive BBQ for us for lunch as well which was greatly appreciated by all.

The boys made the shed more homelike by putting up a massive tarp to try and stop the wind getting in they found a drum for the fire and moved our belongings into the shed.

Food and booze was shared amongst all as we had no idea how long we were going to be stuck for. The fire was cranked and the red wine started flowing.

The second day being stranded saw us all holding our breath that the rain was going to stay away. It was looking like we could be spending more than a couple of days on the farm.

The kids put their gum boots back on and it was out into the mud again. We went for a walk around the farm and waited for Patrick to come back from William Creek with the verdict as to how long it would be until we could leave.

It wasn't belong before an almost unrecognisable Prado came into the homestead. It was Patrick in a car completely covered in mud. It had taken him roughly 18 hours to do a 4 hour drive. The weather forecast for the next few days was showing more rain on the way so it was a group decision that we would convoy our way out the next morning even though the roads were officially closed. We couldn't afford to be stuck any longer, Milla wasn't 100% and we were quickly running out of food for her.

We packed up the TVan and spent the night in a cabin as we were leaving at 6.30 in the morning.

We had 7 vehicles in total in the convey, we were allocated the end vehicle as we were the only ones with mud tyres and they were worried that we might chew the track up for everyone else!!

We had a great time. There was mud being flug like there was no tomorrow and we think by the end of the track we were carrying an extra couple of hundred kilo's of mud.

We made it out without copping any fines. We heard rumours that it is $1000 per tyre!!

Ah, back on the road again. I was secretly disappointed, I really really enjoyed being stranded and I wasn't looking forward to the enormous amount of washing that I had to do.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Start of the Oodnadatta Track

From Coward Springs we head towards William Creek. This awesome old pub served up a great feast of Ploughman's and of course, continued with our "Chippyology". William Creek is the start of the Oodnadatta Track for us. We almost stayed the night as there was a Bronco Branding Competition on but we thought it best to move on as the caravan park was not appealing in the slightest. We had an awesome counter meal and hit the track.

We drove to the Algebuckina Railway Bridge we had heard was a great bush site to camp. Turned out to be amazing and we couldn't believe we had it all to ourselves. The kids had a ball looking at
the old bridge which was part of the old Ghan Railway. They climbed trees, played with stick and just had a great time. Nathy even ate his weetbix in the tree!!

We woke the next morning to cars driving all around us as it turns out the Hemington's are not fast movers like some of t
he Grey Nomads!! Thank goodness none of us were sitting on the portapotty.

We packed up and headed back to the Oodnadatta Track.