DAY 17 - Alice Springs to Devils Marbles (400 kms)

The cold mornings are getting serious... -1 @ 7am! We've had enough of that, we're going north! Just top add to the cold, the mains power to the camper had dropped out again. Decided to buy a new power lead as we were using an extra extension lead again and thought our lead might be allergic to the cold. Had showers as no facilities at the Devils Marbles campground. Said our good byes to Susie, Vic, Harry, Liam & Georgia after several enjoyable days with them. They are heading to Broome up the Tanami then back East so we may see them on the Gibb River Road.

By the time we had bought the power cable and some supplies it was 10:55am. Not a great start to a 400km day. Had lunch at Ti Tree. We like to make our bread rolls or sandwiches at lunchtime and the shelf on the side of the camper comes in very handy. Went to the loo, as you do and also bought a bucket of hot chips and some dim sims. Service was very friendly and pleasant.

Found Devils Marbles campground and picked a spot. Only about 50 other vans there for the night! One of our neighbours, John and Gaynor from Busselton gave us lots of good info about various places as they were going the other way. John also provided an astronomy lesson pointing out various stars and planets. Once again the Milky Way was stunningly beautiful. After tea (chops, sausages & veggies) a dingo was roaming around looking for scraps. Apparently they will steal your shoes if you leave them outside. We tried to take a photo but were mostly unsuccessful.

For the mandatory sunset photos, it was difficult to get a wider shot without people in it. There where people climbing over anything that looked like a rock. The facilities of the campground where pretty primitive and under- supplied. Three pit toilets of which one was out of action isn't sufficient for the number of campers. A quick calculation of the fees, assuming everyone pays, whoever runs the facilty would collect a tidy sum over the holiday season.

Strongmen Good for climbing
Devils Marbles Marbles and tree Dingo (headless variety)

DAY 18 - Devils Marbles to Daly Waters (506 kms)

A few more pictures of the marbles at sunrise to start the day for Nige. Was surprised at the number of people sitting on the rocks yet again. Glenda wrote some more postcards and readied breakfast for everyone. We were close to last to leave at around 10am, our excuse having a wannabe photographer in our party. Stopped in Tennant Creek to post postcards and had lunch out of town a bit at the Battery Hill. Didn't go in as we still had a long way to go. Filled up the car with petrol and bought some hot chips to continue the 'hot chip' survey.

Sunrise split like an egg

Once at Daly Waters we waited about 20 minutes trying to get someone's attention in the pub to book a campsite. Finally got that arranged but the $19.90 Barra or Beef deals were full up until the 8pm sitting which was too late for us. You could still order from the menu so we ordered up a platter meant for two which we supplemented with a salad and plate of chips. The platter consisted of barra bites, satay sticks, meat balls, potato wedges, mini spring rolls and damper bread. Was very tasty and we polished the lot off, washed down with a few drinks. A man started singing including a very humorous ditty about caravaners. He had a captive audience. The campgrounds are out the back/side of the pub and the amenities reflect the camping fee. $5 an adult gets you some dirt (some had a little grass) and a few shower/toilet units that look like work site sheds.
Daly Waters pub Reception in the pub

DAY 19 - Daly Waters to Mataranka (213 kms)

Was all hands on deck for a 8:35am getaway, a record for us. Starting to see a lot more termite mounds now, some are quite large. Checked into Mataranka Homestead and caught the 11am tour around the grounds guided by the owner. She explained about the 2006 flood which photo's showed just how high it was, showed us around the replica homestead used in the film "We of The Never Never" and explained various other aspects of items around the park. She also had a baby Wallaby which a lady got to feed while walking around. Afterwards the boys got to pat it and Glenda got a hold too. Had some lunch and headed down to Tudor Manor caravan park to see the Baramundi feeding. This was a little different to what we expected. They had 6 baramundi in a pond and the owner got in the water on a submerged platform and tried to entice the fish with small bits of cut up fish but they weren't really interested. However, we did get to see them up close. Back at the caravan park we went for a swim in the hot springs. Around the camp we had peacocks and wallabies ambling around.

Wallaby joey at Mataranka Homestead Fish feeding at Tudor Manor Hot springs at Mataranka Wallaby at Mataranka

DAY 20 - Mataranka to Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge (146 kms)

Another slow morning getting ready to go. Whilst packing up Nige got talking to our neighbours (again) getting info for places further in our travels. Ended up leaving at 9:30am. Once in Katherine we tried to find an electrician as overnight our power had gone out again. Of the 4 numbers we obtained from the Visitors Centre only one answered and they couldn't do anything today (Friday) and don't work weekends at all. We must have been given a fax number for one firm and after deciding we'd have to wait till Darwin to get someone to look into it, we spotted a sign for the business and made a u-turn to get back to the street. Bill at Benash Electrial finished his chicko roll whilst asking questions about the problem, then came out and checked what he could. He pulled apart the input connection and deemed that fine, which was good cause Nige had already done that. After testing power points and the circuit breaker he determined that the only thing he could find that might have been loose was the connections to the circuit breaker, and even then he couldn't say that it was the problem. Writing this a few days later, we've had several nights on powered sites where the power hasn't gone out, so he might have fixed it. We might have to wait until we get back to colder nights before finding out for sure. Either way, a big thanks to Bill for dropping everything (well he did finish the Chicko!) and helping us out.

We drove out to Nitmiluk Gorge camping grounds and paid for two nights on a powered site. Performed the set-up routine and went over to the visitors centre and booked a 2hr cruise up the gorge. This takes in the first 2 or 13 gorges, with a small walk required to get from gorge one to two. For the afternoon we lazed around, Glenda did lots of washing and we cooked the magical ('magical' because the boys eat it) chicken fried rice. No scenery photos today, so a couple of the birds around the campgrounds. The wallabies also arrived later but no pics of them this time.

Bird #1 Bird #2 Bird #3

on to UPDATE 4 - Days 21 to 27