DAY 5 - Coober Pedy to Erldunda Roadhouse (482 kms)

Nigel did early morning shop as the shops got there supplies overnight and were open early. Brendan and Corey played on the playground while Glenda readied camper for travel. Saw lots of eagles munching on dead kangaroos. One had been hit, obviously too busy eating to move. Stopped at Marla for lunch and ice-creams. Chatted to fellow caravaners who had come along the Oodnadatta track where it had been -6 overnight. Next stop was the Northern Territory border where we took the usual photos standing in front of the sign. Nothing fancy for tea this time, a variety of noodles and pasta from packets.

Opal mining Eagle taking flight Crossing into the Northern Territory

DAY 6 - Erldunda Roadhouse to Yalara (291 kms incl sunset viewing of Uluru)

Short run today out to Yalara, the town near Uluru. Quite cold overnight with 2.5 celsuis registering on the thermometer. Tried to trick Corey with another "There's Uluru" when we sighted Mt Connor but he's a bit wary of the numerous lumps of earth that 'could' be Uluru. Stopped and took some photos then continued to the real Uluru. Glenda spotted it but the road runs between what are probably sand dunes under the vegetation and it took awhile before Corey got to see it for real. He was very excited. We booked into the Ayers Rock Resort campgrounds and set up camp. Some household tasks of washing and making lunch were completed before heading out to the sunset viewing area. Drove around to the area where you can climb to access if the boys can have a go. It did look steep but they shot up the first few meters with ease. We then returned to the sunset viewing area to join the crowds to experience sunset at the rock. The moon was rising over Uluru which added to the spectacle. Afterwards we went back to camp for tea.

Mt Connor Uluru with campervans to show size Moon over Uluru
Early stage of sunset Shadows approaching Twilight

DAY 7 - Uluru Climb (40 kms)

Nigel got up early to take some sunrise photos while everyone else slept in. After breakfast we drove out to Uluru to attempt the climb. We tied Corey to Mum and Brendan to Dad using some webbing we brought along for the purpose. Up the chain we went, stopping a few times to catch our breath. Corey was leading the way and setting a cracking pace. Once to the top of the chained section we had a dotted line to follow. Along the way there were some magnificent views and rock formations. It took us 1 1/4hrs to make the ascent, we then enjoyed an apple and rest for 3/4hr before taking 3/4hr to descend. We decided going up test your heart and lungs, coming down tests your legs and footwear. We were glad we'd hunted around for some decent walking shoes for all of us. We enjoyed the adventure.

Corey and Glenda making their way up the chain Brendan and Nige making their way up the chain Following white line
The Olgas from Uluru Views on the walk up Uluru On Uluru with The Olgas in the background

Back at camp we made lunch, Nige did some shopping while Glenda cut the boys hair. Nige headed off for more sunset photos while Glenda made tea, beef casserole with boiled rice. The rightmost picture was taken by moonlight. 30 seconds @ f4 for the photo buffs.

another Uluru shot another moon and Uluru pic Uluru by moonlight

DAY 8 - Kata Tjuta (The Olga's) (130 kms)

Today was a drive out to Kata Tjuta, otherwise known as The Olga's. Or should that be the other way round? One thing I can say is we don't know how to pronounce Kata Tjuta, and the boys call them "The Ogres" (after Shriek) anyway. Stopped of at the sunrise viewing area for photos even though we were a fair way behind sunrise. First real need for fly nets and have added them to our shopping list. Next stop was the "Valley of the Winds" walk where we strolled to the first lookout and then a bit further to the junction of the loop section. We had lunch on a seat under a shady tree.

Kata Tjuta (The Olga's) mid morning

first lookout, Karu walking along track Lunch under shady tree

DAY 9 - Yalara to Kings Canyon Resort (300 kms)

Left Yalara after stocking up with some provisions. First stop for the morning was the Mt Connor lookout for a toilet stop. Good value for money from that one! A little later stopped to gather firewood. Kings Canyon Resort is the nearest campground to Kings Canyon and so is fairly busy. They only had unpowered sites available so we signed up for two nights and selected a somewhat grassy site. Played footy with some other campers, Mark and his dad Peter (who we catch up with later). More sunset photos, this time it's the George Gill Ranges and then back to the camper for tea of fried battered fish and the usual veggies. Sweets were pancakes followed by oranges.

Lunch stop George Gill Ranges

DAY 10 - Kings Canyon Rim Walk (20 kms)

Arrived at Kings Canyon for 9:30am start to the rim walk. Glenda and I both had colds so found the initial climb of about 500 steps a bit harder than we would have otherwise. We had to ask the boys to wait for us a couple of times. One thing we have observed on some of these activities is the attitude some people take in regard to water. There are warnings in all the brochures and some signs at the sites about taking enough water with you but so often you see people with none or maybe a single bottle between two.

Around the walk we took our time making many stops for photo opportunities. The 'canyon' is an impressive sight. We had lunch in a shady area created by a rock outcrop. As we'd taken the 1st half of the journey fairly slowly we decided not to make the 600m side track to the Garden of Eden waterhole but it looked quite nice from above. We pushed on and completed the walk in about 3 & 3/4 hours. Back at the campgrounds we had a lazy afternoon before a meal of chicken schnitzel with gravy and veggies. The promise of an ice cream if tea was finished before the time the shop shut saw Corey eat his in record time. Also tried to buy a Mereenie Loop pass but was informed can only buy them on the day of travel.

The climb One of the postcard shots Canyon wall

DAY 11 - Kings Canyon Resort to Glen Helen Resort (234 kms)

Woken at approx 5:30am by howling dingos. Reminded us of our little mutts that can howl similar at times. After breaky went and purchased some supplies and the Mereenie Loop pass. Didn't buy a kangaroo tail ($5) that was available at the roadhouse. Left at 9:45am and started on the Merennie Loop. The first 20kms was rather rough and corrugated. We stopped to install our stone guard, some shade cloth strung between car and camper. Appeared to work very well except the rear section in the middle must have been flapping up and down enough to hit the road and wear through. Will need to fashion repairs before the Gibb River Road. Drove into Gooses Bluff which tested out the 4WD capability of camper.

We found the Mereenie Loop road to be over-rated, the brochure stated the beauty of the area but there was nowhere to stop off the road and admire the scenery. Some parts of the road had been recently graded and where quite smooth, other sections especially that first 20kms were pretty rough, both corrugations and rocks. A road crew where working on one section and we were escorted though by a ute. They had just watered the road and both car and camper ended up covered in red mud. One bottle of chilli sauce managed to have it's lid unscrew and made a bit of a mess in the fridge. Since we had no flat tyres we were happy.

We pulled into Glen Helen Resort (not sure why they decided to call it this, it could hardly be described as such truthfully however it was fine) and set up camp. Went for a walk to the waterhole and admired the scenery. Tea was chicken fried rice cooked in the electric frypan. Couldn't have been to bad as boys ate their servings completely, without complaint and in record time. Sweets was oranges.

The view behind Mereenie Loop road Glen Helen

DAY 12 - Glen Helen Resort to Alice Springs (189 kms)

A powerpoint blew up and all power to camper stopped. Decided to make our way into Alice Springs to see if we could find someone to fit a new one. On the way, we stopped at Ormiston Gorge and spent a while admiring the beauty of the gorge. The parking does not cater for cars with vans so we took up about 6 angle parking spots. Some others had done the same but it was a quiet day and we didn't inconvenience anyone. Down the road a bit further, we noticed some interesting rock formations, rows of skinny rocks with jagged edges which looked like a Stegasaurus, pity the dinosaur devote, Corey, was asleep at the time.

Next stop was Stanley Chasm. There were quite a few cars leaving on the road in so we thought we were going to be to late but although on the walk up to the chasm someone coming down offered Glenda the advice of "next time bring a torch as you've missed it" but we reckon we got the perfect viewing with all the crowds gone.

Waterhole at Ormistion Gorge Stanley Chasm side area near Stanley Chasm

Once in Alice Springs we ran around in search of the special power point the camper uses. Found a man in lighting shop who would fit it if we could get hold of one and he sent us off to a shop that might have one. Luckily they did, although only a double where our old one was a single, and he fitted it for $10. I could have fitted it myself but by law are not allowed to touch 240V electrical items. Since we now have a double power-point, we are calling it an upgrade as it is very handy to have a double in that location.

We made our way to the MacDonnell Range caravan park and checked in to the overflow area. For tea we went to a pub with Peter, Karen and son Mark who we'd met at Kings Canyon. They were camped just nearby and spotted us as we drove in to setup in the overflow area. Had a good feed and chat.

DAY 13 - Alice Springs to Chambers Pillar (171 kms)

During the night Glenda noticed the power had gone out again. After unsuccessfully trying to locate an electrician, a nearby caravanner suggested plugging in his lead and we had power back. As our power lead was too short to reach the powerbox we had borrowed one from the park. I had tried disconnecting and reconnecting these to no avail, yet when I re-plugged it back in after trying the known good one, it also burst back into life. More on this saga later.

After breakfast packed up camper and left it in the storage area. Went up to the main city centre to get some supplies and visit McDonalds for lunch. Next we found the road to Maryvale and started the long run on the corrugations out to Chambers Pillar. Stopped for a look at the Ewaninga rock carvings. Next stop was Maryvale station to ask advice on gathering some wood and buy the boys an ice-cream. 4 ice-creams and 2 drinks cost $17.80 which would have been ok if the backpacker manning the shop knew anything at all about the area, which she didn't. We stopped up the road a bit and gathered some wood for a fire. The final few kilometres into the camp grounds was a fairly narrow track with sand dunes that were hard to see over. We selected a site for our tent and erected it like we knew what we were doing! Went and took some photos then cooked tea. Free gas powered BBQs were provided but our BBQ plate wouldn't fit and we had to use our gas bottle. Toasted marshmallows under the clear night sky. The Milky Way was so bright.

Ewaninga rock carvings Chambers Pillar Chambers Pillar Chambers Pillar

DAY 14 - Chambers Pillar to Alice Springs and Rainbow Valley (344 kms)

Everyone had a cosey nights sleep in the tent, it was much warmer than we thought it would be. Nige went to take sunrise pictures while we slept in. We got up and were having breakfast when he returned. Packed up camp and went for a walk around Chambers Pillar and climbed the stairs to the platform. It was much higher than we initially thought. It was interesting to see the names of the original explorers engraved in the rock.

Engraved dates and names

Originally the plan was to take the Hugh River road across to the Stuart Highway and then go to the Henbury meteorite crater then return up the highway calling in at Rainbow Valley. However we decided it was too far and we'd like to get our camper setup before the caravan park decided to put us in the overflow area so we drove back into Alice Springs. Called Susie and Vic (Glenda's friend Louise's sister) to see if they'd like to join us in a drive out to Rainbow Valley.

Road out to Chambers Pillar VN Commodore 4 Saler

They went and picked up some hot roasted chickens and rolls for tea while we setup the camper at our new site. Left at 3pm and along the way decided to pickup some wood to have a campfire so we could toast some more marshmallows. Once we'd parked and determined some campers already there wouldn't mind us lighting a fire in the fireplace near them, we went for a walk to the featured rock outcrop and another called Mushroom Rock. Back at the camping/picnic area we had our tea and the kids played various games including football. The marshmallows got toasted then we packed up and headed back to Alice Springs.

Mushroom Rock Rainbow Valley

DAY 15 - Alice Springs (20 kms)

Was a cold morning (1C @ 7am) and we didn't want to get out of bed. Glenda did 4 loads of washing, all at once! It was pancake morning in the caravan park but by the time we got there the line was so long we decided to give it a miss. Went out to the Old Ghan Railway Museum but unfortunately the train wasn't running. Some government issue with a clearance needed to be issued before they could use the track. Had a look through the museum which was quite interesting. Was told the current Ghan was arriving from Adelaide at 12:20pm so we went up to Heavitree Gap to watch, but after waiting an hour and a half, it still hadn't appeared so we went back for lunch. Heard it go past about 3:15pm but were over it so didn't race down to catch a glimpse.

After lunch the kids played at the playground and on the jumping pillow. Caught up with Karen, Peter and Mark to hear how their last couple of days had gone. They had spotted a few black rock wallaby's so were happy. Went out for tea with Susie, Vic and kids. Most places were closed so we found ourselves in an Italian restaurant adjoining the appropriately named 'The Dust Bowl' bowling alley. All enjoyed their meals once we got them.

The Ghan One of dining carriages A wheel
The kids
Liam, Corey, Brendan, Harry & Georgia

DAY 16 - Alice Springs (31 kms)

Mornings getting colder... 0C @ 7am. A bit of an educational morning with visits to The School of the Air and The Royal Flying Doctors. Lunch of pies.. supposed to be beef but not so sure. Afterwards we hired a go-karts and trike at the caravan park and the kids rode/drove them around. Susie looked after our kids while we went and washed and vacuumed the car then did some shopping. We all had a BBQ for tea including salads and then strawberry pancakes with ice cream for sweets. Kids watched a video while we chatted outside. Karen, Peter & Mark called in to say goodbye as they were heading for home via the East MacDonnell Ranges. Lastly the boys went to bed while we cleaned up the camper ready for the next days travel.

The classroom Some of the pupils and locations
Dr Brendan Dr Corey
Georgia and Corey tearing up the roadway The race is on

on to UPDATE 3 - Days 17 to 20