Saturday, July 14, 2007

Uluru, the Olgas and further west

Enlarge the photo to see the line of people climbing Uluru (350m)

the beautiful Stuart Desert Pea

Our last view of the Olgas before turning off onto the Great Central Road, also called The Outback Highway. There is 1200 km of remote dirt road in front of us, often badly corrugated before we reach the bitumen just north of Kalgoorlie. Although the weather looks good, we carry food and water for 3 weeks and also take into account that one shower of rain could leave us stranded for a week or longer. An added problem is then that fuel trucks are not allowed to drive on a wet gravel road and thus cannot supply the road houses along the track and we would run out of fuel after 1000 km. We have an UHF radio with 5 km range, a HF radio( with a range of several thousands of kms) programmed with 6 different frequencies (incl. the Flying Doctor) and when everything goes really bad, we have an EPIRB, emergency beacon. If that also fails, we will be in real trouble and short of getting help from local Aboriginals, we would have to walk to the nearest community which could be 300 km or more.....

Docker River Store, just east of the WA border, is a typical Aboriginal settlement. We are sad that most of these settlements are full of car wrecks and damaged houses. Employment is a constant problem and most communities are "dry" to stop abuse of alcohol, drugs and gambling. Unleaded petrol is not available, BP has introduced an alternative fuel for petrol engines called OPAL, which cannot be sniffed.

Len Beadell is often called the last outback explorer; he surveyed and graded most of the outback tracks in WA, SA and the NT. Len was out there with his family for many years after World War II and many of these tracks have the names of his family members. He wrote 7 books. The grader in the picture is the one he used and is now parked near the Giles weather station; it carries the name of the Gunbarrel Construction Co, referring to the Gunbarrel Highway which was the only east-west road link across Central Australia stretching for 1600 km. Len and his team opened up a 2.5 million square km area which includes the Great Sandy, Gibson and the Great Victoria deserts. Later the Great Central Road was improved and became the main connection between Perth and Alice Springs.

Here are the remains of the first rocket launched in Australia; they were not quite sure where it had landed until months later it was discovered by accident about 50 km south of Giles..... good thing not too many people live around here!

The roads are endless but still interesting with different vegetation. Here are two pictures of improved sections. The typical red colour comes from the iron content in the rocks (in some areas this content is so high that you can actually arc-weld straight onto the rocks). Dust is an ever present passenger, although both car and trailer are not letting any in, even after a full day of dust clouds. Having lunch on the road (away from the bushes, less flies) is no problem: the chances of any cars coming is almost nil. We passed one car during a whole day of driving on this stretch. But if you meet another car, typically the driver will wave at you, either by a whole hand or just a finger.
Guess who had to climb the hill to take the picture; she was lucky not to meet any snakes......


Great trip!! Pretty brave to sit in the middle of the road for breakfast...would you move quick if somebody came or invite them for lunch. With all that dust, it is no surprise that you are selling the cruiser. talk to you soon!
Goed uitzicht, zo midden op de weg.
Hoef je niet bang te zijn dat je een slang over het hoofd ziet!
Wie heeft die houten bank zo knap gemaakt?
Zat je lekker, Annelies?
Je ziet er goed uit!
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