AWOL Around Australia...

Rufant

Active member
G'day all, these are the trip reports from our ongoing wanderings around the Great Southern Land. We started this late last year. I'll post up the reports I've done up until now.

Cheers,


Anthony

https://rufant.com

https://www.instagram.com/rufant_adventures/


The Flinders Ranges.

South Australia.


In the four days since I got back from Melbourne after finishing work, there had been nothing but more work. I spent the first day giving the Land Cruiser an extra good going over, double checking all the usual stuff, plus trying to put a spanner on every nut and bolt I could see.

Day 2 was running errands getting the last bits and bobs together, then in the afternoon my mate Ashley had offered to do a pre trip inspection on the truck. Ashley is a Toyota trained mechanic who does nothing but work on 4x4’s, especially ones that actually get used properly, day in day out. He has been an invaluable source of help and advice in the preparation for this trip, and I was more than happy for another set of eyes to go over the Cruiser. Plus getting it onto a proper ramp, rather than just the axles stands I use at home.



So a clean bill of health from the Pro. Apart from one small modification (dropping the front anti-roll bar down a few mm) and changing out the Toyota front tie down points for a couple of properly rated recovery points.

These things kept me busy for Day 3.






Day 4 we packed the truck. The pack went really well, better than for the last big trip actually. Despite many details changes to our set up since then.






I could have easily spent Day 5 doing some practice with some of the new (and old) gear, but enough was enough, and it was a Thursday, a better day to leave than a Friday. So we packed in the last of our stuff, did our fresh food shopping, and after a minor false start when I realised I had forgotten the Parang. Luckily we were only at Costco filling up with fuel at this point so it was only a minor detour. So, the road we hit.

Now, it should be noted at this point, with all the busyness in the lead up I had really given much thought to as where we were going. I mean I knew where we were headingbut hadn’t really thought what we would do, or where we would go on the way. As it turns out this was actually a good thing, as this is pretty much how we plan to travel, and even though I have been up this way many times before this was a bit different. For starters we were leaving at midday, as opposed to our normal early start - where I would normally try and knock over a big chunk of the driving in one day to get to our destination - which we didn’t really have this time, or any need to rush anywhere. So we just drove, heading north, the scenic way up through the Clare Valley. The farmers canola and wheat fields making a vibrant patchwork of the land.

Ah yes, we seem to be on the right track.








Figuring we’ll just see where we are as it gets close to time to think about a camp, and see what’s around. So that’s what we did, we just happened to stumble upon a hidden jewel of a campsite for the first night. I took this as a good sign!








This was the first time trialling our new UCO fire-pit, made in the US. Just big enough to cook for two, I'll get better with a few more goes.

Portuguese marinated chicken, thanks Aldi!

We sat up with the fire for a bit, it was properly cold. Once again marvelling at a clear night sky away from the light pollution of the towns and cities. It was good to be back in the bush.


Thanks for reading. More to follow.

Cheers.

https://rufant.com

https://www.instagram.com/rufant_adventures/
 
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Rufant

Active member
The Flinders Ranges.

South Australia.

Good morning!



Actual frost on the ground greeted us the next morning, frost! Australia, this is not what I signed up for...

May as well put the camera to work then...





This is an almost permanent water hole.








Feeling like we were pretty rusty campers (which as it has been a full year since we did this is, it is only to be expected really) we eventually got packed up and got going. Of course I took the road less traveled, up through lonely, empty arid country. It reminded me of the film No Country For Old Men, a good watch if you like that sort of thing.





Eventually after feeling like we had opened and closed about a hundred farm gates, we hit the bitumen highway and barrelled the last few km into the town of Hawker, the gateway to the middle part of the Flinders Ranges, many, many times have I stopped at this town. From here we took the scenic Moralana drive. A couple of snaps from that.





After not seeing any other 4x4 tourers until now, we could now see this was peak touring season for this part of the world. Spring, still cold enough at night, but warm and sunny with clear skies during the day.

The plan was to now head up the highway to Parachilna, then head due east on the road to Blinman. I had camped along this road before, when doing the Public Access Routes in the area, back in 2014.

https://overland.kinja.com/akraroola-an-ancient-wilderness-1723047430

https://overland.kinja.com/arkaroola-an-ancient-wilderness-1723062290

That night I was the only camper on the road and I wouldn’t see another 4x4 till I was virtually at Arkaroola late the next day. Back in the present, there were probably 30 campers along the road this time, some caravans looked like they were planning to be there a while (satellite dish (?) all set up and everything). So right then we knew it would just be a quick and dirty one-nighter for us, this isn’t our bag.

OzTent set up in minimal mode, dinner cooked off the tailgate, meant we were up and gone quickly the next morning.



Rusty campers no more!

More frost!

Into the town of Blinman, you could see the difference four years of more tourers coming through had made. New facilities, a new cafe, etc, was all good news for this Outback town. I’ve softened in my disillusionment of the increase in popularity of 4x4 touring and travelling. You realise that the places you used to have to yourselves are now well known and easy to find. However, with more experience you get better at finding the yet to be discovered spots.So just deal with it and up your game. Anything with a name or getting featured in the media is going to be busy, but Australia is a big place, with not a lot of people. Still plenty to be discovered, as you will see.





Good to see crazy Land Rover man still lives in Blinman, and is still Land Rover crazy.

So I was still planning on the fly. I wanted to see the volcanic hot spring on the Arkaroola property, so we headed out that way. Funnily enough retracing the route I had taken back in 2014, in my first proper Outback trip in this truck, our Toyota Land Cruiser 105.




Views along the way.





It’s a straightforward drive, but you have to concentrate. There are sharp angular rocks from the size of a grapefruit up to the size of a melon regularly in the road, just waiting to ruin your day. In a slow section on the way to Chambers Gorge we passed a Nissan Navara with 3 elderly ladies in it, good on them. I hope one of their family bought them a sat phone, just in case though...

https://rufant.com

https://www.instagram.com/rufant_adventures/
 
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Rufant

Active member
The Flinders Ranges:

Chambers Gorge is a mighty slab of cliff, that you used to be able to drive right into. The 4x4 access has now been stopped and you have to walk from the car park like everyone else. I guess this is the problem with increased numbers of people coming through, more people means more dickheads unfortunately. It only takes one to drive into the gorge, light a fire, smash a few beer bottles and that’s it. No more driving in, I guess be thankful it’s still accessible at all, being on private land. I don’t know if that’s what happened but you see similar evidence all over the place, what is it with breaking bottles anyway? /rant

Chambers Gorge was good to visit but hard to photograph.









Even to the untrained eye, the creek bed was a geological smorgasbord.

Introduced goats and native kangaroo share a drink.




We pushed onto Arkaroola, that, plus the adjacent Vulkathunha/Gammon Ranges (Indigenous name/White fella name) National Park is a stunning area for many reasons and worth a visit all on its own. Last time I was here I was one of only a handful staying at Arkaroola, the guy (English backpackers) who cooked (and served) me dinner every night got chatting and he explained that at times the 100-odd seat restaurant would be full it was so busy. Hard to imagine back then, but let’s just say Arkaroola was pumping this time.

https://www.arkaroola.com.au

The road into Arkaroola.



I (outback SA) modified some friends stickers. Much more authentic!



4x4’s, caravans, grey nomads everywhere. Hurried and hassled staff, it was a different kettle of fish this time round. I asked if the hot springs track was open and what was the approximate return time - as I had been thinking of doing that track and staying here tonight - about 3 hours was the reply, but not worth it as present. The springs were in poor condition with barely any water in them, and the track was rough. Part of me was saying ‘well I’ll just go and have a look for myself and I’ll be the judge of if it was worth it...’ but part of traveling together means you’ve got to consider the other person. If the staff are saying it’s not worth it, then it’s probably not worth it - I also remembered reading something online to that effect too. Plus I wasn’t feeling it, staying here when it was this busy.
So we topped off the sub-tank with fuel (not before handing over your credit card, as there had been some drive offs, very disappointing somewhere as remote as here - more people, more dickheads), and bought some crackers as we were out of bread (it seems they are called crackers as they are literally like crack (cocaine), evidenced by N pretty much finishing off the box of ‘chicken crimpy’ that lunchtime).


Heading back to the main road, we took the road that skirted around the eastern side of the of the range, soon into some of the most dry and desolate plains we’ve travelled through. So featureless was the road we actually put on some music for the first time this trip.



Although some trees put on a good show.








Eventually we skirted back round to the very tip of the range, from a distance you can literally see the mountains petering out into the flat plains. Here we swung left, due west.

This is the northern tip of this part of the Flinders. Apparently this part of the ranges is significantly older than those to the south. I suppose it's worth mentioning that a whole new period in the history of the earth had to be written due to the fossils found in these ranges... Boggles the mind.

On a more minor track than we had been on. I even triggered the ABS on the Cruiser braking down into a steep gully, time to switch from high speed dirt road mode to a bit more slowly and carefully mode. Right, it was time to find a campsite.

Again, the exploring gods were smiling on us. A beautiful dry creek bed leading to an impressive gorge, with a single water hole in it. From which on our arrival we probably disturbed about 100 kangaroos, amazing. I also nearly got the Land Cruiser stuck, so soft and silty was the creek bed. Low range just about pulled us out. Since leaving the Arkaroola turn off, we hadn’t seen another vehicle. It didn’t take too much thought to decide that this would be our home for the next two nights.




https://rufant.com

https://www.instagram.com/rufant_adventures/
 
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Rufant

Active member
The Flinders Ranges. South Australia.



So as we were going to be here a couple of nights, it made sense to set up more of a camp. In the run up to leaving I fielded a lot of questions about what our set up was, what were we towing (?), etc. We obviously don’t tow anything, it’s just too restrictive with the type of touring and exploring we like to do. Plus, there are only two of us, and the Land Cruiser is a big beast, especially with both sets of rear seats out, it swallows our gear with ease, whilst still being under its GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass).

So this is pretty much our 'more than one night' set up. OzTent with the awning enclosed and then opened so you have a mesh ‘room’ to keep the flies out that invariably occur in many parts of this country during the middle of the day. Solar panels run the fridge plus charge our devices.







Shower tent, is just a cheapy as the shower itself is a new addition. In the trip we did last year we felt this was the main thing we were lacking for being able to camp comfortably in the bush for longer periods. Our friends in the US managed to source us one and send it over, as this model is not readily available here.







Thanks to these guys.

https://www.dirtsunrise.com

Anyway, so we both took our first shower in the bush and it was great. We spent the day chilling out. I climbed up the hill, took some wildlife photos and gathered some dead wood to make a fire.

Looking back towards our camp and uptake creek bed.




I tried a few times to sneak up on the kangaroos at the waterhole, with mixed results...



















The trees catching the setting sun.









That night we had marinated pork (thanks Aldi! again) cooked again over coals. Delicious, it was.







https://rufant.com

https://www.instagram.com/rufant_adventures/
 

Rufant

Active member
The Flinders Ranges. South Australia.

With the next day it was time to move on. The track out was slow going, maybe averaging 30km/h for the first hour, as it wound its way through the arid, harsh, yet beautiful country.





White man taking over the land didn't work out so well for this poor bugger.






This plant, known as the Emu Bush, used by the Aboriginal people for various medicinal purposes. If the flowers are yellow/pink, as here, then the plant has been pollinated by a bird. Whereas if the flowers are white, and purple and blue, then it has been pollinated by an insect. Nature! Great!


Outback traffic jam.





We passed by these ruins.











Eventually the road became more of a main dirt road (at the point where the road to the Talc Mine joins, no coincidence) and so we picked up the pace, joining the end of the Strzelecki Track. Rejoining ‘civilisation’ at Lyndhurst. Now, these Outback country ‘towns’ can be a bit of pot luck. They can all look the same on the map, same size, level of services, etc. However in reality, some are, whilst maybe not exactly a bustling metropolis, at least a going concern. Lyndhurst was one of the other ones, barely any sign of life and despite advertising ‘7 day a week fuel’ the fuel station was definitely shut, didn’t look like it had been open in the last 7 days either. No matter, this is the beauty of the long range tanks, and also filling up where you can if in doubt. We still had plenty of fuel, we would just punch on to Marree, and see what the next town had to offer.

Plenty as it turned out, also a pub, that served lunches and it was lunch time. Sweet!







Always nice to have a meal cooked by someone else. Plus we also had phone and internet service for the first time in 5 days (thanks Optus! and to think I almost cashed out for Telstra with their totally uncompetitive plans because they have ‘the best’ coverage. National provider? What a joke... /rant - again, I’m getting old). So we spent out lunch doing boring and less boring ‘normal life’ stuff, then stocked and fuelled up at the store and pushed on. We were now on the Oodnadatta Track, on of SA’s famous Outback roads.

Outback South Australia, open for business!
 
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Rufant

Active member
Oodanatta Track, South Australia.


Life on Mars.

Now, I didn’t set out to do this track. I’m not the sort of guy who goes round ticking off all the well known routes. No bother if that’s your bag, but it’s not mine.

Anyway it was this or the main highway, so let’s do this.

A quick stop at the Ochre Pits gave us a glimpse into the alien landscapes we could expect coming up.

Ochre was an important commodity for the Aboriginal people.



Back on the track. Boy it’s rough though, and busy. Almost everyone towing, camper trailers and caravans. Lots of corrugations, that’ll be the traffic then. About 90km/h seems to be the most comfortable speed, faster than I would like but it is what it is.

Of course being in the middle of the Outback the first thing we stop at is an art installation... We didn’t do the whole thing as it was quite warm and also pretty windy at this point. The planes seemed the best thing - trucked to nearby Port Augusta from Melbourne for free by the relative rail companies - good on them.



Next we got views of the southern end of Lake Eyre.



Now, call us shallow... but we feel like we've seen the best salt lake there is to see, Lake Gairdner. Which we saw last year on our Best Western trip, you can drive right to the edge and it's an ethereal white plain, with a crust like ice topped with water. Lake Eyre is a natural phenomenon no doubt, especially in flood, but this was a close as we got.



Then next, what is this?



Mound Springs! Not something I have ever seen in person but something that has fascinated me ever since I saw them on Ray Mears Goes Walkabout - a documentary partly about John Mcdougall Stuart’s expedition up through South Australia. These springs bubble up fresh water seemingly from nowhere, in the middle of some of the most arid and desolate country one could imagine. N says it’s only myself and the aforementioned R.Mears who get this excited about these, but so be it. I think they are a natural wonder, and rank pretty highly on my list.







Easy to see the lushness around the mound spring, and the desert country around it.
These were part of the Wabma Kadarbu conservation park, tomorrow we would find more.

That night we paid for our first night's camping so far, a whopping $12.50 per person at the excellent Coward Springs. Sounds like nothing, but we were trying to cut down paying for camping every night, very easy to do in Australia.



Coward Springs was absolutely worth every cent. Good camping, how showers - heated by a wood burner, so even too hot for my lovely lady who literally cannot have a shower too hot...











Also a bore sunk into the same water from the Great Artesian Basin that feeds the mound springs, which after my run the next morning I took a dunk in, to refresh my body and also my running clothes.







I cut off my stupid floppy hair too.


A small part of the Land Rover club was here. I stopped for a quick chat, they were off to meet some 'cobbers' at Coober Pedy. Good too see the Land Rover community is still going strong, if ageing somewhat.
 
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Rufant

Active member
I notice in my morning check over of the truck, that the ageing ARB rear dampers have breathed out a little oil yesterday. Nothing major just a dust covered vapour on each one. I wipe them clean so I can see if they do it again, take 5psi out of the rear tyres and decide to keep my speed below 80km/h for the rest of the track.

We hit the road again, and after consulting the excellent ‘String of Springs’ guide which we had luckily downloaded at Marree yesterday lunch, meant I was headed for Stangeways Springs.

All along this track are remenants of firstly the Telegraph Line, that was to connect Adelaide to Darwin, and Australia to the rest of the world. Then also the first ‘Ghan’ train line. Named after the Afghan Cameliers, that blazed the trail. Now leading to Australia having the biggest population of feral camels anywhere in the world.

So Strangeway Springs was originally a community to serve the telegraph line, based particularly here due to the large amount to mound springs. In fact most of the original communities along this track were based around these water sources. This is how the indigenous people used to traverse this land, whilst not being the most direct route it was the inly one that you could take and survive. Then using the same springs was how the early white explorers made it through this country too, sustainably at least. So when it was time to put in the telegraph line and then the railway these also followed these ancient trails. Until telegraph was replaced with more modern technology, and the railway was moved further west. Why move such a large engineering undertaking? Too much damage from flooding in this region, beggars belief travelling through here now.

I take a wander around the spectacular mound springs.











Also, I photographed what I think are four different types of Samphire. A mostly coastal, edible plant. Boring? Well it's my post...



















Oh, and there were some piles of rubble there too.



Each to their own, but give me natural wonder over human history any day of the week.

On through William Creek, another nothing town. I notice fuel is $2.20 here, again I’m glad for the extended range of the Long Ranger sub tank, that thing must have paid for itself by now.

The track itself is just no fun for driving. Almost every surface is rough and requires concentration, but not in a good way. Also the vast majority of the scenery is pretty desolate.

Something not right with this caravan... Oh, I got it, it's upside down.

Eventually we peel off again to another side track, for some lunch and some more ruins. This was Peake Telegraph station, once quite a little community it would seem.





The next thing that grabs our attention is a massive old railway bridge.



We dive up for a look. Did we make it across?











I jest, of course. Australia is much too highly regulated for any sort of shenanigans.


Although someone did try it once, when the river below was flooded. Shame they didn’t check their timetable, as the train came right along a smashed their car off the end of the bridge, the wreck is still there to prove it.









There was a small rocky hill to drive up, leading to some good views from the top.







This bridge spanned the Neales River, which at this time the only water that seems to exist is at the Algebuckina Waterhole, again fed by the Great Artesian Basin. Containing its own species of fish, plants and crustaceans.

Hmmm clouds. Not what I was expecting...
 
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Rufant

Active member
This was another great bush camp, only let down by signs of other campers not managing to tidy up after themselves. Unfortunately only to be expected on, these ‘name’ tracks.

I check the rear shocks. One is bone dry, about a thumb-print sized leak out of the other. Good, those changes seem to have worked.

As I’m cooking dinner that night, I can see some serious weather rolling in. ‘Fancy’ dinner plans are scaled back to something more basic and we get everything as ready to leave as we can just in case.

It’s still and calm when we go to bed, but by about midnight some serious gale force winds have hit us, plus some fork lightning just for fun. I get up to collapse and roll up the awning, and add some extra guy ropes, to help the old girl survive the wind. We are somewhat sheltered behind a healthily looking young tree and some rushes, just as well all that water is there!

I take the time to have a good look round to see if I can see any fires on the horizon. The country is tinder dry and with winds like this things can get bad, real fast.

I formulate a couple of emergency plans in my head just in case. That hill we drove up yesterday is not far away if we need a better view.

Eventually the winds die down and a small amount of rain falls, making me feel better. We get a small amount of broken sleep, and get up to a still morning as if nothing had happened.



OzTent looking a little dishevelled...

We break camp and push on to Oodnadatta township. Take a quick photo of the truck outside the famous pink roadhouse (which has all sorts of supplies and information inside), get them to make us a quick breakfast and then press on.





After last nights drama and a few days of rough driving we are both ready to get back on the bitumen for a break. With just over 200km to Marla to go.

This section is the roughest yet though. Usual corrugations, potholes and rocks to dodge. Plus also big daddy corrugations, not the sort you can buzz along on top of, but the sort that your whole wheel drops into. The truck is taking a pounding. After about 80km we find a dry creek to pull into. Time to let everything cool off and check those rear dampers. Hmmm, not good.

The ‘better’ one has a proper oil leak. The other has just haemorrhaged all its oil. I was expecting it to be red hot, no so. It was still working fine, but whatever was holding in the oil has quit. Luckily I have one spare. A good mate who works on Cruisers all day long managed to grab me a useable rear spare. I wasn’t expecting to need it so soon, but I’m bloody glad I had it. Thanks Ash!



Oh dear.
This is the oil from the shock all over the rear of thewheelarch.
Not pretty, but it works.
Roll on!

It should be noted that it was entirely my decision not to change these before this trip. I had taken them off the truck and despite them looking pretty average, the action felt good. I thought they would go a bit further before replacement, I was wrong, but that’s easier to take than someone else getting it wrong.

We drove on more slowly. At times I was driving up the wrong side of the road for miles at a time. The southbound track was considerably less rough, probably due to less traffic. Luckily you can literally see the track ahead for miles at a time, and any oncoming vehicle is signalled by its dust cloud long before you see the actual car.

I stopped three more times to check the dampers. All good, the used spare was fine and the other one wasn’t getting any worse. With no spare I think we would have been limited to about 30km/h or around 4 hours out, so the 70km/h we were doing was a blessing. Not to mention what other damage might have been done if that shock had seized and snapped.

We arrived at Marla with no further drama. Time for some lunch and then just an easy drive north on the highway. The Northern Territory awaited...

https://rufant.com

https://www.instagram.com/rufant_adventures/
 
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Rufant

Active member
Thanks.

Not sure on the shocks, they came with the vehicle when I bought it about 4 years ago. I would say at least double that, as they were the 'made in Australia' ones, pretty sure they don't make them here anymore.
 

Saint Nick

Active member
Thanks.

Not sure on the shocks, they came with the vehicle when I bought it about 4 years ago. I would say at least double that, as they were the 'made in Australia' ones, pretty sure they don't make them here anymore.
Great shocks and IMHO well worth the money.

Nick
 

RND1

Observer
Great write up and pics - I'll be following along your journey. As you know, we don't get the 105 here in the states and we hate you guys for that :) But, I love my Hundy. I've never seen that color on an LC before but it looks great. It might have been available on the LX470 at some point. Is your rig petrol or diesel? How's it been holding up other than the shocks?
 

Rufant

Active member
Great shocks and IMHO well worth the money.

Nick
Agreed. I really liked the way the truck drove on the ARB set up. I would have just replaced like with like if I could...

It now sports Ridepro shocks and springs all round, which drive very similar to the ARB. I now also have 4 spare shocks strapped to the chassis underneath, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll get some more posts up so you can see what happened.
 

Rufant

Active member
Great write up and pics - I'll be following along your journey. As you know, we don't get the 105 here in the states and we hate you guys for that :) But, I love my Hundy. I've never seen that color on an LC before but it looks great. It might have been available on the LX470 at some point. Is your rig petrol or diesel? How's it been holding up other than the shocks?
Thanks, glad you're enjoying it.

Yeah, I know you guys never got this model, plenty of people mention that! The 100 Series is a better vehicle in many ways, and Toyota did a great job with the IFS on it, imo. However, I love solid axle/coil spring combo.

The colour is a 50th anniversary special, and makes a nice change from 'UN spec' white, which is super common on 105's over here.

Mine is petrol. As you might be aware Toyota never teamed up the turbo diesel 100 series engine with the 105 chassis, causing much outcry form the 4x4 crowd in Oz at the time. So you either get NA diesel which puts out a mighty 130hp. Or you go petrol, and put up with mildly ruinous fuel consumption.

However the petrol cars tend to be better looked after, and as a fast car guy most of my life I have loads more experience with spark ignition.

The ultimate combo is the 100 series turbo diesel (1HD-FTE) and the 105 chassis. I think about doing that a lot, but it's roughly the same price as buying a 100 series TD...
 

Rufant

Active member
The Red Centre.



“I can’t believe it’s the same truck, it’s so quiet!” said N, after we hit the bitumen for the first time in six days. Meanwhile in the drivers seat, the tiredness of not just this morning's endeavours, but also the storm last night, meant the easy driving was sending me to sleep. We popped on some music and cruised away the miles, crossing the boarder into the NT and soon arriving at Kulgera roadhouse/pub/campground. This was going to be our stop for the night as the light was fading, plus it had a bar...

Not the most idyllic setting, but they can’t all be like that.



Anyway it had its own Territory charm.

















We were up early, I was keen to get to Alice in good time. As I knew we would be paying for camping there and wanted to make the most of doing that. Plus, there were those wonky rear shocks to fix.

So that was first order of business in Alice Springs. We found ARB, I confused the assistant by referring to our truck as a ‘105 series Land Cruiser’ which is Toyota’s and general industry naming for the solid front axle version of the 100 series. Slightly surprised he didn’t get this, I converted to ARB speak for him - rear shocks for a solid axle 100 series. Not that is mattered anyway, they didn’t have any in stock, and Monday would be the earliest they could get here. Again I was slightly surprised at this, as this is still a pretty popular vehicle. Anyway, I popped back down the road to TJM, who had them on the shelf. A quick call to Ashley to let him know I wouldn’t need any sent up, these will do for now and we can sort the suspension properly when I get back the Adelaide.

We booked into a campsite for two nights. Did a small restock of supplies, and while N tackled our considerable washing from the last week. I bolted in the new rear shocks.


Red dust sticking to everywhere the old shock oil had vomited out. Plus GOLD! these have to be good!

A lazy day was in order the next day. We had a wander round Alice Springs, it didn’t feel significantly different a town to what it did last time we were here, 19 years ago. Then just lazing around the campsite, catching up on emails, internetting, exercise, writing the journal, etc.


Right Central Australia, let’s see what you’ve got! Our new neighbour who had pulled in yesterday in a late model Y61 Nissan Patrol, towing a camper trailer (then proceeded to set up a tent - as he was staying two nights, apparently he also has a swag if he’s staying just the one - all because the camper trailer takes two hours to set up...) and proceeded to reel off all the name tracks he had done (and was also slightly crestfallen when I said I wouldn’t rush back to doing the Oodnadatta Track), was also slightly surprised when I said we were heading east. Surely all the big attractions were to the west of Alice Springs? Anyway, that’s the difference, as to how we go about exploring. It’s definitely a generational thing in my opinion, the older folks seem to like ticking specific boxes. Also we just like finding things for ourselves, good or bad.

We headed north up the highway before heading east on the Plenty Highway, a single lane strip of bitumen with dirt run off each side. You come half on/half off for a car or another 4x4, Road Train? I suggest getting right off, and letting them have the bitumen.

A brief stop at Gem Tree caravan park - the place to stay if fossicking is your thing - we then soon hit the dirt to head south.

I air down for the first time this trip. You don't want too low tyre pressures on those rough outback roads with a heavy load, in my opinion.



This looked promising. The gate to adventure?



Several hours later of not particularly inspiring dirt road, I was wondering if maybe we should have headed west after all. The land we were passing through seemed to be either a station or an Aboriginal reserve, all clearly signposted that leaving the road or camping where you wanted to was not allowed. Also, I could see the impressively rising rocks of the East MacDonnell Ranges in the distance, we just didn’t seem to be getting any closer. We arrived at an approved camping ground on one of the stations. I didn’t particularly want to spend the night in an established camp you had to pay for, with other people. It was still early enough I decided to push on, hoping we could get out into less regulated bushland.

It was a gamble worth taking. We cleared the boundary of that station in less than an hour and then made it to the turn off for Ruby Gap, not in anyway difficult, but definitely more of a 4x4 Track than we had been on till this point.



The scenery started to come to us.



We passed one touring Hilux coming the other way but that was it. Eventually the shadows got long enough that I decided we should stop and camp while it was still light.



A Discovery 2 came past whilst I was making dinner, nice folk and we had a bit of a chat. They were driving back to Alice Springs that night! I wished them luck, it sounded like Ruby Gap would be worth the drive when we got there in the morning.

So not every meal I make is fancy. Tonight's quick and tasty supper was the ingredients you see here plus bread. I like this simple fare as much as any other food.



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After cleaning as much of the fesh fesh off the camping gear as possible (the choice was lumpy grass or bull dust, so I chose flat and dusty) we finished the rest of the track into Ruby Gap. This was the sort of landscapes I had come to the Red Centre for.

Blue, red, blue.








The 5km track in the nature park was definitely 4x4 only. Difficult? No, a bit soft in places and some rocks to negotiate. Slow? Most definitely.









 
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