Friday, July 29, 2011


At last we travelled on some easier roads and arrived in Warburton soon after 11.00am. We booked into the Camping Park attached to the Roadhouse. It was great to use the washing machine and let all blow dry on the line.We were able to re-stock our food supplies from the store. We will be away from 'shops' for a week as we travel down to Cocklebiddy.We visited the local Cultural Centre and Art Gallery. The Aboriginal Art on display was most impressive..even some felted works and some lovely glass platters. The weather is still very warm..hopefully no rain!!

It would be great to receive some comments from those who are following our Safari.

Gunbarrel to Heather Highway

Thursday July 28th

Geoff & John pumping water
A day of rough and very rough roads as we progressed along the Gunbarrel Highway and then onto the Heather Highway. The flowers and hilly terrain were pretty and worth photographing. We stopped to inspect stwo memorials to Len Beadell who initially surveyed these roads. We came by several bores, one of which we were able to pump water from. The days traveling time was 6 to 7 hours when we covered only the short distance of 120 km. The temperature rose to 31 deg the highest we have experienced.

Gunbarrel Highway

Wednesday July 27th

The roads/tracks have been very slow and rough for quite a few days now. Today we only travelled about 110 km and were pleased to camp this evening after very severe corrugations on the Gunbarrel Highway. The bush has been extremely pretty and varied. We went through a paradise for daisies and then a garden of Grevillias both the Honey and the Desert variety...both in full bloom.

Desert Myrtle
The most entertaining thing for the morning was finding 2 large camels on the track. They immediately turned and trotted, in their swaying fashion, along the track ahead of us. We followed them for over 30 minutes as they were too silly to step off the track. In the 30 minutes they averaged 25km per hour. Eventually they careered off into the bushy desert.

Mulgan Rockhole

Tuesday July 26th

A day trip to see the Mulgan Rockhole which did not appear to have any water in it and to McPherson's Pillar. This was a rugged rocky outcrop high above the surrounding lands. The shale ranged from white, cream, tan, brown purple and mauve and appeared quite glass like.

Eucalyptus Pachyphylla
We lunched at this site and were entertained by hundreds of fire tail finches flying about the area and very close to us. We then realized that a nearby eucalypt had amazing red flower buds on it. John has identified it as eucalyptus pachyphylla. It has beautiful red buds, a cream flower and a large nut to follow.
It was all very exciting to enjoy this pleasure in such a remote place.

On returning to the lake we noticed a few swans in the distance and quite a number of ducks diving for their dinner. It has been a great place to spend an extra day. Both sunrise and sunset over the waters has been very pretty.

Lake Cohen

Monday July 25th

Luckily the few clouds have blown away and the weather continues to be delightfully warm.

The narrow highway/track continues to be quite rough in patches. We drove up to see
Mc Dougall Knoll which provided us with a 360deg vista of the surrounding Gibson Desert.

The wild flowers today have been on much smaller plants and ground covers. However it is no less exciting to see such a brightly coloured pretty garden in the wild.

We lunched by Lake Cohen which is a magnificent fresh water inland lake. Disappointingly we found no water birds. However the huge flocks of budgerigars have made up for this. John and Geoff filled some water containers from the lake using John's special little pump. The edges of the lake are very soft so it is easy to have boots unexpectedly covered in mud.

This is such a special place that we moved further around the water and set up camp with the plan to stay for 2 nights. A great opportunity to wash a few clothes.

Road runs into Lake Cohen

Gary Highway - Windy Corner

Sunday July 24th

Great camp under the ghost gums near Whau Whau Well. It was 9deg this morning whereas last time we camped here in 2003 it was -2deg in the morning! We have enjoyed a wonderful week of warm sunny weather.

There were many more birds today but so hard to identify...zenra finch, budgerigars, crimson chats pigeons and quails. The track was narrow and rough and sometimes rather overgrown. We drove through 2 large areas where the spinifex was dead..most unusual..we can only presume the areas had been very wet and the plants had drowned.

By 2.00pm today, at Windy Corner, we had not seen another vehicle for 48 hours. During the afternoon we saw 12 vehicles.

Tonight we can hear owls, dingoes and a camel in the night. The stars in the desert sky, have been spectacular every evening.

Spinifex Garden

Gary Junction turn south to Gary Highway

Saturday July 23rd

We have not seen another vehicle all day. Early morning we travelled the last 20km of the Gary Junction Road and turned onto the Gary Highway.

At the crossroads we inspected and signed the travellers' registration book and noted that Anne Beadell (mother of Gary) had signed the book on her way through to the CanningStock Route. We also noted that Beth & John Harrison had signed the book on July 6th 2010.

John and I have driven along the Gary Highway in 2003. What a privilege to experience this scenery again. The Gibson Desert is in full bloom....a profusion of flowers of many colours....yellow, red, cream, blue, mauve, pink and many more shades. Added to this were Crimson Chats, Zebra Finches, Masked Woodswallows and Budgerigars.

Jupiter Well & Desert Oaks

Friday July 22nd

For most of the day we travelled through a beautiful desert garden filled with grevillias, wattles, and some wonderful examples of Cunningham's Parrot Pea. We have seen several flocks of budgerigars, finches and a bustard/bush fact we nearly hit this large bird as he tried to become air borne.

We were pleased to be able to fill our water containers at Jupiter Well and enjoy our lunch in the shade of a desert oak tree. There were a number of people camping in the area..popular because of the availability of good water.

The Gibson Desert opened into a wide plain with a huge dome of clear blue sky. Eventually we camped in a large clean gravel pit surrounded by flowers including several holly grevillias in full bloom.
A camp oven meal this evening with dumplings!!

Cunningham's Parrot Pea

Kintore and Kiwirkurra

Thursday July 21st
The remaining 30 km of the Sandy Blight Road proved to be very rough. We were pleased to arrive at Kintore shortly before 11.00 am. Because of a funeral, court proceedings and an Intervention Meeting the store closed at 11.00am. The Art Centre was closed for the day as well..disappointing but this is how these communities operate.

Travelling through desert gardens is a privilege and most spectacular. Wattles and hakeas have are in full bloom. Eucalypts have again stood out with their beautiful white trunks. John has been challenged to identify a new bloodwood. The Gary Junction Road is much smoother to drive on as we came west again entering Western Australia.

Honey Grevillia
After a delightful lunch of cold lamb and Clive's tomato relish we arrived at Kiwirkurra...a very friendly settlement where we were welcomed into the store and the Women's Centre. We were shown a wide range of paintings some uncompleted. John & I chose a larger piece of work to purchase. It was painted by Patricia Jackson who was away visiting relatives in another settlement so we were unable to meet her.

We have camped in a gravel pit west of Kiwirkurra surrounded by desert flowers once again.

Sandy Blight Track

July 20th Wednesday

We continued along the Sandy Blight Track travelling along the swales which are the lower areas between the sand dunes. The vegetation is continually changing.
Today we had vehicle problems..firstly a flat tyre then both trailers had shock absorber problems due to the severe corrugations.

We crossed the border into the Northern Territory and were pleased to find a campsite at lunch time near the Davenport Ranges amongst the desert oaks and cassia. Two young dingoes were taking a great deal of interest in us.

We had time to do extra camp chores including a camp oven meal of roast lamb, potatoes, kumera and pumpkin served with peas and mint jelly.

Camels on the road
The Eco dyeing I had batching developed serious leaks probably due to the rough travelling. I decided to untie all the tiny parcels of silk and dry them. They are now all carefully labelled and stored.

The Sandy Blight Junction Road

July 19th

A wonderful morning..very still without a breath of wind as we watched the sun come up in the east and the moon setting in the west. We enjoyed Anneshka's Crab Apple Jelly on our toast..what more could we want!

On top of Sir Frederick Range
Camels have appeared quite often during the day. Our top temperature both today and yesterday has been 25 degrees. It does become cool at night but only as low as 6 degrees so it is very comfortable camping weather after all the cloudy and rainy days.

The Sandy Blight Road is very rough at times with rocks and corrugations.
We detoured to explore the Sir Frederick Ranges and actually drove up to the Cairn to take in the 360 degree vista.

Again the variety of bushland growth is amazing. This afternoon alone I saw at least 10 varieties of wattles as well as eucalypts, bloodwoods, grevillias, hakeas, cassia and spinifex.

Tonight we are camped along the Sandy Blight Road near a bore...again a clear starry sky and again we are enjoying the camp fire.

Warakurna and Tjukurla

 July 18th Monday

This morning we had a great visit to the Warakurna Roadhouse where we enjoyed the gallery of Aboriginal art works...paintings, carved wood pieces, jewellery, T shirts and bags. We purchased a painting by Anna Porter. It is so good to see the areas in which the artists paint.

We also visited the nearby Giles weather Station which was interesting as well, especially as Len Beadell's road grader was on display. One of the last roads that Len built was the Sandy Blight Junction Road which finished at Giles.

Desert Grevillia
Early afternoon we setoff along the Sandy Blight Junction Road and visited the settlement of Tjukurla with the hope of seeing the Art Centre there. Sadly this Centre is not operating at present. However one young woman, Lisa, brought a lovely painting to show us. She shyly told us that the story of her work was about water holes and sand hills.

 The desert bush is constantly changing. desert oaks are quite common with many wild flowers and other trees which we cannot identify. Grass trees, ghost gums, honey grevillia, holly grevillia, wattles and thryptomene. camels appear regularly and race away through the bushes.

We were late camping in amongst a large stand of desert oaks further along the Sandy Blight Road. It was a very quiet night despite the fact that we were within 30 metres of the road.

West to Docker River

July 17th Sunday

Clear blue sky. Thankfully the road is acceptable with obvious muddy patches which are drying out quickly.
Honey Grevillias are in bloom amongst the low eucalypt scrub. Some areas have been burnt and the black is attractive against the red sand dunes.
We visited Lasseter's Cave – an historic place where Lasseter spent his last days as he searched for a reef of gold. We lunched amongst the River Red Gums.

Mid afternoon settled into the Docker River Camping Ground for a peaceful night under the Desert Oak trees. A dingo was evident as he wandered around the area and eventually howled very loudly about 9.00pm. It is a very spooky sound!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Olgas

July 16th,

The Olgas
The weather has improved so we drove out to see the Olgas and walked through the magnificant rock formations.
Wild flowers are everywhere. The Honey Grevillias are coming into beautiful green/yellow blooms. We have also seen many wattles, hop bushes, hakeas and pea flowers as well as acres of thriptomine.  We look forward to seeing more flowers as we travel west.
Hopefully the roads will have dried out enough for as to travel easily. The fine sunny day has certainly been welcome.


July 15th
John & June with Uluru in the background
Another cloudy day, with some light mist. We drove out to have a close look at THE ROCK. Even though I have seen it before and even climbed it. ..It is a magnificant Australian Icon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

From Mulga Station to sealed road

July 14th, The good night's sleep helped us survive the 105 km along a very slippery road to bitumen. We had the good fortune to see a mob of camels about 20 or 30 we thought. They are amazing animals. We then had a close up view of several large wedged-tailed eagles.
The tour to Mt Connor has been cancelled because of the poor weather. We hope we can join a similar tour on Sunday. We have come on to Yulara and Uluru. It is a very big complex with 4 resort hotels as well as a large camping ground which we have settled into for 3 nights.
We hope for a fine day is fine mist again tonight.

Entry in Pitjantjatjara Lands

July 13th.
Rain had fallen all night however after ringing Police we decided to enter the area. July 13th was the only day we had an entry permit for. The roads were soft and difficult to drive on. There were no views of the country because the cloud was so low.
The first Art Centre we called on was Fregon where Beverley Peacock welcomed us.Beverley has been living and working at Fregon for 20 years. Paintings were on display around the gallery. Some were spectacular. I could see that they would easily fit into the Ian Potter Gallery. Beverley showed us quite a large number of Batik scarves. These were quite detailed in design. Artists mostly paint intuitively so designs and colours were rather irregular which added to the appeal of them. There were embroidered cushions which had been stitched in Katmandu and designed at Fregon Art Centre. There were also quite a variety of cards printed from artist's paintings.
Plans were in place to take many paintings to Darwin to take part in a market there next weekend. Many of the paintings are done in the 'dot' technique but there are other ideas being introduced. The varied use of colour is amazing.

Late in the day we visited Ernabella where the welcome was not so readily offered. However we were able to watch 6 or 8 artists working and chatted to several of them. One chap told us his favourite colour was yellow. It was amazing how he used dots in 4 shades of yellow to tell the story of his father's home country. He had been painting for only 2 years and prior to this he had been a policeman at Ernabella. He is the chairperson of the Artists' Incorporation. Many works were obviously about the nearby Musgrave Ranges.

The rain continued most of the day causing the roads to be treachorous. Luckily both John & Geoff are skilled drivers. We actually come acroos a guy who had completely turned his truck onto the roof. Luckily he was unhurt.

We continued on until we were out of Aboriginal country ro spend another very wet evening camping..we slept for 10 hours warm and dry.

North from Coober Pedy

July 12th,
Travelled along Stuart Highway to deteriorating.
Mid afternoon we had a very interesting visit to the Indulkana Art Centre near Chandler.We watched artists working on some interesting pieces. Most techniques were dots which were placed with a stick or small rod and not a brush.

The gallery display included paintings, baskets, jewellery, cards, wallets, handbags and cushion covers. Artists designs are used on the cushion covers and handbags.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gawler Ranges to Coober Pedy

July 11th

Travelled north today along the edges of Lake Everard and Lake Harris. We had lunch at the Kingoona Hotel which is a very remote Hotel. We were able to purchase fuel there as well.

We saw Red Rumped Grass Parrots lined up on a water trough...these birds are found in a wide area as we regularly see them in Milawa.,
 Dew Tanks are to be found along the track..these tanks are built with a large iron roof over a series of tanks.The evening dew settles on the roof and is collected into the tanks. It amazes me to think that water is so scarse that the dew has to be collected. Of course all the water in the lakes is salty.

Sturt's Dester Pea
Growing along the road we found several clumps of the beautiful  Sturt's Desert Pea in bloom. This is always a thrill to find!

Coober Pedy is busy with visitors this evening.  We are settled comfortably into an Underground Motel in Coober Pedy. 

Gawler Ranges

July 10th

Geoff & Eileen are with us now. We have explored the remaining areas of the Gawler Ranges with the wonderful rock formations. The special site called the Organ Pipes is steep, colourful and very rocky.
There are quite a variety of wildflowers in bloom including buttercups and Harbenger of Spring.

I have identified 3 different varieties of Mistletoe. Leaves from each been cooked and silk has been dyed. The colour from each seems to be strong so it will be fun opending them when I return home. I have done quite a bit of dyeing and will run out of silk very soon!

Gawler Ranges Organ Pipes
We camped on the west side of Lake Gairdner this evening.

Mt Ive Station - Gawler Ranges

July 8th

The country from Mt Ive Station was very pretty with a variety of trees, bushes, flowers ans general scenery. The Gawler Ranges are rocky and tower over attractive flats which are currently rather damp. The trees all look healthy after recent rains. John has identified several more eucalypts so Eco dyeing is in full swing!

 Old Mail Wagon
The last two days we have seen a lot of kangaroos and emus. I never become tired of seeing these creatures travelling across their native habitat.

Port Augusta - Mt Ive Station

Thursday July 7th
What an interesting day! First stop was Iron Knob which is nearly deserted as no mining is taking place. We were told that mining is scheduled to begin again in surrounding areas.

We went on to Mt Ive Station where we are camping tonight. We took a circuit drive this afternoon out to Lake Gairdner which is a massive salt lake. The salt is said to be 1.5 metres thick in some places. We could see great bands of salt with a ring of water around the edge. Salt was glistening in the course red sand around the lake. Reflections of nearby hills were clearly visible in the water.

Lake Gairdner
St Ives Station is a typical outback sheep station with wonderful outcrops of basalt rock, spinefex, acacias, birds and flowers. On the way to Lake Gairdner we saw the remains of the old vermin fence, basalt formations called organ pipes and an old embankment or damn wall, built from rocks in 1892.

We identified a Port Lincoln Ring-neck parrot, Mulga parrot and a Blue Bonnet parrot. I have gathered two varieties of Mistletoe leaves with the hope of dyeing some silk with them.

At this stage we are finding it difficult to name the trees we are seeing. However we can identify the Dead Finish Acacia, the Fire-bush Cassia with its wonderful seed pods and the Casaurina which is most common of all and known as a Buloke. Hopefully the leaves of this tree will colour silk!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Burra to Port Augusta

Today we saw many more of these very attractive eucalypts, in fact we passed by two plantations of them. I had gathered some dry leaves so tonight I am Eco dyeing. John has been able to identify the tree using his computer progam. We think it is a 'STRETA' Eucalypt with a beautiful smooth copper trunk and a 'mallet' type canopy of leaves.

Stone walls and buildings have continued all the way to Port Augusta. Stones are a distinctive building product. Many homes are old but others hve been built more recently to continue the historic appearance of this early settled area.

We spent time at the Wadlata Outback Centre. interesting interpretive centre clad with brightly coloured corrugated iron. The wonderful desert colours are obviuos both outside and inside the, tan, blue, mauve and purple. We followed the stories and historic facts tabling the development of the Australian Outback from very ancient times including the stories of the Ghan Railway, the Telegraph Line, School of the Air, the Flying Doctor and the Delivery of Mail. A poignant point in history this week with the death of the very famous Mailman- Tom Kruse who delivered mail to outback people driving his Ford Blitz Truck through the most difficult conditions imaginable.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ouyen to Burra

A freezing morning with a strong wind most of the day. Burra is as cold as we have always found it.

The wonderful Mallee Sallee trees lined the road all the way until we reached the Riverland Country along the Murray. Flowers are evident along the roadside as well. Many eucalypts are in bloom..mostly cream flowers but some red and yellow. We found Woodwardie  trees in full bloom..a magnificant sight! Cassia and wattle are showing their spring colour as well. I have been gathering a few eucalypt leaves to dye silk with, later in the trip.

Every water way we have seen has some birdlife on it..ducks, pelican and swan are clearly enjoying the extra lakes and ponds.

Woodwardie blooms
The wind was so strong that it was blowing the topsoil from the paddocks..a mini dust storm. I do hope the dust is not blown over to Mt Hotham where the snow could become discoloured. Tumble weed, in great round shapes, was being blown along as well.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Milawa -Ouyen

Left Milawa in bleak weather conditions. By the time we reached Echuca the sky was blue and remained this way until we reached Mallee country. Then the sky turned black and heavy rain fell.

We travelled along the western side of Lake Tyrrell and saw the sign post to Kow Swamp..what a great name..we must visit this swamp one day!

I find mallee country most attractive with the wonderful Mallee Sallee eucalypts. Many varieties grow along the roadside. The distinction of different trunks and different overall tree shapes is notable.

Leaves of a Mallee Sallee
We greeted the small township of Ultima for my SIL Joan who grew up on a property in this area.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Final Packing & Textile Festival

The week has been busy with 3 exhibition openings in 5 days. All have been great both socially and artistically.
The interest in Eco dyeing has been fueled after viewing 2 displays of beautiful textile art using eco dyed fabrics. I hope some of the leaves I find while travelling will release colour into silk. A great inspiration to go away with.

Ready to leave
Today has become increasingly wet so drying clothes and doing the final pack into the camper has been somewhat hindered. We plan to leave early tomorrow.