(2-4 August 2010)
So, we leave the Isa and head for the border town of Camooweal, just 13km inside Queensland and refuel before crossing into the ‘Territory’. And it does feel like the last outpost – just a stone’s throw from the border (and another time-zone).
No sooner than we cross the border and we are hit by amazing cross-winds blowing over the grass plains, buffeting our drive into the Territory. The winds are so strong that driving is a struggle compared to all previous days – and despite the slower speed at which we are forced to travel, the fuel consumption takes a hit too.
We camp at Wonarah Bore (43km east of Barkly Homestead; 19 50 33 S / 136 09 23 E) for the night, trying to find a protected area to camp out of the wind, but there is no hiding from the gusts today/tonight. The best place out of the wind was in fact in a hollow – possibly a former damn, but we’d never get the car or camper-trailer out, so we weather the gusts.
At night, the wind howls in that clichéd way, whistling just like in the movies and often it feels like the camper-trailer would blow over, the wind giving our home a damn good shake. Come day break and the winds have subsided, the air crisp and the sky blue.
The Barkly Highway is our route until we hit the Stuart Highway and after refuelling at the Barkly Homestead we reach the Three Ways Roadhouse for our lunch stop and a photo opp with a couple of road trains. After lunch, we head south to the Devil’s Marbles (Karlu Karlu)and a little further to Wycliffe Well (the Australian hotspot for UFO sightings).
The Devil’s Marbles is a most peculiar spectacle in that out of nowhere appears a collection of huge boulders scattered about an area, where on either side are plain, low undulating grassy hills. More peculiar are the boulders balanced on each other as if some giant had placed them. Anyway, the local aboriginal lore describes the marbles as the eggs of the rainbow serpent – and I’m glad these are eggs that won’t be hatching ‘cause they’d be some damn huge serpents let loose upon the landscape.
We spend the night at Bonney Well (87km south of Tennant Creek; 20 25 48 S / 134 16 10 E)) – and thankfully there is no wind tonight. Saffiya joins me for a walk around the rest area and down to the Bonney Creek to do some photography – I reckon she’s showing some talent (see photo on the left). We spot many little flowers and some fast and deftly flying finches (not too sure of the type as these were fleeting by to their mud nests hanging under the road overpass).
In the morning we push northwards up the Stuart Highway, passing through Tennant Creek and Renner Springs – a town-that-had-seen-better-days.
After a brief ice cream stop and refuel at Elliott, we spend the night at Newcastle Waters (17 22 31 S/ 133 32 33 E) rest area – a small and crowded free camp by the roadside. The view eastwards over the plains below make for a picturesque setting especially for the sunrise the next morning.