Update: I just realised the Painted Desert is near where we are going, so lets add that to the list. Courtesy of the always engaging Australian Geographic.
Where I also found some fascinating insight into just how important the Flinders Ranges (that we will travel through at the start of the trip) are in a global scheme of things.
IT’S HARD TO imagine that 120 million years ago most of the sun-burnt continent of Australia was under water. Even harder to imagine is a time 800 million years ago when the Flinders Ranges in South Australia were created.
At this time, great forces of nature lifted the entire east coast of Australia clear out of the sea creating a deep inland hollow. Over the next several million years, the sea flooded in, depositing huge amounts of rock and debris, and leaving behind a fractured, furrowed landscape characterised by deep valleys, rippled sea floors and the fossils of countless sea creatures.
So unique are the fossils found in this landscape, that geologists had to revise the geologic time-line of the Earth’s history, identifying a new era called the Ediacaran period. It’s no surprise why this environment, one of the oldest surviving on Earth, has been nominated as one of Australia’s ‘National Landscapes’.
Kris Madden, writing for Australian Geographic.
Update: I bought another map, as I’m clearly addicted and have a problem.
It is a thing of beauty though...
Lumbar disc protrusion. That’s the medical term, for what my parents would have called a ‘slipped disc’. Anyway, moral of the story kids, is don’t do work involving lifting with a bad back, if you work when you are sick you will likely make poor decisions and get lazy in how you operate, etc. So you end up making something not great but manageable, into something that requires you to do very little apart from physiological stretches and exercises.
Anyway it is what it is, and I’m probably stuck with it for a couple of weeks. Which is not ideal when you have a whole list of jobs to be getting on with, preparing to be on the road for several months, if not longer. However all that will have to wait. Patience is the game if you want it fixed right and first time.
Whilst I am purposely avoiding this trip having too much structure and just ticking off sightseeing boxes, it is in my nature to plan to a certain degree, and as I can’t do much else, I may as well do some of that. At least it feels productive.
Finish work 31st of August.
Lease is up on rental house 15th of August – hopefully we (plus friends) have the house prepped for sale over the following two weekends.
So I would expect us to leave sometime around late September/beginning of October, hopefully with the rental house sold, all financial, tax and normal life stuff tidied up. I’m not planning on needing to do much to the truck beforehand, but there probably will be things, that’s just the nature of the beast.
Wet season in the north of Australia runs approximately from November to April. Coinciding roughly with summer in the south. So it makes sense hang around the southern states, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales during that time, before heading up north for the dry season around April/May time next year. As the cold, wet and windy weather moves into the southern part of the country. That’s the big picture.
So, where to first?
The Red Centre.
Central Australia is a huge outback region in the Northern Territory, centred on the town of Alice Springs. Also known as the Red Centre, its vast terrain spans dusty red desert, mountain ranges and gorges home to cockatoos and kangaroos.
With the town of Alice Springs conveniently located in the middle of this region. One is literally spoilt for choice, with spectacular landscapes.
There are the famous ones, that are easily accessible for all tourists, Uluru (Ayres Rock), Kings Canyon, Glen Herron Gorge, there is even a Red Centre Way to join them up.
However, as usual that only tells part of the story. The Hema map shows an abundance of National Parks, 4wd tracks, small communities, historical sights, etc. Both to the west and to the east.
Not to mention Alice Springs itself. This is the sort of blog I love finding when researching an area.
Written by passionate locals, it is just so much more of an insight than the official tourism pages.
So, we can easily spend a few weeks in this region.
At the very right of the first picture of the Hema map is a feint track. This is the Hay River track, that leads down to Birdsville. This could well be our route out when it is time to move on, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Firstly, how do we get to the Red Centre?
Turning back three full pages on the Hema atlas, each representing about 500km of distance, I get back to the page with Adelaide on it.
Although it is tempting to blast past familiar destinations and get straight out to new places. There are still tracks in the southern Flinders Ranges I haven’t done. Always on some time restrictions on previous visits, this seems like the right time to spend a few extra days and put those to bed. It also means we get to have a final ‘shakedown’ while still not being too far from home (Blinman is that area on the below map).
I would also like to spend another night or two back at Warraweena. Still one of the best places we have been, and I’d like to see Stony again, and see how he is getting on.
From there to Arkaroola, I’ve been there but Naomi hasn’t. Making the first part of this trip a kind of Flinders Ranges Greatest Hits Tour. I also want to take the track north east from there and loop around to Moolawatana then head west. To pick up the Strezelecki Track to Lyndhurst and then Maree.
From Maree we can go check out the 4wd public access routes to Lake Eyre, following the Oodnadatta Track through William Creek to Oodnadatta. This could be a classic Outback pub crawl. No bad thing.
From Oodnadatta we will head north, up though the Pedirka Desert. Past Mount Dare on the western edge of the Simpson Desert, and onto Finke (Apatula). The famous destination of the great desert race. From here, we can head up the race track, following the Old Ghan Track to Alice Springs, or we can head west, to pick up the Red Centre Way. Probably depends how much we feel like civilisation by that stage.
Of course all this could change. Something might happen in the lead up that delays us, or maybe just a different plan or destinations crops up along the way. I have no qualms about ditching any plan in part, or wholly. I have enough years travelling of different sorts to know that impulsive, on the fly, local information plans are almost always the best. Any research you have done will still have some validity, if and when you get back to that area.
Having said that. I like this plan!