Australia day 32 – Finding Roland in Tasmania

Day 32 – it has officially been over a month since leaving Canada.  This morning we landed in Tasmania.  After taking the ferry across the Bass Stright we had an early jump on the morning.

 

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Leaving the ferry at 6:30 am

 

We headed straight for our first destination but we were hours early.  We also quickly noticed that our phones had no signal.

 

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Roland continues to work on his photography skills

 

Chatting with a local at her store, we got directions to WOOLWORTHS and I got new prepaid cards for Telstra and some much-needed groceries.

With all that completed it was time to see some TRAINS!

 

 

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Of course, Roland found the toy trains first.

Today we visit the Don River Railway http://www.donriverrailway.com.au/

A hodgepodge of tracks, station, and various trains, members and volunteers have lovingly restored and collected everything you see here.  This was such a great place for both little kids and us adults.

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Our scenic train ride

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Scarlet’s first train ride.

 

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After leaving the trains we headed inland to find a Honey Farm.

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Along the way I noticed that like us in Canada, they have a changing of the colour of leaves.

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We spotted some wild turkeys.

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This is a very special mountain. Or, at least, we think it is pretty special.  This is Mount Roland!  A magnificent mountain it stands 1234 (no I did not make up that number) meter tall and is part of the Mount Roland Conservation area.  It is also near the town of Sheffield, who is going to project a film about the area on the face of the mountain this year.  The movie will be the largest in the world.  A movie about Mt. Roland on Mt. Roland.  (How many times can I work the name Roland into one blog post?)

So with the Honey Farm closed and being able to see Mt. Roland from miles away, where to next?

There is appears to be “Nowhere Else” to go…ba-dum-dum…

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So we headed off to the town of ROLAND of course!

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There we learned about the Roland Railway.

 

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The sign reads:

Turning of the first sod for the Roland Railway took place at Railton on 26 2 1913 by the governor of Tasmania, Sir Harry Barron.

Construction of the 12-mile branch like commenced in Sept 1913 by the Public Works Dept. & completed Nov 1914 at a cost of £88888·6·9d ($177,776 · 69c)

Officially opened Nov 6, 1914, by Hon. J.A. Lyons.

A mixed goods & passenger steam train service between Roland & Railton commenced Nov 7, 1914.

In 1923, Roland became the terminus for the railmotor service.

The line was built to transport farm produce, stock, timber & minerals & to provide a daily passenger service.

The railway became uneconomical & was closed permanently on Dec 1, 1957.

This information board has been sponsored by the family of George Hays – Driver of the last train from Roland.

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This was in interesting sight.  From far away we could see smoke rising and touching the bottom of a cloud.  A unique sight to say the least!Day 32

 

It turns out that it was a controlled burn being done.

Off we headed for some dinner at the  Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe.  Unfortunately (or not) they were only serving sweets as it was close to closing time.  We got Roland some pancakes and Dan and I shared some scones.

Scarlet had some baby appropriate snacks and wooed every person working there.

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243 km later we booked into a Big4 campground in Launceston for the night.

Crossing the Bass Stright to Tasmaina

This is our last stop in Australia and it was a 429 km trip and we didn’t have to drive a single bit of it!

We ended day 31 by boarding the ferry and traveled overnight to get to Tasmania.

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Our next mode of transportation.

Getting on board

 

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Not a lot of space

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Umm…on the boat?

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I finally got to see a Tasmania plate!

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How I remember where we parked

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Our Room Number ( I had to look this up a few times)

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4 beds, private bath and a cot for Scarlet

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The sun is set before we get underway.

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Touring the boat

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Always good to know where the lifeboats are

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More lifeboats

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Kids play area

The Kids play area was great!  It was all soft and squishy with netting so you don’t fall off in rough seas!

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There was a TV of course

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Roland and I play Sonic!!!

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They have a movie theater on board!

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Cool light up chairs.

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Interesting info

We all had a relatively good night sleep (except Scarlet was super hungry and didn’t want to sleep for long periods.

We had to get up at 5:30 so we could grab a FAST breakfast and be back in out vehicle by 6:30 sharp for disembarkment.

The advantage of having boarded early was that we got off the boat super early too.

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We arrive just as the sun rises.

We have arrived in Tasmania!!!

The Great Ocean Road – Australia’s South Coast

 

We have made it to The Great Ocean Road!

“The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in World War I, carved in rock, it winds around the rugged southern coast. Built by returned servicemen it was a huge engineering feat ending decades of isolation for Lorne and other coastal communities.” (http://www.visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Great-Ocean-Road/Things-to-do/History-and-heritage/Building-the-Great-Ocean-Road)


We spent just two days exploring the area but one could easily spend weeks, visiting each town, swimming and surfing the beached, whale watching and of course eating at all the fantastic cafes and restaurants.


There are plenty of places for little ones to play.


The caravan parks are great too.


Day 30 of our Australia trip had us drive 183 km from Warrnambool and stopped in Apollo Bay.


The day was cool and windy.  It had rained overnight and, to Roland’s delight, there were lots of puddles in the morning!


We explored Warrnambool first by heading to the water’s edge and hitting the local playground.  I made sure to hit the local gym too!


We took a quick trip to the beach.


Dan managed to see a fox try and catch a bird.


The thing leapt out of the bushes we had just walk past a few minuted before.  We had no IDEA it was even there!

This was just too much fun!


We still love chatting with whoever we find.  This fantastic couple gave us some places to visit in Tasmania, where they had just returned from.


Once on the road for the day we quickly found that the Great Ocean Road was not what we were thinking.


I think of a road, beside the ocean.  What I didn’t expect was hair pin turns, mountain cliffs and stunning mountain views


We made a point of stopping at each picture taking area that we thought we could fit.

The Grotto

London Bridge


The most iconic one is the 12 Apostles.  It was packed!  There were a dozen tour buses, plus campers, plus cars, plus, plus, plus…you get the idea.  It was packed.

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived and I have to say MORNING would have been better for any picture taking.


We still had fun and the wind was still ripping strong.


This is my attempt to videotape the drive out the window.  Two problems.  One: It was the Drivers side of the motorhome. Two: I didn’t have tape…

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We tried so hard to write in the sand.  Dan’s first attempts were irradiated by the waves before finishing and Baby Godzilla did the work on the rest of the attempts.

 

Day 31 completed the Great Ocean Road.

Driving from Apollo Bay to Melbourne Port was 218km

We saw much more of what we expected out of The Great Ocean Road.  We even saw several people surfing in the 10C weather.

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It was getting cold enough I needed to buy Scarlet something to wear.  I had been hoping to wait until New Zealand but Fall/Winter has started to show up here in Australia.

On our journeys, we saw some impressive road work and some rather concerningly unstable rock walls.

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Cliff walls with rocks that could fall at any time!

Our drive was completed by hopping on the M1.  This road is such a start contrast to the last few weeks.  Multi-lane and TRAFFIC.  We haven’t seen this many cars since Townsville on the East Coast!

Melbourne is sporting a new skyline and the bridge is massive!

 

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no, this is not the new skyline

 

Now to board the Spirit of Tasmania and start the next chapter of Australia!

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Australia Day 29 – Don’t trust the GPS

First I would like to say the internet has been doggie at best.  As we leave the town of Keith I simply put our destination into the GPS and go.  Apparently I need to stop putting my faith in this machine.  It gives you the “fastest“ route possible.

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It thinks we are in a car, I guess, because it sent us on some WILD roads.  100 km/h and one lane.  One lane means one lane for both directions of traffic, around corners or up and down mountains.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  The views are spectacular!!!!  We love driving the country but I was getting a little nervous.

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We keep finding things that remind us of home.

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A street name

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A visit to the cottage…

We finally found ourselves in the town of Hamilton and directed ourselves to the nearest Information Centre.  Thank goodness we did.  I had my information all wrong.  We were headed for part of the Great Ocean Road but we would have missed some great spots.  The kind lady working there directed us on a great road (two lanes!) straight south into the village of Port Fairy and then onto Warrnambool where we had an excellent dinner at Bojangles and stayed the night at Figtree Resort.

On our drive between the two towns, we FINALLY saw some wild Kangaroos!!!!!!!!  Dan spotted them in a field of cows and we may have made a few motorists unhappy when we quickly stopped to take pictures (we weren’t the only ones who stopped here though)

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We drove 410 km today.  As I think about this distance my first impression is how little that is.  We have had a few days now where we drove over 700 km.  Yet, in the beginning of this trip we could only muster about 300 km in a day and that felt like a total stretch to make it that far!  It is amazing how one adapts.

After getting parked (not an easy thing to do with this beast and the tight spaces we find) Dan says to me: Get your things and go swimming.  This is “Marriage material”.  The heated indoor pool and spa was just FANTASTIC!  I had a great swim and another traveller even put a dollar into the spa so I could enjoy the bubbles.  He and his partner had never been in a hot tub/spa before and just LOVED it.

Feeling refreshed and ready to go Dan texted me and said Scarlet was sleeping but Roland was still rolling around a bit.  Stay away awhile longer.  Even more reason I married this wonderful man.

The park is packed tonight.  Apparently, there is some horse racing events going on all week and most places are booked solid.  We lucked out in getting a spot at the campground tonight.  Most of the kitchens and dining areas were busy with people chatting and watching TV but the Games Room was empty and relatively quiet too.

So here I sit typing away and editing pictures and I still can’t believe it has been almost one month since we left home.  And look how far south we are now!!!!

Australia Day 28 – Days are blurring together.

 

The days are starting to blur a bit.  We are driving like mad people to get to Melbourne, where we will board a ferry to Tasmania.  The trip is already booked and we must get to the boat by 5 o’clock on May 3.  No choice.  Dan says, “don’t worry, we will make it there on time.  Even if YOU have to drive ALL night”  Yeah, thanks Dan.

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We took the time to enjoy a pancake breakfast held by the staff at the Big4 Holiday park in Port Agusta.  Great big fluffy pancakes with everything from Nutella to Whipped cream and everything in between.  It was great to see all these folks getting together and chatting about travel, where is home ect.  It also worked out that all the kids seamed to commandeer a table in the cooking kitchen and sat together (not a planned idea at all)

It took a little longer than usual getting out of town.  I had planned on getting going by 10 at the latest.  Well all good plans, something, something, something, never work when you have kids or something like that.

We left the park by 10:30 and I though, OK not bad.  Then we needed gas.  Then we needed a grocery store.  Then the one I picked at random was actually a gas station “express store”, Then Roland came grocery shopping.

So now it’s 1 o’clock and we need to eat.  So PB&J plus other odds and ends made lunch right there on the side of the road.

We have officially left the Bush and the Outback.  We are in costal mountain areas now.

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There are still plenty of sheep and cows but they all have fences now.  There is also wheat and the area is known as the wheat belt.  The industry has also turned to lead, silver, copper and gold refining.

Sometimes we think we are big, not truck big obviously, but big.  Then we see things liked this boat.

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And we had to pull over for this!

That, by the way, was the sound of Roland waking up from a deep sleep at a very bad time.  How was it a bad time?  Well, he FREAKED OUT like I have never seen before.  It was like he was waking up confused and scared with no understanding or reason.  It took a long time to get him calm again.  It was a battle like dealing with excited delirium!

We did stop for dinner.  It allowed Roland to get out and play and let us take a break from driving.  We ate at Maccas in Adelaide and decided that we could make it a few hundred km before calling it quits.

546 km in total and we find ourselves in the small town of Keith.

From here we have decided to drive The Great Ocean Road and hope to make it to the start tomorrow (some 300 or 400 km away, I’m not quite sure where we will pick it up yet)

 

Australia Day 27 – Cooper Pedy

Cooper Pedy

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After a not quite so wonderful sleep (than’s to Scarlet) we go up and headed into town for the this morning’s exploration.

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Driving around town we found the fire hall.  This one is on display and can you imagine actually using it?

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This horse-drawn grader was sent to Cooper Pedy in the 1960’s to maintain local roads.

Ross’s Rocket

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The name Cooper Pedy simply means White Man in Hole.  Much like this sign describes.

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Today we have chosen to visit the Old Timer Mine Tour

 

Hard Hats Required on this tour.

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Dan has the white hat because he thinks he’s in charge.

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Supervisor Dan is letting you know where we are.

This was an actual opal mine.  Several people would buy a section of it hoping to strike it rich.

Day 27 020Every morning at 9:30 they turn on the blower, an odd name for the machine that sucks up all the dirt and stones they don’t want.  It does make an awful lot of dust that “blow” out the top.

They used hand tools and explosives to get through the rock and used the same tools to dig out their homes.

The museum here has much more than just mining. Although, we did have a great time crawling around getting dirty.

We finally learned about the solar panels we have been seeing on the road.

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The first camel was brought to Australia in 1846.

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This movie projector was used up until the screening of Crockadile Dundee (how fitting for this vacation)

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There is an actual underground home that was lived in until it was donated.  Apparently, if you were expecting a baby, the neighbors would come over with some explosives and just blast you a new room.

 

There is also a noodling pit where you can look for shards of opal.

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The hot dogs are pretty big in this town too.

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We are loving the truck stops we find.

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Today we visited Glendambo.  Apparently they had 4 straight days of rain and the area resembled that of a lake!  There are still large puddles all over the place. They got 60mm of rain – by any standards, this is a lot of rain and in the outback, this is just simply crazy!

We also got to see some Tanks that were being shipped (Dan and Roland got excited)

Our drive south saw some major changes.  We started to see lakes, both dry and full of water!

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Day 27 097The sky and the land just appear endless!

We saw a portion of the road turned into a makeshift emergency landing strip for (I assume) small aircraft.  That is how straight and long this road is.

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Lakes looking all dried up.

We finished our drive 536 km later in Port Agusta.  Dark and tired we booked into a caravan park and called it a night.

 

 

Australia Day 26 – Entering South Australia

Today ended our time in Uluru.

 

We quickly packed up and headed back onto the road. Our destination was to be the state of South Australia.

 

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This landscape, like the rest, is vast. Big. Goes on forever.

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My sister, Barb had shared this video with me.  One from “Great Big Story”, about a town in South Australia where a large portion of it was built underground, blasted into the rock.  I quickly looked it up on the map and saw it was right on our path!

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The town is Coper Purdy and they mine Opal, but more on that later.

Our hotel of choice was, of course, The Underground Hotel.

Built into the side of a hill, it couldn’t have been more perfect.  Only 6 rooms or so and we were number 5 staying the night.

With us were a family similar to ours with two young children, a couple visiting aging parents and a fellow who drives a Google Street View car. (BTW he drives at normal speed even when the camera is running, I asked)

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Sharyn was wonderful enough to offer and take our picture – a rare occurrence.

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Dan and I are busy working while the kids are sleeping.

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Uluru – Australia

Uluru – Ayers Rock

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We spent three nights in Yulara, the tourist village built for travelers wanting to explore the national park.

There are many things here to suit all needs.  Shopping, Grocery store, restaurants, spa, hotels, bus, camping and even camel rides.

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Everything is expensive.  The main highway is over 200 km away.  Alice Springs is over 450 km away.  Fuel here is more expensive that out on the highway so be sure to fill up before you arrive.

There are plenty of free activities too.

The campground/caravan park is the only one, there is no other choice so you get what you see.

There is a lookout in the campground where you can view Uluru

It is showing signs of being rundown and getting old but there is a park for kids to play, pool to swim in and laundry.  The showers are kept clean and the supply of Hot Water is good.

You do need to be aware of the local wildlife.

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Dingoes are here and you do need to be mindful.  We did not see any but there sure were posters about them.

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We even saw camel crossing signs.  It appears that some camels, from long ago, have made Australia their new wild home and are indeed found in this area.

When you enter the national park, you need to pay your entry fee.  Knowing that most people visit for more than a day, your ticket will allow you three days to visit before being required to pay again.

Our first day in Uluru Park we set ourselves up for the sunset.  Pictures will never do justice to the ever-changing colours of the rock as the sun sets.

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A popular spot so be sure to arrive early to get a good viewing location.

Day 2 had us exploring much more closely.  There is a cultural center where every visitor should go to learn more about this important location.  Uluru has significant meaning and importance to the aborigines of the area and great respect should be shown at all times.  The cultural center is also a great place to pick up a few locally made authentic souvenirs like wood carvings and paintings.  No pictures are allowed.

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Uluru is one large rock.  Getting up close you can truly get a sense of its size and even them the majority of the rock is berried underground.

There is a well-paved road that runs around Uluru and makes a present drive.  There are also guided and self-guided walks of about 10Km around Uluru itself.  The guide also makes sure to suggest that you finish this walk by 11 am during warmer weather.

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If you have the time, make sure to follow the 40 + km road to Kata Tjuta.

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This rock formation is made up of several different pieces and there are two spectacular walks.

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The shorter hike through the Walpa Gorge is only 2.6km.  The path is rough and I would recommend good shoes and no toddlers.  IMG_6897I did take Scarlet in the carrier with no problem.

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Valley of the Winds has several different lengths, the longest being 7.4km.  Be sure to check the status of the trail as it does close due to wind and weather.

Plan for a few days of exploration, there is lots to see and do.

Driving yourself is a great way to see the area and it is not necessary to book a tour.  A tour will provide you with more information while you see everything.

Day 23 – The Road to Uluru

If you find yourself, Alice Springs, you no doubt are heading to or from Uluru or Ayers Rock.

If you have flown in you might even thing they must be close together, since Alice Springs is the closest large town to the well know monument.

It’s not.  It took us 458 km and all day to drive.  It would have take us 45 minutes to fly.  I think next time (HA!) we will fly.

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Of course, before leaving town we needed to play at the park, change our linen at the local Maui Branch, find a bank and find a grocery store.

We also found St. John Ambulance!!!

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And honourable mention to the fire hall because it was next door and Dan made me take a picture.

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We have noticed all sorts of abandoned cars on the side of the road.  We’ve seen it everywhere.  I suppose it is cheaper to leave the car and buy a new one than it is to pay for a tow for a few hundred or so km and the cost of the repair, not to mention the days it will take you to walk or find someone to help you on some of these roads.

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Gas stations are another thing.  Few and far between, they are a MUST visit.  That or you run out of gas.  We find that we hit about ½ tank just as we see the first gas station in hours.

 

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And the cost of gas just keeps going up!

 

 

Many gas stations also serve as a restaurant/hotel/caravan park.  This gas station had and Emu farm too.

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I still find our drives interesting.  The landscape changes drastically so often.

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Surprisingly this is the first time we have see this sign.  Also surprisingly we are hundreds of kilometres out of any location that a tourist may have come from.

 

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As we approached the tourist town of Yulara we caught our fist glimpse of Uluru.

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Australia Day 22 – The long drive to Alice Springs

It was a long day of driving.  period. End of story.

Well, not end of story, more like just the beginning.  Yes, we drove 717 km but there was so much to see along the way.

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Dan was overjoyed with the bacon he got at breakfast!!

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Roland and I got to do some more running around the Barklay Homestead.  I just loved the birds they have!

 

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And just when we through Gas couldn’t get any more expensive too.

 

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We didn’t make it far before hitting some construction.  I do, however, like the stop light with the countdown on it.  That, by the way, is minutes.

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Our drive, as always, was ever changing and filled with endless blue skies.

 

 

I have started to notice these in the rest areas.  So today I investigated and they are cell phone signal boosters!  How fantastic is that! (didn’t work for my phone, however ;( )

We do our best to get Roland out and running around as often as we need to stop.  Today he just wanted to stand on the fire pit. ;/

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We have seen all sorts of abandoned cars all over the country.  It must be too expensive to tow and service when you break down far from town.  These cars were actually at a gas station and have certainly seen better days.

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We had to wonderful opportunity to see a very small portion of The Devil’s Marbles from the road.  These huge boulders are just sitting there.  Placed among the hills and valleys like a giant’s game of marbles gone wrong.

 

 

 

In case you are wondering, this is the general path we have taken so far.  It is day 22 of 42 days in Australian and we still have so much ground to cover.

There are several ways to get around Australia and driving is certainly one of the longer methods.  We could have flown to each location of interest but I feel that we would be missing so much essence of the country if we had done that.  By driving we have the liberty of making our own schedule and changing it when we see an interesting opportunity (Like Dolphin Feeding in Tin Can Bay).

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