Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Early on in the piece, during our trip through western NSW, the girls had started playing ‘what’s your name’ with each other.  They rolled played, which included changing their names all the time. 

Savannah would, amazingly, come up with these convoluted, difficult, and very very long names.  They were so complicated that we couldn’t repeat them, but somehow she’s be able to.  Amazing. 

She did simplify it every now and then, coming up with regulars such as Zara, Sarah, Maurice amongst others.  On one occasion she was Maurice (we think, can’t quite remember).  Anyway, she was playing up in the back, so Glenn turned around and said “Savannah, cut it out”.  “I’m not Savannah, I’m Maurice”.  Quick as a shot, Glenn turned around and sternly said “Maurice, cut it out!!!”.  Amy and I both started cracking up in the front, trying not to let the girls see our stupid grins and giggles.

During these role plays, Jess reliably would be Alex.  We don’t know where Alex came from, but it was pretty consistent.  Jess was also a lot more adamant, when she was Alex, it WAS Alex, not Jess.  This would go on for ages, “I not Jessica, I Alex!!!”  This wasn’t just once either, it was for days.  Needless to say, she still randomly gets called Alex every now and then.

Fremantle - What a Cracker!!

On the Wednesday, we planned to go and visit Fremantle.  We loved it last time we were there, so it would be good to have another look.  The day ended up being one absolutely out of the box.  It was fairly atypical for our trip, but how amazing!

We started the morning with a sleep in and then a coffee sitting in our living room.  Rather than the typical cereal, we cooked up a humungous bacon and egg breakfast, complete with tomatoes, mushrooms and even some toasted damper, left over from cooking the day before.  What a feast!

From there, with tummies bursting, we drove the 30 mins down to Freemantle.  The sun was shining again and the water looked brilliant blue as we cruised along the esplanade.  We parked and went for a walk up to Market Street.  Glenn was keen to check out a didgeridoo shop he’d heard about, which was one of the most impressive we’d seen.  He tried a bunch of didg’s, as well as giving the girls a turn.  They were being entertained however by a couple of guys jamming in the corner. VERY impressive playing!  Glenn resisted all temptations and we left without a purchase.  Could have done some damage in there though!

We were keen to find an Italian Cafe we’d been in last time, which we eventually hunted down thank goodness.  Gino’s is a well known spot in Fremantle and coffee there is not just a beverage, it’s an experience.  A couple of coffees and muffins topped us up again, whilst sitting there soaking in the hip and happ’n Fremantle vibe.  We were in the place to be! J
Outside Gino's in Fremantle

One of THE best coffees
We walked back down towards the water and let the girls loose on the huge playground there.  Great place to work off your ‘wigglely woos’.  We also spotted the ferris wheel.  This was something we’d never done and wouldn’t again in a hurry.  We were on holidays after all.  The girls had a great time, checking out all the things they could look down on and watching the other carriages follow them.  It was interesting for us to note how Savannah had come a long way.  She would have in the past been riddled with fear doing something new and different like this.  All good now.
First time ferris wheel

After another play in the playground, it was time for the adults... well, sort of.  We walked across to Little Creatures Brewery, a micro-brewery on the waters edge.  This is an amazing place, just perfect for sitting out in the sunshine sucking beers down.  We had been given the word on the sandpit out the back for the girls, which was heaven.  Mum and Dad sat around soaking up the sun, vibe and beers, whilst the girls entertained themselves in the pit.  A big bowl of hot chips were mandatory to complete the picture.  Honestly, does it get any better?
Mum & Dad drink beer while the children quietly play - bliss

Not sure why this photo is here - but it was taken at Little Creatures Brewery
On the way back to the camper, Glenn did pay the price for all his fun.  He was BUSTING.... the kind of busting where you can’t talk, you can’t think..... you are so busy jiggling.  The emergency stopping lane on the freeway was looking like a great option for a while there.  Gotta hate that!

The day was topped off by a lovely, easy home cooked meal of spaghetti meatballs and a red wine.  What a cracker!!!!

Perth Recharge

One of the main reasons for heading to Perth, given we were passing through Kalgoorlie, and a day’s drive from here, was to check in with the Camprite boys in the factory where these little beauties are made.  We had a few tweaks we wanted done to the camper, as well as some questions and checks.  We had arranged to go and see them on Friday, so Thursdays was ours!

Our new ‘city’ surroundings were highlighted pretty early when we were laying in bed on the first morning.  Savannah asked “What’s that noise”.  “What noise?”  “That.... ‘errrrrrrrrrrrrrr’”.  Laughing at how poignant her question was, we had to tell her that it was traffic noise.  Goes to show how much time we’d spent in the bush, and how quiet life can be.  Glenn hates that noise too, so well spotted Savannah!                   

Glenn had somehow picked up a small cold, (probably those snotty Melbourne family members J), and was in recovery mode.  We were all generally pretty ‘travel weary’ after a long hall down to Perth.  It had been a good run, just lots of travelling.  It was good to ‘put out the anchor’ as Glenn’s dad would say.

We filled in the day pretty easily.  We had chosen another caravan park with our preferable entertainment devices, a pool, playground and a jumping pillow.  Our friend Gabby laughed at us, asking if we were ‘resort’ hopping.  We figure, if the kids are entertained, life is happy!!

On the Friday we packed up the camper and headed to Camprite.  Was great to see their factory, and chat to the guys.  Extremely professional and superior customer service.  Very very impressed.  We got our adjustments made and asked the 100 questions we had built up.  We also saw the new Camprite models they had just released....  ohhhhhhhh.. .arrrrr, but no, no trade-ins.
While we were waiting for the boys to do some work on the camper, we went and entertained ourselves at the markets around the corner.  Other than wandering around looking at not much, we spotted some kids with their faces painted.  We tracked down the lady doing the painting, just in time as she was about to pack up.  Amy asked the girls, “Do you want your faces painted?”  Without hesitating, (and probably not really knowing what it meant) Jess was straight in there with a “YES”.  Savannah, no, not so much.
Jess jumped up, and for her first face paint, went very well, allowing the lady to paint a butterfly on her face.  When she’d finished, we showed her herself via the iPhone, it was hilarious, she just sat there staring..... liking it, but found it weird!!!  Savannah did relax into it, and got a few flowers painted on her arm, which she absolutely loved.  They both had a ball.
First time butterfly

First time arm painting
When we had picked up the camper and returned back to camp, we did something unprecedented on this trip, we set up the awning AND the walls.  Whooooooooooooh, we have ourselves a little room, perhaps you could even call it a living room!!! (Funny the things you get excited about). 
We made friends with one of our caravan park neighbours, who were in the process of moving to Perth from Adelaide.  They were staying at the CP for the week, while waiting for their new house to become available.  So we all decided to go out for dinner on the Saturday night, with their 3 kids and ours. We went to the City Beach and checked out Clancy’s Fish Bar – very trendy, great food and atmosphere. And of course, great company.
The next few days were spent in go slow mode.  Small sleep ins (as much as the kids would allow), lots of playground and jumping pillow action, a little pool dipping, and sitting around having cuppa’s and kids riding their bikes and enjoying their new friends.
On the Sunday, we ventured out to Kings Park, a huge park very close to the city.  The views of the city and the water were as good as had been expected, all highlighted in the beautiful sunshine.  Everyone was out enjoying the day and the park’s green lawns and surrounding bush.  Glenn had been promising all trip to pull out a kite we’d bought for entertainment. This seemed like a great time for it.
Glorious Kings Park

Amazing how this Boab isn't sliding down the hill
We setup the kite and the girls were busting.  There wasn’t a heap of wind unfortunately, (a natural enemy to the kite), but we improvised by having a short line, and running around the park with it.  The girls were so excited and raced around looking at the flying butterfly behind them.  Well worth it.
Come back Dad! That's our kite!

It wasn’t all relaxing back at camp. Amy did have the usual 10 tonne of washing to get through. We squeezed in another huge grocery re-stock and Glenn had to track down an electrical short that had our break lights blowing regularly, not really what we want!  He eventually tracked it down to a set of wires rubbing against the back tank, shorting when they moved.  Given the difficult and inaccessible spot the wires were in, a bit of bush mechanics fixed the problem for now with a bit of foam stuffed up there, stopping them touching the tank.  Let’s see if that holds shall we!

Laverton to Perth

It was quite lucky that our bodies were still on NT time, and that the kids woke up pretty early the next morning.  The caravan park we were staying in was pretty basic, but adequate after our trip across the GCR.  It was also reasonably empty, except for a number of workers, presumably miners.  After dark a big work truck rolled up towing an old van.  They parked right beside us and setup.  During the night, we did notice the boys (maybe having come back from the pub) talking amongst themselves like it was midday.  Weird, but whatever.

What was a little more enjoyable however was them getting up, chatting (loudly) and then.... best of all, starting their truck up at 5.30am, for a 10 minute warm up.  Just as well we are so relaxed and on holidays.  Like I said, we were (just) awake, so no great biggie, but sheesh, respect!

From Laverton, we drove down to Leonora, fuelled up, and continued down to Kalgoorlie.  On the road down to Kal, we were absolutely amazed with how many trucks were on this road.  This looked like the central hub of mining for the whole of Australia.  Wow.

Back in Leonora, we had parked out the front of a pub to also get a quick bite to eat.  Standing there, we looked across at the chalk boards on the wall near the door.  One said “Tonight’s Specials”... yep, pretty standard.  On the other side it read “Tonight’s Skimpy”.  Ummm..  is that??.. really?  Does it really mean that????  In very faint chalk was written “Kashia”.  Hmm.. yep, seems to mean what we think it means.  For a laugh, Amy got a photo taken in front of the board.  Pity we didn’t have any chalk handy to put her name up there too.
Possible employment option...?
In Kalgoorlie, we stopped for a quick lunch.  It looked like a pretty big place, and interesting.  We didn’t have time to go see the ‘Super Pit’, maybe on the way back through.  We did notice though, on nearly every pub we passed, “Tonights Skimpy”.  It was all over the place!!!!  The boards were a little more ornate, and not rubbed out.  “Holly” was on tonight.
Good to keep abreast of the competition
We drove through the afternoon until getting to a designated roadside stop.  It was a huge area for camping and we wandered up the back to find a spot.  It looked perfect..... then we got out... and hmmm..  a few flies here.  Let’s setup.

By the time we had setup, we had about 20,000 flies on us, over us, around us.  They were horrendous!  We did murmur about packing up and moving out, but that seemed a bit over the top.  They were VERY bad though.  We ended up eating dinner in the camper which was actually quite comfortable.  We sat up on the cushions and the girls had their little table on the floor.  A quick washup, brush teeth, and we all hit the sack early.  Bugger those flies.  That’s ridiculous.

We were fearful of the onslaught in the morning.  We got up, and Glenn organised the breakfast, passing it through to the girls in the camper to eat there.  They were ok actually, not toooo bad, although when the sun did really come up, they started to appear.  Time to get out of there!

We did another reasonable day from there, stopping at Northam for a relaxed cafe lunch, a few ingredients for spag bol that night, and we were on our way again.

Rolling into the big city, our first since, well, Melbourne really, was not too bad.  We were early enough to avoid the thick traffic, and got to the caravan park in enough time to setup, have dinner, and hit the sack early.  It had been a big trip to get here!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Great Central Road – Warakurna (Giles) to Laverton

From here, the roads were generally in fantastic condition.  Kevin and his mates had done a great job, and the road was at times like a highway.

From Warakurna, we kept moving west, through Warburton, and past many communities.  There were a number of turn-offs we glanced down that we would hope to return to one day.  Roads such as Sandy Blight Track, Gunbarrell Track, Heather Track etc.  They were tempting to run off onto this trip, however it wasn’t the time nor scenario to do this.  It did give us a great taste for the area though.
Cruising along the Great Central Road
We camped that night in a marked bush camping spot.  This had some vivid red cliffs right beside us which illuminated as the sun came down.  We all climbed up on the bottom of the cliffs to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
Great bush camp AND Savannah washing up

A perfect desert sunset

A very dusty camper
The next day, the roads generally got better again, with us getting closer to Laverton.  We did have a couple of other diversions in mind, but in the end, we were happy to make our way through the GCR safely, and not push the envelope too far.  We were also getting a bit weary from all the driving, so adding extra km’s wasn’t a great idea.

The girls did a fabulous job travelling through this country.  We had to do some pretty big days, and they coped amazingly.  With a mixture of playing together, reading books, listening to their music on their Ipod, and every now and then sleeping, the hours kept ticking away.

As a side note, ever since we had done the Cape York trip, and after the girls saw a couple of vehicle recoveries, their role playing has taken on a new angle.  It was only a week or so after we’d finished the Cape trip that we watched Savannah playing with her toy cars.  “Hey matey, you ok there?”  “No matey, i’m stuck in mud.”  “Do you want a pull out?”  “Yes thanks.”  “Do you have a rope”  “Yes, here it is.”  “Ok, ready, set go......  there you go matey, you're out”  “Thanks matey”

Hilarious.  This extended to a bunch of their other play, including stuff we were hearing whilst running down the GCR.

We rolled into Laverton mid afternoon, very satisfied that we’d been able to see some of this vast outback country we’d been reading about, and travelled on the Great Central Road.  It was also interesting how our view of this trek changed now having done it.  Whilst the area is absolutely remote, it is by no means isolated, given the traffic and communities you pass along the way.  Plans to make the GCR an all weather/ bitumen road will open it up even more. We definitely plan to be back this way, someday.
Leaving a lunch spot along the GCR

Great Central Road – Yulara to Warakurna (Giles)

The Great Central Road is a 1000+km trek from Yulara / Uluru in NT to Laverton in WA, just above Kalgoorlie.  It is a part of a widely advertised route called 'The Outback Way’, which also extends up into central Queensland.

We were keen to experience this part of the country, having never been through there.  The Great Centra Road (GCR) passes through some Western deserts, such as the Gibson Desert, and is also the area which Len Beadell built a lot of his roads along with the Gunbarrel Construction Crew.  We had been interested in Len’s adventures for years, so was good to be able to put it into a little bit of context.
From Yulara, you pass by Uluru, and head towards Kata Juta (the Olga’s).  Just before you get to the Olga’s, you turn left, and head off down the dirt road towards the WA border.  You require a couple of permits to travel along the GCR, given you are passing through Aboriginal Lands.  For the WA side, in our case we had 3 days to pass through, so not too much hanging around.

The first section between the Olga’s and the WA border was a little rough, but nothing horrendous.  We had been on much, much worst.  The bush was similar to what we had been driving through around Alice and Uluru, which included the beautiful and striking red dirt we love so much.

A real highlight was approaching and driving through the Peterman Ranges.  These stood out on the horizon as we approached, and then ended up surrounding you as we drove through Docker River.  We had done a little reading in the past of explorers in the 1800’s travelling through this country, and mentioning the Peterman Ranges.  Was great to actually put context to them.

We also wondered how impressive the little gorges, waterfalls, caves and ridges would be, imaginging that it would be so untouched, and somewhat unexplored.  Given it is Aboriginal Land, not too many people get to see it, but would be pretty special if you were able.

Along the way, we also dropped in to see Lasserter’s Cave.  This was where a guy, Lasserter, held up for 25 days in late Jan, 1931.  He was looking for a huge gold reef he had apparently discovered back in 1897.  The existence of the reef remains one of Australia’s great romantic mysteries. 

In his 1931 expedition, his camels ended up bolting from him, taking all his supplies.  He held up in this cave until he finally made a run for the Olgas where members of his party were waiting for him.  He unfortunately didn’t make it, and died along the way.  The reef has yet to be found.
If you had to be stuck in a cave, it's not too bad as far as caves go

A dry, dusty and hopeless outlook from the cave
It was at the cave, while having lunch, we met a bunch of motorbike riders.  They were doing an organised trip from Perth to Airlie Beach, via outback roads.  What an adventure they were having!

We drove on past Docker River, where we were originally planning to stay.  It was still early in the day, and we were keen to get to Warakurna.

Warakurna is a roadhouse and community some 100kms into WA from the border.  It was a clean, well stocked roadhouse, and a very helpful guy looking after it all.  We organised for a night in the campground, noted we’d be back to look at the art gallery in the morning, and enquired on the drill for the Giles Weather Station tours.

The campground was equally clean, as were the facilities.  We setup camp and slowly got dinner on the go.  We had passed a grader driver working on the road, and not long after we’d setup, he rolled into camp and got into some cleanup jobs.

A little while later, Glenn wandered over to have a chat to him.  It was fascinating.  Kevin was absolutely up for a chat, no doubt because he would hardly talk to anyone all day!  He’d been doing the grading in this area for over a year, and had some great information and views on it all. 

Kevin was saying that bar about 3 weeks of a year, there are 3 graders working full time on the GCR and surrounding roads.  They do access roads for some aboriginal communities as well as mine sites.  Glenn also asked about how they actually did the grading, which we’d been wondering about for ages.

Funnily, when Glenn wandered over, Kevin had just finished using his grader blade as a bead breaker on his Hilux tire.  He was having to fix it, and what better way to break the bead I guess!!!!

The next morning, we packed up as quick as we could, and headed up the road to the weather station.  Giles is the most remote weather station in Australia.  We were really keen to have a tour of the operation, and also see the weather balloon being released for the morning readings, although we were not 100% sure that they were still running.  Luckily for us it was.
Giles, the most remost weather station in the country

Craig grabbed us, being the only ones there, and gave us the run-down on the station.  There were a heap of facts and details, which were great to help know a little more about how it all works.  Giles is the last location in Australia where they manually release the balloons.  The balloons are used to track upper atmosphere wind conditions, as well as temp, humidity etc. 

The balloon is released at 8.45 each morning, coinciding with other balloon releases right around the world.  The balloon rises at a constant rate, getting to a height of 35kms before popping.  At that height, the balloon has expanded to be around 15 metres wide!  The balloon is tracked for direction and height, as well as sends data back to a radar on the ground.  All this information is collated and sent to the Bureau for various inputs.

We learnt a bunch out of the tour, and it was a real highlight of our GCR trip.  It was however disappointing to find out that Craig, who was the maintenance and support guy on the station, as well as the tour guide, was due to leave in 10 days.  Apparently the big bosses had determined that his position was no longer required, and he was finishing up!  The concept was that the weather observers were suppose to do the tours, but word on the ground was that they wouldn’t.  Very disappointing.

We could have sat around talking to Craig for hours, about the station, and the surrounding areas and community.  He had a lot of knowledge and experience, and some interesting views on what goes on.  He had jobs to do, so we let him go.  We looked over the old grader that was out the front, which was used by the Gunbarrel Construction Crew to make a lot of the surrounding desert roads.
The grader used to open up much of the outback in the 60's

Remains of a rocket found nearby

After this, we dropped back into the art gallery for a quick look at the impressive artwork, but we did resist this time. 

It was time to head onwards, and westwards.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Yulara and Uluru

From Chambers, we made the trek back out to the highway.  It took a while, but nothing too difficult.  From there, it was about 3 hours on bitumen to get to Yulara.  Long distances out there!

Glenn had been following another family’s blog who were basically doing a similar thing to us.  They were a couple from Qld, 2 young kids, a Camprite camper, and 6 months off.  They were going a similar way to us at the start, and we’d hope to catch up with them at some stage, but they were a month or two ahead.  As it happened, they came up the Great Central Road, visited Uluru, and then  headed to Alice.  If we had not delayed in Alice for a few days, it was likely we would have met them in the bush and even camped with them. 

Instead, driving down the Stuart Highway towards the Uluru turnoff, we spotted each other as we passed.  It was a quick jump on the UHF and about a 40 second chat before we got out of range.  Strange how things work out, huge country, different travels, yet we still crossed paths.

The contrasts in the type of camping we do at times could not have been more stark than now.  We had been 2 days out at Chambers Pillar, with effectively no-one else directly around us, peace and quiet, lovely.  Compare that to what we had just rolled into at Yulara, the tourist village near Uluru.

We were given a site, which at first glance we wondered how we would even setup the girls table in the space provided, let alone park the car and camper.  We ended up slotting ourselves in and started cooking dinner.  20 minutes later, 3 cars turned up, 12 international tourists poured out, 6 tents and a couple of rooftopers were erected, and the party began.  Whoooohooo.
From a private bush setting to camp city
We did the tourist thing the next day.  Went out to the rock, did some walks around the base to look at the caves, gorges, and rockfaces, drove around it, and then headed back to camp.  A bit of rest and relaxation for all, pre-cooked dinner, and then took it out to see the sunset on the rock.

We felt pretty organised eating our dinner, sipping on drinks, and watching Uluru change colour.  It was a lovely view, and special for the kids to see.  Hopefully they remember, but if not, the photo’s will tell the story.
So lovely to see the kids taking in the spiritual atmosphere...

Thanks international tourist for taking this shot

Dinner AND a show - lucky kids

These photos will come out again at your 21st

Just magic - you never get tired of visiting this place

Chambers Pillar

We finally rolled out of Alice, having really enjoyed all our activities there. 

We headed south down the highway, first stopping in at Rainbow Valley, which we both viewed from the car.  The girls were fast asleep (a rare, but important event when it happens), so we didn’t want to wake them.  We then make our way to Chambers Pillar, a fair trek on dirt roads to get to.
Castle Rock as our backdrop - our home for 2 nights & all to ourselves
When we got there, we found that we had it to ourselves.  VEEEEERRRY SPECIAL.  We setup camp, had an early dinner, and then went for an evening walk to the sunset viewing area.  Chambers Pillar is a pillar of sandstone which towers 50 metres above the surrounding plain. John McDouall Stuart, heading north on his earliest attempt to cross Australia, first recorded the pillar in April 1860 and named it after James Chambers, one of his South Australian sponsors.
Iconic shots, but they are our own


The sunset colours were well worth the short walk, all highlighted by the setting sun. 

We went to bed with the weather being warm and still.  We woke with it being cold and windy.  The predicted cold change had come through, and brought with it a whole bunch of wind.  It was a hangout at camp day, so we donned our jackets and walked back to the Pillar, this time doing the short climb up to the base.  The girls had to hang on to avoid being blown over and down.  They managed fine, although Glenn had to rescue Jess’s headband which was lying precariously on the sloping rock.

Glenn remembered coming here as a kid, on a family holiday.  It was so hot then that by the time the family made the sandwiches for lunch, the bread had turned to toast.  Mum and his sisters thought it was tooooo hot to walk, so he and his Dad clambered up the rocks and checked out the base.  It was interesting, but not all that unexpected, that there were now stairs, handrails, and boardwalks.  Standing on the boardwalk, it looked like a steep clamber.  Wow we were good to have been able to do that!

After our little walking adventure, we did something we’d planned to do nearly all trip.  We all climbed into the camper, laid on our double bed, and all watched a movie together.  The wind buffeted outside, but we didn’t care, and Toy Story 2 kept us all amused, well, except Jess who eventually fell asleep.  Was a hoot though, will have to try to do it again! J

That night, we couldn’t resist doing the sunset walk again.  It was a great after dinner stroll, with views to reward us.  Loved it.
Watching the sunset

A little bit of hollywood comes to Chambers Pillar

Monday, 15 October 2012

Right...we were we?

After everyone had left on Friday, it was back to just us.  The 4 of us.  Remember, big holiday, tripping around, not in Melbourne.  Ohhh yeah, that’s it.

We had been ignoring our jobs during the week, so it was time to catch up.  We had to do our normal huge shop for the next phase, and re-set the car and camper.

From the airport, we went and had lunch, then drove into the shopping car park.  Sitting there, early afternoon, very hot, and a little tired, we drew on our experience and common sense, and aborted!!!  We’d do the shopping early the next morning, when we and the girls were a little fresher.  On the way home, we did want to tick off at least one job, so filled the car up.

As we were leaving the servo, across the road was a shed with a sign for Aboriginal Art, direct from the Studio.  When we bought the house in Eltham, the previous owners had a huge piece of art in the entry, as soon as you opened the front door.  It was very striking, and made a great impact.  Ever since, we had been hoping one day to get something similar.  It was a huge struggle to get out and make ourselves look, but hey, we are here now!

In the gallery, the guy was very helpful.  We wandered and flicked for a bit, and got talking to him.  We gave him an idea of what we wanted, and he started pulling artwork out from the piles, and then from the back room.  He must have pulled out more than 2 dozen pieces for us to look at.  We were eventually inspired by two pieces, and after a huge deliberation, settled on a piece from George Ward.  It was going to look great on our wall, but wow, what an unexpected purchase!

All that activity deserved an afternoon of hanging out in the pool.  Very much welcomed by all of us.

On Saturday, we did go and do that shopping, which was much easier given how refreshed we were.  The girls played while Glenn did his normal ‘how do I fit this all in’ routine.  There were a few more jobs to do on the car and camper, which pretty much saw the day out.  We did sneak back to the Italian restaurant that night for a second bash at the food, and of course that vanilla slice!!

We had originally planned to leave on the Sunday and go down to Chambers Pillar.  This was south of Alice in the middle of the desert area.  The prediction for Sunday and Monday around Alice was to be 38 – 39 degrees.  We had done a lot of camping up in WA with temps like this, and decided we might avoid it this time, given the choice of sitting around the pool instead.  We would leave Tuesday instead.

This meant for 2 days of lazing around, lots and lots of swimming, more pancakes on Sunday morning (awwwww... bummer huh???  Wasn’t hard to take), and a little wandering around town.  It was nice to kick back and enjoy.  We did start to feel like locals though after such a long stay.  We even started to get to know the staff.  Time to leave before roots start growing!
The girls kicking back into 'normal mode' - enjoying play dough

Jess checks Glenn's maintenance work under the camper

A Family Week in Alice

We quickly settled into catch-ups, cuppa’s, and chats with the whole family.  Our new site was perfectly close to the unit, and also near enough to the facilities and playground.  A big spaghetti bog was sorted out for dinner, and the drinks started.
Lots to catch up on
It was great to share with the whole family a little slice of our trip, and to show them how we were set up, and our day to day life on the road, albeit this being the caravan version of it.

We spent the next couple of days just hanging out.  The cousins had a great time on the playgrounds, jumping pillows, bicycle go-carts, and eventually the pool.

The first couple of days were freezing, so much so that one day Glenn actually replaced his shorts with long pants, something he hadn’t worn for about 6 months!!!  Was a very weird feeling having material flapping around your legs.  Didn’t like it!

By mid week, it did warm up though, which is when the swimming started.

Everyone couldn’t get over our tans, compared to their pasty white Melbourne winter skin.  They were definitely soaking up the rays in Alice.

On Sunday mornings, the park puts on free pancakes!!!  We made sure we were front and centre and they were sensational.  A few of us managed to stuff down three huge pancakes, which were definitely filling!  We then ventured into town to visit the markets.  A great wander, and a few choice purchases, including some lovely art by Kaz & Andy.
Pancakes.  And what's deal with the jackets?!
Our brother-in-law Andy, had to return to Melbourne on Monday, ready for work on Tuesday.  It was sad to have one of the ‘possy’ go home, and he had enjoyed being up in Alice for a few days.  Was definitely better to have come up for those few days rather than not at all, but we all would have rather he didn’t go.  We even accidently served a plate up for him at dinner that night!!!
A big breaky cooked by Poppy and Andrew

The go carts were great fun
The team did the Alice Springs Desert Park on the Tuesday, which was a great wander.  It did contain a few ‘rocks and crud’ as one of the more interested in our group commented, but definitely a lot to learn.  The birds of prey show was also worth a look. 

On the Wednesday, Glenn and his Dad took time off from holidaying and lined up to do a service on Slim, which also included having to change the rear brake pads.  The general service went without a hitch, but the brake pads took quite a while.  It was hot and dusty work, but in the end the job was done, and timed well, given the rear pads were pretty much gone.

On Thursday before everyone had to leave the next day, we did a family outing to Ellery Big Hole.  This is a large rockhole in the West MacDonald Ranges, great for swimming, and a beautiful view.  The water was absolutely freezing, being such a deep waterhole, but most still braved it, especially the kids of course.  Glenn blew up a spare tube to help with some floating around, and exploring the other side. 
The cousins

The climactic conclusion was dinner on the Thursday night.  We had lucked onto a local Italian restaurant in town which looked the goods.  We all piled into the place and setup for a feast.  The food ended up being absolutely delicious, with a mix of breads, pastas and pizzas.  Perfect for a family gathering.  More than one or two drinks were guzzled as appropriate of course.  A few were interested in dessert, of which there was either ice-cream or vanilla slice.  When the vanilla slice came, it caused quite a stir.  This was no ordinary slice.  Even those who don’t like snot blocks were salivating over this one.  The waitress was requested for some extra plates by those that had been inspired!  What a night.
Friday was leaving day.  The surprise and holiday week was complete.  It was sad to see everyone pile through the gates at the airport, but outstanding memories of the visit, and a great catchup during our 8 month trip.  Thanks family for your huge efforts, and celebrations with us.  Thanks Amy for co-ordinating the unco-ordinatable, and thanks Glenn for turning 40, and being such a fabulous, amazing guy, worth celebrating with!!!!  (Side note – Glenn, I don’t think you’re meant to talk about yourself in this way.)
The original 'Annetts' crew on Anzac Hill

Thanks guys - we loved every minute of it!