Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve – Murray Downs Station (Northern Territory)


11/09/15 The scenery and flora south of Tennant Creek changed quickly and we were now driving through some very pretty country. In mostly undulating flat landscape with the occasional ridge and mesa formation, the vegetation was lusher than what we’d just come through further north, consisting of low heath type shrubs and grasses and stunted trees. And being springtime, a lot of the shrubs were in flower.

After looking around the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station we headed on and we stopped for lunch at the Devil’s Marbles formation which was absolutely spectacular, and much larger in area than I’d previously believed. Lots of photos and videos were taken of the huge rock formations during our walk around them.

The road in to Murray Downs Station from the Stuart Highway was 21kms of single-lane bitumen to the aboriginal community of Al-Curung, and then 35kms of corrugated sandy road to the homestead. For Di, the red earth colours of the road and surrounding landscape really brought home for the first time that we were in Central Australia. It was good to be off the bitumen.

The station operates a small general store to service the nearby Imangara aboriginal community, stocking everything from groceries and meat to motor vehicle supplies and clothing.

Over a drink with Sophie, the manager, and stockmen Matt and BJ, we learned that we were not really Travellers or Nomads as we’d always believed, but “Originals” as Sophie’s young son calls anyone who doesn’t live on the property. As hard as I tried, BJ would just not part with an enormous set of scrub bull horns that he was preparing for mounting…damn.

After two nights’ stay, we took a lesser-used southern track from Murray Downs to get back to the Stuart Highway, which turned out to be a much smoother track than the one that we’d come in on. It took us by a couple of cattle bores where mobs were watering. While I re-inflated the tyres for the bitumen, Di took the opportunity for a photo shoot of the flowering shrubs and trees.

 “Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – JRR Tolkien

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