7/10/15 We enjoyed our nineteen day stay in Alice Springs. The campsite at the showgrounds was lovely, in the shade of a big pepperina tree, and it gave us a great base from which to explore the surrounding ranges. The town itself “is a bonza place”, in the words of Nevil Shute. I thoroughly enjoyed his novel “A Town Like Alice” while we were there – a recommended read. The morning we left Alice, we were woken at 5:00am by the sound of rain on the roof, the first since early June. Nothing came of it, though, beyond the first few heavy raindrops. As we left Alice for Yulara and Kings Canyon, we reached the 32,000km mark since starting our travels around Australia last year.
Just 60kms or so south of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway, we passed within a hair’s breadth of one my “Extreme Points of Mainland Australia”. The “Median Point” is the midpoint (24°15’00” S 133°25’00” E) between the extremes of latitude and longitude that enclose Australia. This unmarked point is located in mountainous bushland a kilometre or so west of the highway, with no vehicle access and I had to settle for near enough being good enough. Tick that one off on my list.
At the intersection with the unsealed Ernest Giles Road that went off to the west, we pulled over, dropped the tyre pressures down and went in 16kms to the Henbury Meteorite Craters, comprising over a dozen craters formed when a fragmented meteorite hit the Earth’s surface 4,000 years ago. It is apparently one of the world’s best preserved examples of a small crater field. We were later informed that the best way to confirm meteorite fragments is with a magnet. And, yes, it does work. Not that any were removed from within the Conservation Reserve, mind you.
The country had begun to look drier and redder, with spinifex-covered sand dunes becoming a regular feature and the ground underfoot like soft red beach sand. The Simpson Desert to the east was making known its presence.
Back on the highway south, we overnighted at Erldunda.
“The slow nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty countries.” – Rolf Potts, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel