Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

27-May-2005
   
For the last six days we have travelled 2000kms in the outback of the Northern Territory so there has not been any opportunities to update the website and as there has not been so much to see here, we have done less sightseeing and more driving.

After leaving Gregory Downs, we travelled south to Mount Isa where we spent a couple of nights and stocked up with food. Mount Isa is a large town for this part of Australia and is dominated by a large mine. In fact they say it's the worlds biggest producer of silver and lead and one of the biggest producers of copper. Mount Isa's other claim to fame is that it is the world's biggest city as it covers an area larger than Switzerland and has a main street that is 180kms long. This is because the city limits include the neighbouring town of Camooweal 180kms away and if you see the amount of smoke that comes out of the chimney at the mine, its no wonder their neighbours are so far away!

Mount Isa Mine Looks a bit like the refinery at home but much quieter.

Mount Isa Mine
Road Train I have mentioned road trains a few times; here is another picture of one that gives you a better idea of their size. That's all one vehicle and it can weigh up to 150tonnes and in the Northern Territory where we are heading next, there is no speed limit.

After leaving Mount Isa, we drove the 670kms to Tennant Creek. This was a long day but as the countryside didn't change much and there was nothing much to stop for, we pressed on through. There was one stretch of the Barkly Highway where there was not a tree to be seen anywhere, just grasslands as far as the eye could see. There was one roadhouse selling rather expensive fuel but we topped up at Camooweal and had enough to get us all the way. The journey took us across the State line from Queensland into the Northern Territory and we had to adjust or clocks back by half an hour and get rid of any fruit we might be carrying. This is one of the rest areas we stopped at with a windmill drawing water out of a borehole.

Rest area on the Barkly Highway

Barkly Highway rest area
Daly Waters Pub

We bush camped at the Juno Horse Centre about 10kms east of Tennant Creek. Very rustic facilities but the guy that run it was interesting. In the morning we set off north up the Stuart Highway for an overnight stop behind a pub at Daly Waters. Someone had recommended this place to us as they did 'Beef 'N' Barra' meals. There was entertainment all evening as well.

The Daly Waters Pub

We had a good evening there but didn't get much sleep until about 2:30am when the noise died down. I think everyone else who was towing a caravan on the Stuart Highway stayed there that night. We were crammed in just in front of the corrugated iron toilets! We had some very nice neighbours though who came from Perth and we look forward to catching up with them again somewhere along the track.

Our neighbours at Daly Waters

Our neighbors at Daly Waters
Bitter Springs Out next stop was totally different at the Elsey National Park near Mataranka. This was a very quiet campsite located alongside the Roper River. Mataranka is famous for its hot springs and the homestead of early settlers Jeannie and Aeneas Gunn of 'We of the never never' fame. The original homestead of the Gunn family no longer exists but we visited a replica that was made for the film. There are two hot springs in the area but by far the best ones were called 'Bitter Springs'. The water here is crystal clear and a constant 34deg. We took our masks and snorkels and swam with the current for about 100mtrs where there was a ladder to climb out, walk along the path and do it again, and again. We saw some turtles in the water in a couple of places. The visibility underwater must have been at least 40mtrs. It doesn't look it but the water here is about 4mts deep. The banks of the river were lined with palms and there were blue lilies floating in the water.