As Katie had some school and uni work to do Rich and I took her car and set off with Maddie in search of some wood for our campfires. We left the boys behind to get their swags packed up. Katie was able to use our RV wifi and logon to do her work.
There’s a Mitre10 in Alice so we headed there first. They usually have wood. We were able to get a bag of firewood and a bag of kindling. All set for our free camp that night.
Next stop was the chemist and we found one just near the Coles Supermarket. The shopping centre in the Alice CBD is quite good with all the usual shops you would expect in a town of that size. There’s a Woolworths and Coles Supermarkets and a large Kmart as well as most of the chain stores.
We arrived back at the park to find Katie had finished her school and uni work and was ready to pack up and hit the road. We set off just before 10am. We like the Discovery Park at Alice Springs and recommend it, especially to families as they cater very well for children with lots to do. There’s a couple of playgrounds, two jumping pillows, the swimming pools with water slide, free shows in the evening and you can even hire pedal go-karts. The amenities blocks are large and cater well for the large park. The camp kitchen near us was quite large with lots of room for many families.
There was quite a bit of excitement in the vehicles as we set off south. We were finally on our way to Uluru. Our original plan was to visit Uluru first, then Kings Canyon then Alice and the West MacDonnells however that had to be changed simply because the campground at Ayers Rock was completely booked out for two weeks. So our plan became Alice Springs and the West MacDonnells, then Uluru, then Kings Canyon then home again. So this day we were finally on our way to the big red rock.
It’s 475km from Alice to Yulara (the township nearest Uluru) so we thought we’d free camp somewhere along the way and arrive at Yulara the next day.
We had an uneventful trip to Erldunda, which claims to be the Centre of the Centre, where we pulled over to have a lunch break. We did pull into the road house however they had renovations going on at the pumps and it was a bit chaotic. The queue for the one working petrol pump was some 12 caravans long and as we didn’t really need fuel we continued on around the corner and pulled off the road where two vans were already pulled in. We’d turned the corner so we’d left the Stuart Highway and were now on the Lassiter Highway heading west.
The Lassiter Highway forms part of the Outback Way, otherwise known as Australia’s Longest Shortcut. This route goes from Winton in outback Queensland to Alice then to Yulara and across the desert to Laverton in WA. It is 2,700km long and has a current project happening to eventually tar the entire length. That will be amazing. We met a couple at Glen Helen who had driven across from WA. They said it took them 2 days to get to Yulara from Laverton and was much quicker for them than going all the way around across the Nullarbor. And that was with most of the way still being dirt.
We drove through Mt Ebenezer and it was a bit sad. The roadhouse and other buildings were all boarded up and derelict. It obviously was a thriving roadhouse once.
The countryside on the way to Yulara is vast woodland plains with low scrubby trees and shrubs. We hadn’t seen any sign of life though apart from the occasional bird of prey and the humans in vehicles. Hadn’t even seen a lizard on the road.
As we approached our camp spot for the night at Petermann Rest Stop (Curtin Springs East) we got our first glimpse of Mt Connor.
Wow wow wow. If Uluru is bigger then I’m going to be gobsmacked!
Mt Connor is a flat topped mesa that rises out of the desert to a height of 859m. It was glowing pink in the afternoon sun. People traveling to Uluru often mistake Mt Connor for Uluru so it is also known as Foolaru.
We chose our camp spot well. We pulled into the Petermann Rest Area and we were the only ones there. We were able to get well back from the road and set up around a little fire pit with our vehicles blocking the prevailing wind. We are surrounded by fabulous Desert Oak trees. We love these strange looking trees. The kids think they look like The Lorax from Dr Seuss.
While Richard got the wood ready for our fire the rest of us went for a walk over the sand dunes to get a good look at Mt Connor. Wow, just wow. I love all the different plants you find in the desert. Lots of red sand and there are these fabulous plants.
Riley and Pa cooked our steaks on the Biji-BBQ. Riley is becoming quite the BBQ cook. Our steaks were accompanied by baked potato and pumpkin and a rocket, beetroot, feta & walnut salad. Scrumptious!
After dinner we sat around our lovely little camp fire and played a silly word game. This game involves each person saying only two words then the next person says two words and adds to the story. Our story ended up being about an ugly princess who had warts and hairy armpits. She had a sister who had a boyfriend who fought unicorns. It was hilarious. There was lots of giggles to see who could say the next silliest thing. What a funny evening.
As we only had 120km to go to arrive at Yulara the next day we decided to have a sleep-in morning and aim to set off by 10. The night wasn’t as cold as the recent ones in the West MacDonnells.