6th & 7th June, 2016
We got off to an early start from Camooweal Billabong, back into town to fuel up and use the dump point. The road across to 3 Ways, at the junction with the Stuart Highway, is very good, though fairly flat and featureless and there was almost no traffic.
We refuelled again at 3 Ways and had lunch at the roadhouse before setting off again for our proposed overnight camp at Attack Creek, so named because the explorer, John McDouall Stuart, after whom the highway is named, was repulsed there by Aborigines on his second attempt to cross Australia from south to north.
As always, Erich was interested in photographing the memorial to Stuart’s attempt. Our van can be glimpsed in the background.
As we were in such an isolated spot with no artificial light, Erich decided to try out a feature on his camera called Live Composite, being a long time exposure setting. These are his first attempts at star trails.
He also loves the flowering acacias or Wattles as they are more commonly known, the official floral emblem of Australia.
Next morning we set off with the intention of camping at a WW2 hospital site that was listed on Wikicamps. That turned out to be a failure and we were lucky to find a spot to turn around on the narrow track. So we decided to head to Gorrie Airstrip, a former WW2 airfield where we knew there would be plenty of room. On arrival, we saw no other campers so selected a good looking spot and did our usual overnight set up. It was while we were sitting in the shade of a nearby tree that we noticed a pall of smoke rising from the west. We watched it for a while and decided that it looked to be getting worse and having no internet or phone reception, decided to head back to the highway in search of a safer overnight spot.
We were not too far from a place we had camped at last year in a National Park and knew that it would be suitable but as we drove along and I explored Wikicamps a bit more, I found a rest area that looked like it would be suitable as it was not as far off the highway as the National Park. When we arrived it was not too crowded and we deemed it to be a suitable overnighter.
Warloch Rest Area.
As we have found on this trip, these rest areas fill up quickly and we found ourselves almost literally surrounded by campers. In fact, we had a Belgian backpacker pitching her tent not two metres from our caravan door. It was fortunate that the wind blew in the opposite direction because she had certainly not been near a shower in many days. We normally enjoy a chat with these European backpackers but we beat a hasty retreat from this one.
Prior to her arrival, we had enjoyed sitting outside birdwatching and trying to capture a decent photo of the elusive Jacky Winter.
Another early start saw us on the road to Katherine, passing through Mataranka on the way and promising ourselves that we would stop at Bitter Springs on the return journey. We had been to Katherine last year so we knew where we could park the van to do our grocery shopping. As we were walking along to Woolworths, we spotted a Coffee Club and thought that breakfast sounded like a good plan. It certainly hit the spot. We didn’t need many groceries, certainly not any fruit or vegetables as we knew that we were not allowed to take any into Western Australia. A quick refuel and we were headed west.