Did a bit of shopping first and then to the Stuart Arms en route to the swimming pool. Spent the usual sort of lazy day, but it was very hot and by 5 I was feeling ill again. John went for a meal while Dulcie and I watched. Drove up Anzac Hill to view a very fine sunset. Back to the pub but I didn’t even feel like drinking so had ginger beer. John and Dulcie left for Ayers Rock at 11.30. I could not face the prospect of going back out into the desert again so soon, so I nobly volunteered to guard the campsite.
Tues. Feb 12 Alice Springs
Managed a lie-in this a.m. until 9.30, then into town for a tomato sandwich and coffee for breakfast. Into the pub until lunchtime, then to the pool, which I had all to myself until mid-afternoon. Back to the pub where I stayed until 8.30, then. To a café for a feed of T-bone steak, eggs and salad-my first decent meal for a while. I walked to the campsite and found John and Dulcie there.
Wed. Feb 13 Alice Springs
Did a big pile of washing, and then wandered into town where we drank coffee, Granita, beer, and fruit juice before sneaking into the swimming pool again for free. Had a meal at a restaurant, then back to camp to get packed.
Thurs. Feb 14 Alice Springs to Devil’s Marbles
Up early and into town by 9.30.After a couple of drinks we were mobile by 10.30. Drove as far as Aileron and stopped for a beer. No draught—disgusting! Carried on to Barrow Creek and had another beer, Still no beer on draught so on we went as far as the Devil’s Marbles. This is an area of huge, rounded, granite boulders, all perched in weird and wonderful positions. We decided to camp there and spent a bit of time clambering over them. The flies are very bad tonight. As soon as it got dark, in went the flies and out came the mozzies. We were all well and truly bitten.
Fri. Feb 15 Devil’s Marbles to bush camp
Woke to find the mozzies gone and the flies back. Had an early start after taking a couple of photos and drove to Tennant Creek. We loaded up with fuel and food then drove 16 miles to the John Flynn memorial where we turned left. We are now heading east again. About 180 miles further on we met up with an ancient truck trying to tow a dilapidated Holden Ute. Both were broken down. We managed to get the truck going and followed them into the bush to a rather sordid drilling camp. Where we got to know two characters. Gil was a one-legged giant of a man, whose partner, the owner of the drilling rig and the camp, had inconveniently died the previous night. The cops had given Gil 48 hrs to remove himself from the scene. Casey Nelson was a drunken station hand who had obviously been a boozing buddy of the deceased. We had a couple of beers while Casey proceeded to flatten a bottle of brandy. In the meantime, John had taken the fuel pump off the Holden and fixed it so at least Gil would be able to depart with some dignity. A glance behind the ramshackle caravan used by the boss revealed a possible cause of death---a stack of empty brandy bottles about 8ft high. Eventually, Casey’s boss came and poured him into a land rover and took him away. The rest of us carried on drinking until sleep, aided by brandy, overcame “mine host”. In the morning I was tactfully informed that the camp stretcher I had slept on was the one on which the boss had died the night before! An authentic glimpse of bush life.
It rained quite hard during the night.
Sat. Feb 16 Bush camp to e. of Mt Isa
Woke rather damp and had breakfast. Spent about an hour trying to get the ute going but had to give up.Packed up and Gil presented us with enough food to keep us going for a while-including a dozen cans of beer. His rationale being that if we didn’t take it the cops would steal it anyway. Drove off through rather flat, uninteresting country to Mt Isa. Had a couple of drinks and, after a lot of mucking about, managed to get some fuel. We set off on the road to Mary Kathleen only to come to a sudden stop on the banks of the E. branch of the R.Leichart. It was running very swiftly, about 3 ft deep, and with a soft sandy bottom. We decided to wait until morning before trying to cross. John spent about an hour towing various people across from the other side. Then we dined on salad and fresh fruit before turning in early
Sun. Feb 17 Mt Isa to Kynuna
Early start and made a determined attempt to cross under our own steam, but got ourselves stuck up to the chassis in sand. However, many willing hands pulled us through. John then spent an hour towing various other people through while Dulcie and I lay in the water and watched. Great entertainment. Drove to Cloncurry, and gained entry to a pub by the back door. Drove to Mc Inlay and had a couple of beers with two blokes from a nearby station who had been travelling with us. Just outside McInlay we got bogged in a bloody big mud hole In the process of digging it out, John was stung by a small scorpion-the first we have seen. Reached Kynuna after quite a rough ride and pitched camp in the pub yard. Killed a big scorpion just near the back of the land rover—nasty things. Today was the roughest road since leaving Alice.