The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

Rosemary's Road Trip 2015


Now That’s a Road Trip – Part 1

I went on a bit of a road trip in 2015 – about 11,500 kilometres without counting the side trips to tourist attractions and bush camps. I started at Collie in Western Australia with my new best friend, the blue parrot that landed on my shoulder and adopted me for a couple of weeks. And I’ll see out 2015 back in the Collie area at Stockton Lake. This is what my road trip looks like –

2015 trip

I thought it would be interesting to highlight my Top 20 places I visited this year, so here’s the first 10 (ten), in chronological order.

1. Stockton Lake, near Collie, Western Australia

Stockton Lake is about 7kms east of Collie. It is only $5.50 a night (concession) and the only facilities are toilets – no drinking water or power – so you need to be fairly self-contained. To be able to camp on the edge of the lake makes it all worthwhile!

2. Chapman Pool, Blackwood River, Western Australia

There are 3 great campsites along the Blackwood River: Alexander Bridge, Chapman Pool and Sue’s Bridge. Chapman Pool was my favourite, not least because I caught a couple of good sized black bream there! And what about the possum that invited itself to dinner! This was the best swimming hole, too. $6.60 a night (concession), long drop toilets, barbeques. No power or drinking water.

3. Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park

I shouted myself a bit of luxury and stayed here for 5 nights – showers, toilets, laundry, power and water! The bonus was the boat cruise run by the manager of the caravan park. I don’t know what the going rate is but I was lucky enough to negotiate a good price at the time I was there (Feb 2015) It was while staying here that I was prompted to write my poem called The Parking Roundabout.

I can’t leave Denmark without including some photos of the spectacular Elephant Rocks and beach which is a short drive west of Denmark on the Williams Bay Road.

4. Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand, near Esperance, Western Australia

Lucky Bay is in the National Park at Cape Le Grand in the South East corner of Western Australia. It was my first beach stopover when I arrived in 2014 and nearly 12 months later I was back in one of my favourite campsites. It prompted me to write my poem Lucky Bay. This year I caught up with Richard again, having first met at Lucky Bay last year, and his friend Jay took us driving over the dunes at nearby Dunn’s and Rossiter Bay – spectacular!

Lucky Bay is $6.60 per night, solar showers, flush toilets, limited drinking water – and a coffee van visits the beach a few days a week. What more could a girl ask for?

5. Salmon Gums, Western Australia

Salmon Gums, Western Australia

Salmon Gums Community Caravan Park

You’re probably wondering why I would include a dry and dusty caravan park in my favourites…. well, I’ve stayed there on 3 different occasions now and each time I have met some wonderful people. It is only $5 a night for an unpowered site, there are spotlessly clean showers and toilets, a laundry and I’ve always had great company. My poem about Max, the Mad Rooter was written here after watching Max try to assert his dominance over Jock, the caretaker, Janet’s, little dog.

6. Martins Bend, South Australia

Easter 2015 was shared with my sister, Marion, at Martin’s Bend on the Murray River in South Australia. It was the time of the blood moon and I love the photo I snapped of the full moon through the trees over the river. We had a relaxing few days there at a very minimal cost. There were toilets and drinking water available. No fish jumped on my hook though 🙂

7. Lake Hart, South Australia

Lake Hart is on the highway about 250kms north of Port Augusta on the way to Coober Pedy and only about 25kms as the crow flies west of Roxby Downs. It is a free roadside stop and is one of my favourites because of the vastness of this old abandoned salt lake mine and the spectacular photo opportunities it provided. There were no facilities there but a picnic table! Oh, and The Ghan passed by on its way north – that was pretty special!

8. Yulara – camping at Uluru, Northern Territory

My visit to Uluru, and the campground at Yulara, was extra special as I had my birthday there and celebrated by going to the Sounds of Silence Dinner. It became even more special when I met Roswitha, who was also celebrating her birthday on the same day. We shared a table at dinner and have maintained contact ever since, with Roswitha and her husband Klaus also joining us at our camp at Alice Springs for a few days.

And it’s impossible to leave here without including Kata Juta (The Olgas) as part of this special experience in the ‘heart’ of Australia.

Yulara offered a 3 night camping package for $84 with all facilities provided, plus it was only a walk to the Resort with its shops, restaurants and bars. The Sounds of Silence Dinner was $190 or thereabouts.

9. Alice Springs, Northern Territory

We stayed in Alice Springs for about 2 weeks as it was the jumping off point to visit so many nearby attractions. The Gap View Hotel offered camping out the back for $11 a night and there were showers, toilets, barbeques and a laundry. You could also connect to power for a couple of extra dollars (it was a bit dodgy, with leads running everywhere, but it worked!)

Gap View Hotel, Alice Springs

Happy Hour at the Gap View Hotel

Old Telegraph Station and Alice Springs Desert Park

Hermannsburg and Palm Valley

West MacDonnell Ranges and Standley Chasm

Alice Springs – a ‘must go back to ‘ place – I haven’t even ventured to the East MacDonnell Ranges yet!

Ooops! Can’t leave Alice Springs without my side trip to Amburla on the way north…..

Amburla Station

10. Longreach Waterhole, Northern Territory

The Longreach Waterhole is a few kms north of Elliot, in the Northern Territory. My travelling companions, Margaret and Nev, decided not to venture on to the gravel road but I am certainly glad I did. The waterbirds were a constant entertainment, there were plenty of places to camp right at the edge of the waterhole, there was a long drop toilet, a picnic shelter and best of all, it was free! I enjoyed a few days there before leaving to catch up to the others further north.

My next ten of my top twenty will be in my next post – probably a week before I connect to power again – so from my latest camp at Lake Brockman my friends and I will shut down the computer and see you in the great outdoors.







Daly Waters Pub, Northern Territory


Let’s Hear It For The Girls – From Alice to Katherine

Alice to KatherineI left Alice Springs on June 3rd to spend a few days at a cattle station about 100kms north west of there where Al, one of the happy campers at The Gap View Hotel, was off to work 6 months as manager. What a great experience that was! Just to be on a 1 million acre property was unbelievable, but I also had the opportunity to go out on a bore run one day. The bore run was about 170 kms checking the cattle, the water troughs, the pumps and the tanks at different places around the property. As Al had not long been there he was also finding his way and setting himself up for the longer haul. There was an established vegetable garden there but we also planted seeds for silverbeet, lettuce, onions and carrots to keep the supplies flowing. Unfortunately I wasn’t there long enough to see any little shoots come through but I am getting progress reports when the seedlings are bursting through the soil.

Before I got too comfortable feeding the chooks and watering the plants I was heading north again. A quick stopover at the Ti-Tree roadhouse overnight and I was on my way to the Devil’s Marbles. I really enjoy reading the traditional owners stories about some of these areas so I’m sharing this one with you.

I found this next plaque very sad as I think society in general has ‘lost the song’ to bring their children home…

Devil's Marbles Northern TerritoryThe Devil’s Marbles themselves were awe inspiring, as is so much of the landscape in Central Australia.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not far from here there are also The Pebbles, not quite as spectacular but once again an important place in indigenous culture. The Pebbles are a women’s meeting place and men have to ask permission to travel through this area.

I drove through Tennant Creek – everything closed due to a Public Holiday – a finally caught up with Nev and Margaret again at Banka Banka station – green grass, campfire at night and great company. It was only a quick catch up though as I decided to brave the 11kms of corrugated dirt road and go in to the Longreach Waterhole, just out of Elliot. What a great choice this was, and what a shame the others missed it. Although corrugated, the road in wasn’t too bad and the destination certainly made up for any shaking around. I had 3 lovely days and nights here, right on the waters edge, surrounded by wonderful bird life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m trailing the others yet again with no hope of catching up so I’m taking my time, with my next stop the iconic Daly Waters Pub.

Daly Waters Pub, Northern Territory

Camping was inexpensive at $14 for a powered site  for one person, (love the sign on the power box), so I lashed out for 2 nights, hooked up my power, did my washing, and of course had the famous Beef and Barra meal. I passed on the beef and just had barramundi but whether you ate here or not the pub itself was an experience and a half….

A refreshing stop in Mataranka gave me a chance to check out the thermal pool…..found at the end of a tropical walkway…

Only 100 kms to Katherine, so I’m on the home stretch for this leg of my travels. I stayed at the reasonably priced Ibis caravan park, met the ‘local’ residents, swam in the Katherine thermal pool, went to the local club to watch the second State of Origin (Rugby League), stocked up my pantry, filled up my petrol tank and I’m ready to hit the road again!

I’ve now been in Katherine for four days but tomorrow, June 19th,  I’m on the move again In the last 16 days I’ve travelled just under 1200kms. I’m now heading west to attempt to catch up with Nev and Margaret yet again. Who knows if it will ever happen….I really feel like I’m living up to my blog name and byline – the Snail Trail – in no hurry to get anywhere!

Finke River, Northern Territory

1 Comment

Pastors, Prams and Palm Valley

We took the opportunity to book a 4wd tour to Palm Valley while in Alice Springs and go to a place our motorhomes wouldn’t be capable of taking us. On the way to Palm Valley we travelled alongside the amazing West MacDonnell Ranges to Hermannsburg, the historical site of an old Lutheran mission. I know I posted photos of the West Macs in my last post but here’s a selection from the trip to Hermannsburg. As you can see it was a very overcast day and it looked like a storm was threatening although all we got was a misty low cloud hanging over us at its worst. But the sky was amazing…

On the way to Hermannsburg we stopped at an Albert Namatjira Memorial. Namatjira was raised at Hermannsburg and the place is credited with encouraging his ability.

Then it was on to Hermannsburg.

Hermannsburg Mission was managed by the Lutherans continuously from 1877 to 1982. The structures and landscaping of the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct reflect the changing phases of missionary and government policy towards Aboriginal people over this period.

The mission functioned as a refuge for Aboriginal people during the violent frontier conflict that was a feature of early pastoral settlement in central Australia. The Lutheran missionaries helped mediate conflict between pastoralists, the police and Aboriginal people, and spoke out publicly about the violence, sparking heated national debate.

The I have been told that the first Lutheran minister took 20 months to walk from Adelaide with his companions to establish the mission at Hermannsburg – what a trek that must have been, with no roads and not knowing where there would be water in this hot dry inland. Strehlow was another of their Lutheran pastors and it is interesting to read about how he recognised the aboriginal culture, quite unusual as most white people wanted to erase it from the communities in their quest to make the natives conform to ‘white-man’s’ thinking.  It is now a small aboriginal community and relies on volunteers to keep the historic precinct open to the public. In this slide show you will see Karin, one of our fellow Solo travellers, who is volunteering out there at the moment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We then had the opportunity to do the first of three walks, this one a short climb up one of the tracks to what is known as Lizard Rock (Kalarranga Lookout). I looked at the climb and then decided to have a go at it – climbing hills is not my favourite pastime – but the views from the top were worth the effort.

Our next walk was through the Cycad Gorge – amazing lushness in this arid land.

Cycads are plants of great antiquity, being the oldest living representatives of the Gymnosperms – the first seed-bearing plants. They are the descendants of the Bennettitales (cycad-ferns) which flourished in the Mesozoic age and probably dominated the vegetation of the world some 200 million years ago.

Jim Oliff

Our bus dropped us off at one end of this short walk and picked us up at the other end. Once again, a beautiful environment and so unexpected in this area. Our driver was telling us that the rocks are basically sandstone and the water seeps through them over a period of time and becomes underground water that provides a permanent water source that these plants, and the palms in Palm Valley, survive on.

The main walk of the day was a loop through Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park.

The track to Palm Valley is still only accessible with a four-wheel drive vehicle. It departs from the town of Hermannsburg and travels south, following the usually dry bed of the Finke River. Palm Creek flows into the Finke River from the west about 15 km (by track) south of Hermannsburg. The track follows the creek to Palm Valley about 5 km west of the Finke River.                                                            (source Wikipedia)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Only 2.5kms it was a little more testing than the Lizard Rock walk as we clambered up to the rim of the valley and then made our way back to the bus. It was quite spectacular (I’m sure I’m using this word far too often!)  It truly was like an oasis in the desert. The palm trees that grow here are Red Cabbage Palms.

Our bus driver, Phil, was full of information and enthusiastic about the area – and loved the 4 wheel driving through deep sand and over rocks. After leaving Hermannsburg we were basically travelling along the dry Finke River bed and then Palm Creek so it was sandy in spots, rocky in others, but totally picturesque the whole way.

What a fantastic day! We left home at 7am and arrived back at 6pm. Many thanks to my travelling buddy Margaret Cook for sharing her photos with me – and therefore with you. I hope I’ve identified Margaret’s photos with (MC).

Our last photo stop was at Pram Creek….I wonder how it got its name?

Finke River, Northern Territory

Pram Creek

Standley Chasm, Northern Territory


Chasms, Cliffs and Caterpillar Dreaming

In the Arrernte Aboriginal people’s Dreamtime story, this region was created by giant caterpillars. These creatures became the stunning ridges of the East and West Macdonnell Ranges that shelter the town of Alice Springs.   from  Do the NT

I love the Dreamtime stories of the traditional owners in the different areas of Australia that I have visited and the Arrernte people around Alice Springs tell of giant caterpillars that formed the MacDonnell Ranges. Today we drove out to Standley Chasm and I saw those caterpillars form the ridges of the West Macs…what do you think?

West MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory

West MacDonnell Ranges

You can listen to one of the traditional owners tell the story of the caterpillars here. The story you want is Yipirinya Dreaming. This web site has some wonderful photos and information about the West MacDonnell Ranges and is well worth investigating.

I also found a wonderful site where you can read the story of the encounter of the three caterpillars. There are other traditional stories on this site too, and recommendations of dreamtime story books for children.

Margaret has captured these ‘caterpillar’ ridges beautifully…

Your view of the West MacDonnells changes with every bend of the road but each one is beautiful in its own way.

Today we drove out along the line of the West Macs to visit Standley Chasm. This is named after a teacher, Ida Standley, who was the first teacher at the Jay Creek Settlement in 1929, and the first white woman to visit the chasm which has been given her name. Stunning is the only word to describe it!

Standley Chasm, Northern Territory

Standley Chasm

Here’s a selection of my favourite photos of the walk into the chasm and then some different views of the chasm itself…Margaret took the photos in this slide show (thought I’d show you the best ones first)!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

….and I took these….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What do you think? Isn’t it the most spectacular place?