Week Five. (Sunday 04 August to Sunday 11 August Continued)

After BlackBull, we set off for Karumba (where QANTAS used to stop over for fuel in the old flying boats that went from Sydney to London). XQU was playing up again, revving very loudly when she should have been quietly idling. So, i set out doing some car troubleshooting and between us we discovered it was the accelerator pedal wedged between the floor rubber and the springs covered in bull dust (out back dirt). Quietly, we set off again, from Normanton, finally arriving in Karumba at the god awful hour of 10am! Hard day that one. We spent the day escaping the heat, in the Kombi, under the shade of a squeeky tree. Apon the cool approach of late afternoon, we sat on the beach, overlooked the crocodile infested waters and watched the fishermen bog their 4WDs, the pelicans amuse themselves with fisherman antics and of course, we watched the sunset over the Gulf of Carpentaria drinking a nice cool beer. Later we had delicious stir fry, attempted pancakes (we got them right for breakfast next day) and fell asleep. I awoke at 3am to see a kangaroo staring at me thru the back of the Kombi.

We left Karumba, sang 'Karumba, it's the samba, aye karumba, da da da karumba', and made up a few tunes as well. We drove South down the Burke Developmental Road aiming roughly at reaching Cloncurry or Mount Isa for nightfall. Our longest driving day yet, we did some 700km all on dangerous road train territory, 35 degree heat, 4WD mad, stones flying, running emu's, exploding boars, all on 2 metre wide road with rough edges. (road workers call them soft edges). We stopped at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse for expensive petrol and bad attitude and a shocking sewage problem. Had lunch on the side of the road. The QLD emergency road service stopped next to us, asking if we were alright. We nodded yes, with our mouths full of sardines, spanish olives and vita wheats and fridge cold ribeana. There was no point in keeping to the speed limit for my Learners Permit, otherwise would would never have made it. Really, i'm just dramatising now.

After accelerator pedal leg cramps, we arrived at the Cloncurry turn off and headed onwards to Mount Isa, played irish music, bumped into irish people in the hostel, went to the irish club (apparently the best in QLD) and i had an irish club sandwich (the penultimate for me). I read fo fo aboriginal stories from the dreamtime, sitting inside a cute 1890's tram with St Kilda on the front, all inside a large large strange kitch australian irish club, drinking Guiness and Kilkenny between us.

We left Mount Isa, bound on the worst condition road encountered by us yet (between Mount Isa and Camooweal), and it was the actual national 'number one' highway. We stopped the night at Soudan, a roadside stay, with many caravans. We felt tribal and in a collective. We had just the purchased the free campsites australia wide book and for a change, we felt as if we were in-the-know. Next day, we travelled many more kilometres, passing through Tennant creek eventually arriving at the Devil's Marbles for sunset and stayed the night. From that eroded granite, we proceeded to Barrow Creek, paid our silent respects to Kombi travellers of the past, and moved on to Alice Springs. We re-supplied ourselves with food, fuel and the simple pleasures of malls, chinese fast food and little shops. (Really, just to get a taste). That afternoon, we continued furthur south, bound for the centre of Australia to see the monolith of Ulura and Kata Tjuta. We stayed on the Finke River, right next to a very considerate caravan person who ran his fuel generator so he could watch television. hmm, now that's back to nature. Early the next morning, we drove down a very corrogated dirt track to visit the Henbury Meteorite Craters that occured all in 60 seconds about 4000 years ago.

We passed the forgotten wonder, Mount Conner (i thought of the devil's tower from close encounters as we sped past), we sped by a wild camel and then out of the horizon came Uluru (Ayres Rock) to fill the front window of our kombi with magnificant views of the largest rock on earth. We spent the day acquainting ourselves with Aboriginal Culture, drove around the Rock, had lunch. We didn't climb Uluru, for it is sacred, and we are asked by the Aboriginal keepers, to not do so. We moved on to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and again we were greeted with majestic views of more rock. We walked the Olga Gorge with thousands of tourists, all speaking in their native tongues, spanish, german, japanese, english, italian, and so on. It was a cultural mecca. At the approach of sunset, we decided to do the sprint back to Uluru for the moment (captured in numerous tourist and postcard photos), but before doing so i decided to check out the Docker River road that heads onwards to Perth, some 2000 kms away. I did, and nearly bogged the kombi in doing so. That night we stayed next to Israelis in their kombi and in the morning spoke about politics, economics, religion, war and people over a nice hot mug of coffee.

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