It is a long drive from Mataranka to Alice Springs, with not much in between, and the major town, Tennant Creek, by all accounts is not worth staying in. We chose to ease ourselves into the cooler climate gently with two stops before Alice Springs. The first day we made a stop in Daly Waters to see the Stuart’s Tree, basically a tree stump with a large “S” engraved in the trunk (clearly visible if you squint both eyes and turn your neck at 45 degrees), supposedly engraved by John McDouall Stuart’s party on his third attempt to reach Darwin from the south in 1861/2. Then we had a quick look at the Daly Waters pub. Every inch of the walls and ceiling is adorned with caps, police badges, bras, foreign currency notes, rugby shorts, and much more. A cold beer would have been welcome but we still had more driving to do.
Very close to the town of Elliot, we stopped for the night at a magnificent birding spot known as Longreach billabong. This long waterhole allowed waterfront camping and as we sat there stately jabiru storks, spoonbills, and brolgas strutted along the water’s edge. Meanwhile, darters sunned themselves with wings outspread, and rainbow bee-eaters scanned the sky for their next meal while sitting on dead branches.
The sunset was one of the best we have seen on the trip and our fellow travellers from home, Joel and Abelia “Our Roaming Home” finally caught up with us to exchange stories around a campfire. A great finish to the day.
Up early the next day, after a chilly night, we set off for Kunjarra (The Pebbles) a sacred women’s site just north of Tennant Creek. The site itself offered little more than a chance to stretch our legs and stroll along a short path through a hillside of small rocks, so we didn’t stop long.
Just beyond Tennant Creek is another hillside covered in rocks, but Karlu Karlu, or the Devils Marbles are more impressive and worthy of a stopover. The campsite was very popular (full) but we squeezed in a spot and set off to explore before the sun went down. We all had a lot of fun exploring the rocks, climbing all over them, and Xavier read us the Dreaming stories of the Devil Man, Arrange who spat on the ground, where it turned into the granite boulders that now litter the surrounding landscape. Plenty of photo opportunities kept me busy, even early the next morning before we left.