Someone left camp at 3am. *BANG! *CRASH! *CLANG! I needed more sleep. We headed out of camp at 7.00am, a late start for us after the previous two days but we'd made good ground and so could afford the time.
We pulled in by the cabins where Maz was staying to say goodbye. I jumped out of the passenger seat and headed over before backtracking to the car and opening the door to ask the others if they remembered the room number.
“Four,” said Domi, a little too quickly.
“Thanks,” I closed the door and turned to walk back and then looked over my shoulder at Ross and Domi.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
There was every chance they’d told me the wrong door on purpose but thankfully Maz answered, I gave her a hug goodbye and we took off. Oh, but not before Ross cleaned the windscreen. Mr Duck was lingering on the passenger side window.
I was getting a bit of writing done in car but the battery was running low so I popped it on charge at Threeways Roadhouse while we went to take some photos.
The next stop was Devils Marbles. On the way there Domi had been reading Ross’ book of Aussie Slang. She'd been trying out the phrases on us so we could tell her if they were in fact terms that she could use day to day. Most weren’t. As we pulled into the parking area Ross made a joke to which Domi thought she would apply some of her newly acquired slang. “Ohh kick off.” She said laughing.
We laughed harder. “Do you mean rack off do you Domi?” We said smiling.
The Devils Marbles are located in the traditional country of the Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarra and Warlpiri people. They call the Devils Marbles Karlu Karlu, which literally translates as ‘round boulders’. The Warmungu Aboriginal people say these boulders are the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. The massive granite boulders strewn across a valley south of Tennant Creek were formed over millions of years, some standing at up to 6 metres. It’s an intriguing place but one that leaves you feeling that maybe you shouldn’t be there.
We were there long enough to stretch our legs and take some photos. Next stop, Wauchope Roadhouse for lunch, where we spent time photographing the old cars that were getting rust on rust but adding lots of character to the place. After a substantial meal my eyes glazed over and I think I dozed on and off for however many kilometres and before I knew it we'd arrived at Ti Tree for a toilet stop.
As we rolled into the roadhouse we noticed it was quite busy and eased our way past the cars to find a spot to park. As we did we went by an aboriginal woman sitting in the passenger seat of a landcruiser. Her hair was bright red and so was her face. “O.” said Domi and I at the same time, she, because this was the first time she had seen an indigenous Australian and me because, well she had red hair and very red face. There was a reason for this of course, we couldn’t be sure exactly what occasion this marked but red ochre is used for many aboriginal ceremonies and this would be no exception.
The woman with the red hair and red red face was headed for the toilets with her red faced friends. It seems doors are overrated because when I walked into the women’s toilets there she sat with the door open, she said something to me quite loudly but I was already half way out the door by then.
“Ross I don’t need to go anymore.” I said. He took us across the road to the supermarket.
Just outside of Alice Springs is the Welcome to Alice Springs sign so it was time for us to do the regulation “climb up on the sign and do something” photo. It’s a lot higher than it looks, I climbed up in the middle (that’s the climb up on the sign bit done) but couldn’t do much because I had to hang on. I’ve since found out that the other Welcome to Alice Springs sign is lower, that made me feel better. I think I managed a wave and then I have another shot of me reaching over to get my lens cap off the ground. I’m going to use that one.
Domi joined me for a photo and then decided to go around the other side, she took off around the end of the sign, lost her footing and slid around the corner on the gravel. I should learn to check if people are okay first before I laugh, she was though so it’s okay. Back in the car and using Instagram she asks, "What was the name of that place we were at earlier, you know, the one with all the stones?"
I was staying in town at a motel, we’d just dropped Domi at the Alice Lodge Backpackers and Ross was about to deposit me and my bags at the Diplomat. As we arrived the pub at the front was overflowing and up above were some motel rooms. I was silently praying one of those wasn’t mine. I checked in to find I’d been put as far away from the bar as you could get, relieved I unpacked and thought about dinner. The idea of going to the pub or the adjoining restaurant didn’t appeal so I wandered over to the supermarket to buy something to make a salad wrap, and get some aloe vera gel. Sitting in the front the last three days had given me a red neck. There were also a few of those in the supermarket. It was the most multicultural, socioeconomically diverse and noisy supermarket I’d ever been in. Good for people watching, if you’re subtle about it.
I felt like a glass of wine to have with my wrap. The bottleshop was next door with a security guard outside and I quickly discovering the queue begins about 5 metres from the counter, maybe this is to keep people out of swinging range. Not sure. I left and headed out of the shopping complex, out the wrong exit. I doubled back trying to look like I was meant to be returning the way I’d come when the security guard called out from his post, “Went the wrong way didn’t you?” He said smiling.
Tip: Don’t buy wine because of the label just because you don’t recognise much of what is on the shelf. Nice label, maybe they should’ve spent more time fine-tuning the product.