Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mataranka to Alice Springs

Mataranka 13th – 14th June 09

Mataranka Hot Springs
Mataranka Hot Springs Northern Territory
From Mataranka to Alice Springs

From Mary River Roadhouse we drove to Katherine via Pine Creek - 250kms or so. Here we stopped (now in mobile signal) to wish Mum (Carl’s) a happy birthday and welcome Mariana back into the country after 3 weeks in England. We refilled OJ (AGAIN!) and were about to set off for Mataranka when I spotted a very familiar Red Ute with an Irish sticker in the window – small world. A couple of jokes and a more sober goodbye later we were on our way to Mataranka.

Mataranka is a small inland town famous for being near some hot springs. We arrived in the afternoon grabbed our swimmers and went for what we hoped would be a refreshing dip – it was a hot day again. Unfortunately the water was body temp and not that refreshing. The pool was gorgeous; the water was crystal clear, tree lined and deep. There was a current which gently swept us along and we took in the view. Swimming back was optional but we made it stopping only once for a breather.
Another wonderful place to add to the list of places we have visited.

Mataranka to Alice Springs 14th – 16th June 09

The road south to our next destination – Alice Springs, was a very long one. We stopped a few places on the way, Daly Waters, Tennent Creek (overnight) and Devils Marbles. Daly Waters is one of the most famous outback pubs in Australia, we stopped in for a drink and a pee, took some pics and got back on the road. It was a quirky place like the outback pubs we have already seen.
After here we stopped at a rest area for a quick snack (read: sausage roll!)
As Carl walked back to the 4x4 he noticed that there was a small puddle forming under OJ…. Oh no! After a quick investigation under the bonnet we discovered that a small hose right under the manifold was leaking. As fate would have it at that moment a mechanic pulled up with caravan and family in tow and asked if we were ok. I (Carl) pointed out the leak and he said that it was a heater hose and not a serious issue, but it needs to be fixed pretty soon! I said I was on my way to Alice (800-900kms away) he said “Need to do it before then! They may do a hose here if you ask”
I toddled off to get a hose in the roadhouse – no luck. We carried on to Ellis in search of the hose but it was Sunday and nothing was open.
Tennent Creek was out next port of call - 500 or so kms from where we first notices our leak. We had stopped every 100kms to check the water and top up if necessary and were very relieved to see a town. It was evening and we went off to the caravan park and had a beer to settle our nerves and watched a show called Jimmy the Bush Tucker Man. He did a campfire show and we got to try Kangaroo tail – interesting… (we’ll leave it at that!)

Devils Marbles
Devils Marbles Outback Northern Territory Australia
From Mataranka to Alice Springs

In the morning we set off to the spares place for the hose and then as the hose was in a very awkward position, off to a mechanic to see if he can fix it up. The spares place said that the mechanic would need to have a look at the 4x4 to determine the hose and then he would buy it before he did the work. Fair enough we thought… 2 trips to 2 different mechanics later we not having much luck. Neither could do the work until 2:30pm and we really wanted to be in Alice by the afternoon ($88 an hour for labour was not that appealing either!)
The 4x4 was not leaking when cold and was not leaking when running – only when cooling down. We wrapped some electrical tape over the hole and set off for Alice (fingers crossed). On the way we stopped off at Devils Marbles and marvelled at the huge boulders perched precariously in the desert. Check out the pics.
After what felt like forever (stopping every hour again) we arrived in Alice as the bright desert sun was setting. We pulled up at the service station and the tape and hose finally gave up and coolant was now running all down the forecourt. We popped over to Repco and picked the hose OJ so desperately needed, Carl got talking to the guy that served us about how it was hard to find a mechanic at short notice and he offered to do it for us that night on his driveway! So within hours of arriving in Alice OJ was fixed and ready to go.
We rolled into what felt like that last available campsite in the whole of Alice well after dark (after a Macca’s) and it was freezing! After a night in 1C temperatures we were off again with no time to explore Alice right now (we would be back) to meet up with Caroline and her new travelling partner Graham at Kings Canyon.

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