A Travellerspoint blog

September 2012

Day 126 - Saturday 8 September 2012

Erldunda to Marla to Coober Pedy

Last night we went to the tavern at Erldunda for happy hour and a meal - Di had roast pork and David had a rump steak with vegies. Di was a bit taken by a mut that was anxiously hanging around the door to the bar - it was mainly Jack Russell, but also a bit of Papillon - one ear up and one ear down. She found the owner who was also having a meal and got permission to feed the dog some scraps off her plate. Back at the van we watched the Hawks give the Magpies a bit of a belting!

I know that we left the tropics yesterday but 1.7 degrees when we got up this morning is no joke! Hopefully it will get to the forecast maximum of 23 degrees. We got away from Erldunda at about 9:30 am for our trip to Marla, but on the way we decided to press on to Coober Pedy, a total of 487 kms for the day. After passing through Kulgera we crossed the border into south Austalia. We had a break at the Maryatt Creek Rest Area for a morning coffee, then continued on to Marla where we filled up with diesel and bought a couple of steak sandwiches for lunch.

Border crossing into South Australia

Border crossing into South Australia

While David was filling the Navara with diesel a Policeman came over to say that the Stuart Highway was closed just south of Marla because of a fatal accident. A 12 kms detour onto a dirt track had been arranged by the Police and he advised David that our van would be OK if we took it slowly. The road trains were not allowed to use the detour, so no doubt there were a lot of grumpy truckies. The track was fairly narrow and passing oncoming vehicles was fairly difficult especially when we met an idiot with a car and camper trailer who thought that we should back up for him.

Detour south of Marla

Detour south of Marla

A dirt track detour

A dirt track detour

Just short of Coober Pedy a mongrel road train driver put his rig into the gravel and showered us with stones, he was either incompetent or it was deliberate - either way he should not be driving! We gave him plenty of room but he seemed unable to keep his rig on the road. Our brand new windscreen now has three starred stone chips!

We arrived at the Opal Inn Caravan Park at about 5:30 pm and booked in for one night - we picked a site where we could stayed hitched up. Soon after we had set up for the night a Minibago came in to the next site and set up for the night. The driver looks to be in his 80s and soon had a group of admirers. He claims to tow his rig at 120 kph!

A Minibago trying to put us in the shade

A Minibago trying to put us in the shade

Posted by TwoAces 02:59 Comments (0)

Day 125 - Friday 7 September 2012

Gem Tree to Erldunda

On the way out of the Gem Tree Caravan Park we stopped for diesel - but only bought 40 litres as they charge $2.15 per litre! While this was happening Di diappeared into the Gem Room again and ordered a pendant with one of her 7 mm by 4 mm Garnets - David thinks that he will get a very special camera!

Soon after we were back on the Stuart Highway we crossed the Topic of Capricorn and left the tropics - would you believe that the maximum temperature yesterday was 31 and today it will be 23. We stopped for a photo at the highest point on the Stuart Highway between Darwin and Adelaide.

The highest point on the Stuart Highway between Darwin and Adelaide

The highest point on the Stuart Highway between Darwin and Adelaide

We stopped in Alice Springs for fuel and an early lunch before continuing on our way to Erldunda. The road sign just south of Alice Springs reminded us that we still have more than 1,500 kms to go to Adelaide.

Leaving Alice Springs - only 1519 kms to Adelaide

Leaving Alice Springs - only 1519 kms to Adelaide

We arrived at Erldunda at about 2:00 pm, filled up with diesel again - this time it was $1.98 - and booked into the caravan park for one night. All the sites in the park are drive through sites and this suits us as we will not unhitch.

Our drive through site at Erldunda

Our drive through site at Erldunda

Posted by TwoAces 01:07 Comments (0)

Day 124 - Thursday 6 September 2012

Gem Tree

We were up early again for the Garnet Tour today. We collected our tools at the shed then followed the guide down the Plenty Highway for 27 kms, then 4 kms of bush track to the garnet fields. After a demonstration we were again left to our own devices. This time we had two other couples from WA that we had first met at Banka Banka on the tour. This time we had to sift the sandy gravel, remove all the rubbish, then wash the end result in water. The way to find garnets is to hold the wash tray up to the sun and look for any red stones.

Our group at the garnet area

Our group at the garnet area

David on the chain gang

David on the chain gang

While we thought that we were not very successful, the sorting and testing back at the Gem Room proved otherwise. We had a 6 mm stone, two 5 mm stones, two 4.5 mm stones, two 4 mm stones, three 3.25 mm stones, nine 3 mm stones, and three 7 x 4 mm stones. Di decided with David’s assistance (no doubt thinking of his new camera) that Di should have her 6 mm stone set in a claw setting.

A 6 mm Garnet in a claw setting

A 6 mm Garnet in a claw setting

Back at the camp we had a shower to remove another day’s red dust, put a load of washing on to get rid of the red dust from our clothes, and had a couple of beers with our fellow travellers from Perth, WA. Tomorrow we will be heading south to Erldunda, while they are going to Alice Springs for about five weeks for the Masters Games.

Posted by TwoAces 01:06 Comments (0)

Day 123 - Wednesday 5 September 2012

Gem Tree

We were up early today as our Zircon Fossicking Tour started at the tool shed at 8:15 am. We were given a spade and a pick, 2 large buckets and a small bucket, 4 sieves, a sorting table, and two 25 litre containers of water. Most important was a small tin for collecting any zircons that we might find. All the other fossickers were going on the Garnet tour, and we were the only ones on the Zircon tour. We followed our guide for 7 kms along the sealed road, then turned off for 10 kms of gravel road to the zircon fossicking area.

Our guide gave us a demonstration of the process of finding zircons – shovel the gravel into a bucket and sieve the gravel while dry to remove all soil and dust. Then transfer the gravel to a smaller sieve and wash the gravel in the first of the large buckets of water, before rinsing the gravel in a second large bucket of water. The gravel was then spread out on the sorting table and we were shown how to recognise the zircons from the other stones.

The Navara at the gemfields

The Navara at the gemfields

Di with all the fossicking equipment

Di with all the fossicking equipment

Di finding treasures on the sorting table with the tin for the collection

Di finding treasures on the sorting table with the tin for the collection

After several tries on the sorting table we were left to our own devices with instructions to be back at the Gem room by 2:30 pm to have our finds evaluated. We kept up the search with breaks for morning tea at about 10:30 am and lunch at 12 noon, before giving up at about 1:30 pm. We had managed to collect quite a few zircons, but in the process we were covered from head to foot with red dust. Back at the Gem room our finds were sorted and classified – we had 1 stone able to be cut into a 5 mm gem, three stones for 4 mm gems and eight stones for 3.25 mm gems. The rest were put in a bag for show and tell.

After much deliberation (Ha Ha) Di decided that the 5 mm stone and two of the 4 mm stones should be set in a ring. The stones will be cut and polished at Gem Tree then the stones will be set in a 9 carat gold ring, before being sent to us by registered mail in early November. David can feel a new camera coming on!

Di's 5 mm Zircon with two 4 mm Zircons and her selected setting

Di's 5 mm Zircon with two 4 mm Zircons and her selected setting

We had such a good time we have decided to stay at Gem Tree for an extra night so that we can do the Garnet Fossicking Tour tomorrow. David thinks that this decision comes with a moderate level of risk!

Frosty, I blame you and Marg for all this - and you too Michelle for egging her on!

Posted by TwoAces 01:05 Comments (2)

Day 122 - Tuesday 4 September 2012

Devils Marbles to Gem Tree

We were packed up and ready to leave at 9:00am for our 400 kms trip to Gem Tree. For once we had a tail wind and spent most of the day cruising along in overdrive. We stopped for fuel at the Barrow Creek Roadhouse, and then continued on to the McDouall Stuart Memorial Rest Area for a coffee. The Memorial is quite close to the centre of Australia discovered by C T Madigan in 1930 using a plumb bob – his calculations were later verified in 1988 using a computer.

Di at the McDouall Stuart Memorial

Di at the McDouall Stuart Memorial

Gem Tree is located about 70 kms east from the Stuart Highway along the Plenty Highway, and the turn-off is about 70 kms north of Alice Springs. We arrived at the Gem Tree Caravan Park (there is nothing else at Gem tree) at about 2:30 pm and booked in for two nights and also paid for the Zircon Fossicking Tour the next day. The park has generators that provide power from 6:30 am until 10:30 pm. As we will be here for a couple of days David set up the satellite dish so that we can catch up on the TV news.

Posted by TwoAces 01:05 Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 29) Previous « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 » Next