As proud as we are, we didn’t splash out $8 for the bumper sticker available at the Tobermorey Station.
For those unsure what I’m on about, the ‘Plenty’ is pretty notorious patch of road that runs between Boulia and the Stuart Highway, This is the shortcut that avoids having to go all the way up to Mt Isa, then across into the territory and then back down to Alice.
During the planing stages of this trip I made it pretty clear I wanted to take the ‘road less travelled’ and avoid bitumen as often as possible, this was our first real test.
Well actually, the road into Carisbrooke Station was our first test, and we failed. Both the shockies in the camper overheated and leaked, 4 bottles of cider popped their tops in the fridge and there was waaaaaay too much dust getting in the camper. So after rectifying some of these problems, we braved the Plenty.
2 broken spot lights, one lost shovel, one puncture and one ‘no darling we are not bogged, I’m just making sure the low range still works’ moment and we arrived safe and well in Alice Springs.
The road from Boulia to the Northern Territory border, ie the QLD side, is called the Donohue, and it was terrible! As the chicks in the back started chirping their inevitable “I’m hungry” chorus, we said “We’ll stop at the next tree with some shade….. 100klms on still no tree, so we pull up in the middle of nowhere and had lunch. Lexi was less then impressed with number of flys, and anyone who knows Lexi and has seen her frustrated before will know that this was not a happy lunch stop (She had no idea what was was in store for her at Arthur creek the next day!) I’d say we averaged about 40kph on this stretch (240klms) until we arrived at Tobermorey Station where I think Jack’s comment sums it up when we drove up over the levy bank and he exclaimed… “Wow! Green grass!!!” It was a great stop, and we all poured out of the car and literally rolled in the grass and took our shoes off and let the grass caress the dirty dusty soles of our feet, bliss! Facilities were clean, showers were hot, diesel was a bargain at $2.30p/l (yes, FILL UP IN BOULIA!!) if it wasn’t for the generator that ran all night this would have been awesome. Either way, more then enough for a one night stop ($22 for the site for the night).
Next day we were off to hopefully make it to Harts Range and the Zircon fossicking areas that Stewie and Myra spent a couple of weeks last year. After a quick road side chat to a bloke coming the other way, he told us Arthur Creek was a nice stop, so this became our lunch stop. As with all the rivers and creeks out here they are dry, and being these are the only bodies of water for a few months of the year, the only trees or shade are literally in the creek beds. There was a nice looking spot about 15meters up the creek bed that I decided would do nicely, Jess didn’t like the idea of driving up the creek bed….. I knew what Peter Prado had to do to get Karen Camper into a friends place at Boonah not long before we left so I knew he would be up to the task…….well…….Lets just say it was fun to finally engage low range. Poor Jess freaks out as soon as we get “bogged”, as I have explained to her, we are yet to get “bogged”, bogged means you can’t get out, everything up until that point is the fun. Anyway, we have never experienced so many flies in our lives, probably collectively! Poor Toby gave in and jumped back in the car, and Lexi? Well we can add flys to her list of things she cannot stand along with Ants and Long drop toilets. (All of which are pretty much going to be our life for then next few months) Well….. We found Harts Range, and it was spectacular, but this was not quite the place we were looking for. That night we worked out at happy hour with the other campers, the place we were after was about another 60ks down the road.
I got up at sunrise that morning and tried to get a couple of nice shots of the Range…. Not really happy with what I’m getting yet, going to price a nice wide angle lens in Alice I think. (Yet to be approved) So after a whopping 60klms travel this day, we got to Mud Tank Zircon Fields. I think Jess wants to elaborate on Harts Range and Mud Tank so I won’t go into that now.
So a couple of days at Mud Tank and back on the road for the mostly bitumen drive to the Stuart Highway and on to Alice.
Things we learned on the Plenty:
– QLD Main Roads division needs to re-do their apprenticeship in NT (Are you reading this Kerry and Anthony?)
– Don’t whinge about paying $1.71p/l for diesel in Boulia because that’s 1960’s prices compared to on the Plenty
– A long handled shovel wedged into one of your camper chassis rails and ocky strapped up TIGHT doesn’t stand a chance (If anyone finds my shovel please forward it to the Alice springs post office, I’ll grab it next time we are in the neighbourhood)
– Duncan, thank you for the spotties, it looks like they are going to be a little more like a Lego kit when I get them back to you (quite possibly missing a few pieces)
All in all we are VERY glad we did the plenty, and we had a ball. Tested the rig, found some weak points to work on before we really head bush shortly.