TRAVEL JOURNAL CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TOUR 1975


IN 1975, I KEPT A TRAVEL JOURNAL OF THIS TRIP, BUT I  NEVER BOTHERED TO TYPE IT UP. SO NOW I AM INCLUDING IT AS A BLOG, ALONG WITH THE FILM MATERIAL THAT YOU CAN ACCESS FROM MYSELF. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GET IN TOUCH WITH ME AND SUPPLY YOUR ADDRESS. I WILL POST OUT A COPY OF THE FILM ON DVD DISC. I WILL BE ADDING TO THIS JOURNAL AS THE DAYS GO BY. IT IS THE ORIGNAL MATERIAL I WROTE IN 1975. I HAVE ALSO POSTED OUT TWO COPIES OF THE FILM TO LEE-ANNE MAPSTONE(MARRIED NAME: DRUMMOND). IF YOU KNOW LEE-ANNE, YOU CAN GET IN CONTACT WITH HER AND SHE WILL MAKE A COPY OF THE FILM FOR YOU.

 

 

Day One   

PLANE  TRIP  TO  ALICE  SPRINGS

The bus picked us up at the school. All of us said our good byes and left in high spirits. We were welcomed aboard Flight 1238, flying with Ansett Airlines. We were now set for our discover Australia Tour.

Arriving at Alice Springs Airport, we are transported to a camp site. For the rest of the day we tour Alice Springs. Alice Springs is surrounded by large mountain ranges. By climbing these you can obtain a commanding panoramic view of the city.                 

Veiwing Alice Springs from a high point

 
Near the camp site is situated a large outcropping of rock. Here we can see the camp and land adjacent to it. As the sunsets, this marks the end of the first day.

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Day Two   

 

  STANELY  CHASM

In the morning, we left for Simpsons’ Gap. This is, during the wet season, a river, but at the moment we are permitted to walk along it without getting wet. On the way, there are landslides of rocks which afford shelter to rock wallabies.

After this we proceeded to Stanley Chasm. This amazing chasm was discovered by children, who showed this wonderful place to their teacher.

Moving on we called into a camel station. Here, many of us decided it would be quite an interesting activity to ride on one. But judging by the expression on some camel’s faces, this was just another bus full of eager tourists.

A camel lays down to allow passenger to get on

 

Our last stop for today was the original Alice Spring, named after Charles Todd’s wife. Here, there are many buildings, reconstructed in the likeness of buildings around that time. This was also the main center for telegraph messages.

Nightime came once again.

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Day Three    

NINE  HOUR  BUS  JOURNEY

In the morning, we packed up our tents and started off on our nine hour journey to Ayer’s Rock. On the way, one of the buses from Melbourne, traveling with us, encountered a broken suspension system. This was a good excuse as any to stop for dinner, plus a chance for people to perform their natural functions.

The coach reached the rock at about 8pm. Unfortunately it was pitch black and we couldn’t view Ayer’s Rock. Most of us were exhausted from the nine hour journey to the rock, so we pitched our tents, crawled into our sleeping bags and went to sleep.

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Day Four

AYER’S  ROCK

In the morning we woke to the sound of rain pelting down upon our tents. Ayer’s Rock was visible, but presented a dark brown surface colour, with a bank of cloud suspended over our objective. Breakfast was served in the rain.

As the morning progressed, the rock became more visible. We then toured around the rock, looking at the many caves which are considered to be connected with the Dream Time period, according to Aboriginal mythology. Water cascaded off the rock in many places. Due to the slippery conditions on the surface of the rock, we were not permitted to climb it at first.

Ayer’s Rock surrounded by cloud

 

Unlike the hot, humid and stifling conditions, the center of Australia is famous for, the weather was cool with occasional showers. Ayer’s Rock is only one tenth visible. The rock was a huge giant, sprang forth from the desert floor, zooming up into the air, standing there, stock still. A mass so huge and foreboding, it seemed to rule the surrounding landscape like a noble king, majestic and silent.

Luckily the rainy conditions ceased long enough for our party and others to make an assault on the rock. There have been quite a few accidents, due to people falling off it, but fortunately there were no fatalities to speak of, except for the occasional torn pair of jeans by sliding down the rock face.

We didn’t visit the Olgas (i.e.. a mountain range near Ayer’s Rock), since the road was too wet and practically unnavigable. As night fell, the air became cold and chilly. So the natural thing to do was to have a camp fire.

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Day Five

VICTORY  DOWNS

Morning came. We departed Ayer’s Rock and traveled through waterholes plus drought areas, eventually reaching Victory Downs for dinner. This was an overnight stop only. Victory Downs comes as a pleasant surprise, amongst all the barren land, out in the middle of Australia.

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Day Six

 

COOBER  PEDY

An early morning rise, quick breakfast and we were off again, bound for Coober Pedy. The morning was chilly and cold, but we were warm and secure inside our coach.

The journey to our next objective was long, bumpy and exhausting. After many exasperating hours on board, the outskirts of Coober Pedy was visible. Surrounding the main town, up to seventeen miles away are excavations, three feet in diameter and two hundred feet, at the most, in depth. The ratio of men to women is about 100:1. Thus making it quite a dangerous place for women to walk about alone at night.

Otherwise, Coober Pedy is quite an oasis in the middle of no where. We made the town by nightfall. During the day it had been raining on and off, but continually. Luckily the party was permitted to sleep in a bunk house. These consisted of three double bunks plus one person had to sleep on the floor. Over the road, we could watch a “kung Fu” movie, without the sound.

After dinner we inspected an underground house which had been hewn out of solid rock. Eighteen percent of the population live underground in houses dug out by hand or machine. Coober Pedy is Australia’s richest opal field. Temperatures reach a maximum of 130 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer period and drop dramatically during the night, thus the reason for underground living is for pure survival. The temperature only fluctuates between 68 degrees and 85 degrees in these type of houses. When this was completed, the group moved out headed for Adelaide via many other towns.

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Day Seven

WOOMERA

 

The most interesting town on the way was Woomera, where missiles, rockets and tracking equipment are located. We did not visit Woomera close up, since we were running behind schedule. At Woomera there is extremely high security, thus no one is allowed to use the access road without a clearance. If they do they are escorted by armed guards. Cameras are confiscated and no stopping is allowed.

Around 6pm the coach stopped for tea. This consisted of steak sandwiches and pear halves, plus whatever you cared to purchase from a roadhouse. On completion of tea, the party boarded the bus, heading for Adelaide.

We were off again but not without a few hitches. A few hours after our stop for dinner, the coach pulled up. Apparently the air compressor housed at the rear of the bus had broken lose. The brackets holding it had shattered, thus allowing the unit to move. It took an hour or so to rectify the damage, then the party was moving again. The ride was comparatively smooth with occasional rough stretches which impeded our journey. The stop was one in the middle of no where or so it seemed. The blackness completely obliterated the surrounding countryside, making it totally impossible to view anything. All we had to guide our senses was the noises which inhabit the bush at night. The cold, dark, foreboding night air invaded our cramped, but warm and cosy passenger cabin, thus revealing to us the temperature of the air outside. I awoke to the slowing down motion of the bus and stayed awake for the duration of the repairs. Slowly, groggily my other companions broke through their sleep into the world of reality–out in the middle of the outback, on a lonely deserted road, with the chilly night air creeping inside.

The journey progressed and just as the bewildered as the people were when first awoken, they lapsed back into sleep once again, returning to their lands of fantasy, mystery and pleasure.

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Day Eight

ADELAIDE

Morning greeted us with pale, hazy sunlight searching for an opening through the grey, fluffy clouds. An awakening to the day, resulting in a slow, gradual comprehension of our position. The coach had entered the state of South Australia. A few hours passed and the party received their first glimpses of the countryside. A little later on the coach stopped at a roadhouse. What a pleasure it was to rest, eat and stretch our legs after traveling all of yesterday, practically all the night and part of the morning.There was cereal, sausages and toast. My stomach welcomed them with opening flaps. I purchased a cup of tea at the roadhouse restaurant. There we all adjusted ourselves after the long journey.

Back on the road, we tuned into the local radio stations transmitting music and messages for people living in South Australia. We were foreigners in a place where we were not accustomed to. We were traveling on the outskirts of the city of Adelaide. Within a small amount of time, the bus had traversed on the outside perimeter of the city, traveling through residential and small commercial areas. Eventually we reached our camp site — a bushland paradise, green and fresh. Here we pitched our tents, ate our lunch and raced for the showers. How beautiful it was to experience the feeling of soft water on our hair and bodies. Lunch came next, then a free afternoon in Adelaide.

Kevin, our coach driver, transported us into the city. There we scattered and made our own way round town. The buildings were not as high and cramped together like Sydney. The streets were wider and straighter as well, boasting a hundred and thirty-two feet wide. After tramping my way through the streets, I made my way  down to the river Torrens. Here, I could see the Adelaide Festival Hall and the beautiful, picturesque scenery surrounding the river. Feeling a bit lazy, not having all that much energy, I boarded a river tour boat called ‘Popeye’. Here, I experienced the peaceful serenity of the area, viewing swans and ducks, paddling on the water, occasionally gliding close to the boat, encouraged by the tempting scraps of food offered by the other passengers.

By the time the tour was over, it was time to make my way back to the camp site for tea. First, by taking a bus and then by walking the rest of the distance. Tea was served, then the party sat around a warm, crackling camp fire. To bed and an early rise, for we were packing up our camp and heading for Victoria.

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Day Nine

MELBOURNE

The journey was traversed on the first 11 miles by freeway, by-passing many small town, then onto local roads. We stopped for lunch at a town park. Then traveled over the boarder into Victoria to a small town called Nhill. Here we stayed the night in a huge church hall with an open fire place.

We traveled into the heart of Melbourne and our coach driver dropped us off at the main train station to catch the overnight train to Sydney. We traveled during the night into New South Wales.

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Day Ten

SYDNEY–CENTRAL  STATION

Morning came and we were still traveling on the train. Some of us tried to get some sleep sitting up in the comfortable seats, but the constant motion of the train woke people up throughout the night. Finally, we arrived in Sydney at Central Station. A bus then transported us back to our school, where our parents were waiting for us.

                                                                           THE  END

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