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Diary Last Updated: Jun 16th, 2015 - 16:51:13

Stage 9 - Friday 15 August - Day 99
By Dick and Pip Smith
Aug 15, 2008, 11:31

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We caught the early flight from Sydney to Alice Springs and our friend Ted Egan kindly met us at the airport and drove us back to his home, ‘Sink A Tinny Downs’ where we had left the Earthroamer.  After a cup of tea with Ted and a refill of our water tanks we set off on this last stage of our world drive.
With Ted Egan at 'Sink a Tinny Downs'


We drove through The Gap in the MacDonnell Ranges and saw a garden of Sturts Desert Peas growing beside the road so we stopped to get some photos.
Driving through The Gap in Alice Springs
Sturts Desert Pea


While Pip did a quick shop in Woollies for fresh produce, Dick got the fuel tanks filled and we left Alice at 12.22 pm.  As we headed north on the Stuart Highway we had to stop as a big road train carrying cattle drove out of a side street and turned in front of us.  Not long after the highway crossed over the Ghan Railway tracks and we pulled off the road at 1.13 pm for fresh bread rolls for lunch.
Tanami Transport cattle road train
We crossed the Ghan railway line


We stopped briefly at the Tropic of Capricorn monument and about 40 kms on we turned right onto the Plenty Highway.
We stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn
We turned onto the Plenty Highway


The road was bitumen for the first hundred kilometers – consisting of a single lane – then we were onto the gravel.  It wasn’t too bad and we were able to travel at 80 kph.  We passed a number of cattle stations and saw the occasional windmill and bore for watering the stock.
We crossed the Ghan tracks again
First part of the Plenty Highway was single lane bitumen
We passed cattle stations with bores and windmills
Bitumen ended
We could drive at 80 kph along this section of the road
Two eagles beside the road
Mt Eaglebeak
Cattle often crossed in front of us


We knew we were in Australia when we saw this fire warning sign!
Lizard fire sign


We stopped to make ourselves a cup of tea at 4.10 pm and after a half hour rest we headed on, passing a number of large termite mounds scattered in the bush.
We stopped to make a cup of tea
We were reminded of crosses like this in Kazakhstan and the USA
We passed rocky outcrops every now and then
Large termite mounds were scattered through the bush


The road surface wasn’t too bad but every now and then we came across horrible sections of corrugations where we had to slow down to avoid being shaken to pieces.
We had to slow down for bad corrugations


We crossed the dry, sandy Plenty River and then the road improved.
A dry Plenty River
An improved section of the Plenty Highway


We turned left into Jervois Station along a very bad corrugated road and found a lady at their small general store.  We paid the $6.00 camp fee and drove over to the camp area at 5.50 pm. 


Dick remembered Jervois from our first expedition to search for the Kookaburra aircraft in the Tanami Desert.  It was in the days before GPS and all the navigation was by NDBs and the Jervois NDB was the only navigational fix between Birdsville and Tennant Creek. Dick walked over and found the NDB site – it’s still operating and now solar powered.


There was a young couple setting up camp so we walked over to say hello.  They were the forward crew for a party of eight cars and fourteen people, filming a segment for the SBS TV show, Top Gear.   We had passed the cars earlier, back where the bitumen ended and the gravel road commenced.


As darkness fell the rest of the party arrived so Dick went over to have a chat while Pip made our Earthroamer warm and comfortable and started cooking dinner.  Warren Brown, the cartoonist and one of the stars of the Paris to Peking ABC TV series was one of the commentators with the crew. They were testing an Audi, Lexus and Landcruiser 4WD from Alice Springs to Cairns.
Pip made up the bed with fresh sheets
We camped at Jervois with a film crew from the Top Gear SBS TV show


Total today 379 kms  37,242 kms since Anchorage, Alaska.

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