This is our day of rest at Alice Springs. We spend the day at the beautiful and majestic Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges relaxing in the gorges. This area is also home to the Larapinta Trail for walkers. Pity we only had a day there as it would require a few days to really enjoy this area.
We finally cross the border of South Australia and Northern Territory. The landscape is changing to a deeper red. We stopped at the last and first NT pub – the Kulgera Roadhouse with hats dangling on the ceiling, snake skin wrapped around a pillar and a poo poo corner.
Driving through the red center has taken a toll on us and we decided to slow down and drive a shorter trip and stop over at Marla. It was a beautiful drive nevertheless with changing landscapes. We stopped over at the beautiful Breakaways Conservation Park, a unique arid environment. The movies Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Ground Zero was filmed there. Over the horizon you can just make out the ‘Dog Fence’, a 2m high wire barrier stretches for over 5,300km across three States, to protect the sheep from the Dingo. Over the fence, the desert-like moonscape with its fossilised shells, grey, soft clay dirt and cracks that appear to be bottomless, has been nicknamed the ‘moon plain’ and was the scene for the Red Planet movie. It was wet so the roads were closed and we did not get up close to the fence and the moon plain.
We were greeted by this beautiful sunrise above the magnificent Flinders Ranges on our drive up north through the Explorer’s Way (Stuart Hwy). Interesting stops on roadhouses until we reached the unique opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Our motel was underground an a dugout – a very unique and interesting experience. Very sustainable with very constant temperatures regardless of outside conditions which can be very harsh. We looked at a number of attractions and one stood out, the inspiration for Crocodile Dundee which was Crocodile Harry’s Underground Nest.
We started early this morning for this 580km journey. Passing by our favorite Murray River at Tailem Bend. Looking down at the river brings sweet memories when we meander this very spot last year on day 36 of our Murray River Expedition.
We continue through Hahndorf and had a father’s day coffee before passing Adelaide to Port Augusta. We were so fortunate that Crossroads Ecomotel was able to donate a room for us for the night to rest our achy bones. Kiam with his newly acquired drone was able to fly it for the first time without any dramas. Hopefully we will be able to get some interesting fly-over videos for our movie.
Finally left home and on our way to the Tiwi Islands. An early morning. Up at 4.30 a.m. and on the road by 6.00 a.m. with our Croc and Barramundi tied to the roof of our car. A group of grey nomads amused when we stopped in Beaufort for a coffee break.
Our props drawing the attention we were hoping for in being a conversation opener in sharing our fundraiser with others along the way.
Now resting in Bordertown where we will spend our first night. No dramas on day one. Off to dinner tonight with an early start on day two.
A night preparing our Kiss Goodbye to MS family portrait. Our beautiful daughter Jasmine with our fur baby Ollie getting into the ‘zone’.
Let’s see if the enthusiasm lasts when she has to look out for crocs, fish or hunt for her first meal!
Another year and another exciting Kiss Goodbye to MS expedition – Surviving the Tiwi Islands! The challenge of this fundraiser is to live self-sufficiently off the land. In other words hunt and gather most of our food, survive the crocs,
snakes, wild boars, jellyfish & every other dangerous Australian animal. This might get interesting though as our only food source so far has been the local supermarket and we don’t seem to be very successful at fishing either. During our Murray River Expedition last year we only managed to catch one fish. The main lesson I hope to come home with though is an appreciation for nature and all she provides for us.
We couldn’t be more grateful to the Tiwi Islands Land Council and community for allowing us to be guests on their land. We have been corresponding with them for the past few months in preparing for our 2016 Kiss Goodbye to MS fundraiser and look forward to bringing all our experiences to our followers once again via the blog. The plan is that an elder will spend time with us the first week in learning how to hunt and gather and thereafter we will attempt to survive ourselves with little assistance.
It is expected that mainland Australians will be so inspired by our daily blog and amazing photos taken by my husband Kiam once again that people will feel motivated to make a donation in the hope of one day finding a cure for this insidious disease. But don’t worry if you miss the blogs as at the conclusion of our adventure will be producing a book and short film with proceeds going toward MS research. While I’m sure our blogs will most likely will be comical, reflective and display beautiful scenery I hope to also highlight the many challenges for someone living with MS symptoms as I cope with Island life and the many challenges it will pose such as the humidity and isolation with very little creature comforts. So stay tuned for the commencement of our journey as we head off on the 27th August with our car & boat on the 3,800kms long road trip up the centre of this great country of ours to Darwin and then across 90kms by barge to the beautiful Tiwi Islands.
Yesterday we completed our journey finally reaching the mouth of the Murray. River Spirit’s hull finally tasting the salt waters of the Southern Ocean.
Our final day was short as we made our way through our last barrage/lock and on the other side greeted by two seals and an abundance of sea birds as we head towards the Murray Mouth passing the Coorong National Park.
The smell of salt water in the summer’s air confirming we had made it after travelling over 2,200kms down the Mighty Murray River. I struggled to locate my emotions as joy and sorrow immediately followed as soon as River Spirit was turned around to head back to shore. While home is calling me as I count the hours in seeing my beloved family and fur babies, I am not tired of the river and could linger here forever.
The absolute highlight and surprise of the day was when we met with the Mayor of Alexandrina Council, Keith Parkes and Frank Tuckwell from the Goolwa National Trust. We were presented with a certificate which confirms that our journey will be forever documented with Inland Rivers National Marathon Register at Goolwa National Trust.
We felt completely honoured and moved. Our children and grandchildren will be able to visit the museum in Goolwa in the future and see our names and details of our journey.
I was simply elated to know our journey will be held in a museum by the National Trust. We sincerely thank Frank who spent considerable time with us in explaining how the register works and the many stories of the Murray River after spending a life on the river and welcoming all who made the journey. Frank’s time made all the more special as he came to greet us after losing his wife only a few weeks ago.
In completing our final blog documenting our journey I would like to share a poem I wrote one evening earlier up the river. Our last blog will be the tally of funds raised along our travels which will hopefully be posted in the next couple of days. Thanks to all who have followed our journey over the 2200kms.
Murray River Spring Lullaby
The Murray River she sings me a sweet lullaby
Her melody drifts through the bush with the longings of spring as kookaburras above echo her tune in the morning’s sunlight.
As the sun’s rays dance on the rustic brown waters beckoning the wildlife to greet her in the promise of new life.
Mother with joey in toe drink at the river’s edge knowing the Murray’s season of spring will replenish their thirst.
Emu joins the sweet lullaby of the Murray’s morning as he makes his way out of the shadows of the shaded red river gums walking gently on spring’s new vegetation covering the earth.
Eagle soars on the breeze of the morning’s wind following the currents downstream watching for his morning feed.
Oh sweet lullaby of the Murray’s spring with her great wisdom to the cycle of life.
How you sing to my spirit from the home of the fairy wren, dragon fly and cormorant basking in the sun on a stump reaching out of the water’s depths.
Your music resurrects my soul in the magic of spring as the renewal of the bush fills me with hope as the Murray’s melody sings me her lullaby on a spring’s morning light.
By Dianne Yoong
We set off a bit earlier today as the weather was calm and we want to go through Lake Alexandrina safely. This lake is renown for high waves and unsuspecting weather changes; making this section the most dangerous. We have been told numerous time on the treachery of the lake and how dangerous it can be as it has been known to produce 2.5m waves. Locals seem to avoid going through it, making us very nervous. But to get the the mouth of the Murray, we had to pass it.
The lake is very shallow and we got depths of about 2-3m. We head to Milang, the only town around the shores of the lake and had to call for assistance as fuel was running low. This is because by the time we got there the winds picked up and that generated 1-1.5m waves. The lake is very wide and long, making us feel venerable like we were in the open ocean. Our destination was no where in sight as it was over the horizon. We had not seen any other boat in the lake. To make matters worst the rough conditions make the ride very uncomfortable. At parts we had to slow down as the waves were high and pounding on the boat constantly.
As we head closer to the channels towards Goolwa, we saw two seals rolling around the waves. We had to stop to take some photos. Lake Alexandrina is a freshwater lake and so seeing seals there is a novelty.
Eventually we made it to Goolwa with great relief. Tomorrow we head to the Murray mouth.