The time has come for us to start our journey back into The Northern Territory. We have decided to take The Tanami Track. This is also known as the "world's longest shortcut". It is a road that cuts through the Tanami Desert from Halls Creek to Alice Springs. It is 1000 kms long, unsealed, and is very remote. There are a few Aboriginal Communities along the way where you can get fuel and limited food, however, these can be unreliable, as due to cultural reasons, the stores may be closed at any time or day of the week. Therefore, you have to be very prepared with extra food, water and fuel in case of any unexpected break-downs or mishaps. Our first stop along the Tanami was Wolfe Creek Crater. No, we didn't run into Mick Taylor for those of you who have seen the movie Wolf Creek. Although we did camp there and Mark did try and pretend the car wouldn't start! Thanks for that one Mark. The crater itself is huge. It was created when a Meteor hit the earth 300 000 years ago. It's rim is about 60 metres high and we walked around entire rim which is about 5kms. We did it in the last hour daylight and it was fascinating watching the light change as we walked the around the crater. We finished the walk by watching a stunning sunset perched high on the crater wall , looking over the dry arid land. Camping out here was magical under a blanket of stars. I love lying in the tent at night and looking up to the sky. The stars in the outback are so bright that once your eyes have adjusted you can actually see without using a torch - even when the moon is not up. You needn't have to worry about clouds blocking your view - we haven't seen proper cloud cover at night in months. It's an astronomers dream! Before we left the crater, we decided to walk down into the crater's floor the next morning. I was amazed at how many little wildflowers and plants we found down the bottom. The crater has provided perfect conditions for such plants. It was a little oasis in an otherwise dry and arid environment.
Onwards we travelled down the Tanami. Our next stop would be to refuel in the Aboriginal community of Balgo. Success - the pumps were operating! This town is also at the junction of the infamous Canning Stock Route. I'm sure it won't be long before Mark has forgotten how tough these roads are and he will be planning to take this road in the future. We drove on with little to see except the everchanging scenery, and finally crossed the border back into The Territory. We had to laugh at the sign somebody has erected to mark the actual border, it was very glamorous. Further down the road there are a few more signs to show you are back in the NT. Onwards we travel, the sun is getting low and we are fairly proud of how far we have come that day. It has been a tough ride since leaving the WA/NT border. The corrugations have gotten worse and another part of the car has fallen victim to the tough road. This time a spotlight. So here we are in this remote desert, and in the distance I see something bobbing up and down, perhaps running, in the middle of the road. I yell out with excitement "It's a Camel!!" but wait, it is not a camel. It's a …. person.... yes, definitely a woman running with a man cycling next to her. What the? Am I hallucinating? No, I am not. We stop and say G'day. Turns out this is the couple from America I have heard about. They are travelling from Darwin to Adelaide. Katie is running the entire journey (about a marathon a day!) and her husband Henley is riding alongside her. After a quick chat, we get a photo with these crazy Yankees, give Henley a beer, and off we go again. Leaving them to tackle The Tanami in their own unique way. I have to admit, I admire their strength. What an amazing feat. It is so hot out here in the desert I can't imagine walking, let along running out here! You can check out Katie's website here: https://www.katievisco.com/
Finally we get to our overnight desert camp. We are thinking we will definitely be in the middle of nowhere by ourselves tonight, but no, we pull into our chosen camp spot to find another family camping there and they are also from Brisbane! We thought this was kind of funny as we haven't seen many vehicles all day and those we have seen have been mainly mining cars or road trains. We also haven't met many families from Brisbane at all this whole trip, yet here we are on the Tanami with Brissy folk as our camping neighbours. We made campfire "apple pies" and went to bed feeling very content under yet another stunning desert sky.
Our last day on The Tanami was fairly uneventful and we were feeling fairly happy that we had survived The Tanami unscathed. We reached the bitumen and pulled into a roadhouse to pump up our tyres. That was when Mark noticed we had a puncture! Oh well, we have driven thousands of kilometres on gravel roads throughout our travels, I guess we should consider ourselves lucky it didn't happen in the middle of The Tanami. Ironically, we think we may have gotten the puncture on the bitumen!
We at last arrive in Alice Springs. Here we will de-dust and reset before heading down to Uluru and Kata Tjuta.