Sunday, January 11, 2009

Journey to the Red Centre

January 4 we departed the familiar and safe rolling hills of Roleystone for a five day road trip to Alice Springs through the Gibson and Great Victoria deserts.
Without laboring over it suffice to say it's a long, hot and dusty road, isolation being a familiar companion by the end of the second day. The width and breadth of Western Australia is incredibly vast, for readers not familiar with this state I'd suggest a quick visit to wiki to familiarize yourself. It's a four day journey at about 100kms per hour to reach the Northern Territory from Perth via the Great Central Road which is mostly unsealed.
You don't drive after dark here unless you're mad or in a large truck or tank. The nocturnal wildlife is numerous and often large. Camels run wild throughout the outback, donkeys and large red kangaroos make up the most weighty of the possible road encounters at night. Emus are also numerous and pose a risk for vehicles.
Anyway, we arrived in Alice Springs as planned on Thursday 8th.
Have not had time to do much painting but have a few drawings or sketches.
We have several hundred photos so I will post a few here for the record.
Kalgoorlie is the last major town before venturing into a much less comfortable environment.
It's a gold mining town from the 1860s and still retains much of the architecture and atmosphere of an earlier time. Kalgoorlie is a beautiful old town that boasts the largest open cut gold mine south of the equator. The "Superpit" has to be seen in real life to be appreciated. It's too large to photograph from the ground. Google Earth is a good way to see it's massive scale.
The photo I've attached here shows small oblong shapes at the bottom of the pit, these are regular 4wd vehicles, the larger dump trucks making their way up the ramps are carrying 100 tons of ore per load. Takes them an hour to reach the top.

I'll add more photos in the same format in coming days.

Gone are The Blues, this is the country for seeping in the landscape, flora and fauna as well as the culture here.
The town of Alice Springs has numerous galleries. Many of the local artists here paint in the galleries, the New York and european gallery buyers can come and browse and purchase direct.
More on that later.
It's a life changing experience.

This small slideshow shows a little of the early "western" architecture of Kalgoorlie.
For the American readers, Kalgoorlie was the home of Herbert Hoover for a period in his younger days he worked here as an engineer, later he went on to become a President I believe.


Blogger wayne said...

Hi David! and WOW!!!, what an amazing post! --- How incredible and wide-ranging is the 'picture' of Australia's epic landscape, and the 'Alice-crossroads' of cultures you paint here!! I love your description of 'the journey' just to get there, and all the nocturnal fauna coming alive in the coolness after dark...and so, before nightfall one must 'hit the hay' (not much of that out there either!) or instead, dare venture to 'drive on' and stand a very large chance of hitting a camel, an emu, or a "Big Red" (kangaroo)... any of which may demolish a vehicle, as you say!! It reminds me of crossing the Nullarbor (i.e. "No tree") Plain (many years ago now) across a pot-hole ridden 'dirt track' Progress was laborious and hot. The scenerey: flat, arid, vast. I look forward to more posts, your responses to the experience, culture & landscape of the NT, the Alice, and environs...!

January 11, 2009 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger David Burge said...

Thanks Wayne, we were fortunate to come by some intreresting fauna including the much maligned camel, a ferral pest and outnumbering humans in the outback by a great margin. I've learned that the aboriginal children catch the baby camels and make pets of them.
If only they were to stay small they'd make pleasant pets instead of pests. They have very interesting faces.

January 19, 2009 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Man alive that picture is insane! This is great reading about such an epic journey - an odyssey, really, a dangerous one at that because it sounds as if you're only a clogged fuel pump away from Stone Age life. Post the pic of the scorpion!

January 20, 2009 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger David Burge said...

Hi Nick ! Yes a blocked fuel pump or broken fan belt can be very inconvenient. There are a few roads off the main sand track we were traveling where a simple breakdown can mean death to the unprepared. No one travels on them in summer.
Having been here for 3 weeks the adventure is waning and a work routine is setting in. Can't say I'm that thrilled about joining the procession in the mornings but I have plenty of autonomy and the money's good.
10 more weeks! Hoping for a few cool week-ends to get some exploring done.
Will post some pics of the wildlife, saw more camels than kangaroos(except dead ones) which is slightly surreal as they don't belong here at all. Perhaps the camel and donkey ought to be on the Coat of Arms instead of kangaroo and emu.

January 22, 2009 at 4:56 AM  

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