Hi there,

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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Our (somewhat ill-fated) drive to Alice Springs

... and everything seemed to be going so well.

Amid all the phenomenal scenery, exquisite sunsets, and intense feelings of battle weary but satisfied bodies, there were shadows on the horizon that we hadn’t foreseen. The first such shadow crept towards us while we were drinking in the splendour of Uluru and the Olgas. News came from home that Nat’s grandmother, Frankie, had taken ill.

I remember, in our early days of travelling around Europe and Africa, Nat had always said that if anything happened to her grandparents while we were living abroad, she would be on the first plane home. And so, it was a no brainer, that when the news came through that Frankie had left her tired body to start a new adventure of her own, we all knew Nat needed to be home for a few days – to help celebrate the life of the matriarch of the Tolhurst family with her parents, siblings and extended family. However, for Nat, getting there would be an adventure in itself – and one that required fast action to organise. Using a painfully slow internet, we managed to eke out just enough connection for long enough to book plane and bus tickets to get her home and back to us again. As luck would have it, we were moving into a relatively metropolitan area (by Northern Territory standards) of Alice Springs in a few days’ time – where she could catch a plane to Adelaide and a connecting flight to Melbourne. But until then, there were many hundreds of kilometres to cross and Kings’ Canyon to explore (see the last blog post for a psychologically scaring tale of highly emotion charged drama at the top of the enormously high walls in King’s Canyon). So, despite the initial flurry of activity, once plane tickets had been booked and bus rides organised, there was (what seemed like) a long period of simply waiting patiently before these plans could come to fruition.

As such, Nat’s tale would have to wait a few days to be told…

So, pressing onwards with our own family adventure, having thoroughly explored King’s Canyon, we set off bright and early on the 13th April to head to our Easter destination of Alice Springs (aka ‘The Alice’, as locals call it). However, being a little distracted by the goings on of the past few days, it was not surprising that a thing or two got overlooked along the way. This primarily came in the form of the cable connecting the trailer lights and electric brakes to be car not properly being attached. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until we were about half way between King’s Canyon and Alice Springs that we realised the mistake… By then, the 12-pin plug had well and truly been ground into minuscule particles and consumed whole heartedly by the desert. Until that point though, we had been merrily tootling along, listening to the ‘Short and Curly’ ethics for kids podcast from the ABC (check it out, it’s very good!).

The site of our discovery…

Alas, in the middle of the outback, there were few auto-electricians to be found… least of all in the days leading up to Easter weekend. Besides, even if there were any outback sparkies floating around, we didn’t have reception on our phones with which to give one a buzz and have him or her ‘pop out’ and fix the plug. And so, we limped (as carefully as we dared) the last few hundred kilometres to Alice Springs. Along the way, we had patches of phone signal and were fortunately able to contact a rather helpful young mechanic (…the first two we called hadn’t been particularly interested in our plight – particularly as most had already shut up shop for Easter Weekend). While this chap couldn’t help us that day, he was able to book us in for first thing on Saturday morning. Since we planned to stay in Alice Spring for 6 nights, that worked out brilliantly!

Luckily, our Pajero was able to provide the breaks for both itself and the caravan (something, I’m sure, the Ford Mondeo would have failed spectacularly to do). And so, with a few arms waving out of the window, signalling to other bemused motorists where we were going, we managed to arrive safe and sound in Alice Springs. Our new found mechanical friend was true to his word and turned up as planned on Saturday. After adding himself what seemed like a ‘wee Easter bonus’ on to the bill, we were all fixed up and ready to roll again…

…that is until we decided to test out our four-wheel drive and see how it would handle a little off-road trip to palm valley. But, with six days to cover in Alice, I think I’ll leave that nail biting tale for another day.

Off Road Adventure... (coming soon!)

Bye ‘d bye,


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