Monday 28 September 2015

Great Central Road part 1

The Great Central Road (GCR) is a stretch of approximately 1,200km of dirt road that spans from Yulara, Northern Territory right through to Laverton, Western Australia. The road runs through Indigenous communities and reserves and because of this you must obtain a permit to travel this route. You need two permits, one for Northern Territory land and one for Western Australia.  Permits available online (current in September 2015) from the WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Territory CLC 

We left Yulara mid morning after a pack up in the warm sun. As we were driving past Uluru to go out  to start the GCR Matilda requested one last drive around the base of the rock. So we put on John Williamson 'Raining on the rock' as our sound track, and we did a lap, each of us staring out the windows at the enormous landmark and each of us contemplating that we would in fact be back here sooner rather than later. 

As we pulled onto the road to take us out to kata Juta and the start of the GCR we saw the most massive eagle who stared at us and then took flight. Watching him soar high in the sky and into the distance was a memorable and a slightly emotional moment as we pulled away from Uluru and headed to Kata Juta, which is Indigenous for 'Many Heads'. It is a rock formation that is made up of several large structures that do indeed look like 'heads'. 

The walk to the Kata Juta lookout was easily accessable as it has been made into a board walk. Nevertheless I still had my hiking boots on! 

The little flowers that made a carpet, at kata Juta

We then turned west and onto the Great Central Road

As we turned west at Kata Juta and onto the dirt road I felt a little uneasy. Almost like we 'shouldn't' be on this road. We stopped to let the air down in the tyres and I jumped in the drivers seat to do the first leg of the trip.

The first part of the road

Bored selfies as craig sorts the tyres

And off we went. We hoped to make it to Giles Weather station as our first over nighter as some fellow campers had said they had camped here the night. 

The first 50 or so kilometres were lovely. Well as lovely as a dirt road can be. I sat on about 80km and we wondered what all the fuss had been about the rough road conditions. Then up ahead we saw a grader. 

Once we passed the freshly graded road and onto the un graded road it started to get rough. Like really rough. I slowed down somewhat and had to keep two hands on the steering wheel, making it hard to get a drink! 

Our first stop on the road was to see Lasseters Cave. In the 1930's Lewis Lasseter headed out this way in search of an illusive 'Gold Reef'. He had first discovered this reef when he was 17 years old and he made the trek back out here several years later to find it again. Unfortunately for him, his camels (with all his tools and supplies) ran away from him. Starving hungry he made his way to this cave and sheltered from the hot sun for 25 days. His diary was found in the cave several years later with a quote saying 'what good is a gold reef I would trade all the gold in the world for a loaf of bread'.

This was the view from the opening of the cave, I took this pic to remind myself that this would have been Lasseters view for 25 days while he sheltered and waited to see his fate. 

Little miss with a screwed up face. At Lasseters cave walk.

 From the cave we drove into Docker River, an Indigenous Community, to fuel up. I would have taken photos but there are signs everywhere requesting no photos be made. So I will have to use words to describe it and you can choose to believe me or not. 

As we pulled into Docker River we could feel the poverty oozing from the pores of the community. Gutted houses sat abandon as gatherings of people had made camp in the front yards instead. The streets were lined with rubbish, soiled nappies, soft drink cans and hot chip boxes. Old car wrecks sat in front yards. There were no gardens, no grass, no trees. A general store sat at the T intersection of the road. parked out front were cars with no windows. More occupants than the seats allowed for. The petrol bowsers were locked in big steel cages. There was no signage on the store. Just bars covering the window to make it look and feel like a prison. 

We pulled in and both agreed our children were not getting out of the car. An Asian lady, an unexpected sight, appeared from the shop and pulled a set of keys from her pocket to open the fuel bowsers. She told us she was working here on her visa for three months. I asked where she lived and she pointed to a small house nearby.

Dark eyes from the parked cars peered at us before looking away so as not to make eye contact. 

As craig disappeared into the store to pay, I pressed the central lock button on the door and waited. I knew I was unwelcome here. I was not wanted. I was a stranger and I was a symbol of another world. A world in which these people wanted nothing to do with. 

Craig emerged from the store and got in the drivers seat. He proceeded to tell me about the sight inside the store. Of a young girl wearing nothing but her underwear, standing behind her mother. A baby sitting on the floor with a jar of nutella, scooping the chocolate spread from the jar with her bare hands. 

The fuel was our most expensive to date $2.50 a litre. 

It was a relief to pull out of Docker River and continue on the road, not far west of Docker River we crossed the boarder and all of a sudden we were back in our home state of Western Australia. 

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