Thursday, 27 July 1995

AUC 1995 - Tennant Creek to Daly Waters

Daly Waters (NT)
Renner Springs, Elliot, Dunmarra (Stuart Highway) 401 kms

A steady pack and we were on the road by 9:30 am and heading north to the first really interesting things of the NT. We for went the Devil's Pebbles as we intended seeing their grown up relatives further south on the return trip.

We also felt we had seen enough cairns to keep us going, so our only "monumental" stop was at Attack Creek (71 km north of Tennant Creek), where Stuart was attacked by aborigines on 25th July, 1860 and returned back south.

A detour from the new Stuart Highway to the old, took us past Churchill's Rock - a freak of nature which just might bear a slight resemblance to the war time PM of Great Britain, if one was at the right angle and the sun was low enough and the imagination was furtive and ... need I say more !

Mt Willieray
Lunch was taken at a road side Stop just south of Renner Springs, where a rocky outcrop with delusions of grandeur, called Mt Willieray,  suddenly juts up from nowhere. If it had one or two friends in this particular location, it would be called a range! Still, the now customary orange and red tones against the obligatory blue sky, made a nice contrast to consider over cold meat and hot tea.

At Renner Springs, we were able to consider a convoy of Defence Force vehicles which were moving north as part of Kangaroo 95. We had been passing "green machines" since entering far western Queensland and this was a chance to take some photographs.

Onward, ever onward, until we reached our overnight stop at Daly Waters. The camping ground was
simple, with ground as hard as cement, making tent pegging a pleasureless experience, but it provided reasonable shade and hot showers. The stop is little more than a transport cafe, on the southern approach to Daly Winters, but where ever I lay my head etc.

Throughout the day we had played dodge the convey, passing a total of four columns of trucks in the course of the 400 odd km. In all, 17 000 personnel were in the northern part of Qld, NT ad WA during July and August, playing out an invasion scenario against the fictitious Orangeland. Part of the contingent of troops were designated the enemy and the defence forces produced a pamphlet explaining the operation and apologising for any inconvenience, during the two months. Certainly, our experience of the personnel involved in the convoys had been a very positive one. They were
most helpful in the way they spaced their vehicles out to allow safe passage for overtaking vehicles and had proven to be most friendly at stopping points. During our day, we returned many amiable waves to green clad men and women.

Sarah was still not up to par by the evening, but much of her upset stomach was consistent with the things we could expect from a course of antibiotics.

After the children drifted off to Nod, we were engaged in conversation with a retired couple from New Zealand. They were nice enough, but with typical Shaky Isle arrogance, they confidently told us Australia could expect a big fall. The crash was coming (they said) but it would be all right in the end. It had been in NZ. It was hard ... but it had been worth it.

We were polite. What else is there but manners, in those situations ?

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