Gemtree, a small caravan park literally in the middle of Australia! From Alice Springs, head north up the Stuart Highway to the Plenty Highway, turn right towards Queensland and Gemtree is on your right, a bit down the road, approximately 140km North East of Alice.
This is our fourth visit to Gemtree, having found it by accident in 2010 and we’ve enjoyed every visit. Kate, Aaron and the crew run a great park, with a real family feel and friendly atmosphere. But I’m getting ahead of myself, I haven’t discussed our drive in yet..
Leaving Curtin Springs on Tuesday (14th Aug), we headed towards Alice Springs only to have a bloody truck flick a couple of stones onto the windscreen and sure enough, a few mins later, there’s a crack the size of Kings Canyon appearing from Jules side, towards the middle of the screen. Bugger… We marked the end, hoping it wouldn’t grow anymore and stopped in Alice for resupplies. About 10kms up the road from Alice we note the crack is already growing so a bunch of phone calls later and we’re booked in for a new windscreen on Thursday. A pain in the arse as it meant we lost a day at Gemtree having to loop back into Alice but better to be safe than sorry. Still the day ended well, with us pulling into Gemtree and meeting up with BJ, who’s joining us for the rest of our trip.
<< Photo credit: Rod – A wedge tailed eagle having some dinner >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – A wedge tailed eagle with Rod’s new telephoto (zoom) lens >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – The section of Gemtree caravan park where we were camped >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – Jules rocking her new Akubra hat >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – A Mulga Parrot basking in the morning sun at the Gemtree Caravan Park >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – A 28 parrot taking a drink from the tap at the Gemtree Caravan Park >>
Wednesday. I (Tony) was pretty excited about today as we were off to do some Zircon fossicking, which I’ve done a couple of times and have loved it every time. It’s like fishing, it’s the thrill of the hunt and you never know if the big zircon is in the next sieve. We managed to dig up a bunch and when I get home I’ll sort through them to determine if any of them are ‘cutters’. When cut, they look beautiful and are, in fact, often referred to as the imitation Diamond. You often see Cubic Zirconia jewelry in the shops but that stuff is man made, Zircon is the real deal and like Diamonds and other gemstones, it’s formed over thousands of years in the earth’s crust.
<< Photo credit: Tony – The old windmill at the turnoff to the Binns Track and the Zircon fossicking field, backlit in the afternoon sun >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – Rod playing with his telephoto lens again, a Meadow Argus butterfly at the Zircon fossicking field >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Our haul of Zirons (right) with some nice Apatite (left) and a Garnet crystal head (bottom) >>
<< Photo credit: Jeff – BJ is bigtime jealous of my Ryobi battery chainsaw so he had to take a pic of us collecting some firewood >>
We were up early Thursday for the run back into Alice to get the windscreen fixed. BJ and Rod joined us and we made the day a bit of a trip by heading home via through the East MacDonnell Ranges, via the abandoned Arltunga gold town and then up the Binns Track, back to Gemtree. The bloke at the windscreen place gave me a hot tip before I left about an ‘off the map’ area where you can explore some old copper and gold mines. We dropped into the spot on the run home, but plan to come back in a couple of days to check it out properly.
<< Photo credit: Tony – Some Aboriginal rock art, of a caterpillar like dreamtime story at Emily Gap in the East MacDonnell Ranges>>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Corroboree Rock in the East MacDonnell Ranges, this pic doesn’t do the size of the rock justice, they are large >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Jules on the pose at Corroboree Rock in the East MacDonnell Ranges >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Orange meets Blue in the East MacDonnell Ranges >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – A large wall of solid Quartz on the Binns Track >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – A large wall of solid Quartz on the Binns Track >>
Happy anniversary baby!! Jules and I are celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary today, Friday 17th August. So a late start this morning with bacon and eggs for brekky, with Rod making us his special fish’n’chips for dinner.. Today we decided to take a drive out to Tower Rock and the Boxhole meteorite crater. Just after turning off the Binns Track towards Tower Rock, Jules and I hear an almighty thumping which turned out to be a short length of steel bar, about 8mm in diameter, sticking into the rear tyre. Bugger… A quick change to the spare had us back on the road, and it seems we’ve managed to fix the leak back at camp using BJ’s tyre repair kit, thanks BJ.
<< Photo credit: Tony – What a lot of the driving looks like when you’re stuck behind someone else.. Best to slow down and create some space for the dust to settle >>
<< Photo credit: Jules – The bloody steel peg that punctured our tyre on the way out to Tower Rock >>
<< Photo credit: Jules – An anniversary selfie on the top of Tower Rock >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – Posing for our celebratory nip of Drambuie on the top of Tower Rock >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Photographing the photographer on the top of Tower Rock >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – The official top of Tower Rock >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Yellow grass and orange boulders at Tower Rock >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – The 170m diameter crater of the Boxhill Metorite site, thought to have crashed about 5,500 years ago >>
Saturday, our last day at Gemtree before moving on again. This morning it was back to the old copper mines for a bit of a looksee. As with most of these old sites, its’ amazing to think about how the old timers managed to get into these area’s and then get their loot back out. On the way home I took the opportunity to have another quick Zircon fossick, picking up a few more nice stones.
<< Photo credit: Tony – Cow on the Binns Track >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Cows on the Binns Track >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – The old dump truck at the entrance to the old copper mines >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – The old dump truck at the entrance to the old copper mines >>
<< Photo credit: Rod – Tony standing on the peak with one of the old copper mines in the background, see the chasm in the far ravine >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – BJ on the trek up to one of the old copper mines >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Shot of the large granite/quartz like host rock around the old copper mines. It looks like a calcite has eroded over time >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Abstract of a red leaf and rocks in the creek near the old copper mines >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Rod exploring one of the old copper mines >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Rod exploring one of the old copper mines >>
<< Photo credit: BJ – Rod and Tony exploring one of the old copper mines >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – This is what the old miners were looking for, a Quartz rock loaded with naturally occurring copper >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – The old dump truck (again) near the old copper mines >>
Sunday 19th and we’re heading East over the Plenty Highway into Queensland. We’d been warned that there’s about a 200km section of the Plenty that’s rough as guts so we were hoping the bad road reports are exaggerated and it seems they were! There were some patches of bulldust and plenty of rocky sections but overall the road wasn’t that bad, definitely not as bad as the Great Central Road from WA.. We’ve now pulled up at a riverside freecamp in Boulia and tomorrow we’re heading to Porcupine Gorge, a few hundred kms south of Cairns.
<< Photo credit: Tony – The biggest termite mound next to the Plenty Highway, nearing the border to Qld. >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – We’re officially about to enter into Queensland >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Not much to see in Queenland, a plain of nothing about 50kms from the Qld border >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – The road and emptiness heading into Boulia >>
<< Photo credit: Tony – Our riverside free camping spot, just outside of Boulia >>