Check the Pouch

Our last few days in the Northern Territory flew by. We got back into Alice Springs in the early afternoon, it’s amazing how far you can drive in a day when the road is smooth tarmac rather than a bulldust and hole riddled mess. As soon as we got back into reception Matt booked the van in for a wheel alignment and suspension check to see if we could locate and fix the disturbing banging that has been plaguing our drives. That evening we drove out to the convention center and waited to be picked up to go to The Kangaroo Sanctuary. Matt was really looking forward to this after listing to a podcast by Chris (Brolga) he had been keen to visit since we first began to dream about our trip around Australia.

The bus ride to the sanctuary was pretty fast but we had time to watch a little bit of the documentary where Chris was being chased around the sanctuary by the massive red kangaroo called Roger that was one of the first 3 joeys he fostered. It was entertaining but Roger was more than a little bit scary standing on his tail and trying to box with his human carer. Chris greeted the bus and showed us the shed where he used to live. When he first set up the sanctuary he had no money having spent it all on fencing and the land so he couldn’t afford a house so he slept and cooked in a small tin shed, it wouldn’t have looked out of place in a suburban backyard. He took us out the back, talked to us about his work, and showed us a couple of beautiful baby kangaroos, one of his adult rescues kept coming up to the group and he explained that sometimes, despite their best efforts, the kangaroos don’t become wild again so rather than releasing them he keeps them in the sanctuary. We then took a walk around the grounds.

The sanctuary was huge with dog proof fencing on all sides to keep the roos safe from harm. We learnt about red kangaroos and euros and how their family structures work and Chris told us about the importance of checking the pouches of road kill as often the babies are still alive after the mother has been hit by a car. We looked at Rogers memorial and then made our way back to the bus. Both of us were so happy that we’d waited around to be able to visit, it was an amazing place. For dinner we went to the Alice Springs Brewery and had wood-fired pizza as well as sampling a few of their beers before heading back to our transport museum camp and hitting the hay.

On Friday morning we woke up early and packed up the van so we could drop it off for the wheel alignment and suspension check. The mechanic very kindly drove us to the Alice Springs Desert Park so we could spend the morning looking at animals and wandering around the gardens rather than sitting in a stuffy office. We’d heard mixed things on the road about the park but after visiting we both thought it was really well done particularly their bird enclosures and the nocturnal house. There were mala, bilbies, heaps of different birds, as well as the standard dingos, emus, and kangaroos. We went on a couple of the ranger guided talks at different enclosures but I got bit frustrated with the ranger because she kept misidentifying birds and mispronouncing names so we ended up walking around on our own most of the time. It took us 4 hours to get around the whole park with our finish perfectly timed to go and pick up the van.

We were both entertained by the findings at the mechanic or lack of. They’d taken the van out driving multiple times, confirmed we weren’t hearing things and that there was a weird noise but they looked everywhere and couldn’t find the cause. The poor bloke that had been assigned our van seemed pretty frustrated that after all the work he hadn’t found anything but it was sort of reassuring that there isn’t something majorly wrong. That afternoon we went back into town and looked at the small but fascinating mega fauna museum, did our groceries for the next few days and went back to park amongst the tractors and trucks for one more night.

I was excited when we drove out of the town and started to travel north up the Stuart Highway, we both loved exploring the southern part of the NT but it was fun to get on the road and head towards a new place. We stopped in at the Tropic of Capricorn for a couple of happy snaps and then continued on our way until we stumbled across, of all things, a Mango Farm. Both being a bit perplexed we walked into the tiny cramped shop and bought a mango ice-cream and mango sorbet which we ate under a tree out the front. It was bizarre sitting on a lush green farm, next to a vineyard, in the middle of the desert. Back on the road we made two more stops, Barrow Creek to look at the old telegraph station, and Wycliffe Well. Despite me telling him that I was certain the “UFO Capital of Australia” would be terrible Matt was still very keen so we rolled in to have a look. After peering around the kitch, and let’s face it pretty shit alien themed art Matt turned to me with a look of disappointment on his face and said “is this is?”. Sorry love, that’s it.

It was almost dark when we reached our campsite for the night at the Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) so we felt quite lucky to get a spot as the site is notorious for filling up in the early afternoon. We got the chairs out, set up our camp in our little site, and then went on a wander through the rocks finishing up on the lookout as the sun had started to set. It was a beautiful place. On our way back we met a couple who were playing Monopoly Deal in the picnic area and had a great chat with them. They showed us photos from their trip and we asked them about their experience on the Telegraph Track up the cape, something we were planning on doing but after chatting with them and seeing the videos will not being doing haha (it was the most riddiculous 4WDing I have ever seen). The next day I woke up early to photograph the sunrise, and what a sunrise it was. Because there have almost been no clouds while we have been in the NT the sunsets and sunrises haven’t been very inspiring but this morning it was perfect. I spent an hour snapping away and then went and picked up Matt so we could do the 4km walk around the park. By the time we’d finished I felt like we’d definitely covered Karlu Karlu and our last “tourist” destination for the NT.

Campsite Reviews

Central Australian Transport Hall of Fame – You all already know how I feel about this one but if not see Flats and Budgie Rescue.

Karlu Karlu – One of those amazing places that you can’t quite believe is a campground let alone one that is $4 per night but then you come crashing back to reality when faced with the bunch of arseholes that are the people you’re camping with. We had, not one but two people parked over multiple sites, kids climbing on literally the one spot in the park where the traditional owners ask people don’t go, a fat bloke drinking beer and breaking off branches to use a fly swats, a woman walking her dog, and multiple people not paying. The marbles were amazing but the people did ruin it for me a bit. $4pp/pn – 6/10.