Sunday, March 27, 2016

Travelog Australia 2015: Alice Spring town, NT

Date: June 30th, 2015

Alice Spring town is located 5km away and our 1st stop was the John McDouall Stuart memorial. 
"John McDouall Stuart was a Scottish explorer and one of the most accomplished of all Australia's inland explorers. Stuart led the first successful expedition to traverse the Australian mainland from south to north and return, through the centre of the continent. 

The explorations of Stuart eventually resulted in the 1863 annexation of a huge area of country to the 
Government of South Australia. This area became known as the Northern Territory. In 1911 the Commonwealth of Australia assumed responsibility for that area. In 1871-72 the Australian Overland Telegraph Line was constructed along Stuart's route. The principal road from Port Augusta to Darwin was also established essentially on his route and is now known as the Stuart Highway in his honour."- Wikipedia.

Next was the Desert Park. We only went into the reception hall which told a story of the original people of the land. The park was huge and divided into few sections according to the desert type. Being cheapos and not-time permitted, we didnt go into the park.

Nearby in the area is John Flynn's Grave. John Flynn was sent by the Church to check on the needs of the busmn and women living in NT. He founded the 1st radio transmitter that could send/receive message for over 500km. This, finally begin the work of medicine and radio, now known as the Flying Doctor Service. OMG! So ironic that we actually use this service after the next couple of days....

Our final stop in Alice Spring is Kmart!! hahahahaha! I cant remember the real reason we wanted to have a quick stop there, but we ended up with a spree. Well, it's not that we shop a lot, but we spent an hour there buying less than 5 items LOL. We also had an incident here where Nad rammed the campervans' top at the parking exit. There was a pole marking the maximum height and none of us realized that our top was higher huhu. Luckily, it was on the top and we can still drive thru with a loud screeching -_-' 
Before we left, full tank for the gas for our 445km journey to Ayer Rocks.

p/s: saw this Vegemite Cadbury there. I cant imagine how it tasted like. Vegemite smell itself was stomach churning for me.

Travelog Australia 2015: Alice Spring, NT & Heritage Caravan Park.

Date: June 29th, 2015

Today, we're crossing the border from South Australia to the Northern Territory. It was another long journey of 688km along Stuart Highway. One interesting fact about Stuart Highway is that there are NO SPEED LIMIT on some of the leg in the NT, all the way up to Darwin. The hway was literally straight that u can see miles ahead of u.
Today, we reached the camp park quite late since we stayed a lot longer roaming around Coober Pedy earlier in the day. Again, the office was already closed and no one picked up the phone when we called the cell number. We cant go in since the gate required a combination number to open. We spent quite some time walking around but we couldnt find the staff either. A lovely lady let us in using here code but we had no idea where we are and where to park. We even parked at others' site and get kicked out. That's then when the staff finally called us back and said that she left an enveloped TAPED on the office doors. Gosh! it's so dark with no lighting turned on! How could i see the envelope although it's white -_-'

Only then, we know where to park. It was actually at the other end of the park. Less crowded and with bigger space right next to the pool. This time, we could align our van so that it'd be easier for us to pray. However,the space came with a price. The toilet was waaayyyyyyy further up. Luckily there was a water pipe nearby making it easier for us to clean up after dinner.
 The caravan park was big. It has cabins as well as multi space for campervan and RV as well. It kind of divided into 2 main area, left or right side (from the entry gate). Left side was where the smaller camp sites, cabins and the toilet/laundry building were. Then to the right, u could see an opened hall with a lot of seating area, a huge pool, bigger camp sites and a designated fenced area for dogs to run and play around. So, being our site next to the pool, right around us were RVs (more like buses).

Overall, the caravan park was well maintained and pet friendly. A lot of parking spots for the campervans with clean facilities. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Travelog Australia 2015: Coober Pedy - Opal Inn Motel & Caravan Park; Old Timers Opal Mine

Date: June 28th-29th, 2015

It's a bright sunny day with a perfect weather. It was a long drive since the cruising speed of the Van was only 110kmph. We rotated and finally reached Opal Inn around 6pm. Nothing much was done that night other than settling in and cooked dinner. Opal Inn itself is located right in the middle of Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy itself as a very small mining town. Well, the town is small surrounded by the vast area of opal mines.

 The next morning, we went to the Old Timers Mine.

"The Old Timers Mine and Museum opens a window on the fascinating history of opal mining in Coober Pedy, revealing not only the hard physical grind and the occasional bonanza that was mining in the early days, but also an intriguing mystery at the heart of the mine.The original mine dates back to 1916, but the old miners, whoever they were, concealed its existence by back-filling the shafts. The mystery is why they never returned to dig out the opal that remained. Perhaps they went to the First World War and never came home again.  It was not until 1968 that the hidden mine was discovered by Ron Gough when he was digging an extension to his underground home and broke through, exposing three large seams of good quality opal, as well as opalised seashells. These have been retained and can be seen by visitors today."-

It was a self tour but it started with a briefing by the staff outside next to a mining truck (it looks like the truck at the town signage above). I forget what the name of this machine but basically, this machine sucks up the excavated dirt from the mine and then dumps it in a heap at the edge of the hole. Few of us had the opportunity to try on the suction capacity and it was strong. It could easily sucked a fist size dirt and stone easily from our hands and the guide said there're numerous count of sunglasses as well LOL (from those hang on the shirt collars).

Inside the mine, we saw how the raw opal was processed into the well shaped stones in the workshop. The uncle working there was really kind to show us with all the machines in there. The rest of the time, we explore and climb our way around hehe.

For those who doesnt know what  Opal is. Opal is the national gemstone of Australia. Australia supplies 85-97% of Opal around the world and 80% of them originates from South Australia and Coober Pedy is the main mine source.  The largest and most valuable opal found to date, The Olympic Australis Opal, valued at AU$2,500,000 was found in Coober Pedy.
Ya, I know. You must have expected it to be luxurious and sparkling, right? But due to the uniqeness and purity of the opal (99% gem), it was decided that the opal will remain exactly as found.

Anyway, we spent couple of hours here before continuing our journey to Alice Spring.

Travelog Australia 2015: Adelaide Shores Caravan Park, West Beach.

Date: June 27th-28th, 2015

Our 1st overnight stay was at the Shores Caravan Park. By the time we drove in, it was around 9pm. The office was already closed so we had to call the number at the door.

Couple of minutes after, one of the staff came and handed us an envelope with our cabin number and map. The park was huge and luckily the cabin area was at the front side. There were a lot of camper van but not a single soul in sight. it's not even 10 but everybody  was asleep? Yes, that is how Australia is.

It was really cold so we hurriedly brought our stuff out. We tried to on the heater mode on the aircond but despite of our attempt, it just didnt work. The temp was set at 26C but it was as cold as outside temp. In the cold night, we cooked fried rice for dinner and set for our plan tomorrow before going to bed.
We stayed in a 1bedroom cabin, a family type cabin. They're 2 bunk bed in the room and 1 double bed in the main living area. The room was really small where the space was just enough for me and Nad so it was more like a room for small kids. We initially wanted to stay in the living area but changed our mind since the living area was a bigger space and colder. 
The cabin has everything including a fully equipped kitchen but NO ENSUITE TOILET/bathroom. All 'business' need to done at the nearby common restroom (50m away)..
We started the not-so-early day by walking around. There was a beach nxt to the Park but  since we're tight on schedule, we just quickly walked around. No photo here since they're all in my lost camera.

We left around 9am for our furthest distance leg of the trip- to Coober Pedy, 893km away

Travelog Australia 2015: Melbourne to Adelaide, Adelaide CBD

Date: June 27th, 2015

Our flight to Adelaide was at 10.15am. Hence, we took the 8am train from Flinders St. Station and later a bus from Broadmeadows to the airport. Being Saturday, not many people were around and I noticed a lot more of backpackers while waiting for the bus. By 9.30am, we have checked in and dropped our luggage at Qantas counter.

The flight was smooth and we arrived in Adelaide as scheduled around 11.10am. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Fifi waiting for us right at the gate! Then only I know that domestic terminal in Oz allowed people to wait and escort up to the gate.
Right after we arrived, our next destination is the Camper Van rental. For this, I dont really have the detail as the rental was settled by Fifi. After watching the safety video and signing the agreement, off we go.
 Our 1st stop was a Park, the 1st stop for the Free tram CBD zone. I cant recall the park name but it was most likely close to Railways Oval since the tram line was from the suburb area towards to Airport. We left our camper van there and board the tram towards Adelaide Central Market.
 We bought rice, veggies,fruits and chicken there. My gosh, it was a lot and so we decided to return to our Van to leave the foods there before heading to Rundle Mall..
 Of course, we borong bottles of mineral water, chips, chocolate, Timtum, Timtum and more Timtum LOL!
 Had our iftar at the Swinging Bowl (a.k.a Mangkuk Hayun). The pricing here depends whether you're a student or not (they have student discount). Thumbs up! This was our 1st proper Melayu meal in days but it was tasty. The drinks were free flow, same with the bubur jagung. With mat-sallehs' portion, we dont really need to top them up.
After iftar, we returned to our Camper and bid Fifi farewell. It was close to 7pm and we officially start our Red Center Roadtrip with our 1st stop -->> the Laundrymart. Kind of stupid, i would say. Coz the Camper Park has laundry! Arghhh if only we knew, we could settle down to our cabin earlier while doing our laundry. We spend almost 2hrs here but while we're there, couple of policemen came and talked to a guy there. He looked homeless but we're not sure as he was doing his own thing, not bothering us. It ended up with the man leaving the laundry mart.

p/s: You can see our food stock for this trip. Timtum and Chips have got to be on top hahaha.

 Anyways, after everything was settled, we drove to our 1st camper park @Adelaide Shores Caravan Park, West Beach.