Day 17 - Monday 25th April 2016.

Alice to Gemtree, NT - 145kms.

I slept well and woke about 6am, I got up about 6:15am and got on the internet. I woke Marg at 7:25am, she had slept in long enough. The new Sat dish is a real PITA to pack up. It is so big 90cm, compared to the old 65cm dish. Anyway, the dish now travels on the bed, after I unscrew the 3 bolts that hold the LNB. We left at 9:06am, there wasn't any rush as we only had 145kms to go.

After 16 days it was time to empty the shitter. None of the places that we stayed in the past week had a dump point that was suitable. If I was desparate I could have transferred the 'black water' to the tote tank and empty the tote tank at a dump point. I wasn't desparate. We checked out the dump point yesterday and arrived there at 9:15am and it was a perfect dump point. I could park the fiver directly over the dump point and attach my smallest (18") hose. I should have taken a photo, but I have to draw the line somewhere.
We drove through Alice and being Anzac day, there was bugger all traffic. We drove a further 34kms and stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn(9:54am), I stopped opposite the monument and took some photos. Continued on for a further 37kms, where we turned right onto the Plenty Hwy (10:22am) and stopped for some photos. We continued along the Plenty hwy for 69kms on single bitumen, only met a couple of cars. No drama. Turned right into Gemtree Caravan Park.
I met Aaron who I had emailed earlier this year. We paid for 3 night @ $32 pn plus their 2 garnet and zircon tours $75 each or if doing both $75 and $60. We followed Aaron on his quad bike who lead us to our site. We were staying on site 44 where we stayed back on 8th May 2009 but this time we were next site (site 45). I notice that the trees have grown and give more shade than back in 2009. We setup the power, water is bore water, so you can drink it if you boil, we have a full 150 litres of fresh water on board, so we are under control.

We walked back to the reception area where they have a shop, so we ordered pies and soft drink and sat out the front, where they have tables and chairs in the shade. We sat down and started chatting to Gary and Grace who had ridden their motorbike from Alice to Gemtree to have lunch then ride back to Alice. We chatted for over 30 minutes, it was quite enjoyable. After lunch, we walked back to the fiver which was casting a nice shadow, so we sat there and with a cool breeze, the flies were not too much trouble.

I finshed setting up the Sat dish. It was very weird, that the Foxtel STB would not show the SBS,2,7,9 or 10 which was very strange, luckily, we have VAST so we get all the Free to All channels.

We decided last week, as the weather is very warm, we bought a lot of cold meats and salads and that is what we are having and will have for dinner for the next few days. Consequently, dinner tonight was very YUMMA.

Tomorrow, we are booked on the Garnet tour.

Our route from Alice to Gemtree - 145kms.

At the Tropic of Capricorn.

At the start of the Plenty Hwy.

It must be dry. All roads are open.

Start of the Plenty Hwy.

Plenty Hwy distances.

Plenty Hwy distances.

Gemtree Caravan Park.

Site 45 - Gemtree CP.

Site 45 - Gemtree CP.

Spending the arvos in the shade. It was beautiful.

Day 18 - Tuesday 26th April 2016.

Gemtree Garnet tour.

I slept well until waking up cold at 4:30am, I had already pulled on my 2nd blanket, so I got up and fetched my sleepingbag out, then I was warm. We got up about 6:30am, as the camp generator started. The Gemtree CP generates their own power by generator, it closes down at 10:30pm and starts up at 6:30am. Consequently, I use my inverter to power my CPAP (snoring) machine, it also means that both our fridges don't have power. SO when the generator started up, I got up and checked the temperatures in the fridges. Naturally, they had warmed up but both the freezers were still negative and the fridge had only risen about 3°. We had brekky and put on our oldest clothes we had, Marg wore one of my old T shirts. We drove over to the meeting area at 8:15am to meet the rest of the motley crew and pick up our sieves, spade, pick, water and containers. There we met Ken x 2, Mick x 2 and Ann, very easy to remember.

Chris was our tour guide and led out our safari at 8:21am and headed along the Plenty Hwy for 27kms before heading off road for 3.5kms arriving at the fossicking area at 8:52am. Chris showed us what we were looking for and how to do it, then we were set loose. Our usual fossicking routine, I dig and Marg sorts out what I dug. As I am colourblind, it is near impossible for me to see what we are looking for. We put on sunscreen and dug and sorted in the hot sunshine. It was very tiring, we had plenty of water breaks and some food, we lasted 2.25hours before we 'pulled the pin' and headed back to camp. As usual, we were the first couple to leave. So be it. We had a pleasant drive back to camp, arriving at 11;50am. Dropped off all their equipment off at the meeting point.

We had a BEAUTIFUL shower and washed all the 'red dust' off us, then we had lunch and THEN I had a BIG nanna nap(2 hours), while Marg managed a short nanna nap. The temperature has been in the mid 30°s each day. Mid arvo, we walked over to the 'shop' and bought an ice cream. We sat in the shade and ate them.

Dinner was cold meats and salads. It was YUMMA.

Tomorrow, we are booked on the Zircon tour.

Our route to the Gemtree Garnet fossicking area - 61kms round trip.

Some of our fossickers.

Some of our fossickers.

Marg at our spot.

Some of the Gemtree Garnet claim.

Marg in action.

I did actually do some digging.

Day 19 - Wednesday 27th April 2016.

Gemtree Zircon tour.

I slept well until waking up cold about 4am, but I was ready for the coolness andf pulled on my sleepingbag. I went to check the time on my iPhone, but it was flat. For a split second, I was worried that we would sleep in and miss today's tour, then it hit me that the Camp's generator fires up at 6:30am, and it would wake us. It did. As soon as it was working, our clock beside the bed started flashing and I put on TV and we laid in bed watching Kochie. SO it was all good with the world. There was no point showering before we went zircon ing, as we would be covered in red dust and red mud and I was. We had brekky, got ourselves organised and drove over to the fossicking meeting point, same place as yesterday.

There were 2 other cars, Mick and Anne from yesterday was on our zircon tour and some other guy and his partner was on the garnet tour. We were given the same equipment as yesterday except for a bigger pick and an extra 20litre water bottle.
Chris was our tour guide again and led out our safari at 8:10am and headed along the Plenty Hwy for 8kms before heading off road at the Zircon sign at Mud Tanks and continued for 10kms to the fossicking areas arriving at 8:31am. Chris showed us what we were looking for and how to do it, then we were set loose. Our usual fossicking routine, which is, I dig and Marg sorts out what I dug. Similar to yesterday, we put on sunscreen and dug and sorted in the hot sunshine. It was very tiring, we had plenty of water breaks and some food, we lasted 2.75hours before we 'pulled the pin' and headed back to camp. Before leaving, I took some photos, and on the gravel road back to the Plenty Hwy, we came across 3 stockmen on motorbikes and a quad, mustering cattle, SO we stopped and took more photos. We had a pleasant drive back to camp, arriving at 11;55am. Dropped off all their equipment at the meeting point, showed Aaron our zircons which ranged from crap to 5 carats of cutters.

We had another BEAUTIFUL shower and washed all the 'red dust and mud' off us, then we walked over to the shop and had pies for lunch. THEN Marg and I had a nanna nap.

Just on 6pm, we walked up to the Camp Kitchen area for the "Chalmers Family Camp oven dinner" held each Wednesday and Sunday, with the Chalmers Family who own the Gemtree CP, it costs $20 per head and Crownies cost $6 each, I had a few, they went down well. We sat with Mick and Ann who were on both our fossicking tours. There were approx 25 guests and at least another 10-15 family and staff. About 6:45pm, after a few drinks, Carmel the Chalmers Matriarch told us what the procedure for the night would be. This included an explanation of the Camp Oven setup, what was for dinner and a brief movie of the Chalmers that were one of the FIRST white people to arrive in this area.
Dinner was roast lamb, potato, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower with white sauce topped off with gravy. It was absolutely YUMMA.

Tomorrow, we leave Gemtree and head to Ti Tree for an overnighter.

Our route to the Gemtree Zircon fossicking area - 38kms round trip.

Marg, Mick and Ann.

Marg, Mick and Ann in action.

The closed mine 50 meters from our fossicking area.

Scenery around the closed mine.

The car park.

Mud Tank Zircon field fossicking area sign.

The sign is located on Binns Track.

The mustering cattle were approaching us.

That cow was 'eyeballing' me.

The quad bike in action.

The group had passed and were on their way.

At the start of Binns Track near Plenty Hwy.

The Binns Track sign.

A scenery shot, back at our camp.

That shade beside the fiver was used everyday, with a cool breeze.

Gemtree Reception, Shop and Showroom.

Our Camp Oven dinner setting.

Our Camp Oven dinner setting.

The Bar.

The movie screen is on the right.

The Camp Oven assembly line.

Some of the queue.

Dishing up the food.

An illuminated Gum. It looked great.

Day 20 - Thursday 28th April 2016.

Gemtree to Ti Tree, NT - 196kms.

I slept well and woke about 6:30am, when the generator started up. I got up about 7am and slowly started packing up. Marg got up about 7:30am. We left at 8:46am and stopped at Reception and thanked Aaron for a wonderful 3 nights.

We drove onto the single lane Plenty hwy and had to come to a stop 3 times, when a road train came towards us. We drove the 70kms and stopped at the junction of Stuart and Plenty hwy(9:43am). Turned right and headed 66km to Aileron(10:38am) to photo the "Aileron Man". Then continued non stop the final 60kms to Ti Tree.
We paid $25 for a powered site, picked our own site and setup power and sat dish. During the arvo, we walked into the Ti Tree Bar and had a Crownie each ($9 each) a tad dear. We also caught up with the internet, I had 323 emails to check.
Walking back from the Bar, we saw the SOLE remaining peacock, when we stayed here back on 12th May 2009, there were 7 peacocks and peahens. While relaxing in the fiver, I noticed the birds going absolutely crazy ON the sprinkler beside us. I snapped a photo through the window, as soon as I stepped outside, they all flew away.

We are still eating cold meat and salads. It is still very YUMMA.

Over the next few days we plan to stay at:

  • Fri 29th April - Wycliffe Wells - 1 night
  • Sat 30th April - Barkly Homestead RH - 1 night
  • Sun 1st May - Camooweal - 1 night
  • Mon 2nd May - Mount Isa - 5 nights
So we may not have Internet access for a couple of days.

Tomorrow, we have about 180kms to Wycliffe Well.

Our route from Gemtree to Ti Tree - 196kms.

Rest stop at Stuart & Plenty hwy.

Rest stop at Stuart & Plenty hwy.

Rest stop at Stuart & Plenty hwy.

Marg with friends.

I am jealous. Marg's new toy boy.

Aileron Man - 17m and 8 tonnes.

Downtown Aileron.

Aileron Woman and child.

Our site at Ti Tree Roadhouse.

Our site at Ti Tree Roadhouse.

A sign inside the Ti Tree Roadhouse.

The LONE peacock left at Ti Tree Roadhouse.

The galahs playing ON the sprinkler.