We are fortunate enough to have a number of long weekends in the NT through the winter. We have at least one every month from April through August. After this, we have long weekend drought – there isn’t one until Christmas. I SERIOUSLY think we Territorians need to do something about this. If we can have a holiday in May called ‘Picnic Day’ which no one really seems to know the reason for, then surely we could invent a day in October that we need to celebrate with a day off. Something like ‘Build Up Day’ (in honour of the tropical build up to the wet season), or ‘Tacky NT Stereotype Day’ where we could all dress like Crocodile Dundee or like the tourists that invade Alice Springs every year in those fake leather Akubras and photographer’s vests, drink a lot and walk around with inflatable crocodiles, buffalo and camels? What about having our very own Independence Day in October and declare ourselves a republic? That would grab everyone’s attention down south…
Anyway, this weekend was a long one (in honour of the Alice Springs show) so we took ourselves off to Newhaven Station, a private conservation reserve operated by Birds Australia and the Australian Nature Conservancy. You might recall that I’ve written about Newhaven before; I visited there during my bush trip to Nyrirripe. Newhaven is about 350km by road from Alice Springs – a good long weekend distance. It’s got two camping areas with showers and toilets, and a load of things to do. The main reason people go to Newhaven is for birdwatching. It’s one of the few places in Australia that Night Parrots potentially still live in.
We went to Newhaven in the company of Mark & Kelly – friends from Ormiston- and Chickenboy (Ben) who had a good time even if he’d whined about having to go camping with boring adults yet again. As we drove out, we saw Central Mt Wedge again -much to Gary’s disgust. I wasn’t allowed to take a photo to add to my collection, unfortunately. We arrived on Friday afternoon and immediately set up camp and started relaxing. One of the best things about camping is sitting around the campfire, having a few wines, some good cheese, and chatting about anything and everything with friends. The next day, we were up and about early. I took this photo from Lookabout Hill, just at the back of the camping area.
There’s lots to do at Newhaven, and self-guided drives through amazing Sandy Desert habitats are one of must-dos. We went on the lakes tour, which takes you to Lake Bennett, as large salt lake set amongst rolling dunes On our way to the lake, we saw a Bush Turkey – a large bird that generally walks around a lot. Apparently they’re good eating, so Aboriginal people tend to hunt them out whenever they see them. I don’t have a photo of the Bush Turkey, so you’ll just have to Google for a photo. Here’s some views from the dune overlooking Lake Bennett.
Leaving Lake Bennett, we drove to Dingo Hill and Mt Gurnier. We had a cuppa before climbing Dingo Hill, stopping at an old bore which was ‘capped’ with two very long pieces of PVC tubing. When you dropped a stone down the tube, it made a sound kind of like those vanishing sounds they used to use in Lost In Space (if you remember the TV series). So, me being the nerdy person I am, I recorded this sound and am now using it as my message alert on my mobile phone.
In the afternoon, we hiked (!) into Potato Gorge and then had sunset drinks on top of Lookabout Hill. It was then that we hid our first geocache.
That night at the campground -which had about 9 groups camped in it- a group of Grey Nomads got very drunk and noisy. We figured it was useless trying to go to sleep when they were talking and laughing so loudly, so we sat around the campfire and paid them out (hide the sausage was one thing we heard from them!). I pity the two young couples with very small children who were camped closer to this group than we were -and who went to bed early. That’s one reason why I hate some of the noisy, inconsiderate bastards who inhabit camping grounds.
The following day, we had a leisurely breakfast and packed up, then finished with a game of frisbee. Our last tour on Newhaven was out through the ranges which fringe the north eastern boundary of the reserve. Here’s the end of the adventure at Tilmouth Well Roadhouse (a place where we’re planning to spend a weekend over the summer months because it’s got a pool).
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post – we had a lot of fun on the weekend and thoroughly recommend a visit to Newhaven – and to our geocache!