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Trekking to NT and a New Job

April was a big month of trekking across to the Gulf in the Northern Territory to arrive at a cattle station where we'll be working till October.

Parking up for the night near Nullarbor Roadhouse

We left the Southwest on the 1st of April, trekked east towards Esperance then up and back across the Nullarbor. We had originally planned to punch across the Great Central Road from Laverton to Yulara, but with recent rains and flooding the road was still partly closed. With over 1000km of unsealed road, we weren't going to risk it... on the way back maybe!

So we unfortunately had to trek pretty much the same path back to Port Augusta where we had journeyed too in Feb. This route would only add 500km to our original plans and probably be faster and cheaper on fuel overall anyway, so it wasn't a big issue. We had to stall a night near the Nullarbor Roadhouse due to a horrific truck accident which left the highway closed for around 20 hours. As we passed the wreckage the next day, it was a huge reminder to drive to conditions and not to push yourself.

Crossing the Nullarbor three times in a matter of a few weeks was still a pleasure to drive. Lots of free camping spots and the traffic was fairly minimal. We don't punch out 1000km days like we used to anymore and 400-600km is usually our limit. We also rarely tow into the night unless we really need to. One random thing we have noticed driving across the bottom is that the truck drivers don't communicate like they do up the west coast. It just seems to be a different culture, it's hard to get a response on the radio and for the first time, we were seeing simply dangerous driving from truckers.

Our route from home to Kiana

We rolled into Port Augusta, did a few jobs for a day, re-stocked, chucked a lefty and started heading north into the N.T.. This was a new journey for us as we had never driven up the Stuart Highway, through the centre of Oz. We free camped most of the way up with the exception of Alice Springs and Daly Waters. Alice Springs conveniently have a brewery located over the road from a couple of caravan parks on the outskirts of town...Sign Us Up! After a few days of driving and free camps we were so keen for a long hot shower and a cold Pale Ale.

Alice Springs Brewing Co. is definitely worth a visit if you're passing through. It's a lovely spot with good food and tasty brews! It ended up being the most touristy thing we did for the drive up as we were on a bit of a mission, but if we drive home the same way later in the year, we'll definitely check out places like Uluru, Coober Peddy...and of course, we'll probably hit up the brewery again!

Alice Springs Brewing Co - of course Jed had to rep The Tinsmen for the visit!

The trek up overall was actually pretty good and there was not much traffic. We got a few days of light tailwinds and since all the rains they had recently had, there was lots of greenery and water around. The road itself got pretty bad the further we trekked north from flood damage, and it too had only been re-opened for a couple of weeks but even then, some of the "repairs" were very basic.

We spent our last 2 nights before heading into the Station at Daly Waters. What a unique place this is! Upon arrival we were greeted by a Donkey and we were lucky to get there when it was fairly quiet as we were told it packs out in peak season. The pub is a great place to wander through, with bra's and underwear hanging from the bar, photo's and trinkets litter the walls for you to check out and a collection of thongs and hats out in the beer garden. The tucka is great and they have a basic range of beers on tap with Happy Hour's (4-6pm) each arvo with $4 Middy's (we'd buy 2 each and get them to pour into a Pint glass...because who drinks middy's hey?!) Daly Waters also has a great little museum put together over many years from the owner which a range of vintage bikes, cars and everything in between including a massive barbed wire collection! It's a small donation to enter and well worth it!

Happy Hour at Daly Waters

We left Daly Waters on a Sunday morning, fueled up, and started trekking east again for our last day on the road and what we didn't know at the time would be our longest day of travel in a long time! We only had around 455km to drive to get to the Homestead but after driving through some major road works across the top that stalled us a fair bit, we hit the station driveway around 4.30pm which put us on a dirt road for the last 65km... yep, the driveway alone is 65km long! To put it into context, the owners had only just managed to get into the station a matter of days before, using multiple 4wd's and snatch straps to get through, but they assured us it was drying out quickly and we should be fine to get in just have to take it slow, and slow we went!

It took us nearly 5 hours to travel 65km and arrive a bit after 9pm, navigating well into the dark through water crossings and around ditches that could easily destroy a car at pace. It is cool to look back on now to say we did it but at the time, it was one of my most nervous moments driving. Especially knowing how far we were from help should anything go wrong. But we got through all good, thee ole Viscount held together and once again did us proud and the next day was our first day of work on a cattle station in the Northern Territory!

At the start of Kiana's "driveway"

The owners rocked up the next day to also start their first time living at the homestead (they own the neighboring station also) and we also had the 3 young ringers turn up who are also here for the mustering season. With a small crew of 7 of us and 1 or 2 extras here and there, it was a lot different than last time we worked on a cattle station where Kel was sometimes cooking for up to 30 people!

We spent the next 2 weeks working, getting to know everyone and getting the place sorted enough to function. Lots of small running repairs and bits to fix as no one had permanently lived on the property in years. There was plenty of mowing and tidying up to do... endless mowing actually! I have started a small vege patch and already have a fair few seeds sprouting, so we will see how that goes. I've been sprouting seeds from veges we order in like tomatoes and capsicum and also found some old snow pea seeds which have all geminated! I have ordered some more in the mail which takes ages to get here but will get some Zucchini and Cucumber going as well as some leafy greens.

So. Much. Grass.

The camp kitchen is exactly that, very rustic looking but once it was all tidied up it seems to have most of the gear needed to cook and bake. We'll run through on next month's blog post all about our job role at the station, pay rates and a bit more detail on how it all works for anyone interested.

Camp Kitchen

Anyway, that's April done and dusted; can't believe we are a third of the way through 2024 already!! Hectic

Thanks all for the support, cheers and much love to you all...

Team Jelly.


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