A Day Cruise on the Gordon River, Strahan, Tasmania

We planned to have an exciting day on the Gordon River onboard the Lady Franklin and had chosen The Captain’s Premier Upper Deck seating with the company of the Captain as a guide. We chose this way to travel just from reading the description on the net. What was on offer sounded pretty good to us.

The Captain’s Premier Upper Deck is Gordon River Cruises’ luxury sightseeing experience, travelling alongside the Captain with leather seating, a private viewing deck, a dedicated guide and a gourmet lunch of local delicacies. Indulge in fresh seafood, creamy Tasmanian cheeses and select regional specialties, accompanied by complimentary Tasmanian wines and premium beers.

It was late November and holiday time, but up early to get ready for a departure at 8 am from the Strahan Harbour. (Strahan is one of those words not pronounced as it’s written. It’s pronounced ‘strawn’ in English and in Swedish it would be ‘strån’.) Learning is fun, unless you already knew.

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The morning tour was around 6 hours and well worth it – especially when you think about the glorious foods. We had the best of Tasmanian produce e.g. salmon both smoked and steamed in a sauce, free range turkey, some veggies, cheeses, bread, olives and various condiments. All from the state of plenty with the cleanest air and the cleanest water. The ultimate to eat and drink is found on the island of Tasmania and as we suspected, the food on board was scrumptious. The absolute best.

On our tour, we saw natural landmarks like Hells Gates, which marks the entrance to Macquarie Harbour from the Southern Ocean. We stopped at Sarah Island where you disembark to take a walk and a guided tour. We heard about the grim past when convicts were left on the island with no means of escape more than to try and swim through the widest, coldest river and then trek through inhospitable land to get to civilisation, if that’s the right word when there wasn’t much in the way of settlements. The journey through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in an organised way is an exciting experience today. In the past it was often a death trap for those convicts game enough to try.

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Once upon a time there was a bakery on Sarah Island. Bread was one of the staples when there wasn’t much else to eat.

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Here’s the ruin of the old bakery. My husband found it especially interesting because of his life of baking and pastry cooking.

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After Sarah Island we went on to disembark at a point where a boardwalk had been built through the temperate rainforest. Maybe we think of rainforests as hot and steaming, but this is quite the opposite because of the cool, moist air. Here we saw many different varieties of trees and an abundance of mosses, lichens and ferns. The most surprising was the brownish-orange colour of all water. This is due to the sap from the trees.

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The calm water of the Gordon River makes for perfect mirror images. See above and below.

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The tree trunks below are of the Huon Pine. The trees grow in wet and cold areas. The wood doesn’t rot even if found deep in water or mud after many years. Insects detest the Huon Pine too. There are trees in Tasmania which are 2,500 to 3,000 years old. They seem to regenerate by seeds, but most often by fallen branches. When in contact with the ground, they may grow roots to end up as new trees. They grow very slowly – only about 0,3 to 2mm in diameter per year.

The timber contains quantities of a natural preserving oil called methyl eugenol which allows it to survive on or under the forest floor for centuries. A buried Huon Pine log was documented by scientists to have been lying there for 38,000 years! As well as being a preservative, the methyl eugenol provides the timber with natural lubrication, so it can be bent, shaped or sculpted without splitting. It is also waterproof and insect resistant, making it prized as a boat building timber.

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Below are some samples of Huon Pine made into furniture from the shop in Strahan. The timber is smooth and honey coloured. Any blemish makes the wood more desirable (in my opinion). The little sofa is amazing and the rocking horse too. The tables from root stumps are also fantastic.

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The wood pieces from below are from the different trees in this area.

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Wilderness Woodwork

Morrisons on Facebook

Gordon River Cruises

Gordon River Cruises Gallery

Map of the area around Strahan, Gordon and Franklin River.

We will ensure to include a cruise on Arthur River near the Tarkine Forest in the northwest on our next trip. That time we will also go to the northeast corner and down the coast line. There’s so much to see. If you haven’t been, do yourself a favour.

Last Day in Hobart, Tasmania

2nd of December 2013 at Constitution Dock, Hobart, Tasmania

On our last day of our two week long trip to Tassie, we had just enough time for three different and important things to do in the one area.

First we had lunch at Mures on the Constitution Dock at 11 am. Yes, I know, that’s early, but we had to have something to eat before our flight was to leave and we knew there would be no other time because of our plans. And we were already hungry since we had been up early.

As we were eating our lunch quietly at Mures, we noticed a girl, a European tourist sitting just outside under the eave. Suddenly, she left her table without having finished her meal. Maybe a visit to the lady’s room. As soon as she had left, a lightning blitz happened as a crowd of seagulls dug into her food in a frenzy. There was no time for us to try and rescue anything. By the time it happened, it was already too late. When she returned, she was shocked. The seagulls were still at it. Well, this probably taught her a lesson not to leave her plate unattended.

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After lunch we went over to Salamanca. All tourists want to see and feel Salamanca. It’s a must on a trip to Hobart. We wanted to stroll around to watch and breathe in the exclusive atmosphere of the market place with al fresco restaurants and coffee shops one last time. On the weekends, the place is covered in market stalls selling everything from crafts to Tasmanian produce of all kinds. We had time for coffees, which was good.

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Weekend Markets below.

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Then we had something very exciting left to do on this day, the 2nd of December 2013, with just enough time before our flight home to Perth. We went over to visit the replica of Mawson’s Hut. This was on the exact day and time it opened for the very FIRST TIME.

The 2nd of December was the 102nd anniversary of the departure from Hobart of the Australasian Antarctic expedition 1911-14 which Douglas Mawson led.

As we arrived at the hut, we were told to wait outside until the dignitaries were finished with their visit. We were to be the first visitors from the public. Before all the special people had departed, we were allowed in. It was exciting to see all the exhibits, but it was hot in the hut and I was almost glad to be out after we had finished our tour with writing our names in the guestbook. So, for prosperity, we’re in THE FIRST BOOK. Maybe on the first or second page. I don’t remember now, but we have definitely gone down in history as amongst the very first visitors.

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The Baltic pine used when they built the replica hut was sourced from Finland. The same source was used as 100 years earlier.

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Below is Douglas Mawson’s bed with a gollywog as his mascot.

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Below is the now “ancient” communication system used at the time.

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Last photo in Hobart. We can’t wait to get back to the Apple Isle.

Exciting one day. More exciting the next.

Tasmania – Explore the possibilities!

For those interested to know more:

Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum

 

Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

The Freycinet National Park is located on the east coast and around 2 1/2 hours northeast of Hobart. Sparkling clear water, often turquoise coloured, granite and red and yellow-orange lichen covered rocks. You even have a Wineglass Bay. What could go wrong? Nothing. It’s a beautiful part of the world and eye candy for the soul.

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This was just a little bit of my take on Freycinet.

For more, please go to this link:

Exploring the Earth – Freycinet

Old and New Houses in Tasmania

On this small island state of Australia, you may see many different styles of houses. Some old, some new, some modern and some due – for renovations.

I will start with a barrack in ruins from the days when convicts were allocated to slave away for the elite in their agricultural endeavours. This ruin is located at Cape Grim, close to Stanley in the north. This area seems to have a grim beginning even if it’s far from menacing in today’s world.

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It’s hard to tell the size of the old Convict Barracks, but it doesn’t look very big. However, around 20 people had to make do with living here. I was at this place in spring, late November, and it was cold, windy and rainy like it usually is in the most southern part of Australia. Almost like the weather in Sweden in November, even if November in Sweden may have snow in the later part of the month. So, imagine the poor people living in these conditions.

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Below is the nice place where the rich people lived at the time they had convicts to work on their property. This is not to say that it’s anything wrong with this place today. I would have loved to live in that house now.

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Below is a majestic old building in Hobart, which we had as a view from where we were staying. They built beautiful houses in the past. Probably made to last too.

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The quaint little house below has become a business in Richmond.

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Here are a few older style houses.

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Below is a new house and below that one is an old one.

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Below we have The Cabin in the Woods, luxury accommodation in the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. A raven like bird – Black Currawong, visited us many times a day and always when we had lunch or dinner on the balcony.

It’s not every day you walk the same path as a wombat, which is also heading the same way. He was down at my feet since they don’t always hurry. The wildlife at Cradle Mountain is spectacular and almost towards the tame kind.

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This is the inside of the cabin/cottage/shack with a spa bath in the middle (behind the big wooden rounded wall). Lots of wood, fireplace, King Size bed, kitchen area and a beautiful bathroom. That’s all you need living life in the wilderness.

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Below is a magnificent modern house close to Hobart. The view from the back looks out over the Derwent River.

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This is the house from the front.

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Below is a cottage for rent located close to Hobart.

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The Town of Murals – Sheffield, in the northwest, close to Devonport where the ferries – Spirit of Tasmania docks. Below is one of the many houses with murals. Use your search engine and look for Sheffield murals, then click on “images” and you can see many. The town must have a massive amount of artists because a massive amount of houses have been fantastically decorated. They’re the real tourist attractions.

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The two houses below look like they’re due for renovation. They are close to the ferry going to Maria Island on the east coast.

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Here’s another beautiful house in Smithon, in the north, up on a steep hill, with a fabulous view. We had accommodation in this private house and it was excellent.

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Below is the view over Duck River – low tide and high tide.

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Last, but not least, this is a house, I would almost be scared to live in – especially in bad weather. The house is on a steep slope looking out over Bass Strait. Only the roof top may be seen. What a view the people must have!

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Here’s a link to a handy map of Tasmania.

 

Tessellated Pavement, Eaglehawk Neck, Port Arthur, Tasmania

Tasmania is an island state situated south of the Australian landmass. If you drive an hour south of Hobart, which is the capital, you may end up at Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula. This is also on the road leading to Port Arthur.

At Eaglehawk is a strip of land called the Neck. It’s only 30 meters wide at one point and 400 meters long. This thin piece of land connects the Tasman Peninsula to the Forestier Peninsula. Steps lead down to the shoreline where it may be possible to walk on the tessellated pavement, but be aware of that this is a tidal area.

In the times when Port Arthur held convicts in the penitentiary and someone tried to escape, the narrow Eaglehawk Neck stopped them. At that point the authorities had set up a so called Dog Line, which was a line of dogs chained together to form a barrier. Must have been almost impossible to break through unless the convict brought a load of meat to feed the hungry beasts.

You can read more about the natural geological curiosity of the Tessellated Pavement on the net. Other nearby wonders are the Tasman’s Arch, the Devil’s Kitchen and the Blowhole. Some similar formation is the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

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It’s mind boggling how nature was able to produce almost perfect squares and rectangles.

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Here we have some almost perfect steps. It’s quite interesting to imagine them to be real steps. But, of course, they were not, since there is a geological explanation to this phenomena.

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I find it intriguing to see all those squares and rectangles, which look so well made. It’s like a paved area from ancient times.

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A short track leads to steps where you can get down to the pavement.

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Here you are! Be aware of tides! There are times when you cannot walk on the pavement.

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On our trip to the Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck, we travelled on to Port Arthur, which is an old convict colony. A beautiful place now, but not in the past for many reasons.

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On a cloudy day with a bit of rain.

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The grounds include many ornamental trees such as this old oak tree. European trees were planted on the grounds and in some private gardens from the 1830’s.

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This was the penitentiary at Port Arthur. The sombre building seems to be the most photographed at this historic site.

This website has extensive information about the History of Port Arthur.

Think of What Nature is Capable of Doing!

This is spectacular! Such colours! It’s almost like it’s opalised. This is an ammonite from Alberta, Canada. Not only Australia has wonderful works of nature.

This shell is an ammonite, a marine animal that went extinct at the same time as most dinosaurs, around 65 million years ago. This shell’s spectacular coloration is unusual and is found only in ammonites from Alberta, Canada, such as this one. For many millions of years, this shell was subject to high temperatures and […]

via Ancient Ammonite — RegenAxe

Tasmanian Rock Art

I’ve always been fascinated by Australian Aboriginal Rock Art. Nothing beats that ancient art formed on cliff walls by the very first Australians. My photos on this post show a different kind of rock art.

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The rock art in my photos is smaller and made by Mother Nature. My rocks, which are not my rocks per se, but belong to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, are in my opinion like beautiful, artistic maps, especially one which looks like a picture of Africa (as the one above).

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These rocks may be found around the Enchanted Walk, which is a short walk where kids may also admire the landscape and almost interact with the wildlife. If lucky, they may even see a platypus or maybe more than one. We had a few wombats walking close to our feet.

The rocks may apparently support around 30 species of lichen. The lichen, a combination of algae and fungus, always occur together. I think these rocks look like the most expensive art work (like the one above, which also seems a bit like a bloody Christmas ham). Sorry, but I wasn’t swearing. It’s more like it looks stained with blood.

Why is it that I always love to pick up stones? However, these ones I couldn’t pick up. They were too big, apart from that they belong to the national park and people just cannot “borrow” rocks from national parks.

But next time you’re at a beach somewhere, you may see a woman with grey hair looking for pebbles and it could be me. My husband always stresses and wants to pull out his hair, the little he has left, when I want to bring a load of rocks or pebbles home. Especially when we had a caravan and I almost filled every cupboard with stones of some kind.

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Here’s another map of an unknown country or continent. Maybe it’s a bit like Africa too with Madagascar on the wrong side. Or is it South America? It’s hard to imagine that nature is able to show such magnificent pictures on rocks. Or is it more like I’m a whacko? But then again; who doesn’t like rocks? Most women like rocks, at least of the more expensive kind. I like these better though.

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Wow! Another one, which also looks incredibly beautiful. I wish I could have taken them home. But then the plane Hobart to Melbourne and then on to Perth wouldn’t be able to lift.

Last, but not least, here’s a photo of Dove Lake. It’s early morning at the old boat shed.

Cradle Mountain (1,545 m) with Dove Lake, which is 934 m above sea level. Cold and windy, but an amazingly beautiful area of Tasmania’s Wilderness Heritage Area.

Tasmanian Rock Art

This was a little bit about Tasmania and probably what most people would pass without looking twice. Not my blog post, of course. But are the stones too easy to walk past without looking? Not for me. But what do you think?

The two rocks below are from a different area of Tasmania. They’re not as dramatic as the ones above. Milder and prettier maybe. But still nice enough to include here.

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This is all for now. When I return to Tasmania, I will look for more rocks.

Do You Write for Profit or Pleasure?

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I write for pleasure and have done so for many years. I haven’t had the right inclination to try and get published. However, recently I completed my latest story and just have to give it hope. I’ve also started on a sequel where I’m up to more than 24,000 words right now. Yes, it’s  going great.

When I dream up stories for 9-13 year olds, I live the life together with my characters. Sometimes in a make-believe world. At other times in a more normal setting, but even then they may involve a bit of fantasy and magic. With my latest, I stumbled around for a couple of years in a dusky world where chilling adventures were bound to happen. That’s where I steered my protagonist towards unknown danger and it meant trouble. So, where did it take me? Nobody knows that I’m in there with them, but when the story finishes, I just step out of the story and go back to my normal life. Over all, I’ll keep on going with my stories wherever they take me because that’s what I do and what I like. Who doesn’t want a bit of magic in their lives? Even if having to invent their own adventures like I do.

How do you undertake your writing? Do you need a quiet place to work in solitude? Or with sounds and movements around?

I believe any place is right as long as you feel comfortable and able to work. Outside, inside, with your kids, or like me with a husband around, or alone. Some have TV or radio on, while others want a peaceful place to let the words flow. When the time and place is right, it usually works.

Do you know what Stephen King, the famous author, said: “Write a page a day, only 300 words, and in a year you have written a novel.”

Yes, it’s doable! Start today! Don’t leave it ’til tomorrow! Good luck! There’s always room for another writer.

Trip to Tjukayirla Roadhouse

 

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Wattle, Mimosa, Acacia

Now, if you like, come with me on one of my trips to this part of the world. It will only take a minute or two.

We rise early in the morning of a wintry June, some years ago, but I don’t remember the exact year right now. The 4-wheel drive is packed and ready to go. The day looks promising with glorious colours of sunshine and a bright blue sky. As we drive out of the small mining town of Laverton, in the northern goldfields, towards the Great Central Road, it’s already warming up.

Not long after, we cruise along the red gravel track bordered by the many yellows, grey-greens and blue-greens. The colours are strong with deep contrasts. We follow the track and see wild horses and goats grazing along the roadside, followed by an eagle or two swooping down to scavenge on a road kill. Pretty pink and grey Galahs pick for seeds in the bare red sand on the verges.

We drive on at a leisurely speed admiring the landscape. After the next curve, a kangaroo jumps out in front of the car. Luckily, we miss it. Not long after, we hit the brakes again. A group of camels with a calf wait at the side. Without warning they wander slowly onto the road and stop. There they are, gracefully watching us – the people with the camera – before they’re off into the desert. We manage to catch them on some photos, but we’re not as lucky with the emus. They sprint away faster than Olympic runners.

At the Tjukayirla Roadhouse we stop for lunch. Their freezer is full of kangaroo tails, apparently a delicacy, but we’re hungry and opt for hamburgers. We have a nice hour or so, before heading back. Now it’s time to study the scenery in a different light. The early evening, before the sun goes down, makes us see this world in subdued colours. Every hour of the day makes the red pindan country vary.

I have been there twice, but cannot wait to discover the area in spring with all the desert wildflowers. One day I would like to travel on this road all the way to Kata Tjuta (previously known as Mount Olgas) and Uluru (previously known as Ayers Rock). Unfortunately, due to time restraints, I had to make do with 1000 km away from Perth and a further 310 km into the wilderness – all the way to Tjukayirla Roadhouse. If I am lucky, we can plan a longer trip another year. My husband is always eager to drive long distances. As it is, we’ve never been back more than twice. And twice isn’t nearly enough.

IMPORTANT: If you plan to travel longer distances on the Great Central Road/Outback Highway it’s preferable to use a 4-wheel drive in excellent condition. However, the road is graded and some people drive with 2-wheel drive cars and even caravans if weather and road conditions at the time permit. You need ample water, food provisions, petrol, emergency equipment, GPS etc.

There are no repair shops along the way, no water, and not much in order of supplies. You should plan accordingly as this is not a road for Sunday drivers. The road is about 2800 km long (from Laverton to Winton) with a stretch of around 1700 km unsealed. Unsafe curves may surprise unwary drivers and accidents do happen. The gravel road is subject to closure if wet and don’t forget that Transit Permits are needed to travel through Aboriginal communities.

Great Central Road

Four camels

Four Camels on Great Central Road are Better than Ten Camels at the Zoo.

Today I’m gong to draw on old memories. This wasn’t going to be a once, in a lifetime trip, but we haven’t been back to the Great Central Road. We have seen new places with similar landscapes, but it was something extra special about this road trip.

Those who know me also know that I love everything with red pindan, a clear blue sky and nature, both inland and up north, of Western Australia.

Red pindan refers to the semi-arid landscape consisting of small scrubs, trees and grasses sustained by the red sandy dirt of the Kimberley area in the north, and some inland desert areas, of Western Australia.

In red pindan country, the colour combinations are breathtaking and unbelievable. The earth, in hues from red to rusty brown, is a fantastic backdrop to the various forms of vegetation. The green stretches from light yellow-green of the spinifex to grey-green saltbush. Throw in some green of a sandalwood tree here and there, at least close to the Great Victoria Desert, plus the almost blue tinged leaves of the small gum trees and you’ll have a magnificent setting.

But wait there’s more! In springtime the landscape transforms into stunning carpets of wildflowers. Add our golden sun and the blue sky and you may also find it hard to resist some of the most magic patches of WA.

Great Victoria Desert – Great Central Road/Outback Highway

The photo above was taken more than 1200 km north-east of Perth and very close to the Great Victoria Desert.

The camels are crossing the Great Central Road, also called the Outback Highway, which stretches from Laverton in Western Australia to Winton in south western Queensland via Alice Springs and Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory.

The road serves a few smaller communities and Aboriginal settlements, which are among the most isolated places in Australia. They include Cosmo Newbury, Tjukayirla, Warburton and Warakuna in Western Australia.

The Great Victoria Desert is called a desert, but is far from the usual desert landscape, like for instance, the Sahara Desert in Africa where there are more or less only sand dunes.

If you drive on the red dirt road, which is called the Great Central Road, to Tjukayirla Roadhouse, (some say it’s Australia’s most remote roadhouse), you have this kind of desert at an arm’s length. It may cost you for the trip, but once there, you are free to admire the fantastic scenery and paint your own pictures, either in your mind or on canvas.

Some people may say that there’s nothing out there and yet there’s everything. It all depends on how you perceive the colours and the vastness.

Please Note: As all desert areas, it may be a treacherous place if stranded without water, food and no shade in many times a sweltering heat. You must be prepared for all eventualities.