We are traversing the Tanimi Track, which is a 1055km “shortcut” from Alice Springs to the Kimberley. It crosses the Tanimi Desert, which proved a significant obstacle to white explorers in the mid 19th Century. Rob is reading a book “Tanimi: On foot across Australia’s desert heart”,in which Kieran Kelly and Andrew Harper trek with camels across the Tanimi. They were partly motivated by early explorers such as Gregory, Stuart and Sturt. August Gregory tackled the Tanimi from the north and west, and only made it as far as Lake Gregory. John MacDougal Stuart tackled it from the south and east, and only reached Central Mount Stuart. [Well, at least they got to name places, albeit they already had perfectly good name] Gregory was Australian born, brought up in arid regions, and a consummate leader and organizer, and he led a number of long and highly successful expeditions across Australia. Gregory had an enlightened approach towards Indigenous people, and developed good relations with them. Stuart is arguably more famous: he was Scottish born, sickly, fond of drink, and a fairly poor leader. He drove his men and pack horses beyond endurance, resulting in death and ill health for those involved. But, he became famous for the first south-north crossing of Australia. Anyway, enough of explorers; let’s proceed. [Rob read me excerpts from the book as we drove up the Tanimi.]
Our first stop was the Aboriginal settlement/town of Yuendumu (“you do moo”), a squalid and frankly dispiriting place. The miles (kilometers) ticked away as we passed “The Granites”, a gold mine, and the Tanimi mine. The road is heavily corrugated but we managed 80-90kph quite comfortably. We ended up late in the afternoon, just shy of the WA-NT border, in the middle of bloody nowhere. We found a brilliant place to camp, down a track, in bushland, and soon had the camp set up. We entertained ourselves by doing some “light painting” of gumtrees.
And, as I have written earlier, “today” is Morna and my 40th wedding anniversary, and rather an unusual way to celebrate it. I foresee a large party in Scotland in my future.