We decided to stay at Banka Banka for a couple of reasons. One, it is a property that used to be owned by Jan Cook’s family: her mother was born there. The second is much more prosaic. We have heaps of washing and it is only $2 a load. It is much too hot for flannelette sheets, and the winter clothes now need to go to the bottom of the cupboard.
The caravan park is a popular spot with between 10 and 20 vehicles a night staying there. The owners light a campfire each night and open a bar/kiosk. A singer with car problems was forced to stay last night so we had entertainment as well. But by 8.30 everyone else had gone to bed.
|The old homestead|
|Plaque on the door of the old homestead|
|The litter of 3 week old kelpie pups was a delight|
|Not so the frog in the washing|
|Homestead and farm buildings|
|The homestead, caravan park and surrounding countryside from the hill behind|
Along the way we stopped at Devils Marbles. My preconception was that it would be a single clump of roundish rocks, but it was much more impressive. It is quite extensive, with rock formations visible for kilometres. David was able draw on his geographic knowledge to inform me about onion skin weathering of the granite boulders. We then climbed up onto some of the high points, but not the top. Getting up there was not too difficult, but finding our way down was a bit more challenging.
|Above and below, various views of the Devils Marbles|
|The resident dingo|
Our next stop was Tennant Creek which is a small to medium sized town, with a large Aboriginal population. It was originally a gold mining town and the Information Centre and mining museum are located on Battery Hill, just out of town. We checked out a nearby lookout which showed that the area is quite hilly, although it hadn’t been evident when we drove in. There is a historic hospital and a Catholic Church made of galvanised iron. I hope the sermons weren’t too long. Mary Ann Dam to the north of the town is a popular water recreation and picnic spot, and a green oasis to have lunch.
|A view of Tennant Creek from Bill Allen Lookout|
|Historic Catholic Church|
|School kids on an excursion paddling on Mary Ann Dam on a very windy day|
We also checked out The Pebbles, like the Devils Marbles only smaller and much much less impressive, partly due to all the full garbage bins and rubbish lying around. At Threeways, where the road to Camooweal and Mount Isa meets the Stuart Highway there is a large impressive monument to Rev. John Flynn, but otherwise the road is pretty boring.
Since we passed the Tropic of Capricorn marker there have been termite mounds most of the way, but only small ones, less than a metre high. There is obviously a fair amount of rain in this part of the Territory and the vegetation is generally much more lush than further south. It has also been consistently hot with temperatures over 28 degrees each day.