Travelling Australia - Journal 2009
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1 July 2009 - Alice Springs to Taylors Well
Weather today was good for travelling with no cloud, blue sky, warm day and no wind. The Stuart Highway climbs gently north from Alice Springs as it makes its way through and around rocky outcrops. Vegetation is fairly sparse while red and orange rocks of all shapes and sizes are numerous. The highway reaches an elevation of 720 metres at a marker showing this highest point. Soon afterwards, 32 kilometres after leaving, we crossing the Tropic of Capricorn and entered the tropics.

Moving further north the amount of bare rock visible from the road diminished; patches of termite mounds became fairly common. We stopped briefly at Warburton Memorial, commemorating Colonel Warburton who led an exploration party seeking a droving route to the west coast. The party reached the west coast across the desert they discovered and were lucky to survive.

At Connors Well a now defunct windmill once feed water into a large, above-ground well to supply water to travelling stock. One of many left-overs from the days when cattle droving dominated this region. By now, spinifex grass was very common replacing scrub found further south.
Connor Well- broken windmill Connor Well. The windmill once pumped water from the bore into a tank bounded by the red bank.

Near Ti Tree the Stuart Highway passes Red Centre Farm growing six hectares of mangoes and three hectares of table and wine grapes. Melons are grown in season. Mango trees and grape vines can be seen from the road surrounded by semi-desert scrub. Other farms set back from the road grow vegetables and fruit. This surprising vegetable and fruit growing area relies on artesian water and an excellent climate.

After buying fuel at Ti Tree we stopped for lunch at the Stuart Memorial looking towards Central Mount Stuart. Air temperature by now was 29° and the sun shone brightly.
Stuart Memorial Stuart Memorial near Central Mount Stuart commemorates the exploration work by John McDouall Stuart; the Stuart Highway essentially follows the north-south route discovered by him.

Central Mount Stuart Central Mount Stuart first climbed by Stuart. This nondescript "mountain" was a significant landmark while Central Australia was being explored.

Early in the afternoon I had the opportunity to do something I have planned for years. We came upon eagles feeding on a road-kill kangaroo on the far side of the road where there was space on the left hand side to stop with the caravan; I pulled over on to our side to take photographs without getting out of the car. While staying in the Pathfinder we were able to move slowly closer to the eagles getting better photographs as we did. The crows also on the kill when we stopped were far too wary to stay while a 4WD with caravan approached but eagles become possessive of "their" road-kill and are reluctant to fly away.
Wedge Tailed Eagle on road kill Wedge-tailed Eagle on road kill.

Next stop was Barrow Creek to look at the Telegraph Station which has the doubtful distinction of being one of the few (or the only one) where local aboriginals attacked and killed two telegraph staff members; their graves are outside the Telegraph Station which has been preserved/restored; the grounds are open to visitors but the main building is closed. Around Barrow Creek the Stuart Highway is confined between bare rocky outcrops.
Barrow Creek Telegraph Station Barrow Creek Telegraph Station.

Graves at Barrow Creek Graves of Barrow Creek Telegraph Station staff killed during an aboriginal attack on 23 February 1874.

We stopped for the night at Taylor Well. Another bore made to provide water for cattle but now on a pastoral lease; a large windmill was still turning and there were two large metal above-ground tanks nearby but I suspect that a couple of solar panels near the windmill were powering an underground pump keeping water flowing into the tanks. There were modern looking metal cattle handling yards and several cattle grazing nearby. The rest area was quite large but undeveloped; by sunset there were fifteen cars, caravans, motorhomes, campervans and other variants ready for the night. After I had gone for a photographic walk we sat outside the van watching the colours change across the bush scene as the sun set. Sunset itself was not much in the west but was more interesting in the eastern sky where high cirrus turned pink then purple. Then we watched the stars come out - not too many stars as there was a half moon producing a lot of light.
Solar panels, windmill and water tanks Taylor Well. A mix of old and new technology with an artesian windmill beside solar panels.

Cattle at Taylor Well Cattle at Taylor Well.

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