Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kings Canyon and The Frenchman...Again!

As much as I love camping, I am so glad we decided to buy a caravan for our trek around Australia. 

For one, having 4 kids and a Whippet means you need an enormous tent. Our Coleman 12 below actually has 3 rooms and is more spacious than the caravan. But it takes forever to put up and down. It is quite the rigmarole. So for the sake of marital relations we have agreed to only use the tent in the future if we are staying at least 2 nights somewhere.

We will also remember to bring an electric air pump with us next time. The Pianoman tried in vain to pump up our queen air mattress with the pump he borrowed from his parents. It didn't seem to be working so he tried blowing it up the old fashioned way. It was only after a few minutes of hyperventilating that we twigged that we usually use a vacuum pump. So being the mean parents we are, we stole the foam mattresses from the kids and they slept soundly on the hard floor. Oh to be young again.

But as karma would have it, I didn't sleep that well anyway. I forgot about the thunder and lightning and somehow woke up in the middle of the night spooning a frightened Whippet. It seems he prefers the hard walls and cosiness of the caravan as well.

Anyway, we packed up and left Uluru to see Kings Canyon. You know you are in the Northern Territory when you have a 5 hour drive home but think nothing of taking an additional 4 hour detour to see a tourist attraction. 

Driving 4 hours out of your way isn't a problem unless you get to your destination and can't actually see it because the rain had turned a normally dry creek bed into a raging torrent which cut off the path into the canyon. We met someone at the river who said some people had been caught on the other side and had to be helicoptered out so it was too dangerous to go that way. But as rare and beautiful as it was to see the river in flood, it wasn't enough. The kids wanted to see a canyon and weren't going to hop back into the car without seeing it. 

The only other way was to do the steep climb at the top. But we had to be reasonably fast because the creek was rising and could potentially cut off the road out. We thought the little boys wouldn't make it and we didn't fancy putting them on our shoulders on the way up or back. It was seriously steep. But they were determined. They didn't want to be left at the bottom. So we went up half way and took in the view.

We suggested heading back down. But they protested. Suddenly my little 'babies' are all grown up. At 3. Not one to keep a good lad down, so up we all went to the very top. Not a single complaint. No help rendered to the little boys. They did it all themselves. They were so proud. As were we!

Little Champions.

It was so worth it!

They didn't let on how exhausted they were but actions speak louder than words.

So we headed home feeling very chuffed about our adventures at The Rock and Kings Canyon. 

We had calculated the petrol stops perfectly. However, what we didn't count on was a petrol station that didn't sell petrol. At all. Not even a litre under the counter for emergencies. We left our jerry can with the caravan thinking we wouldn't need it. Not good. The next petrol station was 56 km away.

So we spent the next 56 km's biting our fingernails wondering just how far our KIA Grand Carnival can go on an empty tank. Apparently it can go an extra 56km's!

We counted our blessings again. 

Just when we thought things couldn't get any better we ran into our friend from Coober Pedy, The Frenchman Remi Camus!! Remember him? It was such a thrill to see him again. Here we are whining because we turned off the air conditioning in our car to preserve petrol and were worried about being stranded in the middle of nowhere and here is a man doing just that - running alone in the 40 degree heat all the way from Melbourne to Darwin with nothing more than a pair of sneakers.

He was in remarkable spirits. Possibly some shin splints forming so he was hoping for a few days rest at Uluru. We had a nice little roadside chat in the middle of nowhere and gave him some water and apples. That's all we had left. But we have offered him a bed in Alice Springs at the In-Law's house when he arrives there. 

We left Remi for our air-conditioned car knowing it would only take us 3 more hours to get to Alice Springs but for him, another agonising month or so.

You can follow his journey here if anyone is interested.

I hope you are all enjoying your holidays, wherever you are.


  1. Oh wow what an adventure. I love that all my children were born in the NT (did you know they have the highest rate of twins, well they did back in 2001 when i had twins, something in the water??) as they come from such an amazing place. We didn't take them to Alice Springs, Uluru etc we stayed in the top end, but we'd love to do it one day. I can't camp, as much as i'd love to, but i married a soldier who refuses to camp unless he's paid to.
    Good luck with the weather & storms, nothing like a cyclone for Christmas in Darwin. Love Posie

  2. Wow, Mel - another eventful post! I am *so* impressed that the twins managed it to the top without complaint. So impressive! And as for Remi, what a legend! J x

  3. Just found your blog and loving it. The NT photos bring back memories.
    I have done that steep climb up Kings Canyon, it's a huge climb for your boys, they must be tough little fellas, cute as they are!

  4. Oh Frenchie- what a hero- I'm going to read up on him now!