Monday, 11 August 2014

Palm Springs - Halls Creek

Sometimes it can be good to test yourself. In the camping scenario it can be a good thing to see how fast you can pack up your camp, just in case something was to happen & you had to leave suddenly. Well I can tell you it takes us 25 minutes, from a fully unpacked camp to driving out of there. 

So the story begins........

We headed out of the Bungle Bungles & camped at a rest stop nearby because it was literally under a phone tower & we had an important phone call to take the next morning. There was one other camper set up when we arrived but by 7pm it was packed. No real problems though & the next day we received our phone call & finally got out of there by 10.30am. We headed towards Halls Creek with the plan to grab a few supplies & keep going out of town about 50km to a place called Palm Springs. 

Halls Creek has a pretty notorious reputation but we were pleasantly suprised with the town itself, a lot of money has been spent in town with some great facilities. We grabbed some bread from the bakery ($1.40 per bread roll) & also called into the local butcher. We were soon heading out of town on the Duncan Road that is the dirt road to Katherine. 

We first passed a spot called Caroline's Pool & had a quick look, but it was full of caravans so we kept heading out of town. The road was pretty rough, corrugated & cut it's way over & through the hills, it was quite picturesque. We arrived to a sign saying Palm Springs, a beautiful waterhole surrounded by palms, right on the road. On our HEMA map it also said there was another entrance just up a bit further, so we thought we would try it because it might be off the road a bit more & better for camping. We found the road & were soon travelling through some really big washed out gullys, that were a bit scary with the trailer on. We were just saying we should turn around if we could find somewhere to turn around when we came to a locked gate, great. A 200m reverse & backing the trailer up a rocky hill followed for us to be able to turn around, by the time we got out again we had wasted about half an hour. So we decided to just go back to Palm Springs to camp. 

When we got back, there was still no one there, so we set up our camp right on the water. It was just a magical spot. It had a 24 hour only camping sign at the campsite, but we hoped it would be quiet so we could stay for a few days. During the afternoon a few tourists arrived but they were all just there for a look or swim. We too braved the cool water for a swim. It was chilly but so refreshing, it was nice to wash some dust off as well. The pool was full of little fish everywhere, it had a small waterfall coming into it & just was so peaceful. Definitely one of the best free campsites on water that we have found. The only downside was that it was literally 50m off the road itself. No one else arrived that afternoon to camp, so we had the whole place to ourselves. We lit the fire & cooked up some delicious marinated beef ribs from the Halls Creek butcher, had a few beers & watched the moonrise over the cliff on the edge of the swimming hole, just magic. 

No cars came by during the night, but one did arrive at about 5am the next morning, he stopped near our camp but then kept going. It was all quiet till about 7.30am as we were cooking our bacon & egg rolls for breakfast, a father & daughter arrived with their dogs, to give the dogs a swim, the dogs had a great time swimming in the pool & we joked how we are glad we weren't going to swim till the afternoon after they had stirred the water up. 

The next people that arrived were some people from a local employment agency, they asked us if it had been quiet out here last night? We said yes, is it not usually quiet? They were a bit evasive with their answer but finally told us it can be a popular spot for the local aboriginal community as well. We just said that it had been lovely & just us. 

We then continued enjoying our morning, taking some photos & doing some reading. We were just thinking about what we would do for lunch, when a old hilux ute pulled in. Out raced 6 local kids, 2 women & one man who was highly intoxicated, oh & Bruno the tiny dog. The kids ran straight for the water & the women were screaming at them to not get in & to come back & that there were crocodiles in there. Some of the kids reluctantly came way from the water & wandered through our camp. One of the little girls told us that they had the swag in the back & were going to camp here for the night. This was confirmed by the older lady saying for the kids to get into the car & they could go to the crossing for a swim then they would come back & camp. 

A bit more screaming & yelling later they all piled back in the ute & left. Mat & I just looked at each other & so began the discussion if we should pack up camp. Mat wanted to go, but I wasn't convinced they would come back, I was thinking they were just trying to give us a scare. We discussed it a bit further when some more locals arrived asking if we had a sat phone as they were nearly out of fuel, they were really just trying to get fuel out of us, so we said we didn't have a sat phone, even though we do. We have found that you need to be careful in these scenarios, so we said we didn't have one. The next thing the hilux returned with all of the others, apparently cousins of the guy we were talking to & they told him as well they were camping for the night. 

Right, that was enough for us, we both agree let's get out of here. We started to pack up as quick as we could. One of the women asked if we were leaving & what was wrong? We said we had been here for 24 hours so had to go. They knew we were leaving because of them but we didn't care, that was what they wanted. They then proceeded to back their hilux into our camp, while we were still packing & started to unload their firewood into the middle of our campsite. There was a fire pit in the middle of our site, but it was to close to our tent, so we had used our Snowpeak fire pit further away. 


Once all the wood was unloaded the man who was very drunk, attempted to light the fire, right near our tent. Mat politely asked him to wait until we had packed up, as all our gear was still out. He stopped lighting the fire, but was so drunk that he then stood on the small patch of fire he had tried to light & burned his foot. One of the women stepped in & dragged him away. We packed up as fast as we could,  I was furiously angry, I have never seen anything more disrespectful. We continued to pack & then hitch up the trailer, while their kids ran through our campsite. Before we had finished packing completely one of the women lit the fire back up & by the time we drove off they were cooking on the fire. Wow. It had taken us 25 minutes to pack. 

The fire pit near the edge of our table is the one that they lit up. 

We were just happy to be out of there & we couldn't really believe what had happened as we drove back into Halls Creek. We got some fuel in town & then headed up the highway glad to be leaving the place behind. 

In the end we camped in a rest stop called Mary Pool along the highway between Halls Creek & Fitzroy Crossing. It was a nice rest stop with lots of space & toilets. We found a spot, it was busy, but not to bad as we arrived, but car after car kept pulling in after us. There would of had to of been at least 100 other campers, probably more. We were lucky as we had managed to get a fairly private site. So we set up the trailer, organised an easy dinner & cracked a beer, reflecting on what a day we had. From the most beautiful peaceful campsite ever to hell just in a few hours. Yes we could of stayed, but it wasn't worth the stress, we wouldn't of slept as we would of been concerned that all our gear would of walked off during the night & I can only imagine the noise. It really irks me that people can do that to us though. 

We went to bed earlyish that night, it had been a big day & we were exhausted. Then guess what? Our neighbours decided it was time for their kids to have music practice & they badly played their violin, keyboard & guitar until 9.30pm, oh & then our other neighbour was coughing up a lung at 3.00am that morning, we actually heard him say he though he was dying. He then decided to pack up his caravan as he obviously couldn't go back to sleep, but then didn't leave, just went back to bed & when we left at 7.15am that morning, he still hadn't ventured outside. 

Please let us find somewhere with no people for our next camp........

Palm Springs was absolutely gorgeous, but camp there at your own risk!!

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