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Day 139 | Watarrka National Park Boundary: hey, that's an old familiar campsite

111 km | zzOz total: 7,204 km

When it comes to the simplest configuration the mapping of my trip since I left Melbourne will end up as a figure 8 lying on its side: the standard mathematical symbol for infinity, ∞. I started with Melbourne to Alice then moved on to the full western circuit, heading clockwise.

Now that I’m making my way to Alice once again there’s a part of my figure ∞, at the crossover point, I’m having a second look at: preferring the slower, somewhat familiar, option of the lonely old dirt track Mereenie Loop rather than the other one, the well populated Lasseter and Stuart Highways.

Distance to retrace: 513 km, according to yesterday’s sign.

I know I’ve been taking my time with these travels but time out here doesn’t have the same urgency as living in a big city.

The time scale is in no way imaginable. 500 million years ago this area was all under a huge inland sea of Mediterranean proportions: the Amadeus Basin. Sediments kilometres deep were accreted under water rather rapidly.

Remnants of that process are the 3 big rock formations: Uluru, made from a coarse grained sandstone; Kata Tjuta, basalt and granite gravel from pebble to boulder size cemented together by sand and mud; and the third, Mt Conner, a mesa, often mistaken by eager tourists for Uluru itself, a different type of sandstone.

What’s a couple of years out here? Or even the decades since I first came out here on dirt roads with Robyn.

A week or so retracing my steps from 2 years ago isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. Won’t be too long before I tire, or more probably wear out, from my travels and I’m fully ensconced back in life in the city.

A confronting start to the day, one of the saddest sights of my whole excursion was a kangaroo lying on the road with its spine broken, its back legs immobile and its front ones scrabbling frantically at my approach. With those front claws I wasn’t going to approach closely.

Later a white faced heron took off from the road, wings beating into the wind, following the road for a couple of ks before settling, just in time for me to scare it again. Repeat twice. Same tired beat of the wings before it finally realised the system wasn’t working so well and headed off away from the road straight over the burned out desert. There’s a lot of water around from the recent rains but not many permanent pools that have the food.

I guess that’s the way of the world out here, you get good rain, animals breed, then times get tougher and there’s no longer food for all.

It’s a hard world out here away from the suburbs.

Later, I cruise past a curious dingo with 2 pups. She tags along for a few ks, silently and without tail wagging.

There’s renewal in the cycle of life as well.