Rocks and into QLD
After Uluru, we duck back into Alice for supplies, then head to the nearby & beautiful West Macdonell ranges. It's cold! Mid-winter, and early sunsets over the hills. Lovely scenery though. The National Park is very sparsely staffed; only two full time rangers at the moment, supporting multiple campsites and a long distance footpath. D2 makes friends with the ranger; I think perhaps she could be one eventually.
Sadly I manage to bash my little finger, while smashing up some firewood. We apply a field dressing, and the next day go to hospital in Alice Springs to get it checked out. A nasty cut and a chipped bone, but it's clean and doesn't need any work done on it other than applying a fancy silicone dressing. Luckily I was wearing work gloves, or it could have been much worse. I get to avoid washing up and heavy lifting jobs for a few days!
All signs now point east, across the Plenty highway – part of “Australia's biggest shortcut”. First stop is Gemtree, for zircon & garnet hunting. We got a couple of cuttable pieces. Some people stay here for the whole season, digging holes and sifting dirt.
Next stop on the long drive east is Tobermorey station. We have prebooked a cabin, to give ourselves a rest from repeated packdown and setup. This proves to be a very good idea, as a major hail storm hits just as we arrive. For a while we are unclear if we are going to be stuck there for a few days, but the next morning the road east is declared OK for 4WDs. Across the border into Queensland we go!