2 May 2014

Larapinta Drive, Northern Territory

Proof at last of human habitation in this endless Outback: bust tyres and stubbie holders, crumpled straw hats and greasy t-shirts, plastic beads looped through CDs and superfluous items of underwear strung up in salutation on a roadside tree. We’ve come here from Uluru and Kings Canyon where the creeks surged with such ferocity beneath stormy skies that we were trapped; when the waters subsided we continued on our way along the empty back route to Alice Springs. We will drive for hours along this dirt track and will not encounter a single person until an hour or so after we’ve become embedded in mud just this side of Hermannsburg. After giving up hope of ever digging ourselves out, someone will drive past and offer to pull us from the quagmire. Grateful, we will drive more carefully this time and will arrive in Albert Namatjira’s birthplace – the tiny Aboriginal settlement of Hermannsburg – just as the tea house closes its doors for the day. No scones for us in this place with its whitewashed Lutheran building remnants and Chinese petrol attendant and mobs of prowling, hungry dogs. 

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