16-Oct-2005 -- My son and I were on our way to Alice Springs via the Plenty Highway and what with a confluence so close to the road we couldn’t resist, besides it was an opportunity to stretch our legs. At the time we thought we were the first to chalk this confluence up, discovering later the Powditch family had gone before us was a little disappointing but also rather interesting as our images when compared to the Powditch family images show the effect of some rain has on the country.
We had slept the night beside the Urandangi to Tobermorey road not far from confluence 22 South 138 East that we visited before commencing our drive towards Alice Springs. It had rained the night before and the usual bull dust of the Plenty Highway had reformed into a slush, which made for interesting driving.
About seventy or so kilometres short of the confluence and over three hundred kilometres from a shop or garage in any direction, we started to notice unusual lines on the road, which we decided after some debate, were being made by a pushbike, towing a trailer. Interesting, we are always fascinated where people go on pushbikes in Australia, but this location was a real surprise. Sure enough we eventually came across a couple on a tandem. Because of the isolated location we asked if they were OK and was assured they were fine. However when we pressed it, asking if they wanted anything they did ask if we had any food we could spare as they were down to eating pasta straight and tea. They turned out to be a charming German couple on a twelve-month holiday. They had ridden their tandem from Broome to Cairns, via Katherine and Mt Isa and were on the way back, via the Plenty Highway to Alice Springs, and then on to Ayres Rock, Warburton, Kalgoorlie, Perth and back to Broome in time for next February, when they intended to return to Germany.
The food problem was caused by them being told they could purchase food from the Tobermorey Station (property where fuel can be purchased and many Grey Nomads who venture through here camp) and it turns out they couldn’t get supplies there. When we talked to them they were pushing themselves in a terrible headwind on a frightfully slushy surface wanting to make the remaining forty kilometres to Jervois Station today.
They were very appreciative when we were able to offload some supplies from the ‘emergency’ stash we always carry, and share our munchies. In fact they solved a lingering problem for us as we had been trying to work out who should eat the last of the simply beautiful apples, and giving it away to a good cause seemed very fair. It was fun to watch how much they ate on the spot, two sandwiches (which we made for them), an apple, a family pack of potato crisps four chocolate bars, all while packing enough stores away to get them to Alice Springs. The young lady almost melted at the thought of some luxury items, coffee and sugar satchels plus more chocolate bars, which she stashed in a her personal hiding place on the handlebar while the guy was busy re-packing the trailer; after he had rejected them. In true female form she grinned and said, “I let him think he’s in charge and knows best; I’ll just hide these in here.”
They both thanked us, explaining how they were now free to stop and camp along the road and enjoy themselves. They were a delightful couple; I’m envious of their dynamic ambition. We spent some time chatting on the side of the road. I guess they are somewhere in Western Australia now, I’m quite sure they will exhibit much larger smiles, in later life, while ‘vegetating’ in the nursing home then the rest of us will manage.
We arrived in the Confluence locality just before mid-day. The clouds had cleared away and while it had rained here it was now quite dry with all the stickiness gone from the red clay surface. The confluence is no more then one hundred metres off the road and fifty of those are taken up with the Plenty Highway being re-located further away. Out here, when the surface warrants it, they build a new road beside the old one; fifty metres must be at least six roads. The confluence location is some thirteen kilometres west of the Plenty river crossing, after which the Plenty Highway gets it’s name.
The country at the confluence is basically flat with the most striking feature, on our visit, being the fly; see my photos. I felt quite lucky as I only ate two during the visit and believe me we left a lot there for the next people who to visit. We located the confluence, took our photos and were back on the road in the air-conditioning in no more then twenty minutes.
We found it quite interesting looking at the vegetation that has sprung up in the three months since the Powditch family took their photos.
Coordinator's Note: How many German couples are cycling through the outback of Australia? Stephan mentions another couple in his narrative of his visit to 30S 134E!!!