Day 3 – Cold Beginnings

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Looks nice and warm but it was actually 11 degrees!

Written by: Brandon

I’m not sure what woke us up first, Dian’s alarm clock, or the 11 degree morning air. We didn’t think to check our rooms for a heater last night and only realised that that small circular thing in the corner was actually the damn heater.At least there were enough blankets to go around!

Well, no time better than 9am to be up anyway! It was gonna be a long day! Today, we would drive from Glen Helen to Watarrka National Park, where Kings Canyon is located. That’s about 225 kilometers of driving!

But this stretch is special. Of the 225, roughly 151 kilometers is made up of the famous Mereenie Loop Road.

More on that later, there are more important things to do first. Like have a super filling breakkie!

Glen Helen’s breakfast menu serves all the essentials for their breakfast as seen in the picture below:

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Dian had a simple bacon and eggs set and I got the full breakfast set because I’m a slut for full breakfasts… if I actually manage to wake up for them.

After ordering breakkie, we bought our Mereenie Loop permit. Do be reminded that before you attempt the Mereenie Loop, you must purchase a permit which you can get at either Glen Helen Lodge or at Kings Canyon Resort (depending on which direction you are heading towards). We got our permit for 6 AUD which lasts for 4 days.

Road permits and your holiday in the outback

An important thing to do if you are planning on travelling through an area that cuts through Aboriginal Lands that are Indigenous owned is to check maps of the surrounding areas for roads that indicate if a permit is required. Travelling without a permit will land you a fine of up to 1000 AUD if caught! That is a lot of beer money wasted! More information on Permits of Aboriginal lands can be found here and it’s highly recommended you read this article as it has a list of roads throughout Australia that require permits and instructions on obtaining them. The list is not exhaustive, but it should give you the majority of areas affected.

Make it a point to spend some time exploring the reception areas or the bars when travelling to lodges and roadhouses. Some have walls filled with stories and memories of many people whom have come and gone by this place just like us! I personally find it really interesting and maybe you may contribute to them as well?

With still some time to spare before we headed off, we decided to explore Glen Helen Gorge which was literally the backyard of our lodge. It’s about a 5 minute walk to the pavilion where informative billboards of the gorge could be found followed by a rocky and sandy path that eventually leads to the gorge.

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The view when you exit the lodge

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The small pathway behind the lodge that leads to the gorge

After a bit of bashing in, we decided not to continue as the path was covered with a lot of tall grass and mud. We didn’t make it to the waterhole but even then, the view of the gorges against the morning skies were incredible!

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So it’s back to our room, pack up, load all of our stuff back into the car, check out and refuel the car to a full tank before it was time to leave for Watarrka National Park!

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Goodbye, bunk beds

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“Oh Shit, we’re out of gas!”

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We used about 1/4 tank the previous day so diesel cost us about 33 AUD at 1.20 AUD/litre. ALWAYS remember to leave with a full tank of gas before heading out on long distances. The last thing you want is to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Plan ahead and estimate the amount of fuel you have against the distance you will/may cover and the cost of fuel (E.g if you know that the next stop has cheaper fuel and you have enough to reach that stop, refuel at the next stop instead!)

In part 2 of Day 3, we detail our off-road journey on the Mereenie Loop to Watarrka National Park!

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