When undertaking research and sussing out where other families had gone and recommended on their trips around the country, time and time again Gemtree came up in my research and so I had said to Corey we had to go there. Orginally planning 4 or 5 days there, unfortunately we were only able to stay three nights, and ended up leaving the day of the renowned camp oven roast night which was a bit of a shame. However, with over 2500km ahead of us to get through in 6 days so that I could get home in time for my 20 year high school reunion, we knew we couldn’t afford another night.
The three nights spent at Gemtree were the first time in the three and a half weeks we’d been on the road that we had actually just sat and relaxed. Up until this point, we had been on the go, filling our days with tours or drives or sites to see.
Gemtree is a beautiful little spot about 140km North of Alice Springs, with tonnes of space and a relaxed vibe and is situated in the Central Gemfields where zircon and garnet can be found. Hosts Aaron and Kate McMaster run fossicking tours and there are 4WD tracks to while away the time for those interested. We decided not to do any of that and try to catch up and chill out for a few days however we did end up buying a bucket of dirt to try our luck at fossicking for garnet under a little hut (made especially for those who want to experience some fossicking but don’t want to do a tour – perfect for families who have kids that are too little for a full day’s tour).
We found a heap of garnet and even managed to find 5 pieces that were worthy of cutting into stones for jewellery so I think perhaps there will be some little necklaces made as a memento of our trip for the girls.
Prior to our arrival, the area had had over 3 inches of rain in a short period of time so things were quite lush and green, which to be honest can be said for the majority of the Northern Territory that we’d seen. Most places were thriving and the red desert landscape most people are familiar with hasn’t been our experience so far. I’m not sure if the wet also bought out the mozzies or not, but Billie ended up with some ripper bites which we managed to keep under control and not scratch – yes, it meant I had to get up about 3 times a night to the sound of her yelling at me to put on ‘more cream’ but they’re starting to heal well.Her right foot though was nearly double the size of the left due to a massive bite on her ankle!
The second night we built a fire and toasted marshmallows and cooked damper on sticks. Something that, to be honest, was not so successful given both girls have no fire sense and came precarilously close to the fire on too many occaisions to count resulting in a condensed experience and bed time for both. We tried again the following night with much better success which just reinforced to us that fire safety is something we need to spend more time on with them and not assume that they know.
We met other campers and spent a few nights around a campfire talking shite which topped off an awesome time.
The highlight at Gemtree, was hands down, the stars. The nights were so clear and the stars were amazing… a million specs of amazing. I played around with the camera a bit to get some shots, but these pictures just don’t even come close (which probably says more about my proficiency with the camera!).
It was nice to have some downtime and a break from the walking and touring and I think the girls appreciated that too.
Have you ever heard of Gemtree before? Where is your favourite spot to camp for a few days R&R?