1-3 August: Heading down to Alice

Author: Mr A

Wednesday: I’m back! After flying in yesterday from the UK, it was a fuzzy start for me this morning. I left my home town of Kettering (just south of Birmingham) at 3pm Sunday night, and arrived yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) at our camp site 50km south of Darwin. It was quite a trip – 44 hours door to door – and involved 2 car shuttles, 3 train journeys and 3 flights! The worst part was flying over the top of Darwin during the early hours of Tuesday morning transiting from Singapore to Melbourne, and then spending half a day flying back up to Darwin.

Well off we went this morning anyway, with no firm plan of how far we would go. Thankfully I felt pretty good, so we made it to just south of Katherine and landed the last decent spot in a free camp. It was a great feeling to be back on the road again with my two travel mates (I count Miss Tasmania of course!).

Thursday: As I stuck my head of the Zone, I spotted a couple of cyclists having a feed. Of course I had to go and have a natter. An hour later…Catherine comes to find me. These guys have ridden across from Perth, up to Darwin and now to the east coast. I find it fascinating that people choose to cycle these massive distances, often across the featureless plains that go on for mile after mile across our interior. They have to dance with the road trains thundering along by the side of them, brave the extremes of temperature, the lack of facilities. Why do they do it? Isn’t that always the intriguing question with any challenge in life?

The Daly River Pub loomed at lunchtime and it was rude not to call in for more barramundi, before continuing on our way south.Anyway, it was a long day in the saddle, but we pulled up finally at a place we had stopped at on the way north last year. It’s just an old road that loops off the Stuart Highway for about 5km, signposted ‘Churchill’s Head’.No facilities, just a level bit of ground a view across the plains. We loved it last time, and we love it again. There seem to be so few places like this on the well trodden routes we have been following. For a start there are very few minor roads that lead off the main highway, so we are drawn to caravan parks or the crowded free camps often so close the highway that the road trains sound like they are coming right through the Zone! “Ah..the serenity”, to quote from one of our favourite movies “The Castle”.If we were to walk out of the van due west we wouldn’t reach another tarmac road for 1,325km – on the west coast of Australia, south of Broome. Not one hint of civilisation, except the Alice to Darwin railway. Nothing else. What a country. How many places in the world still have that amount of emptiness?

Friday: An early start and our excitement for the day would be a wander around Karlu Karlu (also known as the “Devils Marbles”), a pretty unusual geological formation of granite boulders.Then after lunch we were through Tenant Creek, only stopping for the dump point, and by late afternoon arriving at our camp for the night in a small service centre for the surrounding aboriginal communities called Ti-Tree. Guess what sort of trees grow here?

The camp is actually a “gated community” for caravans – apparently this is a high crime area so a tall fence has been built around the whole site! Another “functional” camp on our dash down the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Alice.

Tonight is forecast to drop to 5 degrees – which is going to be a shock considering last night was 21! An amazing variation in temperature in a day’s drive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *