The Long Road Home - Darwin to Busselton

Trip Start May 04, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Mosquito net under the stars, tent, 4WD, homestay
What I did
Real Australia

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Sunday, February 13, 2011

Touching down in Darwin to g'day, howz it goin’, no worries cobber, she’ll be right mate, I knew I was home! Let me tell you, there is no better way to discover your own country than through the eyes of a foreigner!

After being trapped in Darwin with cyclone Carlos for a week, we juiced up Noam’s Nissan Patrol with veggie oil, picked up 2 French backpackers and headed into the outback...

Of course, it was the Israeli’s idea to try and go from Darwin to Busselton on vegetable oil – it was going to be free!

The fun stopped in Alice Springs...(well about 50kms outside of Alice actually) where our car had a heart attack – literally! It’s arteries were clogged with veggie fat! Turns out our filtering with women’s pantyhose wasn’t sophisticated enough. Shocked you are, I’m sure ;-)

After a week in Alice Springs, we coughed up the cash for a mechanic to revive the Patrol and converted back to diesel for the Great Central Highway through to Laverton. Thank the lord is all I can say because we were in for a rough, wet trip.

We had a false start to begin with only getting 50kms out of Alice when we had to turn around. Then, miraculously, she came good and we were on our way to Uluru. Even more miraculous was the Canadian backpacker, Dave, who was still willing to come with us!

Uluru was absolutely gorgeous at sunrise – something that every Australian should try and see once in their life, but we were very unimpressed by the huge tollgates they got set up around this natural beauty and the $25 per person (!) charge to see the rock. Avoiding the fee proved pretty tricky.I will remind you again that I was with an Israeli, so of course we got away with it!

As we left the Canadian at Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and started off on the 1126kms of dirt track that was the Great Central Highway, so did a storm...and we weren’t fast enough to outrun it! We got rained in at our first stop of Docker River. Luckily a fly in government department worker offered to take us in for the night while waiting in line at the service station/deli/take away shop/centrelink agency/everything else that existed in that absolute hole of a town. What an angel!

We found some stranded Germans the next morning who were as keen to get the hell out of Docker River as us, so we took off together in spite of flood warnings. We found ourselves prematurely halted on the wrong side of Warburton as the river had risen too high for us to cross. So we camped the night and ate dinner under a tarp each holding a corner to try and stay dry.

The water had receded enough for us to cross the next day. We ummed and arghed about whether to continue on past Warburton as the roads were closed. In the end we decided to push on so were all off for another full day of hard driving doing a couple of river crossings and winching each other out of mud.

The Germans, Holga and Jennette, pulled up at the next overnight stop and we continued on. Never mind that we no longer had a winch to get out of any bog. Luckily, we made it out the other end with a gauntlet 1km solid 1m+ deep "puddle" to finish. The car was groaning with exhaustion like it was really to give up. There was one very scary point where we lost complete power and looked at each other, hearts in mouth as we shifted back to first and waited for traction.


From there it was a smooth ride home. Too smooth in fact – when we finally made it to the beautiful beaches of Esperance, we got bored! So back home to Busselton we went in time for mum’s birthday and to hit the wedding circuit. It was the best part about being home – friends and family...and my own bed!

Thanks must go though to all our amazing friends on the way that helped us and had us stay; Simon & Dawna in Darwin, Jeannie &Caina in Darwin, Lara in Alice Springs, the supermarket saviour in Docker River, German 4WD companions Holga and Jeanette, Jaymi, “mechanic” Michael (who saved our leaking fuel tank) & little Stevie in Kalgoorlie, Rod, Sue & Megs in Borden, fellow couchsurfers Nadav & Marina in Esperance, Chris & Ali in Albany, Leonnie & Jack in Perth, as well as Nisha, Nicolaas & Ngaru and Steve & Rachael in Perth. Your kindness and hospitality (and hot showers!) made the long 4200km+ road home feel a lot shorter!

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