Traveling the Track

Trip Start Dec 28, 2006
Trip End Dec 2007

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

It was a bit strange to drive such a big truck at first but the going was good and the truck handled the speed (130kph) well. We ate up the kms but we had 1600 to cover before Darwin. The 400kms we did that first day along the lonely endless road were exciting and we saw so many things like cows and roos crossing the road in front of us, huge birds of prey, and and termite mounds, the heat-haze on the road that seemed to go on forever in front of us, the red dust, hamlets hundreds of kms apart and all the while seeing the spectacular desert scenery with dry riverbeds - not a drop of water in sight. Not too far along the road from Alice we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and stopped for a quick pic. It's strange to think we crossed it in the truck and were surprised to see it when the monument appeared. Later, as night fell, we enjoyed the red sunset on the hills and scrub around us as we pulled up in Wycliffe Well. This is a weird place as the self proclaimed UFO center of Oz with the permanent population of 6 claiming to see UFOs all the time. It is an oasis in the desert with a small lake containing plenty of wildlife and a caravan park that has to be seen to be believed. We were greeted by plenty of aliens and the decor of the restaurant is just bizarre with all manner of alien paraphernalia, but in a good way. After a big dinner we hunkered down in the back of the truck for a sleep hopefully not interrupted by an abduction!

Well we survived the night with all our bits intact and got back on the road early for a big driving day. We wanted to get to Katherine about 800kms away before dark so it was pedal to the metal time. We did have a few stops along the way, the first being at the Devil's Marbles which are huge boulders all scattered around a smallish area and often piled up on top of each other. It's a bizarre sight and a worthwhile stop. Of course T had to go for a climb - you don't expect him to give up an opportunity to risk life and limb, do you? We drove on with occasional stops for the loo, to stretch our legs or get snacks. The drive was long but beautiful and we saw the landscape change from red dry desert to lusher green areas of water still left over from the wet season. Daly Waters was the big stop of for lunch and we ate in the pub which is claimed to be the oldest in the territory. It's another tiny place on it's own hundreds of kms from anywhere but attracts plenty of tourists. The pub is covered in stuff people have left behind like ID cards, badges, signed flags and shirts etc. Good grub, we had our first barramundi and it was delish. Final push was 300kms to Katherine. It wasn't easy finding a place to stay as everywhere was full for the country show that weekend. Got turned away by about 8 places before finally driving into one despite the full signs at the closed reception. So we pitched out tent on a spare bit of ground and sauntered to the cafe for huge salads and garlic bread and then dropped into our sleeping bag.

Got up early after a good night's camping and had our usual roadtrip brekkie of banananananananananas (T - I never know when to stop spelling that word) and muffins. We packed up and, after sorting things out with the cheeky park receptionist, drove to Katherine Gorge. Clare, you were right, this place is gorgeous. It was a nice drive up to the gorge and the day was shaping up to be a scorcher so we decided to do a walk in the morn while it was not so hot and do a helicopter flight after lunch. So we packed the bag and headed off on a 3 1/2 hour walk to the gorge. The trail led us through dry riverbeds, strange towering rock formations like the ruins of old buildings and lots of tropical flora. The walk wasn't too bad as it was still the morning but it was heating up as we reached a fantastic lookout point on an overhang over looking the gorge and river. We saw tiny people canoing and it was marvelous to be able to look up and down the river. To escape the heat and sun we climbed down a steep path to the Southern Rockhole to see a tiny waterfall and a pretty plunge pool. T went climbing on the rocks .. again .. and we picnicked before heading further to the rivers edge after scrambling over some rocks. By this time the heat was fierce so we headed back to the info center passing a sign saying, "max trail temp - 50C" After lunch and relaxing in the airy centre we walked to the helipad for a great aerial view of where we had walked and far up the gorge. We had a landing at our furthest point for a few pics. Our pilot was a really nice guy and we chatted away while he pulled steep banking turns just cause we asked him to. It's great having your own personal pilot haha! But our day here was over although we could have spent much longer there if we had the time. On the way back to Katherine we did our good deed for the day and picked up a lonely looking backpacker and give him a lift into town.
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skry on

That's a lot of cool pic's. It looks like a really beautiful place to be. Glad you managed to get in as much rocking, staring and gorgeing as you did.

And a pic of the Devil's Marbles!

The helicopter looks pretty much like a Corgi toy one :P The aerial photo's look really good. I'm happy you both seem to be having such a great time.

And yes Tony, I have to admit that a ginger-coloured desert with ginger trees does look rather stunning :D

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