Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
As we powered our way through a good number of 'controlled burns' that in other countries are referred to as 'raging fires with no one around' (the signs say "these burns decrease risk of bushfires that could cause greater damage later in the season" and that has to make sense- it's a government program), we ended up at one of the more famous symbols of the Australian Outback.The ‘Devils Marbles’ or ‘Karlu Karlu’ with its gigantic, rounded granite boulders, some spectacularly poised, is a remarkable landscape
On the road south the towns are effectively replaced by Roadhouses and Cattle Stations. I think that 'Roadhouse' in Australian means 'we're the only gas station for miles so we can charge whatever we want'. And we certainly noticed that the further south we went, the higher the price went (we started at roughly $1.50/l in Darwin and peaked at $2.42/l). The other thing we noticed is that they were selling something called opal gas as a low aromatic Regular Unleaded which is intended to combat a serious gasoline sniffing problem they have in this area. Apparently you can't get high on opal gas although, according to the locals, it's also bad for your engine (it was the 'cheapest' so our rental van was just going to have to learn to live with it). I would have thought that the price alone would have had the druggies looking for a cheaper alternative....like designer cocaine.
In addition to gasoline banditry, the other thing these beat-up roadside shacks had in common was their interior decorator who was obviously from the famed school of Outback Chic meets Trash Collector/Hoarder
The campervan sites in New Zealand offered up much better facilities on balance but the thing we really enjoyed about our Aussie stops, was the effort to create a social experience- the camping cuisine of DH is a bit limited (cereal, sandwiches, and, for a treat, beans-on-toast) but very fast so it was nice to have some after dinner activities. In Daly Waters we started off at the rodeo (watching the drunks rolling around in the manure trying to complete some sort of rodeo obstacle course was ok, but when these same drunks started wrestling innocent bulls, we were out of there and DH was on the phone trying to convince the Sea Sheppard Society to get involved), and we finished up at the bar listening to Aussie cowboy songs (she was misting up again since many of the memories DH has of her first trip here involves guys who said they were Aussie cowboys!!)
And did we find our Crocodile Dundee? Not sure, but Jimmy Hooker from Tennant Creek comes pretty close. In addition to showing us how to cook our Witchetty Grubs, Jimmy is a self described very bad gold prospector, he was born in the Outback and lives under a Gumtree- he's illiterate but uses 'bush' poetry to tell the story of his life. He's never wrestled a crocodile but that may have been just a lack of opportunity- I think we'll go with Jimmy!