Day 54 was my last lazy day at Dee & Dave’s, but day 55 (April 24th) marked the beginning of a new adventure: the start of my road trip!
Tim & Bettina had sent me their Uluru-Perth itinerary from a few years back, and it seems to fit perfectly in the time I have available here, so I’m going to more or less follow it. Of course, I’m starting out in Darwin, so first order of business is heading south 2000km. No need for a GPS here, there’s only a single turn-off you have to make.
Dave gave me a lift and dropped me off at the rental place. While getting the van, there was some panic, because my VISA card kept being refused. Luckily, the ridiculous AUD7500 deposit had already gone through, and I was able to go and get cash with my Maestro card to pay some remaining small fees in cash.
Kirsten was joining me for the first few hundred kilometers, since she had found a job on a cattle farm close to Mataranka, a village on the way. Close in this case means 200km away, distances in Australia aren’t measured the same as in Europe.
We decided to make a short stop in Litchfield National Park, home to the unique magnetic termites. These termites build mounds which are aligned such that only a small area is hit by the sun. Apparently they use the earth’s magnetic field to determine how to build their mound and can’t be found anywhere but in Litchfield. The mounds are really thin and spiky and grey, very different from the ones the “regular” (Cathedral) termites build, which you can find everywhere along the highway.
Next up was swimming. We visited both the Buley rockhole (just a river with some deeper spots) and the Florence waterfalls, which were really nice. The water’s temperature was perfect, great for cooling off. The waterfalls weren’t enormous, so you could even have a swim underneath. The pool at the waterfall’s base was inhabited by quite a few fishes, some of which liked to nibble on you when you didn’t move for a while. And by nibble, I mean bite with their sharp tiny teeth.
In the evening, we set up camp at an abandoned World War II airstrip, a few kilometers off the highway. A very desolate, but nice spot. We heard quite a few animals rustle in the underbrush, but didn’t manage to spot any. No kangaroos so far! The night sky is amazing though, since there’s often no villages around for hundreds of kilometers, there is no light pollution at all, so the sky is chock full of stars. Unfortunately, my camera can’t quite capture them, not even with a 30s shutter speed. I guess you’ll have to come out here to see for yourself, … or use Google.