“Too right!” was what I yelled back at the roadworkers, who’d just imparted that piece of wisdom. I was on the Stuart Highway, just outside Adelaide River, just starting the second day of my planned trip down to Melbourne via Adelaide. When you take a look at a map, and see the distances between places, you’ll begin to understand that these guys were probably right. Just outside Darwin is Palmerston, and it has around 26,000 people. It’s the second-largest town in the Northern Territory. 1500km south is Alice Springs, the third-largest town, with a similar sized population. Oh dear.
But it’s OK. Maps are plentiful here, and they are generally pretty accurate. Except when places like Coomalie Creek camping ground are closed for the Wet Season. Emerald Springs roadhouse was also closed – hopefully there won’t be too much more of that sort of thing happening, since there aren’t too many other options around here.
More importantly though, I’ve got vehicle support for the next week. My father is driving along in a campervan, meeting me in the middle of the day, and at the end. I would like to point out that I am carrying my gear, but he provides me with cold water, and a cool shady spot to stop. Rest areas can be a long way apart here, and the flies and ants can bug you when you stop. I’ve taken to wearing a fly net over my face, to stop them bugging me when I’m riding. Lew thinks it makes me look like a beekeeper. I figure that’s OK, Sir Ed was a beekeeper.
I’d better not get too used to the support though, it’s only for a little bit longer, and then I’m on my own. The grey nomads are starting their run up towards Darwin for the Dry though, so there are plenty of campervans on the road, and I’m sure people will help me if I need it.
I stopped in Darwin for a few days, staying with my Auntie Leonie, and her partner Col. Great place right next to town – and a nicely maintained town it is too, with wide streets, bike paths, and generally pleasant people. All a bit difficult for me to get used to seeing mainly white, English-speaking people though. I even ate a meat pie the other day. Two in fact.
I also went out to Dundee Beach, to see my Uncle Keith, and his wife Lyn. Great hospitality, and some good fishing too – although he assures me that it was a bit of a poor day out fishing. I was just happy to be out fishing – I think I’ve only done it once in over a year. Some interesting characters out that way too. I’d need to grow a foot-long beard to fit in better. I did try it, but the Iranians told me to cut it off…
So we’re now in Katherine, 320km south of Darwin, and still 1200km north of Alice Springs. It’s not a bad town, but there’s way too many people hanging around the town, apparently with nothing better to do. It’s going to be a long haul south – hopefully I’ll be able to put up another update from Tennant Creek, in around 5-6 days.
Closer to home now…less than 5,000km in a straight line, according to my GPS.