Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is a bit odd. It’s not quite technically a state, although it does cover one sixth of the area of Australia. When the largest city is only 80,000, and the next largest 26,000, from a total population of 150,000, this does mean a lot of the Territory is empty. This has an effect on the locals, who are independent, and don’t like being too close to anyone else. The laws seem a bit different too – e.g. in most of Australia you can’t smoke in bars, but it doesn’t seem to apply here. Long road trains – trucks with 3 or 4 trailers – are allowed here, but not in some other states. It also has different seasons – it’s either Dry or Wet. I arrived just at the end of the Wet, so everything was green and damp, but the flooding risk was low. A good compromise.

I have relatives living in or near Darwin, and I was able to stop with them, and see a bit more of the area. My Uncle Keith took me out fishing from Dundee Beach, 120km out of Darwin. Since there’s no concrete ramp, tractors are needed to launch the boats. You park your trailer, the tractor takes it down, drops you off, then picks you up later in the day. A good service for $20, since you don’t even have to get your feet wet. We managed to catch a few fish, unfortunately losing a couple of jewfish. Still, I had a good day.

Parking at the Dundee Beach boatramp Tractor launching boat Golden Snapper

Just about to start, and this is what it looks like at the start of the Stuart Highway – pretty good – bike path beside the road out of Darwin, water fountains, will it be like this all that distance to Alice Springs? Don’t think so.

About to head off from Darwin Bike path out of Darwin 1479km to Alice

Water fountainA couple of typical views from the road, and a sign that gives you an idea of how many people there are for the area of land.

NT roadside view NT roadside view NT roadside view

Check out the signs – one saying there is only just over one person per square kilometre in that region, another warning me just how far it is to the next bottle store, another that highlights how the seasons are referred to as – “Closed for the Wet” – and finally a prescribed area – no alcohol or pornography allowed. This is part of the Federal Intervention program, to try and deal with some of the terrible problems in the Aboriginal communities.

Coomalie Region population sign Long way to the next bottle store Closed for the Wet Prescribed Area

The Katherine Creek Crossing. Dad joined me for the first couple of weeks out of Darwin – he’s looking like he could almost fit in here.

Katherine Creek Crossing

More shots from the road. Note the distances on those signs – no fuel for 500km down one road, another one unsealed for nearly 600km.

Straight Roads Arnhem road - 600km unsealed Wetlands Sunrise on the road Skiing Kangaroos Wide load No fuel 500km Long straight roads Early morning on the road UFO? or Plane? Road trains Anthills

After going down 40km long straights, with one bend followed by another 30km straight, it was quite a shock to get to this, just north of the Devil’s Marbles.

Curves next 9km

It was quite a novelty to reach a genuine tourist attraction, the Devil’s Marbles.

Devil's Marbles Devil's Marbles Devil's Marbles Devil's Marbles

Home to the “softest water in the Territory” – is it something to do with the UFOs?

Wycliffe Well sign

Dad had to leave me, at Barrow Creek, as he had a plane to catch. These shots are from his camera, including a few of our lunch breaks along the side of the road. With such long distances between rest areas, it makes a tremendous difference in your state of well-being when you can stop in the shade, out of the wind, at least for a while.

Relaxing at the roadside

Larrimah Hotel Riding out of the haze Lunch Stop Memo Club Sign Jacksons Bar With Dad and Bike at Barrow Creek Riding off into the distance

More sights along the way. Note the Army construction equipment being hauled along the Stuart Highway. Plenty of these guys were going past, they all waved out to me. Guess they could understand what I was doing. Oh and that monument was the Tropic of Capricorn – out of the tropics again.

Fruitfly sign Australian Army Bulldozer Aileron Windmill Tropic of Capricorn

I was pretty happy to reach Alice Springs, a break from the monotony, and a nice few days of rest. But soon enough, out the Gap, and on towards Adelaide

Alice Springs Alice Springs Alice Springs Gap through McDonnell Range 1519km to Adelaide Ballooning in the Outback