Sorry for a few days of silence, there is basically zero internet between Alice Springs and Darwin. Anyhow, I finally reached Darwin and I am now celebrating having successfully crossed Australia. For those of you who are not familiar with the vastness of Australia, the distance from Melbourne to Darwin (ca. 3800km by road) is actually slightly longer than Istanbul to Stockholm.
The journey through Australia:
Since my last update from Alice Springs, it has been raining pretty much the entire way. Pretty hard as well at times, so much it even made the news.
Day 6 (Christmas Eve): I had a bit of a sleep in in Alice Springs and left around lunch time when the rain stopped for a little while. Still, I got maybe an hour of no rain and then it started again. In the end I randomly decided to stop for the night at the Devils Marbles Hotel, which turned out to be an absolutely delightful decision.
Fun fact: In the Australian outback a hotel is not really what you would typically call a hotel. It is more a one stop shop for all your driving through the desert needs: pub, diner, gas station, caravan park, takeaway liquor store. They also usually have a couple of rooms or cabins. Crossing Australia from South to North these hotels will be spread along the road 2-3 hours apart, usually in the middle of nowhere with nothing else nearby (actual towns are often 6-10 hours apart).
As you can imagine, it was very charming. Especially in the rain.
Day 7 (Christmas Day): As I was the only guest they had (Christmas is the low season in the Northern Territory) I ended up staying up quite late drinking with the staff on Christmas Eve, and because they were so nice they invited me to celebrate Christmas with them on their only day off in the entire year. I was originally supposed to leave in the morning because of the fact that they were closed.
Anyhow, I ended up having a great Christmas with the staff at this outback hotel. Hanging out in their lovely garden and having a fantastic roast for Christmas lunch. And because it was again raining all day I was quite happy not to be on the bike.
The lovely staff at the Devils Marbles Hotel:
Day 8: So. Cause and effect. I had spent a full day eating and drinking, making no progress whatsoever towards Darwin. Which means I had to cover some 800km on Boxing day to get back onto the schedule, whilst nursing a pretty epic hangover… And having had zero internet or phone reception for a few days, I was all out of podcast documentaries.
After way too many snoozes on the alarm, I got on the bike around 9am to head towards the nearest phone reception in Tennant Creek an hour north and download myself some new documentaries from P3 Dokumentär. From there on it’s just a steady blur of straight, drizzly roads until the late afternoon. I had about an hour left to Katherine, which was my destination for the day, when the mother of all storms rolled in and it became dark as night.
Into the storm (this was late afternoon, it was supposed to be almost full daylight):
So the one hour became two hours going 60km/h through torrential rain and flooded roads. Gear and bike all held up though and except for my gloves I was fairly dry by the time I got to Katherine.
Day 9: Last day of the Australia part. Checked out Katherine Gorge quickly (it was pretty cool) and then hit the road for the last 2-3 hours to Darwin and finally got there in the afternoon around 4pm. A colleague from Darwin met me and showed me around the town during the rest of the afternoon (thanks Elisse!), beginning with the mandatory glass of celebratory sparkles 🙂
Unfortunately I never did see any crocodiles in the wild, but luckily Darwin has a city centre crocodile park called “Crocosaurus Cove” (yes, it is really called Crocosaurus Cove) so I headed there the next morning to tick that box.
Celebrations in Darwin:
That’s it for the first part of my journey. There will be some down time now as the bike is getting a service and new tires, then getting shipped to East Timor. I’ll see you all again mid January.
Happy new year!