During my time in Australia I realized, that Australians, particularly the 95% living in the south east, talking about their country and its different parts tend to forget the Northern Territory as if it wasn’t a real part of Australia. And this is why the Northern Territory will get its own chapter here in my blog, I hope that won’t hurt any Aussie’s feelings and if it will, so be it.
When I landed in Darwin at 5 oclock in the morning and left the nicely air conditioned airport building to put my bike back together I was shocked by the hot and humid wall I stepped into. It was still dark outside but the temperature was already/still/again over 30 degrees, sweating at night feels strange.
I spend 10 days in Darwin with the amazing Tom Kaye and his family, resting and trying to gain a little weight but as time would tell it wasn’t going to be enough for what was about to come.
Late March is still the rainy season in the notrth of Australia and the sunsets turn the sky into a most spectacular yellowish piece of something. Unfortunatelly the beach was closed for swimming due to a very vicious animal occupying the water called the box jellyfish. It has a venom that causes fear of death. And then there’s also crocodiles.
Every Australian is telling you about the danger of the deadly snakes of which Australia has quite a lot so I was very afraid but to be honest I only saw three snakes throughout my entire stay. One was as big as a pencil, one crossed the road 20 meters in front of me (that one was probably venomous but too busy with other snake stuff) and third one was just hanging out on the tarmack and didn’t see any reason to go any place else. So, I’d say the bigger danger in Australia is that the headwind will slow you down and you die of thirst because you don’t make it to the next water spot. Beautiful animals though.
Back on the bike I was facing very warm and humid weather. The humidity is by far the bigger problem because nothing really dries in this weather and so the sweat doesn’t cool you as it doesn’t evaporate. So you end up entirely wet but there’s nothing refreshing about it. Sitting in the shaddow doesn’t help either. Fortunatelly it gets drier the further you get away from the coast. Here I tried to ride through Litchfield Natinal Park but the road was closed due to a flooded river and crocodile alert and I ended up on the main road, the Stewart Highway which was going to be my companion for the next couple of weeks. This road is by the way only about 50 years old. Before there was only a dirt track crossing the country.
Termites have built some impressive buildings here in the north of Australia, I’ve put my bike in the picture to see the dimension of this one. I’d say it’s almost 4 meters high. Considering that a (big) termite is only about a centimeter of size this termite tower almost equals the tallest building humans have ever built.
Another river invaded by crocodiles (that’s what the signs said, I didn’t see a single one)
I made a little collection of straight roads leading to the horizon, they can drive you insane especially when the hot air on the tarmak is reflecting the sky and you can’t see it and you can’t see how long it take for a car to disappear. Everything vanishes in a never-ending shimmer that always stays in the distance.
Oh yes, and then there’s the road trains. Hard to capture because they are very fast and massive. Most have three trailers but some have four. These trucks are shooting through the outback, you can hear them minutes before they arrive and it’s a good idea to get off the road, especially if it’s windy and it’s windy most of the time.
This pool was again, closed due to crocodiles… I got a little pissed by the crocodiles, they could at least show up and let people know that the danger is real. But that’s not the crocolile way.
Here’s my very very heavy bike loaded up with food and water in Katherine. The next supermarket is almost 700km further down in Tennant Creek.
Here the next towns are written on the board, everthing is at a different scale in Australia. Just to compare the distances, this is as if a sign in Berlin would mark the next two towns and that would be Cologne and Paris and in between is nothing. Larrimah is actually only a few houses and if you’r lucky you can buy a 7$ coke at the gas station.
Here you can find a remarkable detail and something very typical Australian I think as Australian love superlatives and there’s nothing that can’t be advertised with it, everything is labeled as ‘the best’ ‘the first’, ‘the biggest’, ‘the most’. So, that sign is marking the turn off to the oldest police museum in the NT. This is in the middle of nowhere and the fact that there’s a museum is a superlative by itself.
This is Tennant Creek, a little oasis in the middle of nowhere. I never would have thought I’d be so happy to see a supermarket.
This is a place called ‘Devil’s Marbles’ where I camped next to a bunch of Germans from Saxony. It’s nice to talk some german every once in a while.
And this is how everyone’s walking around there because Australia is not only home to venomous snakes, far worse, there is quadrillions of flies living in the center of Australia and they like to crawl in your eyes, ears, nose and mouth and they can fly surprisingly fast. Hard to believe that nature created such an annoying animal
Flies also like my guitar bag…
This is Barrow Creek, one of the roadhouses on Stewart Highway, where you can buy expensive coke, fill up your bottles with disgusting tap water and this on in particular has a bad reputaion being the scene of a murder. They made a horror movie about it later. Check it out if you want, it’s called ‘Wolf Creek’, definitely on my list.
This is when I finally arrived in Alice Springs with a cold, an infected tooth and totally worn out by two weeks of headwind, boring food and a merciless sun. I had to go to an Australian dentist and luckily they still had an empty slot the same day at 2:30, I wonder if they keep that slot open for people with a hurty tooth. (If you understand that joke you’re most likely a musician.)
After over 18000 kilometers without any problems suddenly my backwheel spokes started breaking. I guess it was the weight off all the water I had to carry. This is at a Roadhouse south of Alice Springs where I fixed one while a very annoying dog wanted to do dog stuff with me.
The trees are getting smaller and smaller further south. There’s really not a lot of shade to sit down and have a rest. Meanwhile the headwind was steady and strong.
Here flies are waiting for me to come out of my tent. They were so incredibly ANNOYING!!!
This is one of the freshwater tanks that the NT goverments provides about every 100km. Without them cycling across Australia would be impossible I think. I had to be careful not to leave any food unattended, the crows liked to steal it.
But anyways, birds are a good company, always interested in my food though.
I went to the massive rocks of Kata Tjuta 300km east of Stewart Highway and I had a splendid tailwind on the way there. I never thought that the direction of the wind would make such a huge difference. I had a lot of headwind days before but two weeks of strong permanent headwind are a different story, it sucked all the energy out of me, maybe it was also Asia still in my legs. Anyways, I really enjoyed a few days of hanging out between these old rock and hitch-hiked half the way back to the highway. I even got to record a song in front of Uluru. It’s fascinating that these stones were already there when the dinosaurs were wandering around and most likely will still be there when humans left, at least that’s how I imagine it.
Back on the main road it was only 100km left till the border to Southern Australia and on that way, apart from all kinds of other things you can do to entertain yourself, I found a roadhouse selling a bottle of coke for 7.20$, still holding the record. And as expected the headwind was back.