Darwin, again

The first two days from Alice Springs to Daly Waters
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The heat had backed off to 38C as forecasted.

Alice Springs is within 50K of being half way between Adelaide and Darwin. We expected the first 1000K going north from here to be a repeat of the last half, but it wasn’t. The first 500K was grassland, possibly an extension of the Barkly tablelands to the east we’d ridden through a few months ago

We’d been wondering when we’d see our first termite mound again, going north. Here it is, just a little fellow. The center is just too hot for them

We’ve never seen a big one on the road shoulder, so I guess it’s just a matter of time before a road train removes them, sadly. They’re fairly solid so a car wouldn’t risk it

The town of Aileron doesn’t have a wiki entry so we couldn’t do our usual evening read. Pop about 25 as usual we’re guessing.

But we found out about this. The sculptures of aboriginals of the Anmatjere tribe are about 40′ tall , located here. Artist Mark Egan was contracted by the roadhouse owner to build them

The female figure and child was excellent. A coloured guanna at her feet

The roadhouse

Aboriginals doing what they do in the heat: sit under trees in separate guy/girl groups

Back through the grasslands. A strong side-breeze today. It’s been a concern that Lucinda overheats in a tailwind in the outback. Fortunately it’s never pushed her into the danger zone, but it’s been close a couple of times

Gassed up at the Barrow Creek roadhouse. For travellers, this is the only roadhouse we’ve seen in Australia we wouldn’t overnight at, unless we had no choice. There have been some rough places so far, but this is the roughest. Rough isn’t always bad, it’s sometimes good, and if you’re going to ride Latin America you need to enjoy it, but this pinged our keep-Lucinda-safe alarm. Secure parking is hard to find in Australia and no way will they allow you the L.A. fallback of rolling the bike into the room

A bridge, which was odd in the middle of nowhere. Then we saw the line. We had to look at the map to see where it was going: It’s also crossing the outback north/south. Probably a fast way to do this with no night stops. This is the only time our path crossed

A rock formation off the road made a change

Not big, about 50′ at the highest

A sign nearby shows how they were formed. Just like Joshua Tree, but mini

About 10′

A great Australian sign, terrific names. If you look carefully you can see our tiny new Clearwater LED lights, 4000 lumens total, so with our existing bi-xenons we’ve now got plenty. Too much unless you’re alone out there, but the Clearwaters have a ‘volume dial’ by our right thumb. Very nice

Our first water in 2000K, unless you count the poison pond and that temporary trickle in Alice Springs. We’re not in croc country yet, but soon

Then at Tennant Creek, everything changes. The lush green is unexpected and is almost shocking. We’ve changed climatic zones. We’re now in tropical monsoon place and time. More on this below

Agriculture is happening here. The road trains are limited to 3 trailers here, we’re guessing, since we don’t see any of the superb 4 trailer behemoths we saw in the west. But they’re still excellent. We looked it up and the 3’s are limited to 53.5 meters, 175′. The speed limit on this long stretch north of Alice Springs is 130 kph, so imagine how they look flying by at that speed. When they hit the kangaroos and emus at dawn and dusk, as they do with regularity, the remains are an unimaginable mess. Obviously they don’t slow down before or after. Hitting cattle is the only concern

Another fire. We ride out for a closer look because we’re looking for something

We don’t see it at this one. But later, at another fire, we do. Back in the west we saw eagles circling above fires and thought they were circling the thermals. But actually, we found out, they’re watching for small mammals and reptiles running from the fire as it invades their homes. Once in a while a bird will stoop for a kill and eat it on the ground

Very cool

Doing a low pass

The aftermath. The termite mounds in the background survive these fires – certain lizards tunnel into them to lay their eggs for this reason

Beautiful birds

Then a long ride to Daly Waters

It’s a bit like Camooweal somehow, but smaller. A nice place, pop 25. Google Earth

About 4 miles from the main road

A typical outback house

It was founded by John Stuart on his 3rd (and successful) attempt to cross the outback in 1862. It’s a bit wacky, trying to attract tourists

It’s now famous for the pub. A great place to stay

Years of travellers from around the world have left bits and pieces here attached to the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Bras above the bar

Ladies can staple their knickers to the ceiling provided they take them off then and there, same as the bras.There are more bras than underpants

One wall area had these. For the second time this trip there’s a Vancouver Police badge. The first time we saw one sewn to the jacket of a tough Peruvian, which was curious


Locals, looking like locals do everywhere

Daly Waters to Katherine
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Still hot, and now humid. The curse of the northern Stuart, and Darwin in particular

Dressing the termite mounds up again. This one had a wedding dress on

We’re at Katherine, so the crocs have started. This is probably stuffed with them. It’s wet season so they’re breeding and antsy

Katherine to Darwin. The final ride in Australia, so a thoughtful one
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Towards the clouds. We have 3 hours to get into town before they build to monsters and all hell breaks loose. Lots of time

And through town to the sea

Darwin is a bit lower than center here

The climate specs. It rains more in 90 days here than in a year in Vancouver, and it does it in an hour a day, not everyday
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Darwin is in a cyclone zone and the tropical storms build in the afternoon at this time of year. They’re violent. Once, when they were counting, Darwin got struck by lightning, the big type, 5000 times in one hour. It’s legendary for it. The first day we watched one build like this

Later, at sunset, they’re nearly gone

And on that note: I’ll be combining my journal with this blog at the end of the month and it won’t be publicly accessible. There will be a map and some brief milestone posts on another site, so please email me on the ‘contact’ page if you would like that future address. Thank you for following along. Safe travels.

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