Daily Archives: May 24, 2008

NT? More Like MT (as in empty. get it?)

Posted by on May 24, 2008

While I can find occasional internet kiosks and can check email and even do updates, uploading photos is probably going to be out of the question until I get to Broome.

This morning I’m in Katherine, NT, which appears to be the only real settlement between Darwin and Alice Springs.

Last night I slept in Kakadu National Park and took photos of some 20,000 year old aboriginal rock paintings and took a boat tour on the Alligator River. Saw four crocodiles during the boat trip and saw a ton of birds. There will be a much larger post on Kakadu when I can get through all my photos.

The drive from North Kakadu to Katherine was several hours and during some stretches of road I didn’t see another vehicle for an hour. It is hard to grasp just how empty this part of the country is. One road sign I saw said “Katherine 40km, Alice Springs 1245km”. I’m not sure there was anything else to put on the sign.

My goal today is just cross into Western Australia and stay the night in Kununurra, WA. Monday I then hope to drive a few hours and take a plane flight over the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park. Purnululu is pretty much undeveloped, so if you want to see the Bungle Bungles, you have to either spend several days driving in the park with a 4-wheel drive and all the supplies you need, or take a short flight. I’m opting for the flight because I’m by myself and I don’t have a 4×4.

Despite the long distances I’m driving, I don’t have a road map. I don’t really see the need for one because there are only a few roads and the drive from here to Broom (Perth for that matter) is pretty much just staying on one road. The landscape here is mostly small, skinny trees with lots of grass between them. There are lot of small grass fires in this region, many of which are set on purpose because the trees need fire to germinate. During the drive, I could see lots of small fires or blackened areas which were recently burned. During the boat trip I took, one of the guides said there was a bird who would pick up burning sticks and embers and drop them to spread a fire so it can flush out more animals.

I’ve also been getting into the habit of getting fuel at every opportunity, because stops are so few and far between. Even though the speed limit in NT is 130 kph (80.7 mph) I usually end up driving at around 80-90 kph because if I go faster, it wastes gas and it heats up the inside of the van too much.

The other thing I’ve seen on the roads in NT which I haven’t seen before are road trains. These are normal truck which haul 3 or 4 full size trailers. I’ve seen trucks haul 2 or even 3 of the smaller size trailers in the US, but never anything like this. When you see 2 or 3 together, it really is a road train.

If nothing else, the long drive is giving me a chance to work on my upper body tan.