Monthly Archives: May 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.

I Do Kakadu Day 2

Posted by on May 23, 2008

This will have to be quick. I found an internet connection, but I only have a few minutes.

So far, Kakadu has been pretty amazing. It is part African savanna, part American Southwest indian ruins. Since I’ve been here I’ve probably shot 6gb of photos and I’m going on a river boat tour in about 30 minutes. There are warning signs for crocodiles everywhere here. In theory, I guess any pocket of water can have one. People have been killed by them, but usually only the stupid. I’ll be spending the rest of today in Kakadu and then start the drive to Western Australia and the Bungle Bungles.

My camper sucks ass, but that will be another post for another day when I can rant in a longer form.


Posted by on May 22, 2008

I finally got my camper and I’m off to Kakadu National park today in the Norther Territory. I had to wait an extra day for my camper, but it was no big deal. In addition to Kakadu I’ll probably stop at Lichfield National Park on way to Western Australia. I have plenty of time to get to Perth so I’ll probably take my time. I’ve been told the diving in Exmouth is really good, so I might stop an investigate that.

I have no idea what the internet situation will be like over the next few weeks. I know there are some towns on the way, but nothing major. I’ll be camping most nights, so if I do have internet access, I doubt if I’ll be able to upload images until I can get to Broome at the soonest. The scenery should be amazing. This really is the outback. Perhaps I’ll even get to have a real bloomin onion….

Lets also hope I don’t get eaten by a crocodile.

Greetings Territorians

Posted by on May 20, 2008

I’m (back) in Darwin. I was last here in February when I landed in Australia from East Timor. It has taken me this long to work my way up half the country. I’ve been lazy.

Some fun facts about Darwin and the Norther Territory:

  • Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory. It is not a state. It has a status similar to what US states had before they became states. The population here is 215,000, half of which (probably more than half) live in or around Darwin. Unlike US Territories, they do have representation in the Australian Parliament, but in reduced numbers.
  • The size of NT is slightly less than that of Alaska with a similar population density.
  • People of the Northern Territory are indeed called “Territorians”. I suppose they by definition, they have an intrinsic property of being “territorial”.
  • Darwin was originally established as a telegraph station, as was Alice Springs, also in NT.
  • Darwin is indeed named after Charles Darwin. The HMS Beagle stopped here and the captain named the port after him.
  • Darwin was bombed by the Japanese in WWII. The war in Pacific was very real to the Australians as the Japanese had every intention of invading and occupying Australia. Thankfully, the Australians took back PNG to control all of the Australian continent and got 2 bonus armies every turn and denied the Japanese the bonus of holding all of Asia by attacking SE Asia.
  • In 1974, 71 people were killed and a great deal of the town was destroyed by a cyclone. It was the biggest natural disaster in the history of Australia. Cyclone Tracy was the most compact tropical storm every recorded and it made a beeline right for the center of Darwin.
  • The weather here is nice, but that is probably a factor of being May. I’m sure it is much hotter in the summer. It seems very flat.
  • While tourism is big here, it is much smaller compared to what I saw anywhere on the east coast. That is a good thing. I’m getting sick of the 20 something Euro backpacker crowd, at least in the doses you see them in eastern Australia.

Tomorrow my goal is just to get my next few weeks in order. My first stop will be Kakadu National Park. I have to decide how I’m going to get there (rent a car or take a bus). It is very close to Darwin and there are lots of tours which leave from Darwin. After Kakadu, it is sort of up in the air. My goal is to get to Perth in 2 weeks. From there, I”ll probably fly to Uluru and then Adelaide and then Sydney so I can finally get to Lord Howe Island. Then I fly to Singapore. I think I’m going to use Singapore as a base for a few regional trips including Sumatra and Christmas Island.

I’m going to get out of Darwin as soon as possible so I can get on the road and moving.