The long drive over the Road From Hell (see previous post…) ended in Broome, Western Australia, on the Indian Ocean. One of our goals was to see the Indian Ocean and tour the coastline.
It’s almost 1,500 miles on the coastal route from Broome to Perth, about 100 miles further then driving I-5 from Canada to Mexico. We visited Port Hedland, Dampier, Exmouth, and Denham/Monkey Mia. Some are industrial towns; others, tourism is their industry. Remember all that red rock and soil? This part of Australia is rich in iron ore which is shipped to regional countries like India and China.
We visited beaches that were all shells without sand and beautiful sand beaches too.
Hour after hour, we drove across a flat featureless landscape, sometimes cresting a low hill only to see the same featureless landscape. When we stopped to change drivers or have a cuppa, we stayed in the RV. It was 107 degrees out and felt like we were trying to breath with our heads in an oven. If we did step outside, we were besieged by tenacious, sticky flies that tried to crawl in our nose, mouth, eyes, and ears.
One day, we drove to a road house with a campground only to find that a recent bush fire had nearly closed the establishment. There was no shade in the campground, only heat. We drove on looking for something better, but it’s a long way to the next roadhouse.
It took four days to drive from Darwin to Broome and it felt like we were truly driving the road from hell. But, there was some interesting flora and fauna along the journey.
It’s 955 miles from Adelaide in the south to Alice Springs in the Red Centre and another 930 to Darwin in the Top End, a total of 1,885 miles. By comparison, it’s 1,760 miles from the Mexican border in Brownsville, Texas to the Canadian border in North Dakota. It’s a long way, but that’s where the comparison ends. The vast area known as the Outback has one of the lowest population densities in the world with only 775,000 people living in an area that covers about 2/3 of the continental U.S.
So, there isn’t much out there, just vast areas of arid terrain interspersed with stretches of brush (or bush in Aussie), the infrequent roadhouse or cattle station, and a few small towns like Tennant Creek or a ghost town like New Castle Waters. You might see four or five other vehicles in an hour of driving.
Suddenly, the terrain changes and you pass through an interesting geological formation like Devils Marbles. We would love to get out and do a hike, but it is well over 100 degrees. The hike is a short one with big hats and bottles of cold water.
Here are a few photos from Alice Springs to Darwin and the long road in between.
Many of you know that we are full-time RVrs who live and travel in a 41 foot motorhome that is affectionately named “The Dip”. Every couple of years, we park The Dip and go traveling without her, flying somewhere to travel through a foreign countryside.
This trip, however, is different. We picked up a small motorhome in Adelaide and are now half way through a 4,500 mile trip north through the center of the country and then south down the west coast.
So, meet Sovy, a KC Sovereign Deluxe motorhome/Mercedes Sprinter 2.2L Turbo Diesel. Sovy is 20-1/2 feet long, half as long as The Dip, and a foot narrower at 7-1/2 feet. However, The Dip has four slide-outs and is 12-1/2 feet wide when extended and Sovy has none…. After two and a half weeks in Sovy, we are still occasionally bumping into each other, but for the most part we are doing okay.
We’ve talked about coming off the road into a permanent living arrangement and were wondering if we would like traveling in a smaller rig. We have found that there are advantages in drive-ability and maneuverability, especially because we are not towing a car. The lack of space is still in question!
And, some things are quite different. Obviously, it is a right-hand drive. So everything is reversed. The door is on the left instead of the right and all of the utilities are on the right side instead of the left. The gray water hose is about one inch in diameter and RV parks are okay if you just dump it in the hedge next to you. However, the toilet is a cassette unit that has to be removed by hand and dumped at in a black water receptacle. I dumped it in a toilet today….
The adventure continues as we pull out tomorrow and head down the west coast toward Perth.
There’s several ways to get to Darwin in the Northern Territory, but only one direct route by road – straight up the Stewart Highway from Adelaide to Alice Springs, to Darwin. This is the heart of our travel – a road trip that keeps us close to the ground where we get to meet people and learn about how they live.
It’s 1,100 miles from the border with South Australia to Darwin, through a sparsely populated countryside with small towns and cattle stations (ranches) scattered across the 522,000 square miles of the Northern Territory.
There are long distances between fuel stops and you’re not absolutely sure that there’s going to be fuel at the next roadhouse, though there usually is. And it’s hot out here, but the funky little roadhouses offer a place where you can stretch your legs, fuel up, get a cold drink, and enjoy the character(s!). Many are old historic bars where drovers and sheep shearers stopped for a cold one before moving on down the road.
Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park is regarded as one of
the most spectacular sights in central Australia. Hiking is the only way to see
or experience the canyon as there are no roads along the rim or drives into the
canyon itself. Due to the heat, we chose to do a couple of inner-canyon hikes
to see the sights. The trails took us along dry stream beds as we walked into
Cultural experiences have become very important to us. After all, these landscapes were inhabited by aboriginal people for 10’s of thousands of years before a white person saw them. They formed a complex culture with lore which regulated human behavior and connected people with the land and with each other.
We spent part of an afternoon at Karrke, an Aboriginal Cultural Experience and Tour. Our guide Christine, and her partner Peter, have built this small business as a means of supporting their aboriginal community of 20 people.
They told us about the culture and lore of their people, the Luritja and Pertame, and about bush medicines, bush tucker (food), art work, tool making, and much more.
Australians are a very nice people. Sure, you will always
find exceptions, but for the most part they are warm and welcoming. So, how
could we start this epic journey without visiting our Australian friends?
We could have started this trip by flying into Adelaide,
picking up the little motorhome, and hitting the road. After all, we had
planned a very long driving trip through the Outback from Adelaide north to
Darwin and then south to Perth, a total of 4,700 miles….
Michelle, Mick, Mum, sister Melinda, and the girls took a day out of their busy lives to give us a tour of the sights around Wollongong and Bulli where they live. Wollongong is a city on the ocean about an hour train ride south of Sydney. It was a wonderful day of touring, talking, food, and even a couple geocaches. Thank you all so much.
Melbourne is a short flight from Sydney and our friends Sean
and Anne have a beautiful inn – Stone & Straw – near Daylesford, a resort
town north of Melbourne. Again, it was so nice to get reacquainted, talk, share
food, and tour their hometown. And we got to stay in their finest suite! Thank
you so much.
We’ve known these Australian friends for twelve years and while
we live a long way apart, it is an enduring friendship.
Then there are the new Australian friends, Garry and Deb. We met them at a geocaching event that we held one evening in Alice Springs. Garry and Deb invited us to go geocaching with them, so we spent the better part of the next day finding caches and seeing some of the lesser known sights around Alice Springs. Thank you both so much.
Sometimes the journey is all about the people you meet along