Monday, 27 July 2015

Road Trip Part 2: Uluru to Darwin

Day 5:
We aim to get to Alice Springs by lunch time and then get as close to Tennant Creek before nightfall. We don't want to push the old girl too hard. Laid in today; showered, packed up and washed up by 8.30am. Found a plug where we could hook up the kettle to get a nice brew before we left.
We drove passed a camel farm, like a kid in a candy shop I got a bit excited. However, Leigh wouldn't stop for me to take a picture.
We got to Alice Springs by lunch time, picked up some more food supplies as well as a new radiator cap for the old girl, then headed off. We wanted to get as close to Devils Marbles as we could so we could visit them in the morning. Arrived at Wauchope by 5.30pm. Made camp, more beers and food. Then bedtime.
Looking forward to seeing the Devils Marbles tomorrow and turns out they are only 8km away.

Animal count: 9 gigantic eagles eating some more large roadkill animals.

2606 + 553 = 3,159km completed.

Day 6:
Super organised this morning, we were up and ready to leave by 7.45am. We arrived at Devil's Marbles by 8am and found out they had wifi. Some clever person had put a satellite dish on the rocks in the middle of nowhere so you could tag the place where you took the pictures. We took a stroll around the site and obviously took a few snaps. These giant boulders were everywhere.

Our aim was to get to Mataranka by the end of the day so we would be able to explore the National Park there tomorrow morning, but that meant a long day of driving today. We stopped at Elliot for lunch and set the table and chairs out by the side of the road. The weather has definitely got hotter and has easily reached the high twenties. This meant the shorts came out and gave us a a good excuse to buy another ice lolly to cool down. The land is also getting a lot greener and doesn't look so much like a desert anymore.  
We arrived at Bitter Springs Caravan Park in Mataranka by 5pm. The park was very busy, it was obviously a popular place to visit. They only had one space left so we were very lucky. We set up camp and cooked dinner before nightfall. Then we got our torches out and went for a stroll to find the Bitter Springs. It was a bit tricky to see in the dark, so we walked some of the way then decided we would just come back in the morning when we could see what we were doing. These Springs were recommended to us as a must do if we were travelling past, so I hope they live up to their expectations. We will find out tomorrow!

Animal count: We saw a herd (if that is what they are called) of donkeys along the side of the Stuart Highway. Once at the caravan park, it seemed where we had set up camp was right next to where a little wallaby lived. He was bouncing around all night and at one point even hopped right into the wagon with a great thud. I tried to get a picture but just as I got out from behind the tree the little devil hopped away.

3159 + 647 = 3,806km completed.

Day 7: 
As the car windows aren't completely blocked out at night, we tend to wake up when the sun rises. So it was a 6.45am start for us today. I sat outside and caught up on some reading (I've nearly completed the Game of Thrones series) whilst Leigh lazed around for a bit. We had to be out of the site by 10am, so we decided to take the old girl down to Elsey National Park where the Bitter Springs were instead of walking. We took a warm dip into the springs at 8am where they were surprisingly quite busy. 

We both could have easily spent all day submerged in warm fresh water, but we needed to start our trip to Darwin. We had only travelled about 10km when we nearly hit a wallaby which decided to hop out in front of the car at the last minute. Luckily for the animal, we missed it!
On route we stopped at Tennant Creek as Leigh had no breakfast and to use their wifi of course. We then headed on until we reached Darwin. We arrived at Darwin at 2pm and didn't really consider where we were going to stay very well as it was peak season for them. The first place we went to was fully booked, however the 2nd place (Hidden Valley Tourist Park) made room for us but we had to be on a powered site (which meant being charged a powered site price). We didn't mind too much at this point because we really weren't in the mood to try and find somewhere else.
As we arrived quite early we decided to take Maggie and go exploring round the area. By chance we had arrived on the night of the Mindal Beach Sunset Market. So we spent the evening browsing around the vast selection of stalls. There were loads of different food stalls and lots of aboriginal art work, they even had things made from crocodile skin. Anyone who knows Leigh knows his true love for frogs (or truly his hate), so he was extremely excited that you could buy a purse made from a Cane Toad (it even had it's eyes and legs still attached). I tried to look for a boomerang as a souvenir to take home but I couldn't quite seem to find one with the print I wanted, however there is still plenty of time. We watched the Sun go down with hundreds of others, then headed back to camp and after a hot shower, we chilled on our chairs for the rest of the evening.
A day with little driving tomorrow. Time to explore Darwin.

Animal count: Only the wallaby we nearly squished!

3806 + 458 = 4,264km completed.

Day 8:
Now I am extremely talented in one thing, writing lists. I even have an app where I can write multiple lists, lists within lists and even have the chance to draw all over my lists (very sad, I know!). So prior to arriving in Australia, I had constructed a huge list of all the things I wanted to see and do whilst here. So today was a day of trying to tick off as many points of interest in Darwin as we could. It was a good day for it as it was hot, hot, hot! So the sun cream was slapped on everywhere and we set off in Maggie.
We started by taking a stroll along the Esplanade and through the Bicentennial Park. It was a nice leisurely stroll which took us right along the sea edge.

As we had skipped breakfast, we then headed to Mitchell Street where we treated ourselves to a fried breakfast. Naughty, I know!
Next stop was East Point Reserve, where we took another stroll along the waters edge. We stopped and took in the sights of the beautiful clear blue waters (it's a shame it was filled with box jellyfish so no-one was swimming).

We then drove down to Stoke Hill Wharf at Darwin Harbour. The American Navy had been completing a training exercise with Australia, so the harbour was blocked by two enormous American Navy ships. We decided it was the perfect time to sink down some coronas and eat some fish and chips. Now anyone who has ever tried Australia's fish and chips will be slightly disappointed. Yes the fish is extremely scrummy and there is a completely different variety of fish to choose from, however the chips are abysmal. They are like the chips you get from the kebab shop, not proper English chippy chips. Nevertheless, we ate them anyway and then headed to the supermarket and picked up a Boost smoothie and some more beers before headed back to the site. 
There was live music at night playing right outside our plot, so we decided to stay at the site for the evening. We cooked soup for dinner as we had eaten so much during the day.
Tomorrow is going to be a day for finding the creature Darwin is most famous for, CROCODILES!

Animal count: We saw a load of seagulls and different types of fish, but nothing truly amazing today.

4264 + 44 = 4,308km completed.

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