I have lived and worked in 6 Australian States/Territories and visited a 7th (South Australia) but had never ventured to Darwin or the Northern Territory before so this was always going to be a highlight of my trip.
Having the obligatory photo shoot at the WA/NT border, nothing changed apart from the road condition as I entered the Territory. The 130kph sign made me laugh. Rhonda can only dream of reaching those dizzy heights in speed. The first town you come to is Timber Creek. I knew I was in a different state when this absolutely huge banner was draped across the first building, proudly stating that fireworks were for sale on that day (1st July 2019). Welcome to the Northern Territory. I got the distinct impression that things are done differently here.
Overnight was a roadside stop between Timber Creek and Victoria River. We were the sole occupants of a gravel pit area so didn’t hear any fireworks going off (lol) but through the next few days saw plenty of empty fireworks boxes laying beside garbage bins. Did a big shop in Katherine and picked up some mail before doing the washing at the laundromat just south of town.
I did intend to visit Edith Falls on the way north but as I turned off the Stuart Highway an electronic sign said the campground at Edith Falls was full so joined a number of other travellers at the “overflow” just over the railway line at the turnoff. Will do Edith on the way back south later in the month.
The next day it was up to Batchelor to meet up with friends from Perth, Jim and Heather. This was a great couple of nights staying at Batchelor Caravan Park and we visited Litchfield National Park (See Bucket List #7) in their 4wd. The Caravan Park and facilities were nice and clean with lovely hot showers. Hot showers are appreciated after a few nights “roughing it”. Had a look through Batchelor Museum. Also had tea and scones and toasted sandwiches here. The town of Batchelor was once the 3rd largest town in NT after Darwin and Alice Springs when the Rum Jungle Mine was in full swing. There is a lot of good and interesting reading here and a very good 45 minute video. Didn’t get through all the information and as I had already booked into a site at Daly River for that night, had to cut short this visit but did go back there on the way up to Darwin a week later.
Ended up spending a week at Lee and Jenny’s Bush Camp at Daly River. This is THE BEST campground of my trip so far. Even though I was meeting friends David and Lynne there as well as George who I met at Coronation Beach 3 months earlier, everyone at Daly River was so friendly and a trip to the toilet could take 3/4 of an hour each way, depending on how many people you chatted to on the way.
Directly across from the Campground is the Daly River and this is where happy hour took place each afternoon, high on the bank, overlooking the pontoon and the crocodiles on the far side of the bank. There were up to 4 crocodiles in this section within sight and one day whilst fishing we witnessed one of them appearing to attack another one when he encroached on the larger males territory. Further up and down the river are hundreds of crocodiles, both freshies and salties. Many people commented that it was the nicest setting for happy hour that they had encountered on their travels. I can only agree. Sitting around a campfire is nice but this was next level stuff.
There is a tin mine nearby accessible by 4wd and a pub in “town” but I didn’t venture there. It was a very relaxing time, just chilling out and chatting to people. Shared meals on some nights and the hosts Lee and Jenny put on a meal for the State of Origin (Rugby League) decider as well as Jenny making home made pies for lunch one day.
After a week in Daly River it was back to Batchelor to revisit the museum where unfortunately I was “attacked” by a stick and needed some minor medical attention. Had an overnight at Tumbling Waters Caravan Park at Berry Springs and dined in the restaurant there. A delicious meal of Barramundi, cooked to perfection. The next day I dropped my passenger off at Darwin Airport before meeting up for coffee with an expat from Perth who now lives in Darwin. I then booked into Robbie Robbins Reserve which is a popular campground at the Equestrian Centre in Berrimah. It is situated next door to the Darwin Detention Centre. That explained why there were 2 barbed hire wire fences 10 metres apart behind my site!
My foot got infected and swelled up so I booked into the local doctors and ended up on a weeks course of antibiotics. So the week I had planned to spend looking around Darwin was spent at Robbie Robbins Reserve just sitting in the shade of a big tree with my foot up. On a couple of mornings some kids came around with freshly made scones and jam and cream. $2 each was a great investment. Then on the Tuesday night the local girls footy team were fundraising by cooking pizzas. I had a smoked kangaroo. It was yummy and good value at $20 each.
So after a week recuperating but with the foot still not right, I headed back to Daly River for a further 10 days. Daly River is just the perfect place to relax.
I booked Rhonda in for her 6 month service in Katherine so spent a couple of nights at Edith Falls. Edith Falls is one of those must visit places. I did the 8.4km walk out to Sweetwater where you can swim in the rock pool and there are other stunning swimming options on the return trip. There is a huge big pool just off from the carpark and it is a good 150 metre swim across to the waterfall. The Kiosk here sells Buffalo Burgers for $15 which I can recommend. Really enjoyed my time at Edith Falls.
Rhonda needed a bit more work on her than the Katherine Mechanic could handle so it was back up to Darwin for a week (See Bucket List #8). My thanks and recommendation goes to Henry from Northern Wheel Alignment for his workmanship on Rhonda. Also thanks to Kaz there for helping me out and sharing “happy hours”
After my week in Darwin which I thoroughly enjoyed, it was back to Edith again before a few nights at Mataranka (See Bucket List #9). On the way south I stopped at Adelaide River to pay my respects at The Adelaide River War Cemetery. A well maintained resting place for those that lost their lives in the 1942 Darwin Bombing . This was quite a moving experience and brings home the reality f war.
After a stop at Daly Waters Pub (See Bucket List #10) it was a left turn along the Carpentaria Highway to Cape Crawford where I turned south again along the Tablelands Highway, eventually joining the Barkly Highway at Barkly Homestead. I had a few overnight stops along the way before exiting the Northern Territory 10km short of Camooweal the first town in Queensland.
I stopped at the Heartbreak Hotel in Cape Crawford. Great hamburgers but the counter staff left a lot to be desired. Both the Carpentaria and Tablelands Highways have lengthy sections of a single lane of bitumen, which meant getting completely off the road when a road train or caravan/camper came (either behind or oncoming). Most 4wd’s that weren’t towing gave me the same courtesy. Not a great deal of traffic on either roads though thank goodness. The roads are in shocking condition but this is slowly improving as the Federal Government allocates funding and this can be seen with the occasional new section of 2 lanes. There’s about a 20km section on the Tablelands Highway where you have to travel on a dirtside road while they upgrade the culverts in preparation for major upgrading.
I loved the Northern Territory and look forward to returning again.