Alice Springs is roughly halfway between Adelaide and Darwin with very few towns or settlements in between.
First stop north of Alice Springs was at the rest area at Devils Marbles Hotel at Wauchope. Only a few kilometres north is the Devils Marbles and had I have realised that there was a campground there I would have stayed there but opposite the hotel was fine with little traffic noise. Did have an encounter with a lady from a nearby settlement. She wanted me to go over to the pub and buy her a six pack. She was willing to give me the money for it but when I asked why she couldn’t just buy it herself she said she didn’t have any ID. Whilst I would have liked to have helped her there is obviously a reason why everyone needs to produce ID when purchasing alcohol in the NT so I politely apologised and declined her request. She then wanted to buy it straight from me but I again declined. She was very respectful and said thanks anyway. I took the view that it was against the law or at least the spirit of the law as it stands in NT.
The Devils Marbles are an interesting group of rock formations which are best explained visually.
Tennant Creek had a lot of tired and empty shop buildings but otherwise was a neat looking town. Again like Alice, I think Tennant Creek gets a pretty bad rap in the press and on travelling forums. The previous day we had met a family at a lunch stop and the daughter was teaching at Tennant Creek and doing her Masters. She said she was enjoying her time there and that it was a good community to be involved in. The perception we all make as we drive through a town is not always the same as the reality of living in that town.
Just north of Tennant Creek is the Mary Ann Dam. This is a real oasis in the desert and a beautiful place to stop for a while over morning tea or lunch. No camping allowed here but a great place to spend a day.
On my journey south from Darwin 2 years ago I stopped a night at Daly Waters Hotel before heading east to Cape Crawford. As it was my travelling companion’s birthday that day we decided to stop at the pub for tea. It still has a good vibe. Meals are pretty good and the live music duo were very good and versatile. Being school holidays there were a lot of little kids and when they started playing around on the dance floor the musicians quickly changed the songs to “hot potato” and the like.
We had a couple of nights at Mataranka and made good use of the thermal pool there and more so at Bitter Springs which was surprisingly quiet being school holidays.
A friend from Perth is currently managing a resort/caravan park in Katherine so stopped there a couple of days and did the Katherine Gorge Boat Tour. Did the 2 Gorge tour (only option). It was good but didn’t have the “Wow” factor that I have seen elsewhere. Plenty of water of course and got to see a couple of smallish waterfalls which of course will cease flowing as the dry season progresses. Called into Edith Falls which is a favourite spot and did the walk up to the top pool for a swim. The main swimming hole at the bottom of the falls is still not open from the wet season. They have to make sure all the crocodiles are out and moved on before they let the public loose in the water. Crocs feeding on people is not good publicity coming into the tourist season.
Final stop before Darwin was Adelaide River. I hadn’t stayed here previously but stopped this time at the Caravan Park. It was one of the best parks I have stayed in. Nice grassed sites and one of the largest swimming pools I have seen in a caravan park. The fact that there were no kids around made the afternoon swim all that much better. Pub food wasn’t the best I’ve had but a win by the Tigers on the big screen made up for that.
From Darwin my friend headed back to Queensland and I caught up with some distant cousins who live in Queensland but were holidaying in Darwin. We reconnected through a Toyota Coaster travel site and I haven’t seen them since I was about 10 years of age. I stopped at a bush camp at Noonamah about 40km south of Darwin for a week while I got a few items attended to with the bus and caught up on my blogs before heading to Kakadu.