The journey so far  Sydney to Darwin

 Sydney to Darwin September to November 2006

Finally leaving Sydney we were already behind schedule as we were keen to meet up with my family. As my parents were flying back to England in a week this meant the trip across Australia to Perth where my sister now lives was far more rushed than we would have wanted but we saw plenty of places we’re keen to return to. First stop was Lennox Head where Andrew’s family live, stopping at the kitsch big banana on the way.

I really wish we had kept better notes but am writing this after the event without the aid of an Aussie map so apologies for lack of detail, however there were some real highlights. The drive across the Nullabor had some great scenery and the first sight of a camel was cool….though it somewhat lost its appeal by the time we’d seen several hundred of them and feral donkeys pigs horses etc at the road side we were more worried about hitting one!

Enjoyed Perth, a great city and it was really exciting to see my family again, and meet my little nephew for the first time. Met up with the Hawleys who looked after me so well 20 years ago on my last trip I had hoped to get out to Lake Grace and down the coast to Dunsborough to see family there but that will have to wait another time. The only downside of travel you can’t be 2 great places at once!

After Perth we stopped at Kalgoorlie where the mine was amazing a vast 24 hour monster, the trucks looked like ants from the viewing platform. We bought an interesting book by an early prospector Alf Thompson, who made the trip out from New Zealand in the 19th century the early conditions were unbelievably harsh. We visited his grave in Laverton prior to starting our trip on the Great Central Highway to Uluru.

We had had to obtain a permit from the aboriginal community to cross their land and this was the first SERIOUS off road driving we did and the car held up excellently. The temperature was getting up there so we felt we were doing it hard in the heat until we met the competitors in the Cannonball challenge who were cycling it!! Of course the only flat we got the whole time had to be right in the middle of their course so they had to go over and round us as we frantically changed the tyre. We then visited the Giles weather station named after the early meteorologist who pioneered setting the station up in this remote location.

First sighting of the Olgas Uluru and Kings Canyon, were all unforgettable. We walked around Kings Canyon and both walked round and flew over Uluru. The colours of the scenery and the sunsets were gorgeous no wonder so many painters migrate to or originate from that area. The West MacDonnell’s ranges just out of Alice Springs were wonderful the scenery very reminiscent of Albert Namatjirra's paintings and the gorges and particularly the water holes very welcome after a lot of red dust.

Alice Springs was a great City an oasis in the desert. We loved the markets and had the honour to stay in the motel room used by Prince Charles. As we had dropped our front suspension pin at the Merenie loop road we had to do a bush repair with fencing wire and hobble into Alice at 30kmph. Thankfully help was on hand, Repco service centre helped us out, and we took a cheap motel whilst our car was unavailable, as the pin had to be ordered in. The Gap motel was fairly modest so we were shocked to see the Visited by Royalty sign. Apparently in happier days HRH Prince Charles and Princess Diana were doing an outback tour when the Todd River flooded preventing them accessing the more salubrious hotels on the other side, so they had to slum it at the Gap! No chance of that happening when we were there the Todd remained as dry as a bone hadn’t rained for 4 years!

We carried on to Darwin anxious to miss the wet , but stopped off at Mataranka for a dip in the hot springs as well as Katherine where we saw Cutta Cutta caves and the river which begins the 13 gorges which Katherine is well known for. We flew over these in a helicopter a few months later when down from Darwin and the view was awesome.

We hurried on to arrive in Darwin on 4th November 2006 – in time for our friend Sarah’s party to celebrate her obtaining Aussie Citizenship. We’re always on time for a party!

Please see our photos below:

From the top:  1) Big Banana 2) Australian Byte 3) Big Galah Kimba 4) Ferrel Donkies the Nullabor