Week 4: Tour de Oz (NT - WA)
Kakadu National Park
After a night of partying in Darwin with my new friend Luke (and his friends), we decided to ride together through Kakadu. They say you need at least three days to explore this park – we practically did it in one day, including a stopover for the night at Jabiru. The whole night our tents were surrounded by the sniffing and howling of wild dogs … which was a slightly exciting, slightly unsettling experience.
The next day we rode through the park, and given the 36 degree heat, we couldn’t be bothered stopping and doing all the tourist walks. So, I know it sounds bad, but I’m not really in the position to tell you about the ancient rock paintings, waterfalls and lookouts … but I'm sure that they're all there and worth visiting... according to the tourist guides! Next time...
So long Northern Territory, hello Western Australia
My original aim was to spend the last night in NT at some random, isolated place, steeped in stereotypical outback-ness, or in the National Park … but after riding in 38 degree heat for almost 600km, I was seriously happy to stop at a camping ground with showers (weak, I know). So, I set up my tent at Timber Creek, but then realised I was just 20 meters away from the actual creek, which is full of crocodiles! Got me thinking … will I survive? But don’t worry – I did!
The next morning I crossed into WA, which greeted me with spectacular landscapes. I made my way to the enormous Lake Argyle – Australia’s second largest reservoir, occupied by over 30,000 freshwater crocodiles! Well, I took a raincheck on going for a swim, and instead spent the whole day in the “Infinity Pool” overlooking the lake. I must say that was the best caravan park I've stayed in so far.
The next night was a little bit unusual: after about 500km, I was totally dehydrated and tired, so I decided not to push myself on to the closest town, but instead to just stop for the night at Larrawa Cattle Station (half way between Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing). I couldn’t even be bothered to set up a tent, so I just crashed on the table under a shelter. I must say, I really enjoyed sleeping under the stars watching the shooting stars, well, shoot!
North West Coast
The moment I arrived in Broome I fell in love with Cable Beach and decided to stop there for 2 nights. I met some fantastic people at the camping site – mostly solo travellers who had their own stories to tell. Also, for the first time in my life: I rode a camel! Pretty cool experience, especially during the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Insert 'Lawrence of Arabia' music here.
From Broome, I headed for 80 Mile Beach – which was even more amazing! The caravan park I camped on was a little bit dearer than other places ($24 per person unpowered) but was located right next to beach, so well worth it. It was a great place to chill – I practically had the whole beach to myself (you won’t experience that on east coast!), but be aware of the sand flies! Bloody creatures – got bitten 100 times!
The Grand Finale
Well, on the very last day, going on the dirt road (150 km to my final destination) I came off my bike! I was going 80 km/h – enough to hurt yourself, but luckily walked away without any injuries or damage to the bike. There was no one around to help me lift my bike (as you can imagine, an F800GS with all that luggage is not the lightest!), but I’m pretty proud say that I managed to pick it up on my own!
And finally, 30 days of travel and 9500 km later, I arrived at my half-way mark: Port Hedland. I’ll be working here in WA for the next 6 months, after which I'll be back on my bike to finish le Tour de Oz!
I’m feeling a bit sad that the first part of my journey is finished, but it was an absolutely amazing experience – riding the bike on my own through the Northern parts of Australia, such long stretches where you hardly see any people and the closet petrol stations are 280 km apart – it was the best experience of my life and I didn’t feel lonely for a moment. In fact, I’ve never felt such freedom. And most interestingly, I never felt frightened, scared or in danger – despite some of the talk I heard before I left. I was lucky, I must say, with the wildlife and the roadtrains – the journey so far has been pretty smooth.
Stay tuned, I’ll soon be on the second leg of my journey, from Southern WA, to SA and VIC, and then back home to Sydney. In the meantime, I’ll be posting lots of reviews of places I stayed and the gear I used.
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