My time as a volunteer went way too fast, but it was time to pick up Jennifer, my Scottish friend who I met last year in Brisbane. Together we went to Uluru, and went for a hike in the Kata Tjuta, ‘Valley of the Winds’. It’s very good to travel with someone I already know, and we’re having a great time together.
The second night camping, we parked the car near Mount Connor, on the start of a gravel road. Three 4WDs passed us and stopped to ask if we wanted to come camping with them. Of course this happens right at the time I’m failing terribly in making a fire, after telling Jen that I’ll teach her how to do it. Jens question ‘What do we need for a fire? Wood?’ made that I felt less bad about not succeeding. Nevertheless, we decided not to join them, partially because Gerry doesn’t really like these roads, and partially because Jen ran away and was hiding behind the car.
We went back onto the Stuart Highway – the road that goes all the way from Adelaide to Darwin – and passed Alice Springs one final time, the city I had seen by now. Fortunately Jen didn’t desire to stay there either, so we continued up north. A couple of nights camping – and one night couchsurfing in Tennant Creek – further, we arrived in Mataranka. A village with natural hotsprings. It was lovely to being able to swim, sunbath, relax and even have a shower. Travelling by car is very nice, but it’s also exhausting, especially since I’m the one doing all the driving.
While we were sitting at the terrace, a group of guys and one girl passed us. The girl was wearing an inflatable crown and asked us if we could please come and sit with them. She needed female company after traveling through the bush for nine days with only guys. We were chatting to her, and five minutes after one of her friends approached us. He had a very familiar face. ‘I know you girls! You were trying to make a fire at Mount Connor!’ Awesome. We ended up camping with them this time, and ended up at a river where they threw an amazing party. Bonfires, loud music through massive speakers, lightmachines, and even fireworks. This was one memorable evening, thanks to the Aussies from WA.
After this we planned on going to Katherine Gorge, in Nitmiluk national park. We did a very nice hike here, down to the water, and afterwards we drove to Kakadu. In that park we started off with driving to Gunlom, which was another dirtroad, yet manageable to 2WDs. It only cost us an hour and a half to drive about 30 kilometers.. It was totally worth it though, because after Jen and I hiked up the mountain on our thongs, there were several plunge pools with an amazing view. It was like an infinity pool, but surrounded by mountains and valleys instead of the sea.
That night we camped in the park, and it was a true disaster. Never have I ever seen this many mosquitos, and definitely not sized like that. After dark we locked ourselves in the car, but it was like a sauna in there. We ended up opening the windows and covered ourselves in tropical smelly insect repellent, but probably sugar would’ve had the same effect. It was either suffocating in our sleeping bags, or being eaten alive. I think I slept for like two hours. The next day we looked at aboriginal cave paintings, and after that left the park. Neither of us fancied staying there another night. On the way to Darwin I was so tired, that I asked Jen if we could play a game to stay awake. We named animals starting with all letters of the alfabet, and that helped us until the next rest stop.
Friday the 31st we arrived in Darwin, where the weather is lovely, and so is the atmosphere. A couple of people I met before were in this city, and on my birthday we went out for dinner with a group. I can’t tell you how luxury dinner out is, after living in a car for six weeks. Unfortunately no luck with couchsurfing here, so we got back into the hostel life. I had to get used to it again, after ten months without, but by now I’m enjoying it again.
We will enjoy the Darwin winter temperatures (30 degrees average) for one more day, but won’t swim in rivers or the ocean. Friday we did a ‘jumping crocodile’ boat tour, with the salt water crocodiles. The most dangerous creatures in the world, who will attack everything that has a heart beat and kill it. We saw them from a little bit closer then I’d planned to come to them. I’ll only swim in the lagoon!