I spent about an hour earlier writing an email home of our latest adventures and figured I may as well share some of it on here as it condenses our last week or so travelling to the Northern Territory.
“Me and Stu are in Darwin today(It’s lovely!) staying at a Novotel for the night. We’ve just arrived after a 2 & a half hour drive which is our weekly commute to the nearest shop for groceries, so we thought we’d make a trip of it after work this morning since we are off tomorrow. We left Stu’s mums on Tuesday avo, and only drove about 3 hours to a place called Crystal Brook, SA, where we stayed in the swag. It was a really lovely night so we left the mozzie roof zipped without the full canvas outer on so we could see the stars. We woke and it was spitting rain so we pulled up the canvas but didn’t zip it round and then I woke up at 4am Wednesday thinking I’d pee’d myself as the tent was wet and then realised the WHOLE SWAG was soaked through. It was bucketing down and because we hadn’t zipped it up properly we got absolutely soaked through. It was pretty cool in SA so we were freezing in the dark trying to heat up in the car and find a way to make coffee while the sun rose. We wrapped everything in bin bags and drove a full shift, finally stopping in a place in the middle of no-where called Cadney Well. It was just a service station with a small shop and bar and some solid iron ground to try park your swag. The flies were crazy here, just persistently wanting in your eyes and we had to hang our swag mattress and belongings all over the site to dry. I was slightly worried at this point that this was setting the bar for the flies to come further North, although they have never been as bad again.
Thursday we managed to cross the Northern Territory/S.A border after a 10 hour drive. We had passed through Alice Springs that day, but didn’t stop apart from to fill up on fuel as we were aiming to make it to our work place on Friday evening to have time to settle ourselves in before commencing work. We saw a sign for a place called Wycliffe Well with a UFO on the sign and as Stu was so tired and the sun was setting, we decided to stop at that campsite for the night. Possibly THE CREEPIEST place ever. It sells itself as the UFO capital of Australia and the WHOLE place was very well painted/graffiti-ed up with Alien murals EVERYWHERE. There was an old unused kids railway and lots of creepy buildings. It was kind of like a set for a movie where an old style fairground has become run down after aliens landed and the alien teens graffiti-ed the place. And then haunted it forever. There was just a weird vibe and we heard a gang of Dingos howling close to us. The natives were having a grand old time buying beer from the servo there and were all drunk and driving and fighting next to the campsite for the majority of the night. Must have been a full moon.
I actually had an amazing sleep here and the swag is so super cosy and comfy. I love that you can see the stars when you fall asleep. It’s magic.
The next day, Friday, when we were leaving Wycliffe Well we went in to the campsite office and saw all these articles about this guy who had killed backpackers in the middle of the outback and apparently one of them is buried there. Heeby Jeebies. We exit-ed pronto!
We went up to the Devils Marbles about an hour or so away and took a few pics and then hit the road again planning to smash in some more km’s to take a chunk outta our journey hoping to possibly arrive early Saturday morning at the latest. The car temperature started to rise and rise very early on and at 12.30pm we pulled into a roadhouse called Renner’s Springs as we were worried we might be low on coolant. The engine was really worryingly hot. We basically broke down here, we couldnt leave as the car temp was in the red even after leaving it to sit for hours. We were so lucky we stopped when we did as we were in the middle of nowhere. Not knowing what was wrong with it we called the nearest mechanic (90kms away) and he quoted us $650 just to tow the car to his workshop less than an hour away. We politely declined. He also suggested it was most probably the head gasket…I think his pupils must have dilated into dollar signs when we called him.
We started looking into getting the car transported by a road train freight to the next big town (about 600kms)which they quoted us at $800-1000 and that wasn’t including us travelling also in the price, so we’d be split from the car. We talked to truckies asking them if they knew anyone who could fit us on their load, asking other drivers if they could tow us, people were stopping and trying to help us find and fix the problem, but to no avail. We kept our heads up, figured we would work it out and wrote lots of lists and plans. My organised sister would have been proud! We set up our camp there after a long day and night of expensive public phone box calls, as there was no signal, and we finished our night with a little hand-holding ask to the universe to try to help us out. Hippys 4 Lyfe.
When I woke on Saturday morning (another awesome sleep) Stu was up looking at the car drinking coffee and a fellow camper, an older gentleman came over and helped him through the possibilities of what could be wrong. Turns out taking the thermostat was the best idea ever, and it only went and bloody worked didn’t it!!???
Absolutely relieved we cautiously got on our way and tensely drove on-wards, Stu barely looking up from the temperature gauge. We drove for about 5 hours to Katherine, the last town with shops, food etc before Douglas Daly where we are working. Stocked up on food we headed into the beautiful lush and humid forest land.
The place is beautiful. There is a phone signal sometimes but absolutely no internet round there. It is nice being so secluded.
The drive up here was amazing, we had so much fun and it was interesting seeing the landscape change as we headed North. There was a lot of orange roads and blue sky for hour upon hour mind you. We are so happy we decided to do this trip. We missed out Ayre’s Rock as it was an extra 500km round trip, the petrol was so expensive out there, it was going to mean an extra day driving, ALOT of extra fuel (who buys a V8 anyway!) and the day was overcast so we made a joint decision to skip it which was just as well as the car would have broken down way out that way.
The job is cool, we’ve made lots of friends and we’ve already been promoted! Stu is now driving tractors which are run by GPS and they squirt paint out where the trees are to be planted, but as the computer isn’t that smart, myself and a lovely Canadian traveller Danica are the line-marker girls. We have somehow fallen into really important jobs and we line up all of the marks and make sure the tractor is in the right position for the start of each row. It’s hot hot hot working in the blazing sun for at least 8 hours a day and I have felt a bit melty at times, but we are drinking a power of water all of the time. It’s crazy how much you drink before you even pee. Sorry I’ve mentioned pee two (now three) times in this email. How inappropriate!
We have already made it to overtime rates this week so we will be making good money here! Stu’s happy as he has made lots of fishing fanatic friends.
It feels so alive here, the wildlife is thriving, wallabies and birds, bugs, turtles, crocs, fish…it’s buzzing with life and it’s really cool.“