Letho's Blog

The Wild, Wild East

by on Jul.21, 2011, under The East Coast

Jul 19, 2011

The next three days meant basically only one thing: driving – to get to the East Coast as fast as possible. Again the long and boring route via the Barkly and Flinders Highways, more than 2000 kilometers through a lot of nothing. It was already horrible the last time when we did this in December 2010. Only this time we approached Tennant Creek from the north.

In Mataranka we quickly hopped into the naturally hot springs, the Mataranka Thermal Pool. We were lucky and could even sell our still valid Kakadu NP entry passes for half the price. 😉

On the long way down to Tennant Creek there is not a lot to see, except for a few funny roadhouses. We stopped at the Pink Panther Roadhouse where there is not only a big Pink Panther, but one of the „Australian Big Things“ as well: the Big Darwin Stubby! Honestly, we learned about it afterwards and didn’t even recognize it as a Big Thing. We only wanted a picture of the Pink Panther! 🙂

A few looks at the zoo behind the pub and the local museum (an old telegraph station with some local history) and we were on the road again. Next stop: Daly Waters Roadhouse.

This one is famous for its notoriously wild and alcohol-rich parties. You get an impression of that already by looking at all the bras hanging over the counter. Another habit is for travellers to leave a note, or a business card: so did we – a handwritten note. Hopefully it stays there for a long time. 🙂

At the Renner Springs Roadhouse we once again tried to repair the car.

Mysteriously the petrol system had stopped working after it was working fine for a few hundred kilometers throughout the Kakadu NP where we could not get autogas. We made it to Tennant Creek luckily. Unable to find a room in a hostel we had to bite the apple and get back to the Lake Mary Ann out of town for some wild camping.

Jul 20, 2011

We had been here at Lake Mary Ann already as well the last time for a bath back in December 2010. This time it was freezing cold, though.

We made it into Tennant Creek, trying to find a mechanic who would look into our car problems. We didn’t want to take the risk and go all the way east on autogas only. What if only one of the roadhouses could not deliver autogas to us? We would be stranded in the middle of nowhere, unable to drive further on petrol.

Aboriginal mural in Tennant Creek

Aboriginal mural in Tennant Creek

After some asking around we found someone who exchanged a part (selenoid lock). A few kilometers of test-driving later we thought it worked, but only made it out of town. We creeped back into the city where suddenly both petrol and gas stopped working and hence were stuck on the side of the road. Stranded – at least in Tennant Creek. 🙁

Some fiddling around with wires later the gas kicked in again, why so we will probably never know. By now we had called all the roadhouses on the way to assure autogas was available.

We passed the Three Ways Roadhouse and the Barkly Homestead.

In the early evening we finally crossed the border from the Northern Territory to Queensland, stopping in Camooweal.

From here only 200 kilometers to Mount Isa. Last time we spent the night here in a terrible hostel, this time we were far better off and could stay with a CouchSurfing host.

Jul 21, 2011

Only 900 kilometers to go to Townsville, and still a boring and dull road. On these highways you will find abandoned cars like this one every now and then:

It’s not worth towing and repairing them, so some people illegally leave them where they are. Others even are brave enough to bicycle all the long way.

The „lollipop man“ doesn’t see bicyclists here too often, we reckon.

After passing Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Hughenden ..

.. and Charters Towers we arrived in Townsville late in the evening, to our delight at a CouchSurfing host again.

Not knowing beforehand we took a picture of the dinosaur, see above. Guess what: it’s another Big Thing as well – The Big Dinosaur! 😉

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