Posted by: Talie Morrison | October 26, 2010

Roadtrip on Steroids!

Ok – so I know I have been a bit lax on my blogging (some of you are contacting me to see if I have fallen off the planet somewhere. Or if the earthquake has swallowed me up…) – so I guess this one will have to be a long one!  Well, at least lots of photos (but that goes with the territory!)  If the photos are not along side the descriptions, I appologize – but when I previewed the post they wouldn’t go in where I put them. Oh, well…

While the earth was still rocking and rolling in Christchurch with aftershocks from the September 4th earthquake, I flew up to Auckland and met up with my friend Dianne.   We then flew to Darwin, Australia.   Now I knew that Australia was big and deserted, but I my first hint was flying 4 hours over desert wilderness!  From Sydney to Darwin, there was nothing below up for most of the way!  Pretty amazing.

Dianne and I had arranged to rent a campervan for the month of touring we planned in Australia.   It was a cute little thing, just a little bit larger than Yanqui, but not much!   The beauty of this camper was that in the back there was a tiny refrigerator and a propane stove.   For me that was a bit of luxury.   Darwin was pretty hot (an inkling of what was to come!) and we drove all over town trying to find some sort of battery operated fans or something that we could use at nights sleeping in the van.   I was totally amazed that in one of the hottest places on the planet, there were NO battery operated fans!   And we spent hours going from place to place!   Oh, well….

It's a BIG place!

Darwin is at the top of the Northern Territory and is just 6 degrees below the Equator.   No wonder it is so hot there!   There were many nights when I really wished we had been able to get some fans!   (So what does a woman in Darwin do when she is having “hot flashes”???)

Little camper van with fridge in back, at one of our typical camping spots (just a little way off the road).

Eating Breakfast with the Mosquitoes!

From Darwin we drove South to Lichfield National Park –  beautiful waterfalls and rivers!   Then we drove to the Mary River for a tour along the river –  with birds, crocodiles, and water lilies!  Then we spent a day in Kakadu National Park.   Those are some of the “must see’s” while touring the Northern Territory.   It was sure hot and muggy and buggy – and I so wanted to jump in the water to cool off – but not swimming with crocodiles!   Not only are there crocodiles in the rivers, but these are salt water crocodiles – so they are even in the ocean!     I guess I would say actually the nights were the worst for the heat- during the day we drove with the AC on, but at night we slept with every window and door open, just hoping for the slightest breeze.   Not only would the breeze cool us off a bit, but it might even blow the bugs out of our sleeping area!

Waterfalls in Lichfield National Park

Amazing - there is NOTHING for miles and miles in every direction!

Bummer - and it is SO HOT I could really use a swim!

Oh, maybe I DON'T want to go for a swim right now!

They really are serious about the dangers of Crocodiles!

Some of the ancient Aboriginal Rock Art

Everything is big over here - even the Water Lilies

Even amongst the heat, there were so many beautiful places!  It was such a mix of desert and wetlands – rainforest and arid next to each other!

From Kakadu, we continued South till we got to Katherine Gorge.   There is so much desert out here – it is so incredible when you find water!   Katherine was beautiful – we even found a place where we could swim at Edith Falls – yea, NO crocodiles!  And then next day we rented kayaks and spent the day kayaking – and I could fall out of the kayak  into the water to cool off when I got too hot!

Edith Falls - YEA - safe swimming!

Katherine Gorge - all the shades of blue!

Now most of you know that I love a “road trip”!   I have often said that a long distance trucker actually lives in me somewhere.   Well this was a road trip like I have never been on before!   We had days and days of driving through nothing!   I mean really nothing!   What showed on the map as a little dot (one would think that was a town) – was only a petrol station, a camp ground and a roadhouse!  So we would just make it from one petrol station to the next before running out of petrol – then fill up and off we went again.  It is very hard to explain – but the word that kept coming up for me was “VAST”!  It is just so big!

Along the way you could see where the Aboriginals have burned off the underbrush.   I had always thought that fire was something that was a problem in the bush of Australia.   But what I have learned is that they burn off the underbrush with small fires and that helps prevent the huge forest fires that are so destructive.   The other thing I hadn’t expected were the termite mounds.   I had seen termite mounds in Africa, but in Northern and Western Australia, they are everywhere!   I kept saying if you could eat termites, there wouldn’t be any hunger in Australia!

This was the view for days and days - straight road. No interstate roads or motorways, just miles and miles of 2 lane road

You can see the burn marks on the trees and termite mounds out there. The burning also helps promote grass growth.

From Katherine we basically drove West till we got to Broome.   We did stop a couple of times – found a great waterfall (and pool to swim in at Emma Gorge). As we neared the border between the Northern Territory and Western Australia, we found out that they would take away any fresh vegies or fruit at the border.   We were able to give some of it away to some people who were heading in the opposite direction.   But they not only took away the few freshies we still had, they also took our banana boxes which we had packed our food into.  They are pretty serious out there!

It took us days of driving to get to Broome.  I loved Broome !  It is on the Indian Ocean and the water is so very blue!   Beautiful!   And there aren’t salt water crocs around there – so I could actually swim in the water.   Yea!   The temperature of the water was perfect – and it was so salty, I could have taken a nap while floating in the water.   Way fun.   We went out kayaking again and were treated to see a mother whale and her calf surfacing not far from us.   And then, THE thing to do in Broome is to ride camels on the beach for sunset.   Well, of course we had to do that!   Very touristy, but also very fun.   Camels are such cool beasts!

Broome - Doesn't that scene look about perfect!

Kayaking in Broome - look at the color of the water!

Hey - Camels are tall!

After a couple of days in Broome, we headed back East.   To save $$ we had agreed to return our rental van to the same place that we rented it from, so we would need to get back to Darwin.

In Western Australia, there are some interesting rock formations call the Bungle Bungles.    Unfortunately to get there you have to go down a dirt road for about 3 hours.   Our little van was good, but not THAT good.   I was really missing GrayJay – a 4 wheel drive vehicle would have been really nice.   There were lots of things that we just couldn’t get to because we didn’t have 4 wheel drive.   Anyway, since we couldn’t drive to the Bungle Bungles, we decided to spring for a plane ride!   So we actually flew over the Bungle Bungles.  Not only were the formations beautiful, but it was awesome to see the country side that we had only seen from our little van.

That's rough country out there - the Bungle Bungles!

Since we had pretty much covered the things that we had wanted to see out here, we figured we had enough time to go down to Ayers Rock which is almost in the middle of Australia.   It would be another 1500 kilometers (one way) but we had the time.   The petrol costs put us over budget, but I was so glad we were able to get down there.

Ayers Rock, or Uluru as the locals call it, is pretty much in the center of Australia.   Miles and miles of flat desert and then there is this huge rock sticking out of the ground!   It is awe inspiring!    When we got to the national park for Uluru, the ranger told us that only 3 to 5% of people who visit the rock get to see it when it is wet.   We we fell in that 3 to 5%!   No sunrise or sunset pics for us.   But that was ok – I was still really happy and felt privileged to even be there!   It is so awe inspiring!    The rains held off long enough that we could walk all the way around the rock, but because of the rains, the hike to the top was closed.   Oh, well…..

I sure look small up there!

Yes, Mr. Tengu made it to Uluru too!

So from Ayers Rock, we headed back to Darwin – another LONG drive.   The center of Australia is having the wettest year they can remember  (I think that is relative though).   But because of all the rain, the desert was really green!   So it was a beautiful drive.   We stopped a couple of places to either go into caves or (happy, happy) to go swimming in some SAFE water!

Once back in Darwin, we remembered how how it could get!    Our last day, we decided to go to the “mall” (haven’t been in one of those for awhile!).   We knew there were some computers in the mall, and Dianne and I wanted to download our photos so we could share them.   And the Mall was air conditioned!   Yea.   But there really wasn’t any “yea” about it, because while we were in the mall and our little van was parked in the covered mall parking lot, someone broke into the van and stole my pack.  Oh, No!   And wouldn’t you guess that my passport was in it!  Aargh!!!!   So even with lots of mall security guards, police, etc., what was gone, was gone.   (Am I missing a lesson here or something?)   So here we go again – I had to go to Sydney (we were flying there that night anyway) but instead of going on to Auckland with Dianne – I had to stay in Sydney and get a new passport.   The US Gov Passport Agency isn’t very happy with me – that’s two passports in 10 months that have been stolen.   So now I can only get a 1 year passport ..  till I can show that I am a good little citizen again.  Well, I really can’t blame them.

But at least I had a day in Sydney to tour around and see that city.   I was traveling really light (everything but my day pack was stolen) so that was interesting…. but I went to the famous opera house, rode the ferry, and enjoyed the big city for a day.    Then I was back on track (with my new 1 year passport) and now I am back in Christchurch.   And, believe it or not, we are still having aftershocks!

We saw so much and did so much in a month that it is hard to cover it all – but here are more photos:

Now THAT is a termite mound!

Oh, yea - there are snakes in Australia!

A billabong near "Parry Lagoon" and those are Boab Trees

We saw lots of beautiful sunrises and sunsets!

Can't forget these little guys!


Getting ready to fly over the Bungle Bungles

A famous Australian "Road Train" - when you meet one of these on a 2 lane road it almost blows you over! It is actually 4 trailers long! If you want to pass one of these babies be sure you have MILES of clear road. Check out our little van next to it!

Can't forget the Kookaburras either!

And then there was Sydney....



  1. Nice rendition of our road-trip – Thanks Talie for sharing this part of the world with me.

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