Doing Darwin Week 4.

  • Week 4.
  • 1/07/21 to 7/07/21
  • Day 22 to 28.
  • Comm Tower 50km NE of Kalkarindji to Darwin, Northern Territory.
  • 940kms (total since home, 5030kms).
  • Cover photo, Jenny and Will strike the pose, that’s the Darwin Casino between our heads in the background where we both worked for a year back in 1991, many great memories. Darwin has changed considerably since those carefree days.

25/07/21… Hi everyone, once again we’re into our daily travel routine. Where are we now ? I can say somewhere in tropical North Queensland on a beach with thousands of other travellers, enjoying the sun, warmth, swaying palm trees and living the dream.

Everything is going good and team wiljen continue to keep a low profile and avoid attracting attention to ourselves to the best of out ability. We have just started week 7 of our journey which means we’re not far from the halfway point time wise of this 4 month epic see Australia during year two of a declared pandemic tour.

Jenny and I are curious as to what comes next, maybe we will need to become Queenslanders or Northern Territorians if we are refused access home. Who knows it’s all part of living life. Just adapt, overcome and thrive. 

This blog post is very dot point orientated but you’ll get the gist of our first week travelling through the Northern Territory. 

Yesterday, 10 points if you can guess which beach.

Day 22, Thursday, Date: 1/07/2021

From to where: Kalkarindji Comms Tower roadside camp to Top Spings.

Distance: 120kms

Accumulated Distance: 4209kms

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $: 120

Litres: 60L, @ $2.00 per litre

Accom type & cost: $25p/n Top Springs Roadhouse/Hotel camp ground.

Grocery Food $: 6 bread 

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $: 90 take away , + $35 bar + $17 =  $142

Other $: 50 dinner at Top Springs 

Day Total $: 343

Rolling Total $: 2590

Gopro footage:  GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: warm southerly wind, 30C sunny.

Notes: 

“Government created Covid Restrictions put us into a holding pattern”.

The one and a half hour time change didn’t mess with our circadian rhythm to badly, still got up early. By WA time it would have been 6am we were on the road by 9.30 NT time. Only 120kms today along single lane bitumen to Top Springs. Once there we pulled in front of the high flow truck diesel pump at 11am. The price is what our expected travel fuel average cost will be at $2 per litre. Extremely isolated out here with no Telstra phone coverage (there is Optus) the price seems reasonable due to the isolation.

After chatting with Lyle the manager we book into the small grassy camping area out the back, the Hotels primary focus is room accommodation so the campground is basic but adequate, power and washing machines are all included for you $25p/n fee, there is also a functional camp kitchen. We took the opportunity to fully charge up all batteries for the first time in 3 weeks. Washing of clothes and sheets was due so Jenny took care of getting that task completed. Topped up our water tank which was down to 60L, last time that was filled was Broome. Tried to gather information on Covid restrictions. No one seems to know or care what’s going on.

We had the Top Springs camp ground all to ourselves which Rodgie enjoyed.

After discussions between ourselves it appears that the chance to visit Max and Karen in Darwin is rapidly diminishing. We badly need up to date  Covid restriction information for Northern Territory and Queensland. Most likely (going on past experience) if we visit Darwin, presently a declared hot spot within the next two weeks we either won’t be allowed into Queensland or we will have to quarantine for 2 weeks on arrival. We’re doing our utmost to dodge that outcome. 

The current plan is to avoid Katherine get back on the dirt roads, this time the famous Buchanan Highway which is 183kms of gravel road regularly pounded by triple road train cattle trucks. “Just when we thought we were getting a reprieve from driving on “dirt”. Head for Daly Waters on the Stuart Highway which has good phone reception and work out our next move from there. If we can visit Darwin and then head unencumbered into Queensland we’ll do that, accepting some back tracking. If not then we continue east along the Savannah Way to Queensland.

For the first time this tour we had beers and dinner at the Top Springs Pub, must be some sort of record ! Oh and we also spotted our first Cane Toad, they are so ugly, it was huge and Rodgie was going bezerk, it eventually hopped away. Finally my back strain is starting to feel better and barely hurts, guess it’s taken 10 days to come good.

First pub meal for the trip, I had wild barramundi which tasted great. Top Springs.

~~~~~~~~

Day 23, Friday, Date: 2/07/21

From to where:  Top Springs to Daly Waters, Hi-Way Inn Roadhouse.

Distance: 230km (180km on dirt)

Accumulated Distance: 4439

Cycling Y/N, KMs:

Fuel $: 80 @ 168.9cpl

Litres: 47 (20 litres per 100km)

Accom type & cost: $28 powered site with 2 free drinks at Pub.

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $: 102, block of Beer ($90), 2x schooners ($12)

Other $:

Day Total $: $210

Rolling Total $: 2800

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: 

Weather: 29C windy, SE, Sunny.

Notes:

“Lockdowns mess with our plans and heads”.

  • Travelled the Buchanan Highway.
  • Daly Waters Inn packed with people and only 3G phone reception.
  • Walked Rodgie in bush.
  • Went back to Hi-Way Roadhouse. Good 4G not as full but still busy.
  • Dinner at the Hi-Way Inn Pub, with 2 complimentary beers.
  • Decided to risk going to Darwin tomorrow.
  • Met Neil and Trina from Melbourne,Trucking business owners.
  • Turned into a late night.
Crammed into the caravan park at the back of Hi-Way Inn, Daly Waters, NT.
Hi-Way Inn, Daly Waters, NT. Corner of the Stuart and Carpentaria Highway.. it’s pretty good !

~~~~~~~~

Day 24, Saturday, Date: 3/07/21

From to where: Daly Waters (Hi-Way Inn) to Edith River (West of Hwy)

Distance: 318km

Accumulated Distance: 4758km

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $: 64 @ 149.7cpl Puma Truck Stop south end of Katherine.

Litres: 43L  = 15.5 litres per 100kms.

Accom type & cost: FREE, Edith River, old Darwin Road.

Grocery Food $: 16

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: 76

Rolling Total $: 2876

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather:  29C, SE winds, fine and sunshine.

Notes:

“Travelling north along the crowded Stuart Highway”.

Australian Kapok Flower at Edith River, NT.
  • Departed 9.30am, arrived 2.30pm. Walked Rodgie in the morning,
  • All free camping areas are busy.
  • Tried to recalibrate the trailer brakes for the second time in two days, appears we have been successful.
  • Decided on Edith River old Darwin Road free camp busy but we parked way out the back. Saw a medium sized snake.
  • Met Xavier, from Melbourne at camp , 23yo travelling solo in a Fiat Van.
I didn’t take hardly any photos today, though I did take heaps of video. Believe me the Edith River free camp was actually very nice but busy. Here we are set up away from the crowd for the night.

~~~~~~~~

Day 25, Sunday, Date: 4/07/21

From to where:  Edith River to Darwin.

Distance: 272kms

Accumulated Distance: 5030kms

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $:

Litres:

Accom type & cost: Free, Karen and Max’s driveway. Coconut Grove.

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $: 14 at Adelaide River

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: 14

Rolling Total $: 2890

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: 28C max, strong SE tail wind.

Notes: “Fun times in Darwin”.

Jenny exercises Rodgie dog at Adelaide River, NT.

Departed at 9.20am and just headed to Darwin. We did stop for a short break at Adelaide River. Arrived at Karen, Max and Tilly’s place at 1pm. They live in Coconut Grove in an older but nice small house, with a pool. Great to catch up but as usual on the first night of a catch up with Max I consumed to many beers 😐 

Coconut Grove, Darwin, NT. Not a bad spot to park the camper for a few nights.

~~~~~~~~

Day 26, Monday, Date: 5/07/21

From to where: Darwin stop over.

Distance: 0

Accumulated Distance: 5030kms

Cycling Y/N, KMs: 16kms on both Surly’s 

Fuel $:

Litres:

Accom type & cost: Free, driveway

Grocery Food $: 12

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $: 63, brunch at a cafe

Day Total $: 75

Rolling Total $: 2965

Gopro footage: no, having a break

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: fantastic, 28C, Sunny.

Notes: “Cycling Darwin”.

Caught up on some travel chores, washed clothes, washed outside of Landcruiser for first time ever. Washed Rodgie’s outdoor mat. Jenny did online book work, I also took the bikes off the camper, cleaned them and lubed the chains.

Then Max, Jenny and I went for a bike ride, north east along the coast, we stopped at a local cafe for late breakfast. Darwin currently has “wear masks in public” Covid restrictions, so dug out some manky masks to wear. When cycling we didn’t bother as that is classified exercise.

Enjoyable casual day, discovered we still love Darwin !

Max and Will following the rules for once.

Covid” Jenny and Max. Nightcliff, Darwin.

~~~~~~~~

Day 27, Tuesday, Date: 6/07/21

From to where: Darwin 

Distance: 0

Accumulated Distance: 5030

Cycling Y/N, KMs: 28kms around Darwin.

Fuel $:

Litres:

Accom type & cost: Free

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $: 41, Lunch/Drinks at Kim’s, Darwin Wharf.

Day Total $: 41

Rolling Total $: 3006

Gopro footage: GP8, cycling Darwin.

DJI Drone Footage: 

Weather: 31C SE wind, sunny 28C overnight.

Notes: “Checking out Darwin CBD by Bicycle”.

Jenny follows Max through the MIndal beach area heading towards the Darwin CBD.

Max took us for a cycle tour along the coast, past the Casino and into the city centre. When we stopped we were required to wear masks as part of the NT government Covid requirements.

It’s all a bit daft and senseless. At restaurants no need to wear a mask, exercising no mask but the rest of the time inside and out you must wear a mask and sign into business premises you go to.

It was an excellent ride, Tilly cooked a lovely vegetarian mushroom dinner.

Tomorrow Max and Karen both have to work so we’ll start preparing for our departure on Thursday.

Jenny and Max take a quick break in the Darwin city centre. Turned into a 28km ride on a 31C day.
Not quite the Darwin we remember from the early 1990’s . The waterfront area.

~~~~~~~~

Day 28, Wednesday, Date: 7/07/21.

From to where: Darwin (day 4, last full day).

Distance: 3km

Accumulated Distance: 5030

Cycling Y/N, KMs: 0

Fuel $:

Litres:

Accom type & cost:

Grocery Food $: 235 +$50 meat. We cook dinner for 6.

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $: 160

Other $: 70 Luci solar lamps x3, great night time camping addition.

Day Total $: 515

Rolling Total $: 3521

Gopro footage: no

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: same as usual 30C, SE wind, fine and sunny.

Notes: “Preparing for moving on”.

While Max and Karin are back at work, Jenny and I commence preparations for tomorrow’s departure. We have volunteered to cook everyone dinner, including Tilly (Karen’s 25yo daughter) and Deb from down the street (Karen’s friend). 

My first job for the day is to walk Rodgie to the Coconut Grove beach, now that proved interesting. There isn’t a dedicated path there, just a foot worn track through thick mangrove swamp for about a kilometre. You are keeping an eye open for snakes and crocs wondering when you will finally reach the beach. 

After about 15 minutes just when I’m starting to feel nervous and maybe a little lost a man with his dog walking in bare feet comes along headed the opposite direction. I ask him “is it much further” he advises me “only another 100 metres, but follow the track too the right”.

Rodgie continues to jump and duck under mangrove roots, the next thing you know we both pop out onto a mud flat. I’m thinking that we’ve been lucky the tide is out as I didn’t even think to check a tide chart. The sea appears to be another 1km walk away so I decide to just throw the ball for Rodgie on the hard packed mud flat before backtracking along the route we took to find the “beach”. 

Coconut Grove Beach.

Upon our return Jenny has completed her morning’s work and we head off in the Landcruiser to the nearest grocery shop to buy dinner for the Darwin crew and supplies for our trip. Later we cook up the pork ribs and a snazzy fresh salad for a nice night of dinner and conversation. Darwin stop over is nearly complete, many thanks too Karen, Max, Tilly and Deb it’s been a worthwhile and memorable stop over… great to catch up with you lot, good job !

It is unlike me not to get a photo of our host Karen, a total fail that I now regret, beautiful , generous lady. You’ll have to wait until a future blog post to see what the charming Karen looks like. Did get a pic of her car.
Cooking up dinner for the Darwin crew. Great bunch of people.

~~~~~~~~

Blog post epilogue:

25/07/21, hi crew, so where are we now in the future world of team wiljen. Well somewhere on the Queensland coast enjoying the good life. Very busy up here and the weather is tops. The nation wide pandemic lockdown has been expanded & increased, getting home to WA at the moment would be very difficult but not impossible. 

Lots of negativity getting around, especially towards people who are bucking the government enforced emergency pandemic laws that have been pushed onto them. It appears people are starting to crack up and the lid is coming off the pressure cooker. The lockdown protests are getting bigger and noise of dissent louder.

The “why aren’t people getting vaccinated” rhetoric is beginning to ramp up now. If you want to get the Covid vaccine do it, once you’re vaccinated you should be protected, right ?! Why would you be concerned if someone isn’t vaccinated, you’re now protected aren’t you ? The argument that people who refuse to get Covid vaccinated are selfish and put us all at risk is nonsensical. The only people they put at risk are themselves and other unvaccinated people. So why is the media and government now vilifying the unvaccinated is it so normal everyday people just point fingers at each other and fight between themselves ? Sounds like we’re getting played.

Keep in mind the vast majority of us have just complied to the government’s Covid response (including Jenny and myself) we’ve all given up our freedoms for the last 18 months initially to help flatten the curve so our Heath Workers and Health System could cope with the influx of sick people. 

Don’t you remember that was the original plan, slow the infection rate, flatten the curve. Then the goal posts were inexplicably shifted and the authorities decided eradication of the virus by using lockdowns and hard borders was the best approach. Meanwhile elite sports people, celebrities, government officials are flying all over the place while the rest of us are shutdown. Planes and cargo ships continue to arrive from other countries. Stopping the virus coming into Australia is no longer possible unless we completely close our borders which we can’t and should not do.

If the powers that be haven’t got their collective act together by now than when will they ? Do they even have enough vaccine for everyone ? Last I heard we’re at less than 12.5% fully immunised (as of the 23/07/21). They say they do have enough shots but why the slow uptake are the other 86.5% of Australian’s anti-vaxers, I don’t think so.

Heaps of other likeminded individuals are out here quietly dissatisfied with the governments response. From what I’m observing it’s hard to manage these financially independent mobile travellers with lockdown measures, they’re a flexible bunch and just go somewhere else on short notice if they look like getting lockdown. 

Do you want to “stay safe” or “live life”, it should be your choice. That is why Jenny and I are out here, travelling, seeing, living. Thanks for reading Will, Jenny and Rodgie dog.

24/07/21, yesterday somewhere in Queensland, the 3 happy travellers.

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