This is the final part of an article I wrote for my college paper a few years ago…
Day two: Crossing the Northern Territory…
Early next morning it was on to Adels grove. The shower was a bucket, and a raft placed in the lake provided the entertainment. The innocent fun was admired by an old couple who obviously thought we were all insane. After I had recklessly agreed to body surfing down the river, which had a very strong current but judging by the cuts and bruises no depth, we visited the beautiful Lawns Hill Gorge (Boodjamulla). We had a ‘barbie’ and though the food sustained a slight dust covered sensation it tasted truly amazing.
After dinner we hired a canoe to get the best views along the gorge. Three girls, who had never rowed before, a river with crocodiles (obviously saltwater) and a plastic boat hardly buoyed my confidence but on we paddled. It was surreal to be surrounded by so much magnificent nature and aboriginal rock art rather than the text books and computers of university.
We arrived in Croydon to the Club Hotel only to find it was the biggest night of their year, The Croydon Country Music Festival. Famous singers from around Australia came to perform for free, just to be in on the atmosphere. The tour brochure had advertised a ‘spectacular sunset’ but this was neglected as we were propping up the bar. The good nature of the owners and attendants there amazed me; I was never without a drink.
A few too many kind-hearted gestures later and I was invited to the microphone to sing ‘Country Roads’ in front of the professionals and enthusiasts of Australia’s Country music scene. The party was outrageous and extreme; we partied till dawn and only slept when we passed out.
The next morning was rough. I felt like I had walked through the desert, not travelled on a luxury bus. Every bump, and there were many, felt like the Bundaberg whisky was on its way back up. Back in the bus we carried on through the Gulf Savannah region. The extreme change in landscape and vegetation was apparent as we entered the tropical Athetin Tablelands of Queensland. I was ordered by Greg to take a glacial cold dip to sober up at Millstream falls, better known as the waterfall off the famous herbal essences advert. The bucolic Northern Territory was so far detached from the civilisation I had left behind. But is living to work, consumerism and western greed civilised?
At the start of the trip it was hard to understand why people went to humdrum homesteads for two-week holidays. By the end I wished I was there for longer. Four days really only touched the surface of what the Australian Outback was about. Tranquillity, goodwill, passion and friendship were easy to find in this breathtakingly wild and beautiful place.
When to go
The trip from Darwin to Cairns departs on Fridays. It may also be done the other way round from Cairns to Darwin departing on Saturdays.
The tours run weekly from April to November (dry season) and then fortnightly from December to March (wet season). Monsoonal influences during the wet season can lead to cyclones and typhoons.
The temperature remains fairly constant throughout the year, around 32c in the day and as low as 2c at night.
These range from £200, this includes all your meals while you are on the trip; four picnic lunches with snacks and fruit on the bus. Also included are three nights accommodation with cooked dinners.
A beer in the Northern Territory costs around $5/£2. To rent a canoe was $15 (£6) between three of us.
The Northern Territory is huge, it covers about one sixth of the Australian continent and is equal to the combined areas of France, Italy and Spain. Despite its size, the Top End represents less than two percent of Australia’s population.