Wow our arrival on Tiwi was more than we expected in so many ways. The land was more pristine than I had imagined and the Tiwi people extremely generous in welcoming us on to their land.
Our first few nights saw us in an extremely remote location on Melville Island at Goose Creek. The land where we pitched our tent for the first few nights was on our host’s country. Bushy has become both our friend and family looking out for us from day one as we adjust to life on virgin land. Goose Creek is teaming with crocodiles, buffalo, wild geese, fish, dingos, wild horses and bird life. Words escape me to express the shock of coming from the suburbs in Melbourne to a life that still appears to be wild and free. On day one all my fears that I would be in close contact with Crocs came to fruition. Our camp site only meters from the river edge where Bushy nieces camped close by for the first couple of night saw seven crocs just off the banks. In the evenings the family after a day of hunting would feed the crocs the geese wings and necks on the banks in the hope that they would not venture up to our camp site. One evening the girls took us to the river’s edge to look for crocs with touches as their eyes light up orange from the light. In the moon lit sky we could see two crocs fighting and hear their powerful jaws crunching as they were thrashing around. Thank goodness we have a roof tent is all I could think. Our evenings would be filled with the occasional sounds of a croc splashing and their jaws coming together as they eat their prey. As I said Wow is the best description to use when expressing my introduction to the Tiwi Islands. Please see picture below.
We farewell our 4WD and River Spirit at Sea Swift’s depot in Darwin; destination Pirlangimpi in Melville Island. There is an unexpected delay in our passenger ferry service and we will only be able to go to Melville Island on Friday. Thank goodness our 4WD and boat will be in the good hands of the Tiwi Islands Regional Council’s depot waiting for us on Friday.
This gives us time to explore Darwin in greater depth. Below are some pictures of our time in Darwin. To get a better perspective and in preparation for croc awareness and safety, we head to a crocodile ‘farm’ to see first-hand what they can look like and what they are capable of. They do look menacing especially the giant ones. We will definitely keep a minimum 5 meters from any water way and watch where we are going as they camouflage very easily into the natural surroundings.
There were so many raptors on this journey. Most common is the Black Kite, flying so effortlessly and scooping down on prey. Even the magnificent Wedge-tailed Eagle was seen many times and once Kiam had to brake and toot the car horn to scare it off from the centre of the road (it was eating road kill). They are not as agile and fast as the Black Kite due to their size and its no wonder we saw the remnants of one on the road. Drivers should slow down but the speed limits on the Stuart Hwy are limitless on some stretches and 130km/hr for most of the way; making it difficult and dangerous to swerve or brake suddenly.
We arrived at our final leg on the Explorer’s Way (Stuart Hwy) in Darwin. We took the opportunity to head to the Mindil Beach Sunset Market and watched the sun go down over the horizon.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to our trusty 4WD and our boat as they head off first via a barge to the Tiwi Islands. Our passenger ferry will take us there in the next few days. Our survival on the island starts then. Stay tuned in the next few days.
This leg of our journey is one of the longest with over 6 hours of driving. There are now more road kills along the road as we head further up north. It was surprising that there were so little wildlife along the way up to Tennant Creek. But there is more activity now with raptors gliding up around the road waiting for the opportunity to get road kills; which are now mainly kangaroos and wallabies. At a small town, we encountered flying foxes on trees just off the road. We just had to stop to take some photos of them. They are just so cute.
It is also getting consistently hotter and it was a relief when we arrived at Mataranka. This place is known for its thermal springs and we took the opportunity to soak in the pools to sooth our achy bones. Dianne (with her MS) does not travel well with constant pain and cramps in a siting position. The weightlessness of the thermal pools was such a welcome relief for her.
Interesting drive up from Alice Springs. We stopped Aileron to see the giant the Anmatjere Man but was treated with another giant sculpture the Anmatjere Woman and Child both created by artist Mark Egan.
We later stopped at Australia’s very own UFO center at Wycliffe Well. Very interesting artwork and news articles.
Our last stop before Tennant Creek is Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve. Kiam and Dianne showed off their supernatural skills acquired after the alien encounter. We will leave the pictures to tell the story. Tomorrow we head to Mataranka – another long drive.
This is our day of rest at Alice Springs. We spend the day at the beautiful and majestic Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges relaxing in the gorges. This area is also home to the Larapinta Trail for walkers. Pity we only had a day there as it would require a few days to really enjoy this area.
Driving through the red center has taken a toll on us and we decided to slow down and drive a shorter trip and stop over at Marla. It was a beautiful drive nevertheless with changing landscapes. We stopped over at the beautiful Breakaways Conservation Park, a unique arid environment. The movies Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Ground Zero was filmed there. Over the horizon you can just make out the ‘Dog Fence’, a 2m high wire barrier stretches for over 5,300km across three States, to protect the sheep from the Dingo. Over the fence, the desert-like moonscape with its fossilised shells, grey, soft clay dirt and cracks that appear to be bottomless, has been nicknamed the ‘moon plain’ and was the scene for the Red Planet movie. It was wet so the roads were closed and we did not get up close to the fence and the moon plain.
We were greeted by this beautiful sunrise above the magnificent Flinders Ranges on our drive up north through the Explorer’s Way (Stuart Hwy). Interesting stops on roadhouses until we reached the unique opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Our motel was underground an a dugout – a very unique and interesting experience. Very sustainable with very constant temperatures regardless of outside conditions which can be very harsh. We looked at a number of attractions and one stood out, the inspiration for Crocodile Dundee which was Crocodile Harry’s Underground Nest.
Finally left home and on our way to the Tiwi Islands. An early morning. Up at 4.30 a.m. and on the road by 6.00 a.m. with our Croc and Barramundi tied to the roof of our car. A group of grey nomads amused when we stopped in Beaufort for a coffee break.
Our props drawing the attention we were hoping for in being a conversation opener in sharing our fundraiser with others along the way.
Now resting in Bordertown where we will spend our first night. No dramas on day one. Off to dinner tonight with an early start on day two.