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Travel reports

Red sand

We are now in Darwin, our last stop in Australia.
We during the last few days we brought ourselves from the 34th southern latitude to the 12th.

A large part of the route between Port Augusta on the south coast of Australia and Darwin on the north coast has been done using the Stuart Highway. This is the main road connecting between the south coast and north coast going through the center of Australia.

Just after leaving Port Augusta there was a sign on the road: Alice Springs: 1221 km.
Once there, one has not even made half the distance to Darwin.

On the way we didn’t want to miss the chance of having some off-road adventures in the center of Australia.
Using our “Camps 7”, both a kind of road map and camping bible for whole Australia, we figured out a route. But frist, we wanted to bring some of the great distance behind us and therefore left South Australia quickly towards the north. We passed Coober Pedy, a town already familiar to us from our trip in 2010. The ‘opal capital of Australia’ as Coober Pedy is called is home to numerous abandoned and operating mines. Furthermore one can live underground as the mine workers used to do it decades ago. Also, we meet more and more on Aborigines. They are easy to recognize by their very dark skin, often thin legs and wide noses. Due to his "moon-like" landscape (flat light rock deserts without any plants) Coober Pedy also was filming location for numerous movies from the 80s and 90s.

1221 km til Alice Springs
Rest area near Coober Pedy
Old mine near Coober Pedy

The more closer we come to the center of Australia, the higher are the fuel prices. The most expensive petrol we had seen was sold for 2.40 Australian dollars per liter. These are about 1.65 € ... hmm ... we're already in Germany? That was quick - probably the plate at the hostel in Port Lincoln must have told nonsense. ;)

To gain some more off-road experience without only seeing bare desert but getting something worth to see, we decided to drive to the little village called ‘Finke’. To get there we turned off the Stuart Highway shortly behind the border between South Australia and the Northern Territory and later navigated along the "Old Ghan Road", which originally was a path of Aborigines along present water veins and where later the first railway line between Adelaide and Alice Springs was built.

Parts of our chosen route are still not found on Google Maps. For us a proof: we have chosen the right way! From the Stuart Highway we went to Finke first driving easily on a wide flat gravel road. You can imagine the grin on the driver's face for sure ...

With up to 140 km / h on the road it was the same driver of course also took his chance for testing his experiences gained at his ‘BMW M Drift driver training’ in 2012 in Germany. Good thing the car has so many handles to hold.

On the way, we turned off onto a small sandy path, the makes his way through between closely spaced bushes and sparse trees up to "Lambert's Centre of Australia", the center of Australia which is declared as official by the Australian Government.

Enrico on the Finke Road
Car wrack near Finke Road
Lambert's center of Australia

Two short sections of the stage can be seen in the previous video.

The Old Ghan Road runs along the western boundary of the Simpson Desert. The red earth which is typical for Central Australia prevailed everywhere. And the lots of abandoned vehicles with their rust colors we have seen along the road fitted perfectly in the whole vista. Meanwhile, much further north than at the beginning of the tour, we have already achieved daytime temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius. Snakes or even larger iguanas or such as the Thorny Devil unfortunately we did not get to face. Which probably was because it is simply too cold for them.

In Alice Springs we freshened to all inventories and freed the car from the red desert sand, which found its way into the most complicated places inside the car after our tour. Everyone knows the face of a man who, armed with a high pressure cleaner, cleans his car ...

For two reasons we skipped going to Uluru (Ayers Rock): on the one hand we were already there in 2010 and the other one was a bad weather forecast for that day. Furthermore, after getting a feedback from the cargo company in Darwin there was the opportunity to take an earlier ferry.

Back on the Stuart Highway we left Alice Springs to the north. Here Enrico came to enjoy a test project by the police, after which a 200 km long section between Alice Springs and Barrow Creek shows no speed limit. For one year the police is testing here whether and how this affects the accident statistics. With wistful look on fuel consumption, it was up to me from time to time to curb Enrico again at pace.

On the way we passed the Tropic of Capricorn. From here it is a straight line of 2609 km to the equator. In about one and a half month we will cross it.

The closer we got to Darwin, the warmer it was at daytime, but also on nighttime.
Hello Mosquitoes - how we have missed you. We try to see it positive: it saves going to the blood donation ...

A beautiful sight on our route north of Alice was the "Devil's Marbles". This is a formation of thousands of granite rocks, which provided an opportunity for numerous photos. At the rest stop, where we spent the following night, we heard dingoes howling at night.

A persistent problem in the last 600 km to Darwin were birds of prey on the road. These kept sitting on the road – being deep in feeding on other dead animals - often until the last second before a car was approaching them. Often we had to get on the brakes, as Enrico was interested in keeping the windshield alive while I was in the animals.

Old Ghan Road near Finke
Devil's Marbles
Bush fire

Arrived in Darwin, we went on a long lasting search for a free place on a caravan park, as it is peak season now. After 3 fully booked parks and two rejections, since we sleep in the car and this does not meet the visual requirements, we have now found a place and our first stop was now a mechanic. While having an oil change and the front brakes be done we used the time ant went to the city for last errands.

Road Train
Colorful bird

The preparations for the crossing of Myanmar continue to run at full speed. We currently would be six to eight people for the shared crossing. Next to us British, Dutch, another German and an Indian would be with it. Thus, we can save even more money and use this for shopping! Again, Enrico is rolling with the eyes! ;)

On Monday, July 7th, we will deliver the car to the shipping operator after seeing customs. From here the car will be shipped to Dili. We will stay in a hostel for one more night in before we have to say: "Good Bye Australia" and "Oi lá Timor-Leste". Also, in recent weeks we have learned that there may be a delay in shipping. We now hope that we do not have to wait too long for our car and quickly can start exploring East Timor. But Dili itself also has a lot to offer. Boredom is not expected to arise.

But before our second trip stage starts, we enjoy the time and yes, a bit of nostalgia will also come up since we are already on our 2nd working holiday visa and there is no chance to apply for another one. But if we want to have traveled to all countries in the world in lifetime, we must and will now continue. Remoteness is calling!

With Timor-Leste (East Timor) for us the journey is now at its real beginning. Car and drivers are ready!