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Written by Peter Smith   
Thursday, 23 April 2009 12:39
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Day 76: Thursday 6th December - Daly Water to Alice Springs  


The air con in the backpacker room was a complete failure and I regained consciousness in a pool of my own juices. The heat and humidity were unbearable. Much more so than anywhere else we've been to.

The journey to Alice started at 7.30am and it was already causing me to meltdown. Also learned my first important lesson on survival. Went to the loo and as I turned and flushed it a two to three inch long jet black beetle crawled out and fell into the bowl. No problem but it could quite easily have been a Redback. From now on I always lift the toilet seat before sitting.

Within 30 minutes of driving south the scenery changed from tall trees and quite lush terraine to shrubby bushes and arid, semi desert. Hopefully the,however, the humidity levels will fall.

Had a picnic lunch at Mary Ann Dam on route. All went for a swim but the water smelled of earth like a

Alice was a surprise to me, I expected a cross road with a bar and general store, horses and big rough looking, always fighting, comic book residents. In reality it's a town of 22,000 with modern shops and bars etc. We were camping 20 minutes outside the centre of town on the Stuart Caravan Park, so named because of its' proximity to the Stuart Highway the single road stretching from Darwin to Adelaide some 3800 kilometres . Once again the choice was between swags or small tents. Anne decided to go for the tent and avoid insects round her face. I would have gone for the swag, if I snore half as loud as she says no selfrespecting fly would come near me. We arrived latish and got the tent up in no time, had a power shower (pushed me against the tiles) and set off to tonight’s eating place Bojangles. If it is half as good as Daly Waters we’re in for another treat.

When the bus pulled up outside the bar two monsters held the, saloon type, swing doors open and welcomed us in. The inside carried on with the western theme with long benches, beams and a big wood bar selling stock Oz booze: VB (Victoria Bitter), Carlton Bitter, Castlemmaine XXXX and a light premium beer for drivers. I know Australia is upside down but it really does turn things on its head. For instance a premium light is only just over 2% when a premium in the UK would be a strong beer and money gets smaller according to its value e.g. $2 is the smallest coin, $1 is twice as big and a 50 cents is a big clumsy looking coin something like our 50p. As we sat down a dark bold ugly looking bloke came over and explained the situation. He was going away for a few minutes and then coming back to take the order and all the dishes on the menu were $14. The menu was interesting including Kangaroo, Fish & Chips and Lamb Shank, which was my choice. True to his word he was back in a couple of minutes and asked us all to follow him to a counter where he took the orders, gave us a table buzzer which would sound when the order was ready and asked for the money. When Lucinda, usually one of the first in the queue, said we weren't paying he got really shirty and made his way round the counter to throw all 27 of us out single handedly. It was left to me to explain that our leader was paying. This seemed to infuriate him even more and he demanded we brought Leighton to the counter. The food which was ready and waiting, as the buzzer started to vibrate on the wooden table, was better than the night before. My lamb shank was served with well mashed and seasoned potatoes, rich gravy and a salad. Those that had the kangaroo were also impressed. As I started the meal I encountered my first run in with a real Sheila. Anne and myself decided, because the lamb was delicious, to have a glass of Oz Shiraz with it. and as I leaned over the bar to make my order the owner of the three full half pint barrel glasses in front of me and containing something resembling gin or at least clear alcoholic judging by her appearance said 'that's my place'. I should have just moved but instead I explained the situation. My accent immediately provoked a drunken 'where ya from'. My answer didn't help. 'Ya obviously not Australian or ya'd be a gentleman and help me find the green bean I've dropped by the bar'. I was now confronted by a major dilemma. I could play along with her game of taking the piss out of a pomme and letting my tasty lamb go cold or tell her to piss off and cause an ashes type confrontation which I couldn't win. I tried to explain about the food and received another insult about my nationality. I took my head torch from my pocket and shone it at the floor and drew her down 'saying whereabouts did it fall'? Just as she was about to take it one level further the ugly no nonsense barman said to her 'what ya doing?.’ When she explained he said 'piss off back to ya table'. As she walked away carrying the glasses of booz she gave him an I'll get you back for spoiling my fun look, turned to me and said 'thanks for fucking trying'. I rushed back to my lamb feeling I'd been let off lightly thanks to Mr No-nonsense man.

Later I went to the toilet. As I pushed the door handle to enter the doot opened from the otherside as some one came out. Once inside the tap in front of me turned the tap on in the next bowl and the hand dryer started the one next to it. I was beginning to see where Sheila was coming from if the ladies were the same. We decided to leave with the coach and finished the night off drinking wine and whiskey on the campsite with Anne and Noreen. All in all, a good day.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2009 13:24