Cairns to Darwin – Day 3 (2850km later)

*SPLAT*

*SPLAT*

Time for the final stint. I woke and had a simple breakfast of very bad cereal. What country would allow Sugar Puffs without the sugar onto the market? It’s like grains of polystyrene only more tasteless. And I bought it by accident.

Orienting myself again using the sun, shadow positions, bird flight patterns, and the road signs I began the long trip north. I remembered the details from my bus trip a couple of years ago. There are really only two directions to go from here and one of them’s the wrong one.

The road up to Darwin is incredilby straight in places. Actually, the east/west Flinders Highway is the same. It’s especially bizarre at night. In the distance you see some headlights so you dip yours. The other vehicle reciprocates. Then sometime around the following Tuesday you finally pass each others.

These roads are long. And straight. A bend is a major event to be celebrated with fanfares and – in extreme cases – waking the driver up. Especially so when you’re in an automatic with cruise control.

This is the first time I’ve ever had a use for cruise control. I had it on one of my old Golfs but it’d just pointless in the UK as there’s too much traffic. As soon as you get your speed level, someone cuts you up or you hit a queue. Here, however, there’s knack all traffic. Two cars in five minutes is gridlock.

Thankfully, the day passed quickly enough. I stopped for lunch at Newcastle Waters, fuel in more places than I can remember and at Daly Waters‘ wonderful pub for a (light) beer where I talked to a couple of holidaymakers from the UK.

Quick stop

Quick stop

I did make one other stop to fill up from the large canisters I’d had stored in the van. In a bid to ensure I didn’t run out somewhere in the middle of nowhere – and also to save cash in case I hit the $750 limit – I’d filled these up in Cairns. Moving the fuel from the canisters to the tank in the van proved to be fiddly for a one-person job and only a small amount of the diesel want on my clothes.

It is a useful idea if you’re going to drive around here to get a large canister like this and fill it at each cheap place. Use it to top up before you resort to the expensive fuel pumps. The fuel price can be as much as 40c per litre dearer (maybe more) at the roadhouses than in larger cities. For the record, Katherine has cheap fuel, as do Darwin and Mt Isa. Filling up in Katherine should get you to Darwin.

So finally I came within sight of Darwin. I contacted Katie and she told me she lived just south of the city – just off the exit I was about to reach, as luck would have it. I met her at McD‘s and followed her back to her house where I met her other half, the neighbours and – as the night went on – a handful of her friends.

Beers were drunk, plans made, food eaten, puppies played with and – eventually – blog posts typed up.

Great watering hole

Great watering hole

As Katie’s moving house very shortly, she’s cancelled their home internet so I don’t have full-time access. However, I know I’ve got a lost of things to sort before I go and they’re all in my to-do list!

It’s now approaching midnight. I have a comfy fold-down bed and I’ve enjoyed a nice hot shower. I’m looking forward to a decent snooze and a relaxing day out tomorrow.

And someone else is doing the driving.

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