Australia.

From Darwin I travel by Greyhound bus, making 3 stops before I reach Alice Springs.

First up is Katherine, my impression of which is; very freaking hot (like over 40+ Celcius), very freaking dusty and swimming at night in hot springs that may or may not have freshies in them (that’s fresh water crocodiles to you non-Australian people) also expensive and bad beer. I visit Katherine Gorge, Yup, it’s big and beautiful but being dry season we can’t go as far up it as I would like. I’m tempted to splurge on a helicopter tour of it but just can’t quite justify the expense.

Next is Mataranka homestead. Set in the middle of nowhere with no public transport to get in or out, I’m kinda stuck here. Its redeeming feature is hot springs though they are surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of bats. Both day and night (and especially at dusk) they fly overhead, squeaking and rustling the trees. Its other redeeming feature is the owner who takes pity on me and introduces me to his semi-wild kangaroo which he has raised from when it was small due to it having been orphaned. Its orphan state is probably due to its mother dying under the wheels of some ridiculous road train type vehicle. (A road train is a series of big trailers all linked together, usually 3 or 4 trailers long and carrying cattle. They can get away with this here because the roads in the Northern Territories are unerringly straight.) In any case I get to feed this little guy and he likes to hold onto your arm while you hold the cup with his grains. It’s a little nerve wracking once I see the length of his nails but really cool. This kindly (if slightly drunk) gentleman also takes me to see other hot springs about 12 kms away and we visit the “town” which consists of a roadhouse and a bar, both of which he owns.

I stop in Tennent Creek, I’m hoping to find a tour to take me to see the Devils Marbles. According to Lonely Planet the one hostel in town arranges these tours. However upon arrival I discover that they have stopped doing so, hence I am stuck in this nowhere town on a Sunday (Sunday in the NT is like Sunday at home 50 years ago, NOTHING is open) . So with absolutely nothing to do for 24 hours while I wait to catch the next available bus out of town I freely utilize the only decent Internet I will find anywhere in Australia.

Arriving in Alice Springs I book a tour to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) right away, I’ll be leaving the next morning for 3 days and 2 nights of camping and exploring.

A few random (and some quite obvious) observations…

–          Beer is WAY more expensive here than I thought it would be. IE: a six pack of a microbrew (imagine Granville Island quality beer) is around $20 AUD ( the Canadian dollar is almost at par)

–          The distances I traveled are huge. I didn’t really realize quite how big this country was until I sat on buses for hours and hours and hours in a row and the landscape never seemed to change.

–          The Northern Territory accent is a wee bit tricky at first. I thought they spoke English here?

–          Wallabies basically look exactly like kangaroos, but way smaller, I had no idea.

–          There are altogether way too many things that can kill you painfully in this country.

–          All the food in the gas stations (roadhouses) is deep fried.

–          What we call a liquor or beer store in Canada is called a Bottle Shop or Bottle-O here.

–          Australians seem to seriously downplay the extreme scariness of all the creepy crawlies that can kill you painfully.

–          Crocodiles have very big teeth and should be treated with the utmost respect and caution.

–          People like to drink here. A lot.

–          An “Ute” is a car/pick-up truck. The likes of which I haven’t seen in Canada since the late ‘70s or early ‘80s (when they all had the wood paneling down the sides) but which are very popular here.

–          The mullet lives.

Wallaby baby with Mom.

Wallaby baby with Mom.

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