Creswick to London » Tippety Top End

Tippety Top End

Written by Jess Dan. Posted in Australia

At 1:15pm yesterday in 34 degrees and 72% humidity jess and I made our way into Darwin. Right til the final day we weren’t sure if it would be possible, as my rear tyre had five cuts in it and I had punctured four times the previous day on the road to Adelaide River. Perhaps stupidly we bought two spare schwalbe marathon tyres and decided to leave them with my parents in creswick thinking it would be OK to wait for them to be posted up when needed! So with no tyre to replace, and with all six spares used we got a little bit creative…

Sitting in the pool at Adelaide river we repaired the tubes with about 66% success (were patches better when I was younger?). Then I sliced one of the dud tubes long ways and leccy taped it to the inside of the failing tyre, before inserting a repaired tube, that we had such high hopes for, into the tyre and switching this tyre onto the front wheel. This I figured at least gave the tube a sporting chance of making the 120km still to ride.

And whaddyaknow?! It made it, only puncturing on arrival to the Darwin waterfront. Jess had her first flat of the trip 40km from Darwin and we fixed it no hassles.

Just recapping our last few weeks, we left the Alice on Sunday the 6th Oct after a brilliant picnic with our hosts Laurel and Cal and a bunch of friends. Our friends Rob and Amanda whom we met in Coober Pedy had finally got their car going (but not without some more hassles) and caught back up with us at the picnic too.

A couple of days into the ride we were stopped in the Ti Tree pub for the day when a cyclist came in to buy some milk. Henry had cycled in from Dublin and was enroute to Sydney where his trip would end. He was fast running out of cash so was riding some big k’s to finish the trip quickly. He chugged a litre of milk and had a cigarette and was back on his bike in the middle of the day in 39 degrees. What a trooper. Henry has a pretty interesting blog that we have been following as his route is similar to that which we plan to take over the coming year. Check it out at thelongwaydownunder.com  (And if you are in sydney and can help him out when he gets there maybe shoot him a line). Before he took off henry gave us the toilet key and a tape measure to be returned to Renner Springs when we got there, he’d mistakenly kept them after working there for a week. Well we rode them the 500 odd k’s back up the road thinking at least they would give us a beer or a swim in the pool but nope, they hadn’t changed the locks and still needed that one and only key, but ten bucks a head to have a shower and a swim (we didn’t even ask to stay the night… True outback hospitality…).

Thankfully the day before we had had a wonderful stop in at Banka Banka station where we were met at the gate and offered free accom (this time when we were called ‘crazy’ at least it was accompanied with ‘so we don’t charge cyclists to stay here’). We were even given a bed! That night a tour group came through and had cooked up more steaks, sausauges, potatoes and onion than they could eat while we ate our baked beans on toast, and when they asked us ‘would you like some?’ We must have been very close to tearing their arms off to get at the plate. Extreme budgeting will do this to people! What a great day, true outback hospitality!

We also met a lovely lady, Wendy, at Wycliffe Well (the UFO capital of Australia, err) who was travelling on some extremely remote roads back home to Kununurra from Victoria. She had picked up a French hitchhiker who was along for some of the ride as well. Wendy fed us cherries and made cup after cup of milky tea for us as we talked of travels in distant lands. Wendy even had a cup of tea waiting for us when we got up from the tent in the morning. Don’t worry mum, people are looking out for us everywhere!

We made it back to the shade and comforts of trees when we made it through to Elliot and beyond. After this point we would hear countless birds each morning, including the regular screech of the red tailed black cockatoos. We have also seen buffalo, donkeys, monitor  lizards and some crocodiles.

We spent a day jumping in the thermal Bitter Springs at Mataranka, floating a few hundred metres down to the end, walking back and going again. A great way to pass the time, it was beautiful.

We arrived in Katherine last Thursday and had been offered a place to stay with a friend of my parents friends. Quite an extended connection but I love the awkward moments of meeting new people that have taken a chance and decided to take you in. Andrew, Kate and their youngest son Isaac were amazing hosts. On our first day, Andrew was trying to gauge our plans ‘will you take a scenic flight over the gorge?’, Jess and I looked at each other and laughed and had to say ‘ah, I dont think that’s in our budget this time, unfortunately’. Andrew smiled and said ‘ah, no, I’m, ah, offering!’

We couldn’t believe our luck! The next day we were at the Katherine Airport pumping up the tyres of Andrews own plane (Andrew turned out to be a doctor who works with remote communities in the territory and he got sick of being flown around, so learnt to fly himself to work!). It was windy but just good enough conditions to get up there in the tiny four seater. We flew over the gorge, over town and out to Edith falls. Andrew even handed the controls over ‘can you see the airport?’

‘Ah, yeah’ I lied (I’m not exactly twenty twenty)

‘Great, fly us there’

We drifted up a little before I figured how to dip the nose slightly and got it going towards my best guess at which one was the runway. Andrew took the controls back  before anything actually needed to be tackled thankfully.

The next day Andrew had thirteen people over for dinner and cooked up an absolute storm as Kate made her way back from a conference in Darwin. Andrew made five curries with food from the garden, he is quite a talent.

At midnight we were still out throwing the Frisbee with 16 and a half year old Isaac – he got his full car licence the day we came in. Got to love the territory. Jess and I will go to see Isaacs undefeated AFL team this Saturday up in Darwin.

Again up in Darwin we are staying with friends of friends, the next couple of days we are with the wonderful Kathryn and Luke, friends of my housemates at Watkin St. They cooked steaks for us last night and we managed to leave all arms attached.

Our to do list for the next couple of days is headed with ‘figure out how to get over to Indonesia/east Timor by boat’.

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Comments (3)

  • Scrim Scrilla

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    Great stuff guys. Really loving the updates. Most of me wishes I had the balls to do it with you.

    Reply

  • Stu Austin

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    Nice work. I think everyone has fond memories of puncture repair kits actually working, I think they come from the same section of rose tinted memories as wagon wheels being the size of your head (or maybe that’s just a british thing)!!

    Reply

  • Gret

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    Ditto Scrim
    This is ten tonnes of awesome.
    See you in Thailand!!

    Reply

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