Arriving in Australia it felt somewhat like we’d embarked on the final leg of our journey. But as we pulled South from Darwin we realised that this was a big country… a really big country and, as was repeatedly pointed out by every Aussie we met, we were ‘stupidly’ trying to CYCLE across it!
As it turns out though, despite it’s vastness, Oz is surprisingly manageable to the cycle tourist. Regular free camping grounds with water tanks (and sometimes even toilets!) scatter the highways, as do a nation of elderly camping enthusiasts – the widely-spotted ‘Grey Nomad’ – who are always on hand in their swanky RVs to swap info & to donate food, water or even the odd cold beer! We continue to be consistently amazed to see how the ranks of our ‘Road Angels’ swell!
The space and lack of population is certainly in stark contrast to our last year in Asia, as are the prices of food and accommodation (we’ve paid up to AUS$6 just for a loaf of bread!) but the change in style has been welcome and the ability to converse freely with everyone we meet has allowed us to get a closer understanding of the NT’s distinctive ‘bush’ culture and history.
Not so welcome, aside from the copious amount of flies, has been the steady South Easterly. Known innocently as the ‘Barkley Breeze’, this energy sapping morale killer that we’ve had directly in our faces for nearly 1000kms since turning left onto the Barkley Highway will, we’re assured by sadistically grinning locals, continue to haunt us until the Queensland coast. We fear, with a recently read quote is left ringing in our ears, that they might just be right:
“the disintegrating power of a great wind: it isolates one from one’s kind. An earthquake, a landslip, an avalanche, overtake a man incidentally, as it were – without passion. A furious gale attacks him like a personal enemy, tries to grasp his limbs, fastens upon his mind, seeks to rout his very spirit out of him.”
Joseph Conrad – Typhoon