Australia 2004

This was our second visit to Australia, and we had three objectives. Travel on one of the great rail journeys of the world, The Ghan. See some crocodiles and to revisit Townsville, which had been the great success story of our first visit.

So we landed in Darwin. This was a wise move. Not only was the second leg of the flight from England a lot shorter, but we also decided not to stop over in Singapore. This is a lesson we learned the hard way, get the pain over and done with, trying to mitigate it only makes it worse.

From Darwin, we struck out to Kakadu and litchfield national parks, and also went to have a look at the railway.

Wangi falls - Lichfield

I have seen these falls before, in a film. But it’s not called ‘Micks place’. That crocodile Dundee was a Bogun.

Dont swim here

Australia has some of the best road signs

You cant see them. But they CAN see you

There are crocodiles in there. One of  only two species on the planet that will actively hunt humans. They hunt by ambush, and are very fast in the strike.

Crocodile in the Adelaide river, Kakadu

Come and have a go then!

I could have taken him, but he swam off.

Single track , all the way to Alice Springs

If you follow this track for half a continent, you get to Alice Springs. The Ghan does stop at Katherine, but then goes all the way to Adelaide, via Alice, which was where we jumped off to hire a car and head for Townsville.

But before we caught the train,  we had a look at the night market on Mindil Beach, Darwin.

Sunset at Mindil beach

The night market

If you like markets, if you like shopping, if you like the warm breeze scented with frangipan and heavy with the sound of songbirds, the night market at Mindil beach is the place to be.

Its a lonnng train

The Ghan is a legend. It’s also

Inside the Ghan

very long and very cramped.

But it’s a great way to travel.

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Relax and enjoy the scenary

Maybe one day, we will take a trip on the Orient Express

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The Simpson desert

It’s great to watch the world whizz by.

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Night from the Ghan

It’s a bit sad also. We will never be there again

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Back on the road again. Heading back up North from Alice Springs. One thing Australia is not short of is wildlife.

The local wildlife

There are more camels in Australia than there are in Bootle, England. and thats a fact.

I though I was seeing things

And there are more wild donkeys in Australia, than there are in Politics in Britain. Allegedly

Roadhouse at Camooweal

Left Alice late due to car hire problems. We had to go to the airport to pick up a spare, and Suzanne, the Avis lady, was strip searched on the way in. Blasted through till we could go no further and stopped at the roadhouse at Camooweal.

Typical roadhouse

The typical Australian roadhouse is very basic, but cheap. No AC, no heater, no kitchen, no shower or toilet. Some are much better, some are even worse. Some have spiders, some have giant cockroaches.

The girl at reception told me the nearest bar was 3k down the road. We started walking, but saw a truckers stop after 30 m. So we stopped there for some beers, and had a good evening. Next day, we set off through the Desert, expecting to see a pub quite soon – nothing.

The girl at reception was getting her kilometers confused with her metres. If we had listened to her, we would be walking still, probably halfway to Townsville by now.

Townsville

Two days hard travel from Alice to Townsville. Lots of roadworks, bush fires and desert, but at last we can see the Ocean. The Coral sea actually. The great Barrier reef is about 60 km off shore.

Flash the koala bear

Flash is a celebrity amongst Koalas at the Billabong zoo. He is so fast, they never know what the rascal will get up to next. All he does is sleep, eat eucalyptus leaves and have sex.

I want to be a koala bear.

Mossy backed turtle

More creatures at the Billabong

Rock Wallabies magnetic island

Two birds at sunset. Magnetic island

Phew. It's hot

The singing Ship, Emu point

We are on our way back from Townsville to Sidney now. This statue/architecture/sculpture is designed to ‘sing’ when the wind blows.

The ship that sings

It’s actually quite a large structure

Sing to me

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Sydney harbour bridge

Journeys end

Legs

1. Darwin – Alice Springs (Ghan) 1290km

2. Camooweal 758/2048km

3.Townsville 1050/3098km

4. Emu Point 750/3848km

5. Grafton 926/4774km

6. Sydney 615/5389km