I had planned for it to take 4-5 days to drive from Cairns to Alice Springs, and that was just what it did. First I drove south for half a day, then west for 3,5 days and then finally south again. So yes, I pretty much only had to turn my steering wheel three times in those days because oh boy, they sure know how to make straight roads here in Australia. What they don’t know how to make is cities. For most part it was completely empty for 200 km and then a roadhouse with a restaurant, petrol station and caravan park. The only real city I saw was Mount Isa halfway through my third day but it was okay. I hadn’t expected anything more. But what really surprised me was how alive the desert was! I had expected red dirt and nothing more, but I barely saw it. Bushes, trees and grass lines the roads the entire way. The only dead things I saw were the hundreds upon hundreds of roadkill unfortunately. Mostly dead kangaroos but the occasional cow and camel too. I did see a living wild camel though, that was exciting!
Leaving! I ended up driving a different route than the gps wanted me to take though, so that I would be on a bigger road the entire way. It was longer (2425 km) but faster.
Lesson learned: when a police car comes flashing its lights in the wrong direction, get off the road! Because soon after this beasts comes through:
Flat flat flat! And very empty. Not as empty as I had expected though, I saw another car at least every 15-20 minutes. Or a road train, which was when I clung to my steering wheel for dear life. A road train is a truck but it has at least 3 and often 4 trailers attached to it, making it around 50 meters long. HUGE! I always slowed down and moved as far away as I dared but sometimes the wind following it was really scary. And there are a lot of road trains in the outback, the distances are simply to long to make it worthwhile to just pull one trailer.
And I climbed a tree in a caravan park. Was immediately attacked by a magpie who wanted to kill me so I went to the pool to cool down instead. The moment I got to the outback the temperatures soared to 36-38 degrees and rarely got down below 25 even at night. Sweaty!
After a few days of driving and trying to learn how to throw a boomerang to a moderate level of success (as can be see here on my private Facebook, it’s in Swedish though) I finally left Queensland and entered Northern Territory! Yes!
I kept on driving and as soon as I got to the Northern Territory, hello Mosquitos! I used up so many different types of bug sprays and wipes but I still got bit pretty bad. But I got to stay in some pretty good places with pools and great sunsets so who am I to complain.
One afternoon I headed to the pool where one family and an older couple was swimming and I got in as well. Soon I realized that the family was Norwegian so I introduced myself as Swedish. The older couple almost gave themselves whiplash as they spun around and exclaimed that they were Danish! All of Scandinavia gathered at a pool in the middle of the outback in Australia, so weird. We all started speaking extremely slowly and really enounciating our words so we understood each other okay. The languages are very similar, especially written but the accents make it hard.
The next day was the fifth day and I had two goals in mind, finally get to Alice Springs but also to catch the longboarders as I knew that they would be somewhere on Stuart highway that I would be entering. But first I got to the Devils marbles, a bunch of rocks that looks to just have been thrown right out in the desert. They were very cool so I had to climb then of course. And yes dad, I barely looked up because I kept an eye out for snakes the entire time.
After that I came across Australia’s UFO town. I didn’t even know they had one… It wasn’t quite as impressive as Roswell thigh, mostly because it wasn’t a city at all, it was a single road house and a petrol station.
Open speed zone!! For most parts it was 130 km/h on Stuart highway so I did 100 km/h (it’s not exactly a sports car I drive…) so that’s what I kept doing despite having encountered Australia’s autobahn. And even though I was so slow, only one single car drove past me that entire day. Not a lot of fast traffic coming my way.
And then finally!! Just when I really started thinking that I had missed them I saw two silhouettes in the distance. I pulled over, basically jumped out of my car and shouted “hi!! There you are, I thought I had missed you!” To a very perplexed woman on her longboard. I wanted to surprise them and not let them know I was coming and I succeeded. They were just about to stop skating for the day so we pulled into a rest stop where I could give them everything I had saved for them, including beer, soda, chips and Swedish candy like ahlgrens bilar, sail and salty licorice. They were very pleased and so was I. It was a lot of fun talking to them, and it turned out that Anders works with my cousins boyfriend. It’s a small world. You can read his blog here about their journey across Australia, it’s so cool and they’re great people!
And then finally! Alice springs! Since I arrived here I’ve read two books, star gazed, treated my mosquito bitten body and swim in pools and swimming holes. It’s super hot and full of flies but I still like it here.
Ellery creek big hole. A man at the camping recommended it to me so I drove here today and it was so nice. Really cool water and so beautiful. It’s “just” 90 km from Alice springs, a distance I nowadays consider as next door.
So all in all life continues to be good. I’m very happy to be done with the longest stretch across the outback, even though I still have 250 km to Uluru. Oh, I have so many fun tours booked there! I first thought that I might not book tours but I need some more human contact. Australians are very nice and so are all the tourists I meet but I miss the American friendliness a lot. So I have sunset dinner, sunrise watching with walk around Uluru and a day tour to kings canyon booked. I’m really lookin forward to it. I will NOT be hiking up to the top of Uluru though since it’s considered extremely holy for the aboriginal people and it’s considered very rude. I will be able to enjoy it just fine while being considerate on the ground.
One more full day in Alice springs then I’m off again! I’ll try to rest my hand some more, it’s really starting to hurt again after clutching the steering wheel for 2450 km in such a short amount of time. Ugh. Stupid hand. I hate that it’s not completely healed. Oh well. I will probably go back to Sweden in January, I’ll have it looked at then if it’s not completely healed by that point.