179 dead kangaroos and counting
So I took off from Darwin the next day, and headed towards Kakadu with my new travel companion, Carolin. We drove and drove and and eventually made it to Kakadu national park and checked out some of the lookouts and snapped some pictures of some incredible wetland environments, which was the first time I had seen stuff like that on this trip. We camped at Ubirr which is where they have all these aboriginal rock carvings and paintings and watched the sunset over the wetlands from a huge cliff. We had the perfect vantage point for watching kangaroos munch of plants below. It was absolutely fantastic. We camped at a cheap camp site and the next day, went to another rock carving place, did some hikes and checked out the aboriginal culture center. The humidity was as unbearable as ever, so we stayed at a resort place that has camping and hung out at the pool for the rest of the day. I met a cool 9 year old aboriginal kid named Philip who I could barely understand because he kept mixing his native language with English and talking really fast and getting frustrated with me for not keeping up with him. He kept forgetting my name and re-asking it, it was pretty funny. That night, we went back to the pool and were greeted by millions of bugs everywhere. Swarming around the lights, on the chairs, in the bathrooms (crawling on the walls, toilets, floors) and just about everywhere else. I’ve never seen so many in my life – It was out of CONTROL. The next day, we had a boat trip through a crocodile river at sunrise and saw lots of birds and crocs and plant life. It was pretty amazing and was a really cool way to see everything.
And with that, our Kakadu adventure was just about over. I figured I could get to the next town on the LPG (its true gas, like propane or natural gas – which is what my car runs on in conjunction with petrol). But it turned out that the next station didn’t have gas and to make a long story short, my car can’t go slow on petrol, only gas because the tubes are screwed up or something, so if I am out of gas, I have to keep just enough to start the car and get going so I can flip into petrol. But I ran out of gas and ended up coasting without an engine into the next petrol station. The guy came out and commented on my luck. I agreed, I was lucky to make it. Then he proceeded to tell me that he was out of LPG.
“It wont be here till tomorrow afternoon. Wanna wait?”
So I begged him to try to see if he had some remaining LPG in the tank and he tried and got me 8 litres.
More than enough so I was on the road again. We filled up at the next town and drove all day and camped at a campsite back towards the center of Australia (you have to backtrack a little to get to Cairns). In the morning, I noticed that my exhaust system was about to fall off (“so that’s what that banging noise is…”) so I tracked down some wire and tied it back on. We continued on and ended up camping at a rest stop with the hardest ground in the world. We couldn’t hammer the stakes in and ended up just putting rocks in the tent. The next day, we drove some more (of course) and drove up the “scenic route” which entailed paved roads just big enough for one car so when someone came the other way (like a huge tractor trailer) you have to pull over in the dirt or drive on the shoulder. LPG was at an all time high and about 1000K into the route, I found out that not only did this town in the middle of nowhere not have LPG, they didn’t have leaded petrol and the only way I could get anywhere was to fill up with unleaded and add some crap into the tank to replace the lead. So I did that and we made it a bit further where we camped on the side of the road behind some trees so no one would see (camping at a place other than a rest stop is illegal, but we had to do it, seeing as there were tons of kangaroos everywhere and I would have hit one eventually). The stars were stunning here and I spent quite a while just staring up at them. It’s rare, even here, that you can see the milky way like a huge cloud splashed across the sky. A road train (a tractor trailer with about 4 trailers on it) hit a kangaroo at about 3am and stopped to inspect the damage which kept us awake for a while. The next morning, we finished the trip to Cairns and started seeing LPG stations again, which was a relief. We arrived in Cairns, tracked Simon and Kat (the English couple I traveled with in New Zealand and Bolivia/Peru) and went out for drinks after finding a hostel. Yesterday, we all went out on a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef and I was able to go scuba diving with an instructor even though I’ve never dove in my life. They set you up with all the gear and the instructor makes sure you don’t die and you go under and he shows you all the animals and plants and stuff and it’s pretty incredible. I then spent another two hours snorkeling over the reef and watching the world below me. The reef was incredibly interesting and it was great fun just to watch all the fish, plants, giant clams and stuff go about their business. Last night, we all went back to Simon and Kat’s apartment with a box of wine and some beers and got completely hammered. This morning, I woke up without a voice and with a half shaven leg. Interesting. I haven’t been able to drink much since arriving in Australia and New Zealand because it’s so expensive and it was great having some drinks with Simon and Kat again. Diving was fun and it’s a shame I don’t have more money or time to do some more here.
On the way from Darwin, I think my transmission screwed up and basically, the car is worth about 20 bucks. I don’t know if it will make it down the coast, but even if it could, I couldn’t afford the fuel or the hostels on the way. There is so much to see on the coast and zooming down in a few days wouldn’t do it much justice. So I’ll leave it for the future when I can come back and check out Frasier Island and the Whitsundays. I have seen what I came to see here in OZ and have had a great time. Seeing such dramatic differences in the scenery as I drove around was fascinating (including 179 dead kangaroos, hit by cars on the road since Adelaide). At one point, it went from Eucalyptus trees and grasslands to green rolling hills just like New Zealand. It was incredible. All this after traveling through the red desert and the wetlands. It’s been quite an adventure and I think I’m just going to leave the car here and fly down to Sydney where I will stay with friends and not spend any money. I’m anxious to catch up with Martin, Mat and Katrina, Lucy, Rob and everyone else I’ve met that’s there right now. It should be pretty cool. Then it’s off to China! Speaking of which, I need to buy my ticket right now. Until Sydney, later on.