We really have been to Never Never land. East Arnhem Land is as about as remote as you can get in Australia. It’s a long way from anywhere. The 700km drive had its ups and downs, some shockin’ bits but mostly not too bad. We made it in 2 days from Katherine.
Nhulunbuy is a nice enough town, considering its location and is surrounded by beautiful beaches. There are divided opinions about whether it’s safe to swim or not, but we played it safe. The campsite at the Walkabout Lodge had a fabulous swimming pool, so I made the most of it.
After a few lazy days milling about there, we headed to more southerly beaches but didn’t find anywhere we fancied camping so pushed on to Cape Arnhem. This required a 3rd permit, which we secured the day before. (You need a transit permit, general permit and a specific location permit – from 2 different agencies..!!)
No-one we had spoken to thought to warn us about this road – it’s a killer – especially for 2 relatively high vehicles. We averaged about 10kph and then got to the sandy bit with lots of melaleuca trees that seem to close in on us as we progressed. A radio call from John had us turning back to help out and found this…
John just clipped the tree with his very solid roof rack and down she came – the base was rotten, eaten out by termites. Boris’s winch to the rescue. After a bit of argy-bargy and few attempts we managed to lift the tree off and drag it off the road. On we go…
Next radio call from John – “think I ‘m really stuck this time”. The Melaleucas were too close for him to get through. We had only just squeezed Boris through so weren’t surprised. This meant us turning around again – not an easy feat.
We had no choice but to get back up the track and park in a tiny spot meant for letting tyres down. No Cape Arnhem for us – another 60 bucks down the drain.
Happily I had the foresight to have three cold beers in the fridge and a bottle of chilled Rosé
Next morning there wasn’t much option but to head back along the Central Arnhem Road. We took 3 days this time and camped in some nice spots along the way.
Back in Katherine we met up with Angela and Mark from Track Care for dinner and said goodbye to John in the morning. He’s heading to Mt Isa and the Birdsville track. We took the opportunity of heading back to Edith Falls for the weekend – it’s our wedding anniversary. We reminisced about where we had spent the last 5. 2012 – Concarneau in Brittany, 2013 – Tain L’Hermitage in the Rhone Valley, 2014 – Brussells, 2015 Siberia and 2016 in Cowaramup. Nothing like a bit variety to keep things interesting.
Two beautiful days at Edith Falls then back to bloody Darwin for the last of the insurance work on Boris (for the Stock Route damage). Not that we don’t like Darwin – we do, but we’ve done Darwin and are ready for our next adventure.
Watch this space – starting with Daly River and Gregory National Park followed by the Tanami Track into The Centre. You can’t imagine how much I’m looking forward to cool evenings. Arnhem Land was hot, hot, hot and doesn’t cool down at night. It’s still getting down to 10-12c in the Centre. Can’t wait to pull the quilt out of the locker.